Getting Big w/ Bodyweight Exercises?

I�??d like all of T-Nation�??s members help on a very complicated matter that has become my own prívate karma in the past days. This is a call for help as I recognize my limitations and I see that it�??s necessary for me to be humble and call for help to assist a talented young man in need.

There�??s this young latino man I have been trying to train, he�??s 22and he�??s very athletic and strong. He�??s got no Money, it�??s why he has to train with fixed bars at the local park, using dipping bars that are some 24 inches wide, and fixed bar for chin ups, he�??s capable of doing up to 15 reps as a max on a first set, that is after proper warm-up and stretching, with an added weight on a lead pellet belt that is 35 pounds heavy.

However, he can�??t slow down to a full 2-seconds lowering, barely above a second at most, he does use perfect form and even after trying to use the gym to promote some growth on him, it is apparent that the only way for him to get big is through fixed bars exercises, with added resistance of course, and short eccentric tempos of 1 second. He lifts explosively, doesn�??t do more than a quick pause at the top or bottom and has perfect form.

He�??s also strong because weighting 73 kilos, that�??s 165 pounds or almost, he can load the 45-pound bar and do a set of 7 reps with that much weight on a wide grip hold, that�??s arms at 45 degrees on the top of the movement, being that they would be 28 inches apart, and I know that�??s strong, huh?

He�??s got no money for a gym, smart and fast, but little endurance, great strength, punches like a mule�??s kick in strenght but he�??s faster than a snake and equally flexible to contort and move around like you are drunk and arthritic old man pitted against a monkey.

He�??s capable of running a good distance on jogging, he can run for 2 miles before calling it quits at a médium-jog pace without being that he even practises jogging, actually he never runs or anything remotely like that, he is very fast and explosive but I think he�??s got the right stuff to make it into boxing to escape his poverty and get a scholarship as well, but I have run out of ideas to help him being that he�??s cursed to do only fixed bars or freeexercises, dips and chins/pulls or pushups and never to be able to slow down to even a full 2-seconds lowering on a couple sets, just a Little bit over 1 second all the time, and on the gym, we saw this tendency remained constant, with a twist: drop sets, or rest-pause sets don�??t get him pumped, and don�??t seem to work much, we have tried single and doublé drop sets, decreasing or increasing reps, dropping wide or tight load differences, we have tried rest-pause sets and we have also tried pre-exhaustion and post-exhaustion and any combination such as isometric/dynamic contrast, tempo contrast, concentric/eccentric combos (lift as a press, lower as a flye for the chest for example) and other programs and he doesn�??t gain much, while on the fixed bars, he gains three to four times the mass and gets more ripped.

Please, members, help me to give this young man the help he needs to achieve what he needs to help him move ahead in life through sport. He�??s 73 kilos heavy with 16% bodyfat, and I have made him drop it from a 20% one in 3 months, and he�??s also gained 3 pounds of muscle in the process, as he used to weight 71 kilos, we aim for 80 kilos by the end of the year and a bodyfat of 12% or less, so as to allow him to fight in the Light Heavyweight or Super Welterweight división as he�??s very good fighting, in his native country, the males are taught to fight to serve in the military as son as school ends, to go to war, and they really did a great job for he�??s capable of going against a Steven Seagal or a Jackie Chan from what I see in his hands, shame I am no tinto kickboxing or that here, it doesn�??t pay so good for he�??d surely be able to teach them a good lesson and MMA isn�??t popular or accesible for guys like him down here.

My time in Mexico ends by November and I wish i could see him move up and maybe try to bring him to the States to promote him as a fighter.

I thank you all in advance for the assistance, and I know he’ll do good as a fighter and use the money to study, kid’s got a future, and I hope we can all help him achieve it and become someone important, he sure deserves the help.

Well, maybe you need to check how you are doing those drop sets and rest-pause sets because to me, they are the shit when it comes to getting a good pump, although I admit that like an H.I.T. set, if you do them right, you won�??t be doing much of them and you�??ll have a very short workou.

In my case, I would advise you to do the famous Halving Drop Sets: have him do a set of 5-7 reps or 6-8, whatever you like, then drop 50% of the weight off the bar and have him do some 12-15 reps or so of the same exercise, which must be a compound one, like the bench press so no isolation work is done.

Some go lower on the heavy part of the set to only 3-5 reps, and even higher, 15-20 on the latter part and it is aceptable to drop more weight if your boy doesn�??t feel capable of squeezing out that many reps, as long as the load that remains on the bar is not less than 1/3rd of the original load, although people only do that on the last sets becuase of the taxing nature of such a set and such a workout.

Normally people will not be able to do more than 6 of these if that wass all they wanted to do on a workout, that is, they enter the weightroom and that is the only thing they will do today and will give 100% to it, no previous or following exercises, just drop sets, and just halving drop sets.

Honestly, if most guys or I did a workout based only on drop sets, I admit the most they�??d or I would be able to squeeze out would be some 8 sets before collapsing. That is doing halving drop sets or standard ones.

I think drop sets must follow a rule: after dropping the weight twice, a third drop is kinda extreme and although I really do not want to criticize whomsoever is doing that, I believe 2 is enough, 3 is plenty and anything further is just too much and you get the same as with 3, or even 2 weight reductions. I have seen tight drops and wide drops (dropping off from10% to 25% of the load off), I have seen people do descending ones, in which they get less reps at each drope ven if the weight is decreased and logic says they could get the same amount of reps (basic premise of drop sets) or more, because they want to make sure fatigue keeps low to pile more work sets on the muscle, and I have seen ascending ones, in which people drop the weight off and then try to get more reps out of the diminished load and push the muscle to excess to have the work done in less sets to get pumped up. In my way to see things, drop sets allow you to perform reps such as your boy does, that is with such short eccentric (you said 1 second on the way down and lift very fast) and give size easy.

Rest-pausing is cool too, I normally regard it as a strenght and size trick more leaning towards strenght on some people, and if your boy is a white Mexican, he will not get much size out of this, but I like rest-pause sets when they are either heavy sets (see the extended 5�??s method of Thibaudeau in HSS100 chest specialization workout) or when you start with 15-12 reps at the first attempt, and I think that the total number of reps should be within a 10-20 total reps zone but if you do start with high reps and use 2 pauses instead of just one, it can go as high as 30 reps. Rest-pause sets work great when someone is trying to get big by lifting heavy and needs more volumen and fatigue to induce microtrauma and growth, but they aren�??t for the aesthetic lifter who�??s been doing primarily 8-12 rep sets and sometimes a 6-8 one and feel better on the moderate weights side of the discussion.

Now, drop sets and rest-pause sets come from the idea that the last 2-3 reps of a 10-rep set are the ones which you will get a growth benefit off since they are the hardest or something like that, but I also think the first 2-3 reps or so of a set can be the most beneficial ones, or equally beneficial as the last 2-3 ones you are hard-pressed to squeeze out, if you do them right: enter EDT-styled concept training now:

My friend Boneco does something like that. He does straight sets, and he is also a guy who does bodyweight exercises (started as bodyweight, then it bécame bodyweight + 45 pounds, and now the backpack he uses full of beach sand to work out is no less than 90+ pounds heavy) and what he does since his early stages is something Scott Abel preached in his �??Max Load trining in the real world�?? article and what Chad W. has said too: lift as fast as you can, or try, by putting the maximal forcé output on it, and lower controlling the weight but without slowing down or expending too much energy while keeping a level of tensión that keeps the muscle working like a hot piston and keeping the lowering phase as short as it can be to get a good tensión out of it, without having to be just as good as lifting it, and you will be good. What Boneco does is that he goes to the dipping bars, squeezes our 4 or 5 reps, sometimes 6 or even 8 at the beginning of the set, and he steps down the bar, takes some short breaths for 10-15 seconds and goes abck at it again.

If I am going to be blunt, that is rest-pause training, with a drop-set twist: he can perform a set of 6-7 reps, then rest 10-15 seconds, then go to the bars, squeeze out 4 or 5 reps, rest 15 seconds or slightly more, then go to the bars and drop some sand off the backpack and go back at it again, stopping for 5 minutes between sets when he has dropped half the weight at his backpack and he knows he can�??t get more than half the initial reps.

He is very well shaped, looks like WIll Smith in the movie I Am Legend only he´d be able to kick butt based solely on the fct he can bench press a Volkswagen, but for your boy, what I would recommend is that he does an X number of reps, being the last rep of the set not when he feels he has reached his limit, but when he has reached his peak, like on EDT when you do 6 rep sets with your 12RM.

Basically, the idea is that he stops the second he feels it�??s getting hard to lift as fast as posible, that is when the forcé output is not 100% and he slows down, as the lifting gets harder for his strength fades a little.

I would say that if he can do an initial first set of 15 reps, he would reach the peak of that set at the 8th or 10th rep. The idea should be that he tries to rest as little as posible between sets, and if he still wants a pump, then do the dips, then follow with pushups, again, following the rule that says any set ends when it starts to get harder and the speed of lifting isn ot maximal.

It can be supersetted with a lighter laod like dips and pushups and it can be rest-paused too, by resting shortly for no more than 15 seconds or 20, although this would mean the rest periods between sets couldn�??t ever be less than 60 seconds.

Tell me how he fares with this routine. Its one biggest benefit besides the strenght leve lis how the body becomes fast and learns top ut out maximal forcé as maximal speed so your boy´´s punches will hit much harder after a couple weeks of this.