If you are in the doldrums of your training regimen and want to try something new, you might want to limit the weights for a while and focus on some bodyweight exercises.
Most CrossFitters are cringing — put away the weights? — but there are some interesting benefits to working only with bodyweight and we’ve got the challenge to help prove it.
Recently, Diablo CrossFit’s Coach Jordan issued a challenge to those interested in getting stronger: complete a series of bodyweight exercises two to four times per week for six full weeks and see how much stronger you can become.
The great thing about bodyweight exercises with the exception of bar and ring work is they can be done just about anywhere. During the challenge, some people planked before class while others did the movements as “super sets” between lifts on weight days. Do the bar and ring movements before or after your CrossFit class and accomplish the other movements at home, if necessary. Just be sure to get them in.
Strength isn’t the only benefit. You will also potentially see an increase mobility and flexibility by utilizing more muscle groups than you normally would with weights in a typical strength cycle. This regimen will reveal which muscle groups are stronger than others and where you potentially need to improve.
I highly recommend doing these movements with a partner or friend. This will keep you motivated, but also offer the benefit of another set of eyes to ensure proper technique so you get the most from your exercises. At the very least, I suggest having your local CrossFit affiliate coach examine your form for each movement once per week. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
In a previous piece I wrote about the importance of fitness goals. In order to successfully complete a challenge like this, is critical to establish a baseline, train and then re-test. Simply train the movements below for six weeks and sometime during your seventh week, retest.
Before beginning your bodyweight training cycle, test each of the following:
- Pull ups for max reps
- Push ups for max reps
- Handstand hold for time
- Plank on elbows for time
For the pull ups and push ups you could perform max reps in either one of two ways. First, you could do max reps in a specific time — 3 minutes is a good time frame. Or, you could do max unbroken reps until failure. To accomplish your goals, you obviously want to see your numbers increase from the first week to the seventh week. Ideally, the pull ups should be strict.
For any questions on the movement standards, check out Diablo CrossFit’s Youtube. There, Jordan explains each of the weekly exercises while showing proper form and appropriate scaled movements to help beginners.
Complete any or all of the prescribed movements two to five times each week.
The Bodyweight Bonanza
- Hanging Scap Squeeze: 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Prone Scap Squeeze: 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Ring Row Trio: 5 sets of 9 reps – changing ring position every 3 reps.
- Standing Pass Throughs: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Prone Pass Throughs: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Ring Outs: 5 sets of 5 reps.
- Hip Extension: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps.
- Back Extension: 3 sets of 5 reps.
- Ring Push Ups: 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
- Rolling Squats: 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps.
- Forearm Plank: 5 sets of 60 seconds or more.
- V-Ups: 5 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Elbow Taps: 5 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Hinge Row: 5 sets of 5 – 15 reps.
- Wall Walk: 5 sets of 2-5 reps.
- Hollow Holds – 5 sets of 30 seconds to 60 seconds.
- Superman Holds – 5 sets of 30 seconds to 60 seconds.
- Ring support – 5 sets of 30 seconds to 60 seconds followed by bottom support of 10 seconds or more.
- Pistol to box – 5 sets of 5 reps.
- Bar Holds (Chin Over Bar) – 5 sets @ 30 secs. up to 1 min.
- L-Sits – 5 sets @ 10 secs. up to 1 min.
- Ring Dips (Strict) – 5 sets, 5 – 10 reps.
- Planche Lean – 5 sets, 30 secs or longer.
- “Skin The Cat” – 5 sets, 1 – 3 reps as far as you can go.
- Hanging Leg Lift – 5 Sets, 5-10 reps ea.
- Side Plank on Hands – 5 Sets, 5 – 10 reps.
- Handstand Taps – 5 sets, 5 – 15 taps.
- Hips to Bar or Rings – 5 sets (2 on bar, 3 on ring), 2-3 reps each.
Once you have finished this regimen, you could incorporate any combination of movements that you feel need attention over the next cycle, or simply repeat after a week or two off. Try to increase the times per week you accomplish the movements the next cycle or scale up appropriately.