These are 6 things I witness every day that hold back many people in their body weight training. Doing the opposite can help you unleash your potential.
#1- Placing too much importance on reps.
“I can do 100 push ups”!
“I can do 40 pull ups!”
“I just did 300 sit ups!”
So f*&%ging what! I see and hear this stuff all the time. It’s supposed to sound impressive but I usually have the opposite mentality to it. I can’t help but ask the person, “why the hell are you making the move so easy that you can do so many reps?!”
If you want to build muscle and strength you’re #1 goal should be to keep making the basic movements more challenging. In other words find little ways to make them harder. When you set your sights on doing 100 push ups your mind will inevitably look for technical short cuts to conserve energy so you can last that long.
I don’t want to learn from the guy who can teach me to do 100 push ups. I want to learn from the guy who will completely kick my ass with 10 push ups. That’s the same thing as using a lot more weight on a bar. No one is impressed with doing 100 bench presses with an empty bar, but that’s exactly what most folks do when they make getting a lot of reps the priority. They use a fast tempo, relax much of their body and employ a shorter range of motion. It looks good in a training log, but in motion it’s nothing more than making the move easier to feed the ego.
#2- Looking for that perfect routine.
Routine Shmutine, just get on the bar and start pull’n! The results you seek are not to be had through dialing some sort of highly sophisticated combination. Building muscle isn’t nearly as complicated as hacking into the Pentagon.
Progression is the real source of success. If you can progress the quantity and the quality of your training you will get bigger and stronger regardless of what your routine looks like.
Just make sure you hit all of your muscle groups in a balanced way each week. As long as you do that and progress your training you will make gains.
#3- Believing you know how to do a move “right”.
I get a little twitch in my right eye whenever someone tells me they want to learn how to do a technique “the right way.” It’s even worse when they want me to teach them in a simple Youtube video or in 10 minutes in the gym.
Sure, and while I’m at it, I’ll show you how to become a master french chef over the weekend while my buddy teaches you the correct way to master impressionist painting in 3 easy steps.
I’ve been focusing on calisthenics for 7 solid years now and I’m still learning how to do the basic movements better. Just yesterday I figured out how my elbow position at the bottom of the push up can have a huge influence on my lat engagement which will spill over into how my triceps and upper chest engage.
Training isn’t about complying to a handful of technical rules on a check list. It’s about constantly learning and discovering new layers to the basic techniques and yes, there are always new layers to discover. The second you believe you’ve got a move all figured out is the moment you stop looking for the next lesson and that attitude will make your progress come to a screeching halt.
#4- Using far too much variety.
I know, there are 101 different push up variations out there but just because you have so many options that doesn’t mean you should use them all.
Get clear on exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and use as few variations as you can to get you there. You only have so much time and energy to spend on your training and you don’t want to dilute your efforts over a wide range of variations.
Variety doesn’t bring results, progression does.
#5- Winging it.
Every success in life, from business to weight loss is done as a result of planning. No one ever became a success through just winging it from day to day.
This is why I plan every single workout. I plan when I’m going to workout and what I will do. I also always have a plan on what I’m trying to improve upon that day.
Of course a plan doesn’t always stick. Sometimes work can get in the way or maybe I’m just off and my progression plan is shot. In that case I adapt and make changes, but even those changes are in some way trying to satisfy the original plan.
Body weight training affords you a huge degree of flexibility in what, when and how much you can do, but that doesn’t mean you should be carefree about your training. So P-L-A-N your training. It gives you focus, direction and a much greater chance that your workout will do you any good.
#6- Using tight breathing.
You’ll die from lack of oxygen before lack of anything else in life, so breathing is kind of a big deal especialy in your training. The simple act of holding your breath automatically causes stress and fatigue in your body. While it is true that stress and fatigue is important for telling your body to be stronger,
holding your breath results in a different type of fatigue that’s below the threshold of your muscular fatigue. The result is you reach oxygen failure as opposed to muscular failure and your training is cut short in both quality and quantity.
Learning to keep your breathing smooth and relaxed while your other muscles are under stress can greatly improve the quality of your training. It can be tricky but it’s well worth it. Otherwise you’re literally training with your metabolic brakes on.
Let me know if you have any questions down below!