Body Weight Exercises Only Good for Endurance?????
by Matt Furey
Back from China with today's special report. Take a seat - this one is going to send shock waves through your keister.
A couple days ago a friend sent me a jpeg of a Shaolin monk doing a handstand. No big deal, right? Except for the fact that he was doing it on two fingers (the index finger of each hand).
In my library I have the original video of hard training done at the Shaolin temple in China, featuring a much younger Jet Li. Among many other feats of strength, mind power and internal conditioning, was the footage of a 90-year old monk doing a one-finger handstand. One finger!!!
This brings me to the central them of today's dispatch. There are some who claim that bodyweight exercises are for "endurance only" and the only way to get strong is through weight lifting. Before telling you how asinine, ridiculously dumb and brainless this notion is, let me once again preface my comments by saying that "I am not against weight training or weight lifting."
Although I don't train with weights - I am not against the practice. It has helped many people and continues to do so. I simply believe that my approach is better for all-around fitness. When you do bodyweight exercises, you simultaneously increase strength, endurance and flexibility. You also strengthen the heart and lungs and improve the functioning of all internal organs. Bodyweight exercises give you a tune-up, inside and out - and they make you feel like a billion bucks.
Now, back to the idiotic notion that bodyweight exercises are only for endurance.
First of all, even if this were true, there would be nothing wrong with that. What most people in the world today need, more than anything, is endurance. Most people go to work tired and come home exhausted. They have bodies that are so racked with pain (more from lack of use than from abuse), that they are practically ready for the scrap heap at age 30, and most likely sooner. Sure weight training can help increase energy, but not nearly as much as "Combat Conditioning." No friggin way. It's not even close.
Don't believe me? I understand. But let's find out for sure before you dis me. Here's what you can do to test my assertion: Each morning for the next week, get your ass out of bed and do 100 pushups. Don't simply take note of how much your muscles are working. Note how the exercise makes you breathe.
I'll bet it's heavy. And this heavy breathing opens the flood gates to your lungs. It brings more oxygen into the blood stream and this is the key to ENERGY and strength. In fact, Farmer Burns said it best in his 1914 mailorder course, "Lessons in Wrestling and Physical Culture," - "Deep breathing alone has made many a weak man strong and many a sick man well."
Second, when someone says that bodyweight exercises only build endurance, you must ask them, "What bodyweight exercises are you talking about?"
Are you saying that one-legged squats or one-arm pushups only build endurance? I don't think so. I have taken people who can squat 500+ pounds and watched them fail when attempting ONE one-legged squat.
And how about one-arm pushups? Let's suppose the person can do 10 regular one-arm pushups. Okay, then let's see him do a one-arm Hindu pushup. Better yet, how about a one-arm Hindu pushup on his fingertips?
The truth is, if the person who espouses this garbage can't do the bodyweight exercises just mentioned, regardless of how much he can bench, squat, deadlift or curl, he WILL gain strength from performing them.
And hear this: It will be a long, long, long, long, long friggin time before he'll be able to do these exercises in HIGH numbers. In fact, chances are excellent he'll never get past five reps; an accepted number of repetitions in the strength department.
Now, how about some more bodyweight exercises for strength?
How about elevated handstand pushups? Or handstand pushups on your fingertips? Or tiger-bend handstand pushups (forearms touch the floor)? Or one-arm pullups? Or two-finger pullups? Or rope climbing with one rope in each hand? Or muscle ups and the iron cross from gymnastics?
The list goes on and on.
Now let me answer the $100,000 question. Will high-repetition bodyweight squats, pushups and bridging make you stronger?
You bet your sweet ass they will.
Here's evidence from my own training. Before going to China, for an entire month, I cracked off 500 assorted pushups every single day. That's right. I did 500 EVERY DAY. I didn't do them 2-3 times a week. I busted a hump every single day.
In my training, there was only one day in which I did pushups from the handstand position. And I did them with my palms on the floor, not on stools or chairs. I did one set of 10 reps and that was it.
At the end of my month-long training program, I tested myself in handstand pushups - one of the most difficult for people to perform. But my test was not from the palms-on-the-floor-position. It was with my hands elevated on two kitchen table chairs.
In the past I was unable to do a full handstand from the chairs. I was at least a foot away from making it a reality.
And just so you know, when you do a handstand pushup from the chairs, you have to go at least 17 inches further than you do in a regular handstand.
Now guess what? After doing 500 horizontal pushups per day for a month, I tried to do the handstand pushup from a chair. The vertical position. As I lowered myself, I couldn't believe how much power I felt in my arms. I went all the way down and touched my head to the floor. Then I sprung back up like a cat pouncing on a mouse. It was so easy I did another and another.
Now that's what I call progress. I also call it strength.
Don't think it's a big deal? Think that a 400 pound bench is a better indication of strength? Then take the guy with the 400-pound bench and see if he can do it.
I'll bet you a ham and cheese omelet he can't