body weight training
Remember when you were in high school and your physical
education (PE) teachers made you do push-ups, chin-ups and sit-ups? What about
those long-forgotten Presidential Physical Fitness Tests, which required you to
run different distances for time? Whatever happened to those “old-fashioned”
exercises?

While free weights and machines can certainly make your
clients stronger, they often target muscles rather
than movement
. In addition, many free-weight and machine exercises, such
as lat pull-downs and biceps curls, are open-chain exercises, which use only
one joint as the resistance is moved away from or toward the body using freely
movable limbs.

In contrast, most body-weight training exercises are closed-chain
exercises, which use multiple joints as the resistance is moved away from or
toward an anchored body part. Closed-chain exercises, which are more
functional, result in greater motor unit activation and synchronization and
better strength performance compared with open-chain exercises (Augustsson et
al. 1998; Brindle et al. 2002).

By performing body-weight training exercises, your clients will not only
look better; they will also learn how to train three-dimensional movement,
acquire a greater kinesthetic awareness and become empowered as they perform
tasks with their bodies. Moreover, body-weight exercises make your clients’
workouts portable, an added benefit for people who travel a lot or for those
who have trouble motivating themselves to go to the gym.

9-Week Body-Weight Training Program

Training is the same for the first 2 weeks of each 3-week
cycle, with the third week used for recovery and adaptation. Have your clients
do these workouts 2-3 times per week. As clients progress, initially increase
volume (# of reps with body weight), then decrease volume and increase
intensity (by adding additional weight) and recovery period.

Weeks 1 and 2

  • chin-ups:
    2 x 10 reps with body weight (or weight-assisted machine), with 1-minute
    rest
  • squats:
    2 x 10 reps, with 1-minute rest
  • push-ups:
    2 x 8–10 reps, with 1-minute rest

Choose two exercises each workout from traditional crunches,
V-sits, stability ball crunches, reverse crunches, twist crunches and medicine
ball crunches: 2 x 20 reps for each, with 1-minute rest.

Week 3 (Recovery)

Same as above, using 66% of # of reps from weeks 1 and 2 for
each exercise.

Weeks 4 and 5

  • chin-ups:
    2 x 15 reps with body weight (or weight-assisted machine), with 1-minute
    rest
  • squats:
    2 x 15 reps, with 1-minute rest
  • push-ups:
    2 x 12–15 reps, with 1-minute rest

Choose two exercises each workout from traditional crunches,
V-sits, stability ball crunches, reverse crunches, twist crunches and medicine
ball crunches: 2 x 30 reps for each, with 1-minute rest.

Week 6 (Recovery)

Same as above, using 66% of # of reps from weeks 4 and 5 for
each exercise.

Weeks 7 and 8

  • chin-ups:
    2 x 10 reps with 105%–110% of body weight (or of weight lifted using
    weight-assisted machine), with 90-second rest
  • squats:
    2 x 10 reps with 105%–110% of body weight, with 90-second rest
  • push-ups:
    2 x 10 reps with 105%–110% of body weight, with 90-second rest

Choose two exercises each workout from traditional crunches,
V-sits, stability ball crunches, reverse crunches, twist crunches and medicine
ball crunches: 2 x 20 reps with 105%–110% of body weight for each, with
90-second rest.

Week 9 (Recovery)

Same as above, using 66% of # of reps from weeks 7 and 8 for
each exercise.

For guidelines on proper body position and efficient, safe
execution, refer to the complete article in the February issue of IDEA
Fitness Journal
IDEA Article Archive.

References

Augustsson, J., et al. 1998.
Weight training of the thigh muscles using closed vs. open kinetic chain
exercises: A comparison of performance enhancement. Journal of Orthopaedic
and Sports Physical Therapy, 27
(1), 3–8.

Brindle, T.J., et al. 2002. Electromyographic
comparison of standard and modified closed-chain isometric knee extension
exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 16
(1), 129–34.

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