Bodyweight High Intensity Training Discussion and Demo

In the video below I discuss and demonstrate how high intensity training principles should be applied to bodyweight exercise. A more in-depth book and videos will be available later this summer.

For more information on the UXS click here

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36 Responses to Bodyweight High Intensity Training Discussion and Demo

  1. Lio June 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Wow Drew, so helpful.
    I am doing H I T body weight for the last 2 months.
    I find it much easier on my back and joints, compare to regular gym.
    Usually I go to the kids playground, searching for the perfect positions.
    The UX looks great and it gives you all the answers and so much more.
    In average, after how many months one should move from twice a week to ones a week ?
    Thanks again.
    Lio

    • Drew Baye June 18, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Lio,

      The proper training volume and frequency depends on your body’s response to exercise, your goals, and your schedule. As long as you are making good progress training twice weekly there is no need to cut back. Experiment, evaluate, adapt accordingly.

  2. Chris Highcock June 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Thanks for this Drew. An excellent instructional video, full of valuable little nuggets of information.

    Best wishes

    Chris

  3. Bob June 18, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Drew,

    Thank you for all you blog posts and videos, they are great!
    I want a UXS – so cool!

    I have been doing a similar routine for a few months now, it is amazing what just 15-30 minutes a week can do.

    What would be the pros and cons of splitting the routine up?
    Squat one day, dips the next – etc. ?
    Thank you.

    • Drew Baye June 18, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      Bob,

      Even if you split a workout up or do only a few exercises per day there is a lot of overlap in muscular involvement between exercises and a systemic effect which could interfere with recovery from previous workouts. Some of the cardiovascular and metabolic benefit would probably be lost by making the workouts too brief. Unless you work out at home or work at a gym or training studio and are there most days of the week you would also waste a lot of time traveling to only do one set.

      Better to do one or two brief, full-body workouts per week than an exercise or two each day.

      • Don Hyrkas July 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

        Thanks! Haven’t had to go to the gym in a while….this old Geezer’s doing pretty good w/out it thanks to you!

        • Drew Baye July 28, 2013 at 10:52 am #

          Don,

          You’re welcome. That’s all I’ve been doing for a few months now and I prefer it to going to the studio as well. Workouts are just as effective but far more time efficient, and it is much easier to focus when there aren’t kick boxing or karate classes going on right next to where I am working out.

  4. JLMA June 18, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    excelente, Drew!

    what criteria should be used over time to vary the order in which these body-weight exercises are performed?

    thanks!

    • Drew Baye June 18, 2013 at 10:08 am #

      JLMA,

      I recommend doing the exercises in order from harder to easier while alternating between different muscle groups unless you’re intentionally pre-exhausting. I will be covering this in detail in the bodyweight HIT book I’m writing.

      • JLMA June 18, 2013 at 10:57 am #

        Great, thanks. Very helpful.

        Other topics I’d like to see/suggest covered in that book are:
        (1) why neutral grip for body weight row but palm-facing-forward for chic ups?,
        (2) how to optimize use of a weighted vest with these “body-weight” exercises (like how to know when to add weight inserts over time?, and how to choose the best one-total-weight-fit-all-exercises-in-same-session vest weight instead of having to add or remove weight inserts for each individual exercise)?
        (3) lower-back BODY-weight exercises that help prevent lower back pain from muscular (or other?) cause?

        I understand if you do not wish to cover those. Just suggestions.

        Thanks!

        • Drew Baye June 18, 2013 at 11:03 am #

          JLMA,

          The hands should be supinated (palms facing back) for chin ups. If the palms are pronated (facing forward) you are doing a pull up. Rowing can effectively be performed with a variety of grips, depending on the equipment available and goals.

          Vests, belts, and other ways of adding weight will be mentioned but will not be a major focus.

          Low back exercises are going to be covered.

      • Lio June 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

        Cant wait for the book

  5. JLMA June 18, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Sorry, I meant to say (if equipment availability were not an issue) “why not neutral grip for chin ups instead of palms facing BACK?” (I do not need the answer now; I’ll wait for the book, if it will cover this). Thanks again.

    • Drew Baye June 18, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      JLMA,

      Biceps are in a stronger position when the hands are supinated, but people with certain wrist or elbow problems may find the neutral grip more comfortable (which is why the UXS has close, neutral-grip pull up handles).

  6. marklloyd June 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Intentional Antagonistic Co-Contraction is most fascinating to me. It could be fairly called “Internal Strength Training”. Safe speed is virtually guaranteed, as antagonism is lost at higher speeds, and the mind is being trained as much as the body. Unfortunately the virtually meditative technique, with a consistently productive level of effort, is close to impossible to coach.

    • Drew Baye June 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      Mark,

      I believe it is highly effective, but it is difficult both to perform and to teach. I’m trying to figure out a way to make it easier to teach and learn.

    • JLMA June 25, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      I find the concept of co-contracting antagonistic muscles fascinating too.

      And practicing it seems to me it should be like attempting to sing a tune while some other totally-different song is playing on the stereo. Nearly impossible… ;-)

      • Drew Baye June 26, 2013 at 8:52 am #

        JLMA,

        IAC takes time to learn and to become proficient but it isn’t impossible. Fortunately, if the exercises are done correctly they’re hard enough as they are.

  7. Andy June 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Drew,
    On a previous blog you wrote:
    “I prefer to keep people closer to a 60 to 90 second set duration and I think even that is erring on the long side for safety.”
    Do you believe that a TUL of 30 to 60 secs can often be an optimum stimulus for muscle growth?

    • Drew Baye June 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

      Andy,

      Time under load is not as important as relative effort, and a pretty broad range can be effective for most individuals as long as they are working hard and progressively. Using a little longer TUL provides a greater safety margin when you achieve momentary muscular failure and are working at maximum intensity though, and allows for more of a cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning effect. It is a balance of many factors.

  8. Bradley Warlow June 25, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Hi Drew,
    Can the anatgonistic co-contraction be done for every muscle group without using weight?

    • Drew Baye June 25, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Bradley,

      It can be done for every muscle group, but may not be practical for some like the hip extensors which don’t have strong enough antagonists.

  9. Nils Bokström June 26, 2013 at 4:47 am #

    Hi Drew

    Excellent blog and knowledge! Thanks a lot for sharing.
    I have a question regarding stretching. As a warm up procedure I know it is a disaster but what about post workout? Earlier, during my pre-true-HIT-according-to-Baye time, when I used to do some interval training, tabata-type, I found it beneficial for me. However, now days I never feel the need/urge/benefit from doing post stretching. How is this possible? Less micro-damage in the tissue?

    BR
    Nils

    • Drew Baye June 26, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Nils,

      You are correct about stretching being a bad idea before a workout, but Wayne Westcott performed a few studies years ago showing groups that stretched after strength training had better strength increases than those who did not. However, like strength training, most people stretch wrong.

      You may feel less benefit or relief from stretching after high intensity training than sprint interval training because during a HIT workout you are not doing set after set for the same muscle group over a limited ROM.

  10. marklloyd July 9, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    RenEx seems to believe dips are bad risk/reward for average trainees. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Drew Baye July 9, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Mark,

      I agree. Unless you are strong enough to do them correctly you shouldn’t be doing them. For most average trainees, correctly performed push ups are a better choice.

  11. Don Hyrkas July 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Drew, Great material as always. From what I’m distilling from all the discussion is that total bodyweight workouts typically are done twice a week? (Every 3 to 4 days as recovery allows) And if so, one set for each exercise to failure using a slow cadence, which is more important than TUL (60-90 sec)?

    As for the 3 x 3 WO: Do I understand that to be 3 exercises done for 3 circuits, as in Squats, Rows, Push Ups? To failure on each circuit?

    Grazie!
    Don

    • Drew Baye July 27, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      Don,

      I recommend three days a week for the first six to eight weeks then cutting back to two workouts a week and adjusting from there based on individual response, goals, and schedule.

      The 3×3 is a circuit of three exercises, performed three times, each exercise to momentary muscular failure and no rest in between exercises.

  12. Shel January 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    I’ve been using co-contraction exercises for 60 yrs. I also lifted weights and did bodyweight protocols as well. Thanks for validating a system which works(co-contraction).although most folks poo poo it, I’ve always found it effective.

    • Drew Baye January 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      Shel,

      I will be writing more on intentional antagonistic co-contraction soon. There are studies which show it is possible to increase muscle activation significantly with it, and it makes it possible to exercise very intensely with very little external resistance, making it a very safe and practical option for people who train with bodyweight or who train at home and do not have relatively heavy weights to work with.

  13. Robert G July 11, 2014 at 12:28 am #

    Just thinking…Perhaps you could also do some type of deadlift with that thing if you had a strong chain/rope attached to a bar that quickly attaches to one end of that entire UX. That way you could lift one side of it up and down.

    • Drew Baye July 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

      Hey Robert,

      I considered adding a plate-loading lever with attachment points for belts and handles for deadlifts and hip-belt squats but it would have been in the way of some bodyweight exercises. I have incorporated this into the modular rack system I am designing, however.

  14. Zidan July 20, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I performed back squats the same way you demonstrated bodyweight squats, for 10 reps, then I dropped the weight and immediately did bodyweight squats for another 10 reps, then I immediately performed a 90 degree wall-sit hold for 37 seconds….I literally could not stand after that. I’ve never managed to reach that ‘not being able to walk’ moment in leg training. Thanks Drew. But now I’ve come across a problem, I was supposed to perform a set of bent over rows at the end of that workout, but my legs were too tired to get into the position….now I’m not sure where to put bent over rows in my routine…that’s kind of good and bad at the same time. Performing push-ups the way you demonstrated also woke me up to just how weak I really am. Thanks for that too I guess….

    • Drew Baye July 25, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Zidan,

      There is no need to perform back squats, bodyweight squats and a squat hold or wall-sit back to back like that. Space them out a bit further, and put the rows earlier in the workout.

      If you find push-ups hard it doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re doing them correctly. When done properly push-ups can be challenging for even very strong trainees.

      • Zidan July 25, 2014 at 11:45 am #

        Okay, now I’m really confused. I thought doing supersets like that was a HIT technique?

        • Drew Baye July 25, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

          Zidan,

          I think you’re confusing supersets with pre-exhaustion. Supersetting, performing multiple sets of the same or similar exercises in a row unnecessarily increases the volume of work for the target muscles and goes against the high intensity training principle of keeping workouts relatively brief. Pre-exhaustion, performing a set of a simple exercise followed immediately by a compound exercise targeting the same muscle group, is not done to increase the volume but to extend the work performed by the target muscle group with the assistance of the other muscles involved in the compound exercise, similar to forced reps.

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