By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)
The term “selfies” has been ubiquitous since the explosive rise of social media, and like everyone knows (or should know), it pertains to taking a photo of yourself. The fitness world, jumping on the need to offer convenient methods of exercise in these busy times, has recently jumped on the “selfies” bandwagon in reference to performing a workout with no form of equipment whatsoever – that is, simply using your own bodyweight against the force of gravity. Since there is no requirement for equipment to be used, bodyweight training rules when it comes to convenience. This type of training has, of course, been around as long as physical exercise has been in human existence. It’s usually considered something that only beginners, women, or individuals rehabilitating from injury would perform, since it has inherent limitations in resistance. In general, intermediate to advance fitness athletes, sports athletes and advanced bodybuilders seldom perform bodyweight training – unless there’s a way in which they can spice it up somehow and transform its effectiveness one way or another.
Thinking Outside the Box
That’s where we come in now. Here’s another term for you, which in today’s society we all can’t help but encounter regularly: “thinking outside the box”. We’re going to take a foundation of bodyweight training and twist it into a powerful, effective form of full-body training using the specialty technique of slow negatives. In essence, this simply means that on the eccentric portion (first half) of the lifting action, you resist the gravitational pull in order to lengthen the time involved. Whereas a normal eccentric portion will take you about half a second to a full second, we are here going to take a full five seconds. This will make the second half of the lifting action (i.e. the concentric portion) more challenging in order to add intensity and build both muscle and strength more effectively.
Patience and Form
At this point, you’re likely nodding your head as you read this, thinking “Okay, I can do that, I can do that”. Your attitude may be that five seconds is simple since there is still no additional resistance involved, other than your own body weight. While it’s good (in fact, it’s great) to have a positive mindset, you should give due consideration to the fact that you’re going to need two key things: (1) patience; and (2) meticulous form. In terms of patience, we’re not talking a five-second slo-mo negative on just the last rep of the set; we’re talking a full five seconds for the first part of the lift for each and every rep of the workout. Once you try this for the first time, you’ll quickly observe it can be a substantial mental grind that tests the bounds of your patience. In terms of meticulous form, you’re going to have to make sure you preserve proper technique, otherwise once you go off on a tangent and sacrifice the quality of your form, you’ll quickly see a drop in effectiveness and the gains produced. Make sure that you do your best in terms of performing each rep in the right plane, both for your muscles in action, and the rest of your body while acting as stabilizers.
Time is of the Essence
One last consideration, which is related to the point we’ve just made about good form. Make sure you also employ good form when it comes to counting your cadence. As you fatigue within each set, you may subconsciously begin to count your five seconds faster and faster. “I gotta get to five,” you may tell yourself, and so you count at a quicker pace in order to pat yourself on the back for the successful negative. Sorry pal – that ain’t gonna wash. Five seconds is five seconds, both on your first rep and on your last rep of the set. So, don’t rush it along. If you hit failure, simply stop and rest before moving on to the next set. Give the negative portion its due; don’t short-change the clock since you’d only be short-changing yourself. Speaking of clocks, by all means, be sure to use the one on the wall at your gym, or a good stopwatch. Follow the plan, Stan – ‘cause you know you can!
As with the first two installments in this series, you wanted full-body training and we’re giving you full-body training. Beginning with your larger muscle groups to train while your energy level is freshest, you’ll perform a battery of exercises which target your quads, hamstrings, chest, back, triceps, bicep – even abs and glutes. The key component of this entire workout is to take five full seconds on the descent each and every rep. Make the positive portion count too, by using a full range of motion that doesn’t stop short. Use this workout on an ad hoc basis when you need a convenient, effective workout, or train for a full month three times a week using this protocol, then switch over to another method in order to sustain muscle stimulation and extend your gains even further.
Exercise Sets Reps Neg / Pos Rest
SUMO SQUAT 4 8 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.
WALKING LUNGE 4 8 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.
PUSH-UP 3 10 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.
NARROW-GRIP PUSH-UP 3 10 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.
WIDE-GRIP PULL-UP 3 8-10 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.
CHIN-UP 3 8-10 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.
GLUTES BRIDGE 3 10 5 / 1 secs. 1 min.