So here we are at the end of another fun-filled week. If the impending apocalypse that’s hitting the news outlets comes tomorrow, there’s not much point in any of this, but I feel pretty secure that we will all be just fine come Sunday morning. Therefore, let’s get on with it.
Monday we covered fundamental stretching, Wednesday we discussed the 7 most fundamental exercises, and today, we’re going to look at how to structure your exercises to get the most out of them and build your own customized routine for maximum results in minimal time.
I recommend you start out with one set of each exercise and advance to 2 sets once mastery of each exercise is reached. The number of reps in these single sets is determined by your strength and mastery of the exercises. Meaning, do as many reps of each exercise as you can in one set. Once you move to doing 2 sets, decrease your rep count. Terminate the set when you still feel like you can do 3 or 4 more reps. Do your second set to failure.
Now, let me define failure. Failure is when you can no longer physically perform a full rep with Correct Form. I emphasize correct form for a reason. Just doing sloppy reps until you can’t move, isn’t going to get you anywhere. Form is important.
Ideally, you want to develop equal strength in opposing muscle groups. (remember, the push-up and horizontal pull-up combo?) For opposing muscle groups, a 2/3 ratio is perfectly acceptable. Let me clear this up a bit first. If you can do 30 push-ups you should be able to do 20 horizontal pull-ups. You can narrow that gap as you progress using the fundamental exercises by adjusting your rep count as you gain strength.
For the remaining exercises, mainly core strength and stability builders, your targets should be:
Half-bridge – More than 50 with correct form
Side planks – More than 30 for each side (60 total)
Reverse Crunches – more than 50 with correct form.
These target rep counts are set as goals before moving to more advanced exercises and bodyweight routines.
For most people working out this way three times a week will be sufficient. If you want to be more aggressive, then 4 or 5 will definitely make you stronger faster. However, beware of overtraining and the dangers of overtraining.
Choosing your rep pattern is key to keeping your routine interesting and challenging. If you are familiar with a “ladder” then you can use that technique. If not, I’ll explain it. Pick a rep count. Say 10, for an example. Do 10 reps, rest, do 9 reps, rest and so on until you get to 1 rep. Once you can go down and back up a ladder of all the fundamental exercises, you are ready to move on to more challenging exercises and routines.
If you are just beginning a workout routine after being sedentary for long time or recovering from a serious injury, then partial movements (knee push-ups) will help you get going toward your goals. For some, simply holding the starting position for push-ups or the flexed position for horizontal pull-ups will be a challenge. Try to hold the position for a 20 count and rest. Repeat.
Your introduction to the fundamentals of bodyweight exercise is now complete. Please feel free to browse the rest of the site to see all the variations available for you once you master the fundamentals of bodyweight exercise.
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