3 Simple Tricks to Make Bodyweight Exercise Harder

When I talk to hardcore gym rats about bodyweight exercise, it’s always the same response: it’s too easy. I like to follow up by asking them to knock out a set of sliding pause pullups, and maybe a set of single leg rockback squats. That’s usually all it takes to help them see the light.

Unfortunately, I can’t always be there to suggest more difficult bodyweight movements. And that brings us to the point of today’s post. Below, I’ll talk about three easy ways to make bodyweight exercises tougher.

Use Pauses

If you’ve never used pauses, prepare to be absolutely amazed at how much tougher they make any movement. Adding a pause at the bottom position of a pushup or squat is a good example. Here’s the coolest part – the pause doesn’t even have to be long. If you’re looking for a small difficulty increase, just pause for a short second. If you’re ready to make a bigger jump, aim for three to five seconds.

 

Create Combinations

Exercise your creativity by linking exercises together. Good combinations don’t act as separate movements. Instead, they create a new movement that’s probably twice as hard as the original. Floor-based exercises work particularly well here, but try to think outside the box. You might be surprised what you can come up with.

A floor-based combination might have you start from the plank position, drop to the floor to complete a pushup, hold the plank for 5 seconds, and finish with five mountain climbers on each side. If that’s not your style, create a jumping combination by starting with a squat jump, adjusting your legs mid-air to land in a split squat, knocking out a jumping lunge on each side, then returning to the squat position.

 

Reduce Base of Support

We talked about using base of support (BOS) here to regress an exercise, but now we’re interested in the opposite. Don’t worry – it’s just as simple. If squats become too easy, raise a leg to create single-leg squats. If pushups become too easy, pull one foot off the ground and let that leg hang free. Or, if you’re feeling especially wild, pull an arm off the ground to create one-arm pushups.

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