I’ve a Couple of Questions on Bodyweight Training…..


So said one of my Lunchtime training regulars the other day.

He wanted to know about the Hindu Push up, the One arm Push Up and the Pistol Squat.
He was asking what they were and how useful they are for his training goals.

But first what are his training goals. Graham is a Triathlete with a preference for swimming. He needs to be strong, coordinated and athletic, and he needs to maintain this for time.

So are the bodyweight drills above good for him?
Hell Yes!

First lets take the Hindu and 1 arm push ups and look at how they can help.
They are both upper body pushing actions, but come from opposite ends of the spectrum. The Hindu is fantastic but relatively easy and so suits high repetitions, it will open the chest, build massive endurance through the entire upper body and loosen up the hip flexors, hamstrings and spine, particularly the thoracic (area that your ribs attach to) which are all trouble spots for any endurance athlete.
The One arm push up is painfully hard, demanding massive amounts of stabilisation through the core and the shoulder joint. Swimming can be very hard on an athletes shoulders, the One Arm Push Up forces the serratus anterior and lats to work together to keep the shoulder stable, while the core has to be absolutely rigid to prevent the body twisting. Plus as a swimmer he pulls himself through the water with one arm at a time, it’s a good idea to train the arms unilaterally from time to time.
By combining the two into a training program, Graham can develop strength through the 1 arms and endurance from the hindu’s. A sample workout may look like this:

1A: One Arm Push Up Ladder (1 l/r, 2 l/r, 3 l/r) x 3-5 with 2-3 minute rests between series.
1B: Hindu Push Up 1 x max repetitions

In this manner he would build strength and stability first before moving to endurance and mobility.

What about the Pistol squat, how could that be of benefit?
Like the one arm push up, the pistol, or one legged squat, is demonically difficult. It will never develop huge bodybuilder legs, but it will certainly build strong legs.
As you perform this standing on one leg, the stabilisation and balance issues are huge. The foot must be strong, the knee must track perfectly, the hip must be mobile enough to allow the movement to happen, but stong enough to prevent the body tipping and the core is, as always, watching and correcting any wobble.
This is a beast of an exercise, and one that took me personally a long time to get the hang of!
However, our subject is a Triathlete, would this benefit him?
Yes, the extra brute strength, the greater stabilisation through the joints and the improved body control will undoubtedly help him running and cycling.
After all in both events only one leg at a time is producing force. I have improved many an athletes time by introducing them to single leg work (Pistol variants, Split Squats, 1 leg Deadlifts etc..)

He could use the same progression as listed above for the upper body drills, and combine the pistol squat with a higher repetition hindu or standard squat for endurance work. I recommend alternating Upper and lower body days, something like this:
Monday: Upper Body – Hard
Tues: Lower Body – Hard
Wed: Off
Thurs: Upper Body – Easy
Friday: Lower Body – Easy
Sat & Sun: Off

The whole workout should be done in less that 40 minutes and ought to leave enough in the tank for the other training activities involved in his sport.
But what if you’re not a triathlete?
Well, you’d still make great gains from bodyweight only training, aside from strength you’ll develop the balance, grace and poise of a wild animal. Coordinated, flowing powerful movements.
Sound good?

If so these drills are all featured in No Equipment, No Excuses, currently on offer as part of our Wild Geese anniversary eBook package, available here.

That article I promised on the best Kettlebell Lift for Fighters, well Paul, the other half of Wild Geese asked if I could put it over on the Martial Arts blog instead. So if you want to find out, please head over here

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