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The Benefits Of Body-Weight Workouts

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Find yourself low on funds and need to ditch the gym membership? On vacation far from civilization? In prison?

Whatever the circumstances, there's a workout for you!

When it comes to toning up, building strength or adding muscle, your body can't tell the difference between a push-up and a barbell bench press.

It's all just muscles contracting.

Take this example from Men's Fitness:

PUSH OVER THE BENCH
I'll be blunt: A guy shouldn't even attempt to pick up a dumbbell until he can handle his own body weight. After all, if the load you're already carrying is too heavy, there's no sense in making it tougher. The problem is, most guys don't realize how tough body-weight-only training really is. I'm continually amazed by how many people I meet who can bench press a very heavy load but can't complete 10 good pushups. There are a number of reasons: First, the bench press is a more stable exercise (your body rests on a bench), so you automatically have the support you need to hoist heavier weights. Furthermore, when you bench, your central nervous system only needs to coordinate the efforts of your chest, shoulders, and triceps. The pushup, on the other hand, puts you in a more awkward position (balancing above the floor), and it requires work from your abs, lower back, rotator cuffs, and legs just to stabilize each rep. So basically, the pushup is a tougher exercise.

But by mastering the pushup, you automatically set yourself up for big bench-press gains (even if you're already the strongest MFer in the gym). Forgoing it for more of the same, however, can be hazardous: Benching regularly without training the auxiliary muscles the pushup hits can cause some major weak links in your bench-press chain, which, if not addressed, will lead to quick plateaus in the amount you can lift, as well as injuries (usually to the rotator cuff ). If your goal is fat loss or improved athletic performance, there are even more compelling reasons to revisit the pushup in your routine. In addition to burning more calories than bench presses do, pushups are a much more functional exercise, helping to prepare you for a number of sports. Ask yourself this: What good is putting up 250 lbs on the bench if you can't apply that strength in the heat of battle?

In my opinion, unless you can do 20 pushups with ease, you have no business doing a bench press. In fact, at my facility-which is home to five worldchampion lifters and professionals from every sport-everyone begins their training with body-weight exercises. You have to earn the right to lift weights.

GYM MUSCLE
Let's say you can pass my pushup test- that doesn't mean you're above bodyweight training. Gymnasts train with their own weight almost exclusively and often have better bodies and strength levels than your average bodybuilder or weightlifter. That's especially incredible when you bear in mind that their sport isn't at all based on body aesthetics or max lifts. According to Nick Grantham, C.S.C.S., former conditioning coach for the Great Britain Olympic Gymnastics team, after years of body-weight training alone, the majority of male gymnasts are able to bench press double their body weight the first time they ever slide under a bar. If that doesn't prove the efficacy of body-weight training, nothing will.

So you hear that??

Can you do even one push-up??

At home? Drop down and give us at least one!

In the office? Maybe wait til you're at home. LOLz!

Either way, if you can't do one, do ten "girly" style (knees down).

We challenge you to try it!

[Image via Wikimedia Commons.]

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