2013 Goals – Bodyweight Exercises

In order of priority the three kinds of physical activity I am focusing on are running, body-weight work, and rock climbing.  Being me, there are  of course tons of other types of exercises I dabble in, including cross country skiing, cycling, tennis, swimming, boxing, lifting, the list goes on.  But I’m not taking any of those particularly seriously.  The only activities I’m setting goals for this year are running and body-weight.  I enjoy climbing immensely, and hope to do more of it in the coming year, but I am also realistic enough to know I am never going to be able to give the sport the time needed to get truly good at it.

I’ve already written about my running goals, here are some thoughts on body-weight training.

Body weight training has always appealed to the minimalist in me, I love the simplicity, and I aspire to have the grace and strength to weight ratio of people like Jim Bathhurst from Beast Skills.

How to get there?  I’m taking a four pronged approach – research, strength building, increased flexibility and skills training.

Research

First, I’m researching, thinking, watching and reading.  Soon I’ll be doing a lot more writing.  I’ve been dipping into Overcoming Gravity, the best book I’ve found on body-weight training.  I’m watching tons of youtube videos and I’m pestering Joe at movementmovement for help.  I have a lot more to learn. For now I’m going to focus on building strength at the major body-weight exercises, improving my flexibility, and developing two skills – one upper body and one lower body.

Strength

For strength, I’m going with  four foundational body-weight exercises – push ups, pull ups, dips and squats.  I’ll be doing these every other day with goals of 100 push ups,30 pull ups, 50 dips, and 100 squats in single sets.  I’ll be doing all four exercises in a single session three times a week, tentatively on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays.  Lumping them all together in a single day will likely slow my strength progression, but such are the breaks.  For the push ups I’ll be using the 100 push up challenge program.  For the other exercises I’ll just be slowing inching up the reps.  This program starts tomorrow.  I’m excited.

Flexibility

There is substantial debate about whether increased flexibility is good or bad for endurance athletes.  This is what I know – stretching feels good and the more flexible I am, the better I feel.  When I was coming back from Achilles injury last year, flexibility played a big role in my recovery.  I’m going to keep that up and make a commitment to extensive stretching every evening, with special attention to my hamstrings, hips, ankles, and shoulders.  I’m still toying with this routine.  I’ll post more details at some point.

Skills

Finally, this winter I’ll be working two longer term skills – the free standing handstand and the pistol.  I chose the handstand because its foundational for so much else that I want to do, and it’s a fucking bad-ass move to pull out at picnics.  The pistol is an incredible test of strength, flexibility, and balance.  Plus, it is supposed to help my rock climbing.

For these skills I’ll be using the tutorials Jim has on Beastskills, plus some guidance from my good buddy Joe.  For now, I’ll be working these skills at the start of my body-weight workout sessions.  Once I have some strength, I’ll probably start working the handstand and the balance aspects of the pistol every day.

I know what you’re thinking – “Geesh Sean, that’s a lot. How are you going to fit all this all in ?”  Here’s how I’m thinking it will break down:

It could be I am biting off more than I can chew, I’ve been known to do that.  If I have, I’ll regroup.  But for now, this is the schedule.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
AM Easy Run AM

Easy Run

AM

“workout” Run

AM

Easy Run

AM

Easy Run

AM

Long Run

AM

Rest

PM

Stretch

PM

Bodyweight/

Stretch

PM

Stretch

PM

Bodyweight/

Stretch

PM

Stretch

PM

Stretch

PM

Climb/ Bodyweight/

Stretch

Although they are boring, and no one reads them, I’ll going to be bringing back to weekly training total posts to track my progress.  Here’s to a year of injury free fun!

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About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
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5 Responses to 2013 Goals – Bodyweight Exercises

  1. chasingthekenyans says:

    handstands are pretty cool. i can only do them against the wall currently. they’re also the reason i quit gymnastics after 1 year haha.

    while it’s easy to see why we are obsessed with running and logging miles, i agree that it’s important to balance things out with other exercises like this. hard to squeeze it in since exercise isn’t our job, but important!

    • seanv2 says:

      I totally agree, Lindsay. I love to run, and its still my primary physical activity, but I’m really excited to learn some stupid human tricks this year! Now to find the time…

  2. smt says:

    Great to see you posting so much!

    I’ve been kind of changing up my workout routine as well recently, mostly by incorporating a lot more high intensity work (with this group here in Boston that I try to workout with three mornings a week.) In terms of getting fit, i.e. losing body fat, it has delivered results pretty much faster than anything else I’ve done (in addition to it being HIIT, it’s cardio plus muscle work at the same time). Anyway, one of the things we do has been super duper easy for me to implement into my own workouts, and I thought I’d share the idea with you because I think it’s kind fo great. Hope you don’t mind.

    The workout involves taking a deck of cards — well shuffled — and assigning one exercise to each suit. Exercises could be pushups, burpees, sit ups, v-ups, lunge jumps, froggy jumps, body weight squats…whatever you want. And then you flip through the deck one card at a time and do that many of the exercise. (J=11, Q=12, K=13, A=14) The benefits of this are that you 1. do 104 of four different body weight exercises, everytime (sometimes I’ll do the same exercise for two suits — all black are squats, for example), 2. you don’t have the whole routine in your head to begin with, so it’s hard to dread another set of 20 (though sometimes you will wind up doing a set of 8 folowed by a set of 14 of the same thing, which is hard) 3. it takes 15-20 minutes, which is just long enough to be 5 minutes too long, so I always maintain a pretty high heart rate trying to get through the deck asap.

    I actually usually do it in the middle of a run — i.e. put the deck in my pocket, run to some location, do the deck, and run home (3/deck/3), which has the additional benefit of putting you in the position to do the second half of your run fairly fatigued. Anyway, just thought I’d share the idea.

    Also, if you are serious about the handstand, maybe consider adding more abs/core work, since that’s where a lot of balance comes from?

    • seanv2 says:

      Stephanie, I can also count on you to bring the genius work out ideas! Thanks, this deck idea sounds awesome!

      Currently, I’m working on four body weight exercises, squat, push up, pull ups and dips. No way I can do 104 pull ups in a session. What exercises are you using?

      And last night as I was practicing the handstand, I realized that yeah, much as I dread it, I’m going to have to start doing v-ups or something for my core.

      • smt says:

        I try to vary the exercises I do every time I do it. But standards are squats, pushups, crunches. Oftentimes I’ll double the squats because my legs are already strong and I can do 208 of them. (One time I did 416 which was a bit crazy) But some other things I’ve done (mostly lower body/core because I STILL have an arm issue from last spring, can’t really add much on top of 104 pushups)
        –jumps — what I called “froggy jumps” — squat in a frog like position and jump straight up, land back in frog position
        –find a bench and do jumps up onto the bench
        –jump over stationary object (front/back, side-to-side)
        –one legged step-ups onto a really high half-wall
        –lunge jumps (do a deep lunge with your legs split and both knees bent at 90 degrees, and then jump to switch which leg is in front and which is in back)
        –v-ups with exercise ball (lay on your back with hands over head, grab exercise ball with your feet — v-up and pass it to your hands, lower ball down to touch ground above head, v-up to pass to your feet, lower down to touch ball to ground, repeat)

        But the only limit is your imagination! For a while I was doing the Insanity Workout (P90X without the weights) when I was in France and it was 45 deg and rainy and all I had to workout in was a tank top and shorts, and there are all sorts of body weight things in that that you could use. Hindu pushups are also coming to mind (stretching and strength). Generally I figure that the more I vary the exercises that I’m doing, the better, as everything will work my body slightly differently. Plus the less likely I am to get bored of things, which I’ve realized is huge in terms of maintaining my fitness levels long term.

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