Thursday, January 19, 2017

Barbell Strong vs Bodyweight Strong

Last week we had a bodyweight-centric workout (the trendy term for that is gymnastics). I hadn't been programming much bodyweight work in the last year and when I started my 2017 programming outline I discovered that was a hole in our training. I fixed that - you'll be seeing much more bodyweight work.

My bias is towards lifting heavy weight, mainly because most of the strength literature I read is from guys who are fans of the barbell. I'm the strongest that I have ever been (in terms of how much I can lift with the barbell), but I happened to try some stuff that I used to be able to do years ago (high rep dips, high rep pull-ups, even push-ups) and realized that I lost much of what I could do. I started looking for a way to get more of the old-school gymnastics work in our programming. So I'm using the archives from Power Athlete HQ (before it got pay-walled) to inspire our workouts on high-intensity days.

There's a different kind of strength you need for bodyweight work. It usually involves the whole body at once. You need to tighten and brace in a way that you normally don't do with the barbell lifts. Chris Sommer, former USA Gymnastic Junior National Team coach, has a whole program based on this kind of work - even at my best I couldn't do his beginner stuff. The great thing about being bodyweight strong is that having the ability to brace your whole body and stay tight will help with your barbell lifts, so you will get barbell strong too.

So don't cherry pick the workouts that don't look like they're heavy. The bodyweight work is going to make you strong too.


squat 8-5-3x5
2 pull-ups + 2 dips between sets


9 rounds for time:
5 heavy deadlifts (65-70%)
5 push-ups (HSPU if you can)

Endurance Option

2 pull-ups + 2 dips between sets


9 rounds for time:
5 moderate deadlifts (50-60%)
5 push-ups

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