The Best Bodyweight Workout and Exercises

by Jeff on June 2, 2011

The best bodyweight workout routine is one that helps you develop more functional strength. Doing bodyweight exercises requires a different set of body mechanics from conventional weight lifting, the angles and range of motions are very different.

When it comes to building functional strength, bodyweight workouts are superior.  This brings up the following question:

What is the difference between bodybuilding and building functional strength?

Bodybuilding is focussed on building muscles and losing fat to create the ‘look’ you want, it is about the appearance.

Functional strength training is about increasing performance. Whether it is to increase your athletic abilities or to increase your chances of survival. It is to become more agile, gain more explosive strength, or increase your tolerance to collision.

Here below are 4 factors that bodyweight exercises can help you improve to increase your performance.

Four Factors of Functional Strength

Training for increased ‘Stored Elastic Energy’ will help you become more agile and tolerate more force from collisions or impact. This includes changing directions during a movement, jumping at odd angles, taking a hit, etc…

Increased Sequential Summation Of Forces gives you more explosive power. This significantly increases your striking power and also helps you accelerate faster. You also use this when you ‘break into’ a sprint.

The mind to body link is another thing that bodyweight exercises can help you improve. You can do more complex movements that improves this bond, which allows you to react faster during physical performance.

Increased mobility is the last factor that I will talk about before moving onto specific exercises. Mobility is slightly different than flexibility. Flexibility allows you to have a greater range of motion…that’s it. Increased mobility is when you have strength in the increased range of motion.

If you are in mixed martial arts, having flexible legs is useless if you can’t generate power in that flexibility. This increased mobility also helps you use more strength in different positions, it comes in handy during activities like parkour, wrestling, judo, or brazilian jujutsu.

Parkour is probably the best demonstration of them all:

Now, let’s talk about specific exercises that you can incorporate into your bodyweight workout routine.

Bodyweight Exercises

This video below demonstrates a small part of a bodyweight workout. It has 4 great exercises that helps you cultivate some of the things that we talked about in this article.

  • Bodyweight Exercise 1: Springing Tripod
  • Bodyweight Exercise 2: Swinging Plank
  • Bodyweight Exercise 3: Spinal Rock Drop
  • Bodyweight Exercise 4: Tactical Popup

4 exercises isn’t enough to make up a whole workout, but it gives you an idea of what some of the bodyweight exercises can be. It’s more than just push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and etc…

Benefits of Bodyweight Workout Routines

I love bodyweight workout routines because it improves functional strength in the way we have defined in this post, and also gives you a greater amount of freedom. It gives you the freedom to exercise anywhere, anytime, without any equipment.

If you want to focus on bodyweight exercises, it also saves you the gym membership fees which is around $50 a month or $600 a year at GoodLife. More comprehensive gyms are more expensive and simpler gyms are less expensive.

I also enjoy taking a break from weight lifting every once in a while to focus on bodyweight workouts. My joints feel better after a few weeks and it lets me push harder when I resume weight lifting.

The Best Bodyweight Workout Routine

As you probably noticed in the above video, this is a clip out of the program called Tacfit Commando. It is a complete conditioning program that Scott Sonnon created to help various military personnel reach peak condition and stay in that peak condition.

The difficulty increases week after week and there are different levels of difficulty, this is required for growth because your body adapts after a few weeks of doing the same thing.

In my opinion, Tacfit is the best bodyweight program. Most bodyweight programs throw together a bunch of generic movements and they probably won’t help you reach your goals. Good bodyweight workouts are more than push ups, sit ups, and squats.

Tacfit is focussed towards developing real functional strength and it conditions your body. As a nice side-effect, it helps you build muscle and get lean.

In my review of Tacfit, I talk more in-depth about the four (4) factors of functional strength and I also talk about my personal experience with the Tacfit program. Check out my Tacfit Commando Review.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan - The Healthy Teacher June 3, 2011 at 1:51 am

Jeff,
I have been in a middle of this philisophical debate for a while. I have been working on Rusty Moore’s Visual Impact and I feel that I’m not getting enough of the functional strength that I need for my athletic pursuits. It is an amazing body sculpting routine, but I decided to add more functional training moves like the ones you mentioned here, to to compliment the program, and make sure I am prepared for my recreation activities.

Great post!

Cheers,
Jordan

Reply

Jeff June 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

Hey Jordan,

Thanks for checking out my site as well! How is the combination working out for you so far?

Reply

Jason - Fitness Workouts June 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Looks like some tough stuff. Not something that you see at your local gym.

That Tactical Popup looks as though it will knock the wind out of you fast.

Looks like something worth trying, I may start by adding these into my warm up and go from there.

Reply

Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips June 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

TACFIT certainly includes some challenging routines and is a great way to build functional strength. I like to combine workouts that include functional movements as well as build a good body. I’ve been using kettlebells and gymnastics rings lately with excellent results.

Reply

Ahmed-LivingNotSurviving June 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Bodyweight workouts are great, serious life savers when I’m not in the mood for the gym. Thanks for informing us about this offer

Reply

Ryan August 31, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Hi, I’m 13 and looking to build up strength to play rugby. Is this training suitable for me or not?

Reply

Jeff August 31, 2011 at 11:06 pm

If you’re perfectly healthy, then go for it.

Jeff

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James October 21, 2011 at 3:41 am

This looks awesome. THANKS! I’ve been looking for something where I don’t need a gym set because I like to workout at anytime I need to…plus it gives better benefits than regular workouts. I have one question though, how important is diet? If I stay on a pretty healthy diet will I get awesome results or do I need a hardcore workout diet?

Reply

Jeff October 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm

It depends on what your goals are. For lower body fat to get higher muscle definition, you can combine your workout routine with intermittent fasting.

During your workout, focus 100% on getting the high intensity to work your muscles that are being targeted. Eating high quality foods and getting high quality sleep will help you grow and recover, this program is not so strict on diet. But, get lots of fresh vegetables, whole cuts of meat, eggs and high quality sleep.

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