27 August 2022

Progressing Bodyweight Training

Max bodyweight training

Maybe you don’t use a gym right now. Or maybe you went on holiday and started doing some bodyweight training and really enjoyed it. That’s ok - but the key is knowing how to actually progress your bodyweight training.

Create muscle damage purposefully and allow yourself to recover

If you don’t progress it then after your body has adapted to the initial stimulus of
bodyweight training it will stop. You might make yourself tired and burn some
calories, but you’re not actually getting stronger or more powerful. That increase in strength is important for minimising your injury risk when you run as well as actually improving your running performance. We all want a faster 5km don’t we?

So how can you progress your bodyweight training? The underlying principle is to seek muscle damage. When you do this purposefully though training, and then allow yourself to recover, you’ll get stronger. There are different ways to do this:

1. More reps
2. Less rest
3. Add pauses 
4. Slower eccentric (lowering phase of a movement)
5. More explosive reps

All will work, but instead of randomly choosing them you’re best to pick one and stick with it for 2-4 weeks. Then you can choose another one.

For example: if I want to do bodyweight squats on a Monday I might do 3 sets of 20 reps. It’s too easy so the next week I add a 2s pause at the bottom of each rep. Now that’s much harder so I might only manage 3x12 reps.

Now I have a choice next week: either aim for 3x13 or more, or go for 3x12 but
increase it to a 3s pause. The key thing is that I’m sticking with the same variable: in this case pauses.

After 4 weeks of this I would pick something else, maybe going for 4x20 reps but with a shorter rest between each set, and seeing if I can complete it with a shorter rest each week.

If that all sounds confusing then get in touch with me at max@max-performance.co.uk and I’ll happily talk you through it.

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