T Nation

How to get there...

Hey All - Trying to make it brief. I am a weak, skinny (~155lb @ 6’1"), coming-off-sedentary SOB, trying to come up with a good program for the next eight months. My goal is not to look like a body builder (far too bulky), but rather compact, hard, and high endurance. I won’t have access to weights until May-June, so I’d prefer to structure this around bodyweight exercises. Hindu Pushups, Squats, Back Bridges, crunches, etc. My main questions are 1) How should I be increasing? ie, how much more should I be doing per week? 2) Cause my aerobic sucks horribly right now, what can I do besides running (I really hate running) to condition myself for that? Thanks… - MacSmith

You will continue to be a weak, skinny SOB if all you do is bodyweight exercises and run. lol And I wouldn’t worry about looking like a bodybuilder. You’ve got about 60 lbs. or so before that would be a problem. As for your aerobics/cardio, you need to make your activity of choice appropriate for what activities/sports you like. Throw someone who seems to have great endurance cycling into a boxing match, and you’ll doubt his aerobic condtioning. Same thing if you take the boxer who goes 12 rounds and put him in the high school wrestling practice outside of his element. Aerobic conditioning is very specific to how you use your body. If you play basketball like me and want to improve your aerobic conditioning, I would suggest running and a small amount of jumping plyometrics.

Heh, tell that to Matt Furey. What I mean by not wanting to look like a bodybuilder (hyperbole) is that I don’t want to get bulky, I’d rather stay lean as its best for my aims. Anyway, what say you to cross training? Like Cycling every day, with jump roping mixed in and a bit of swimming tossed into the mix for all round aerobic fitness? And an answer to my first question? Thanks… - MacSmith

I still say you’d better hit the weights. Even if you get yourself incredibly cut right now, you’ll still be a weak, skinny <155 pound guy and wont look a whole lot better. Hell, I’m 6’1 and 180 and am still insecure about being small. Hit the weights, don’t worry about becoming ‘bulky’, it ain’t gonna happen by accident. Put on a good 20-30lbs using a good lifting routine and eating clean, then cut up a bit. Worry about becoming compact after you’ve got some size to work with.
Now since I feel like an ass, and so I can be of some help, I’d say that since you don’t have access to weights yet, start with interval training. (i.e. sprinting) I know you hate running, but you may have more patience with short distance, because I know I do.

grin Sprints I can handle its the 30/30 plan that drives me up the wall… Just curious though, how do you assert that someone doing bodyweight exercises is automatically going to be a skinny weak SOB? Someone who can do something like 1600 Hindu Squats (got that article off testosterone.net) and a bunch of handstand pushups is, in my humble opinion, not going to be overly small or weak. Thanks… - MacSmith (and my first question? Anybody?)

If your looking for body weight only exercises, try looking up some stuff on the net that the SEAL’s do. Anything military involving PT should give you an idea of different exercises to do.

Not a flame at all, but it always makes me laugh when skinny people (I am one too) make the assertion that they don’t want to look like a bodybuilder. Its not as if someone could huge by accident. Getting bulky and looking like a bodybuilder takes years of working out and in most cases help from pharmaceuticals. Very few people have either the genetics or the discipline to achieve anywhere near a bodybuilder’s physique.

Sounds like the old ‘low reps/heavy weight for
mass and high reps/low weight for definition’ story. To make it short, to look hard you will have to reduce body fat. No need to do low resistance/high reps for that. To look compact you will have to add muscle. The best way to do that is with weight training using low reps and heavy weight. What high endurance is concerned, do you mean anaerobic or aerobic? In the first case low resistance/high reps may well be suitable. Putting it all together I think you have the same goal as every other guy working out, with the small difference that you only want to gain the 30-40 lbs lean muscle needed to make you look compact instead of the typical 150 lbs (or should I better put no limit on that). The simple solution would be to train like everyone else - use weights.
If these are really not available for the next couple of months, you might want to try out some sort of circuit training. That shouldn’t do much to add mass but can well do something for your anaerobic/aerobic endurance. The only bodyweight exercise that come to my mind that would give you sufficient resistance to put on some muscle would be dips, chins (see ‘Back to Basics’ by C.Poliquin in T-mag 100) and one-legged squats (I think there is some Ian King stuff on that somewhere). You probably will need a training partner to help you adjust the resistance however.