Training for strength, athleticism, and physical mastery is often associated with gyms, barbells, and dumbbells. While the aesthetic appeal of a massive bench press or squat may be alluring, these movements do not always represent true mastery of our own bodies and physical abilities. The first step to truly mastering our physical capabilities is utilizing the most important weight we have available to us: our own bodyweight. Aim for a practical and simple training philosophy if your goal is to sculpt a functional physique.
Crawl Before You Walk (or Lift)
The physical development process starts at birth and progresses through adulthood. We learn how to perform basic movements as babies; beginning with rolling over, then crawling, walking, and so on. In an ideal world, the skills we acquire stick with us, and we continue to add to them with new movement over time. However, the modern world generally does not present itself as an ideal place for physical development.
One of the best workout practices is to go back to the basics. Workouts designed with all four limbs in mind are often excellent for our mobility and strength. Anyone who has bear-crawled a football field can attest to the challenge these workouts present. Incorporating crawls, crab walks, and frog hops into your routine will have you on your way to becoming a bodyweight master.
Relative Body Strength
Once we’ve progressed past crawling and walking, we’re ready to begin mastering our bodyweight with more advanced movements. With some creativity, the possibilities of bodyweight exercises are endless. That being said, nearly all training movements can be simplified to create a total-body workout that you can adjust to suit your needs over time. The basic movement patterns are squatting (or knee-dominant movements), bending (or hip-dominant movements), vertical pushing and pulling, horizontal pushing and pulling, twisting, and walking/running.
- Knee-dominant – Bodyweight Squats
- Hip-dominant – Floor Bridges
- Vertical Push – Handstands or Handstand Push-ups
- Vertical Pull – Pull-ups
- Horizontal Push – Push-ups
- Horizontal Pull – Inverted Rows
- Twisting or Rotation – Russian Twists or Iron Crosses
- Gait – Sprints
Getting Creative: Using Our Surroundings
The final step of our developmental process is situational awareness. Once you have an understanding of the basic movements and an awareness of your surroundings, any location becomes a functional training space. In the previous section, we discussed the mastery of fundamental movements. As we progress, the only limit to our training is our imagination.
For example, if you are traveling and stuck in a hotel with no fitness center or gym, a circuit of push-ups, pistol squats, door pull-ups, single-leg floor bridges, handstand holds, and Russian twists can be done without leaving the room.
Nature is also rife with opportunities to train and maintain our physical conditioning. If camping in a forest or wooded area, you have natural pull-up bars at your disposal and uneven terrain on which to perform challenging lunges. Training in an elevated area, like a hill or mountain, allows you to add uphill sprints and crawls into your program. Improve your physical literacy, and the possibilities will become endless.
Whether you are deep in the gym, or enjoying your workout outdoors, make sure you are stocked with Greater Than to give your body the hydration it deserves.