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With a variety of body-weight and plyometric exercises available, you can create a very effective workout that's short on time,

Posted May 30 2011 7:59am



What You Need To Know

The No. 1 requirement for muscle growth is an overloading stimulus.
Weights can be substituted with your body weight, gravity, instability, or momentum.

A thorough workout without weights can be just as taxing - and effective - as one with.


Some individuals have the goal of developing strength, yet they don’t want to use weights to do so. Whether it’s because in these financially tense times they can’t afford a gym membership, they want to give their CNS a break from the heavy lifting, or they are just looking for a change of pace from their traditional workout program, these guys are on the hunt for a workout that will boost strength without the weights.

Can it be done? You bet. With a variety of body-weight and plyometric exercises available, you can create a very effective workout that’s short on time, but high on results.

Here’s what you need to know about weight training without weights.

The overload factor
The No. 1 requirement for muscle growth is an overloading stimulus: essentially a stress the muscle has not encountered before.

The key factor to keep in mind here is that this stress does not need to come from weighted plates. It can come from your body weight, gravity, instability, or momentum.

If you look at many professional athletes such as gymnasts, they are incredibly strong yet many are not in the weight room every day hoisting extremely heavy weights around. They develop their strength through gymnastic-specific training such as work on the beam, rings and the floor that is essentially weight training without weights.

Therefore, if you are able to incorporate these aspects into a body-weight workout program, you will still be able to generate the strength levels that you’re looking for.

The workout

Lower body
Jump squats with a pause in the squat position -
3 sets of 8 reps
To perform this exercise, move down into a full squat position and then explode off the floor, jumping as high as possible. Upon landing, move back down into the squat position, stopping halfway down to pause for a count of 5 seconds before finishing the squat and rebounding off the ground again.

Step-ups -
3 sets of 20 reps with a 2:0:2 tempo
While step-ups are traditionally done with a barbell across the back, if you use a step that’s high enough and take the rep range higher while slowing down the tempo, you’re really going to feel this exercise.

Half-to-full stationary lunge -
2 sets of 15 reps with a 2:1:3:1 tempo
Get into the position you would use to do a single stationary lunge and then begin the movement until you are halfway through the typical lunge movement. Reverse the direction back to the starting position again, and then proceed to complete the full lunge motion to complete one set.

Single-leg rising deadlift
2 sets of 15 reps with a 3:1:3 tempo
Begin in an upright standing position and then simultaneously begin to lift one leg off the floor behind you while bending over with the body until your leg and body are perpendicular with the standing leg (both legs remain straight). Hold for a single count before returning to the starting position and switch legs after all reps are completed.

Upper body

Alternating push-up to side plank -
3 sets of 15 reps with a 2:1:4 tempo
Begin by performing a standard push-up, taking two seconds to lower and one to rise back up. Once you’re at the top of the movement again, you are to flip onto your side and perform a side plank, holding that for a count of 4 seconds, moving back into the push-up position before you complete the next rep.

Pull-up with pike - (advanced)
3 sets of 15 reps with a 2:2:2:1 tempo
Start by performing the traditional pull-up movement, but once you reach the bottom of the movement, move into a pike trying to get your legs up to at least waist level. After the pike is completed, continue on with your next pull-up.

Single-leg tricep dips -
2 sets of 15 reps with a 2:0:2 tempo
Get into a standard dip position, with your legs up on a bench or box. Once you're balanced, lift one leg off that box and perform the tricep dips from there. This will call your core into play to a much larger extent due to the fact you have a reduced base of support. Remember to do equal sets on each leg.

Inverted row -
2 sets of 15 reps with a 2:1:2 tempo
Begin by lying on the floor with a broomstick or pole across two level surfaces. From there, grasp the bar as you would if you were doing a bent-over row (upside down) and pull the body up to meet the bar. Make sure your pole is well supported and not at an angle.

So, give the above workout a try next time you are looking to boost your strength levels and try something new. Even though you aren’t using weights, don’t write these exercises off as easy -- they aren’t that at all. They are definitely going to challenge your abilities and put your fitness levels to the test.
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