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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 22, 2009

Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention

By Mark Sisson
130 Comments

Despite our recent spate of posts extolling the many and varied benefits of heavy resistance training, I’ve actually been moving away from the weight room for a couple reasons. Foremost is my desire to stay active and as injury-free as possible. While I still wholeheartedly endorse and believe in lifting hard and lifting heavy, at my age I’m starting to realize that the potential for injury – at least for me, personally – is too great to risk spending three days lifting heavy things on a weekly basis. At this point in my life, my motivation is simply different. I’m not really interested in pushing myself to the limit, let alone past the limit (realistically, those days are behind me); I’m instead focusing on maintaining my current performance. It’s almost a Buddhist thing where I’m content with my strength and my body (and have been for a long time now), rather than dissatisfied and constantly striving for more. I also Grok (or “own”) the notion that my diet dictates 80% of my body composition, so I really don’t have to work so hard to maintain muscle mass, strength, power, body fat etc. I’ve touched on this in the past, but a recent email from reader Griffin made me realize a substantial post was in order.

A sample of my basic routine of the last few months goes something like this (you may notice I’m following a version of the basic Primal Workout Plan:

Monday

Mondays, I typically Lift Heavy Things, with the “Heavy Things” usually being my own body weight. I still manage to get a complete workout, though; I’m not just doing pushups and air squats. I may not load up the barbells much anymore (unless I want to make sure I still got it – which I do!), but I’ll sometimes contrive to add resistance and make my workouts actual weighted workouts. Okay, so here’s a recent Monday, when I focused on making explosive movements.

Plyometric explosive pushups, five sets of fifteen – Adding a little weight to your back (with a backpack or sandbag) if you want, do a standard pushup and throw yourself up off the floor on the way up as high as you can.

Pull-ups, five sets of fifteen – Mixing your grip up as you go along, perform a basic pull-up; or, perform a not-so-basic pull-up, like a weighted pull-up (in which case I’ll drop down to five reps depending on the weight) or an explosive pull-up, where I throw myself up as high as possible (usually chest height). You can even turn the pull-up into a row by keeping your body as close to parallel to the floor as you can manage.

Jump squats, five sets – Sometimes I add weight, sometimes not; depends on how I feel (which I only know when I get to the gym). Obviously, I do fewer reps if I’ve loaded with a vest or am holding dumbbells.

Kettlebell swings, five sets of fifteen seconds –I want to be sure I explode and use my hips to generate the power and swing the bell directly overhead.

So you’ve got the essential groups engaged: the press, the pull, the squat, and the hips. Nothing too heavy, but the jumping and the explosiveness make for a lot of intensity, and I can add weight if I want to (if Monday’s sprint was especially rough, I’ll usually keep it strictly body weight). I’ll don’t eat before or right after Tuesday’s explosive workouts.

Tuesday

Sprinting. Lately, I’ve been doing my sprints on a stationary bike rather than running. I kinda tweaked my hip a couple weeks back (see, there’s that injury thing), so I use a bike “workaround” until the hip resolves. I’m doing a brief warm-up and then going full tilt at top rpms and top resistance for 40 seconds, with a two minute rest between each sprint until I’ve done five or six. Then a brief cool down. Not that it matters (because we don’t count calories) but the total work done in the 25 minutes I’m on the bike is more than if I’d done it steadily as chronic cardio.

Wednesday

Rest or play. Sometimes rest means going on a hike or for a stand-up paddle, but I always make sure I enjoy these days. Play means play.

Thursday

HIIT. High intensity interval training. I love and dread these days, because I know I’m going to be done in around fifteen or twenty minutes, but I also know I’m going to stagger away with my butt thoroughly kicked. Anyway, HIIT can take many different forms. You could run Tabata sprints, do burpees till you fall over, or do an assortment of high speed pushups. Anything that gets your body moving and your muscles working at full speed/capacity will get the job done. In the past, I’ve really loved the classic “as many sets of five pull-ups, ten pushups, and fifteen air squats in fifteen minutes” routine, and that’s still great HIIT, but the past few weeks I’ve been messing around with various Tabata intervals. Today, for example, I plan on doing three sets of Tabata exercises (20 seconds full speed, 10 seconds rest, four minutes in total): squats, pushups, pull-ups. A total of twelve minutes long, and I’m already sucking wind in anticipation.

Last week I experimented with a new one: 150 reverse rows (VIDEO), 150 pushups and 150 unweighted squats for time. I did as many reverse rows as possible until I couldn’t do another, then rolled over and banged off as many pushups as possible, then stood up and did speed squats and then repeated the process until I had hit all my numbers. I guess the toughest part was keeping track of where I was on each exercise, but it was a bear.

Friday

Rest, play, or move slowly. I’m usually ready for a break from pushing, so these are more often than not pure rest days.

Saturday

This is my long, slow, easy aerobic day. I usually go for a 90-minute hike in the hills. I do it wearing minimalist shoes, typically my FiveFingers or my FeelMax Pankas. If not that, I might paddle or go for a mountain bike ride.

Sunday

I look forward to Sunday with the most anticipation. My gang (can I say that living in LA? Oh well) gets together for a 90-minute pick-up game of Ultimate. It’s the most fun I have all week and certainly calls into play all that strength, speed, agility and endurance I have been building all week. As I have said often, one of my personal goals is to make my Primal movement as play-oriented as possible.

Is it For You?

I’m fine with bodyweight training because I’m fine with my current physical makeup. If I wanted to pack on muscle or make strength gains, I would probably get under a heavy bar. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend bodyweight routines for everyone, but if you’re getting up there in the years and you’ve had injury issues, try them out. I’m still able to put up some decent weight when I try – not my all time 1 rep maximums, of course, but good enough. I can still do a ton of pull-ups in a row, I can still run sprints fast, and I have the confidence to face any situation – sport, physical obstacle – that might befall me. Need a tree climbed, a stranded cat rescued? Not a problem.

And really? Bodyweight training is more sustainable for more people. I know we get a lot of elite athlete and young adult readers (with their amazing ability to recover from heavy workouts – ah, I remember those days!), along with some CrossFit devotees, but they’ve already found their way. The above routine and my other suggestions for effective bodyweight exercises are realistic for anyone. Anyone could do at least a rough approximation of my workouts without risking injury, and most of my exercises can be performed in a hotel room or a park with a jungle gym. Also, I understand that women are often reluctant to hit the heavy weights. Though I fully endorse similar strength training plans for men and women, if you’re easing into a strength training program or just aren’t ready to jump into the squat rack just yet a bodyweight routine is a satisfactory alternative.

Bodyweight exercises are also sustainable because they reduce injuries. You can’t sustain steady exercise with missing cartilage or a chronically sprained ankle, can you? Of course, I’m not suggesting that weighted resistance training causes injuries; I’m merely suggesting that improperly performed weighted resistance training causes injuries. Bad form leads to injuries, as do people way in over their heads with too much weight. Bodyweight exercises, on the other hand, tend to be very forgiving of form (note, though, that good form promotes proper muscle activation, so it remains incredibly crucial regardless of the weight used) and involve relatively low weight, which takes care of both issues. That’s why I made the switch, at least: injuries were nagging me more and more frequently, and I realized that regularly lifting heavy weights at my age with my injury history (not to mention all those wear-and-tear years of running mile after mile) was just asking for trouble. I just couldn’t risk the punishment of injury. Downtime is my mortal enemy, and every minute of every day is precious to me. Honestly, I do sometimes miss the thrill of pushing, pulling, pressing, and squatting heavy weights, but not enough to compromise my quality of life.

The Primal Blueprint is about longevity, health, and vitality, but it’s also about lifelong functional fitness and power-to-weight ratios. Once you Grok that notion and internalize it, you realize that quality of life is everything – after all, what use is functional fitness if you’re injured half the time?

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92 Comments on "Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention"

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Erin
Erin
7 years 1 month ago

i’m the most muscular, toned, and strong that i’ve ever been since starting intense forms of yoga, like vinyasa/power yoga. with moves like planks, side planks, and chaturangas, i consider it to be a form of “bodyweight exercise.” i don’t know if you agree with that statement, but it has started to transform my body!

Bonnie
Bonnie
7 years 1 month ago

Same here. Wonderful muscle tone, strength increases, and as a bonus, increased flexibility (good for me as I have always had naturally too-tight joints) and no more menstrual cramps!

We do Anusara yoga which is a tough work-out and involves a lot of self-supporting postures.

jane
jane
5 years 8 days ago

i am 65 petite. can i do this type
of yoga. do yogo teachers do this?

NUT CRACKER
NUT CRACKER
3 years 10 months ago

IMMA BEE CRACKIN NUTZ!!!

Neal W.
Neal W.
7 years 1 month ago

The reason bodyweight exercise poses less injury risk is because few people know how to progress them to make them harder. With weights, it’s easy to just add more, and that’s what gets people in trouble.

Bucknut
Bucknut
7 years 1 month ago

I think most people know how to progress bodyweight workouts to make them harder — add reps or intensity. The reason you have less injuries with bodyweight training it because you can’t progress faster than what your body allows you. When you max out doing pushups, you max out.

With weightlifting, you can attempt to progress faster than what your muscles are prepared for and that is where injury occurs.

Ray Sawhill
7 years 1 month ago
Great posting on a great topic. As a 55 year old, I’m putting in a vote for many more postings addressing the general topic of “getting and keeping in shape while aging.” Here’s one to get you going. This posting deals wonderfully with *keeping* in shape in, shall we say, middle age. But how about *getting* in shape as a middle-age or older person? What if your focus isn’t on keeping what you got, because you ain’t got much? Yu need to develop some. Can it be done with bodyweight exercises? Best to use some light weights even if you… Read more »
DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago

Ray I would say that Mark’s program listed above would work to get you in shape as well as keep you in shape. Work on increasing your reps (15 pull ups x 5 isn’t realistic for someone trying to get in shape) and adding intensity (a weighted vest) as you get stronger. The body is all about adaptation and you will make progress no matter where you are starting from as long as you eat right and give yourself enough rest between workouts.

OnTheBayou
OnTheBayou
7 years 1 month ago

Where ya been, Dave?

DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago

OTB I’ve been traveling and lurking when I get a chance. Also I’m training for a half marathon next month in San Antonio which takes up a lot of my time.

Robert Gioia
Robert Gioia
7 years 1 month ago

Push ups and Pull ups have been the staple of my workouts for about 2 years now.

Sterling
7 years 1 month ago

Awesome post…as usual! I’ve been using a weighted vest with my workouts and love it. Even an additional 15 lbs will wear you out!

chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago
A “proper” strength training routine will be safer than any other form of exersice regarding injury. Unfortunatly not very many people know what “proper” is. People forget that the purpose of strength training is not get get the heaviest weight from point A to point B. The point is to tax your body to a point that it needs to adapt to handle future stress. I see dudes at the gym straining and contorting their bodies just to get the weight from A to B. If you cannot lift with strict, slow form the, weight is to heavy. You are… Read more »
chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago

Ha! Not that I am trying to discredit the article or anything.

I agree, the margin for error is much finer when lifting heavy objects.

I just don’t want anybody getting scared out of the weight room. Haha.

I am, however, willing to bet that Mark’s hip tweak was not in the weight room but on the Ultimate pitch! Haha!

You will rarely take an elbow too the beak in the weight room. Haha!

Mark Sisson
7 years 1 month ago

Bingo, chima_p. Going long and fast for an end zone catch. I do know better, but…I was so there.

George
George
7 years 1 month ago

This really isn’t true at all. I’m not sure where you get your information but it isn’t at all correct.

Please don’t post opinion that doesn’t meet sound strength training science.

chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago

What is not correct?

Nothing I posted contradicts science.

If nobody posted opinion then this place would be very boring. Haha.

Steve
Steve
6 years 2 months ago
I used to think the same thing. That as long as I used a “proper” training methodology that I wouldn’t face any of the negative effects of stupid training. I have been training in one form or another for just over 20 years. The majority of that time has been devoted to HIT with the use of perfect form and slow controlled reps. My average rep speed has always been 6 seconds, sometimes slower. I have never performed reps lower then 5 and that has always been used as my compound set in a pre-exhaustion superset. I generally never go… Read more »
DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago
Mark I’m 47 and have recently come to the same conclusion. I’ve worked hard and suffered injuries to get to where I am and I’m happy to maintain the results I’ve made. I’ve come to realize that having 1970s Arnold’s chest and arms isn’t what I really want. I want to look lean and fit and not be embarrassed to be seen with my shirt off. Bodyweight exercises are ideal for me because I can do them anywhere like my hotel room when I’m traveling. I bought some handles that fit over the top of the door and they allow… Read more »
chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago

Have you tried rest?

Don’t do them for 1 week then see if you can do 20?

If not try not doing them for 2 weeks.

Like you said the body is all about adaption. Adaption can take some time.

It’s hard to get a house built if you keep tearing down the foundation.

DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago
I did take a week off from strength training and only resumed just yesterday afternoon. I didn’t try a maximum pull up test, I just did a ladder (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,5) and then repeated the ladder about 30 minutes later (in reverse) but doing chin ups. I did feel stronger but not a whole lot. I’ll try a one set maximum test again tomorrow and see how it goes. All that said, I couldn’t do any pull ups when I started P90X nearly two years ago so I have made a lot of progress but it would be nice to be able… Read more »
Ryland
Ryland
7 years 1 month ago

DaveFish … your accomplishments are impressive! Have you tried a weight vest & weighted pull-ups? That can be great plateau buster. I use the old standard 5×5 and either increase the weight by 5 lbs. a week, or keep the weight the same and increase the reps by 1. Do a six week cycle and you will see some impressive strength gains that will get you closer to the 15×5 goal.

DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago

Thanks for the tip Ryland. I’ll give it a try. Of course part of my success was dropping 45 lbs! Much easier to do pull ups when you only have to lift 175 lbs vs. 220!

(Sorry this reply isn’t in the right order. I think we’ve exceeded the nesting limit of responses).

Christian Chun
Christian Chun
7 years 1 month ago
Have you ever considered performing exercises described in the book “body by science” The exercises are are lot more safer due to the slow motion of performing the exercises, while making it intense with heavy weights on machines. Seems like a good alternative for people who are concerned with injury due to age and working out. I’ve been personally testing it out for about 6 weeks now and have to say that my results have been surprisingly good. I’ve worked out with only 5 exercises for 10mins per week and seemed to have gained strength (i can lift more each… Read more »
Ogg the Caveman
7 years 1 month ago
Great post, Mark. Although I understand the undertone of bodyweight exercise appropriateness for those getting up there in their years, I have to say that it is every bit as appropriate for those who are younger as well. In my twenties lifting heavy (olympic-style weightlifting, powerlifting etc.) was merely food for the ego and not necessarily prerequisite for a healthy and functional body. When I turned 30 I started replacing a lot of the heavy lifting with bodyweight exercises that include: – Games and informal physical activities – Plyometrics – Lifting my own body in various positions – Sprinting Although… Read more »
DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago

I still like my sledgehammer workouts and wrestling with the slosh tube but I don’t see a real need to do bench presses, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, etc. when I get good results from push ups, pull ups, and chair dips. I’m not afraid to lift heavy things. I’m just not focusing on isolated muscle exercises anymore.

DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago

Oops. My last post was supposed to be in reply to Gary’s post.

Gary Liss
Gary Liss
7 years 1 month ago
Why is everyone here all of a sudden so down on “lifting Heavy Things”….or what many of us call bodybuilding? I am 59 and because of the weight room I still have the body and strength of a man half my age. And this clown chima_p writes that “if you are in the weight room more then 20 minutes a week then your routine is not as effective as it could be”. 20 minutes would not be enough for 1 workout, let alone for the whole week. Lifting Heavy Things is Primal Blueprint law # 4. Come on Mark, clean… Read more »
chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago
Then call me Bozo ha! And I will call you Weider. Just ask Christian about the effectiveness of a less than 20 minute work out. Although I agree Superslow is boring. I get stronger every week I step into the gym. The key is training to failure. Once you have reached failure, what is purpose of doing 1 more set? It has worked in the past when I was in my early 20’s and I packed on 30lbs of muscle after every thing else failed (Volume Arnold style, split routines, Bill Pearl’s routine, Steve Reeve’s routine, etc.). It’s working now… Read more »
Ogg the Caveman
7 years 1 month ago
Gary, I don’t think anyone is “down” on lifting heavy things, but that bodyweight exercise seems to be included as a personal preference. There are options for everyone, after all; Mark mentions clearly that if he still wanted to BUILD muscles, he’d get under the bar. But since he’s satisfied with his current physical conformation and function, there seems to be little reason for heavy barbells. I personally agree. Also, since you mentioned “bodybuilding,” then it’s a different perspective (though one deserving high respect), since you do need to lift heavy weight — as one of the two factors required… Read more »
Gary Liss
Gary Liss
7 years 1 month ago

come on Chog, Chima did not say 20 minutes for a workout, he said 20 minutes FOR THE WHOLE WEEK! I guarantee that you will never find a muscular body on 20 minutes a week…20 minutes a day perhaps but NEVER on just 20 minutes a week…who are we kidding here!

Ted
7 years 1 month ago

That’s patently false. Look at Doug McGuff or Vee Ferguson. 10 minutes a week. Time to rethink conventional wisdom.

Bob
Bob
7 years 1 month ago

I’m all for questioning conventional wisdom, and I do believe in less is more to a large degree. I’m just not buying ten minutes a week in order to maximize results.

chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago

It may only take 20 minutes but you are wobbling out of there barely able to change clothing after the workout.

Also, why not only 20 min?

Why more?

Ted
7 years 1 month ago

Yeah, I wouldn’t have bought it either if I hadn’t tried it myself. You can never know until you try Bob.

Ogg the Caveman
7 years 1 month ago

First, we have to DEFINE what the goal is. If it is general health, fitness, and good body composition, perhaps 20 minutes is adequate. This does not exclude being active for the rest of the week promote and retain functional health and fitness, and eating a wholesome (Paleo) diet that has a greater influence on body composition than does exercise.

Bill
Bill
7 years 1 month ago
Add situps to that Tabata workout list you’ve got one I’m familiar with. At Crossfit Richardson here in the Dallas area, one of the “go to” workouts is tabata pullups, pushups, situps, squats. 16 minutes of pure fun! And if you want to experience what I consider one of the hardest tabata protocols, try tabata rowing on a Concept II rower! It’s killer because you can always do SOMETHING to move the rower. I can reach muscular fatigue in Tabata squats or pullups, but on the rower, it takes whatever pull you deliver so there’s never a “failure” in that… Read more »
dragonmamma
dragonmamma
7 years 1 month ago

I’m still interested in pushing myself to the limit, because I don’t know what my limits are! Heck, I didn’t start exercising till I was 44. At age 51, I haven’t “peaked” yet; I’m still steadily improving in strength, speed, agility and coordination.

So, yes, I do hit the heavy weights at the gym. I’m just more conscious of doing things properly than the young whipper-snappers, because I know that my recovery period will be a lot longer if I injure myself.

Annika
7 years 1 month ago
I just had a discussion with my chiropractor about bodyweight exercises, lifting heavy things, and injury. I told him I had been doing lots of pushups, (modified) pullups, squats, and lunges, and I had questions about injury prevention. His answer? STOP. Aside from the pushups, I shouldn’t be doing any of those things. Squats and lunges are too hard on aging knees (I’m 42), and the pullups aggravate my wrist tendonitis. I was very disappointed, because I had really gotten into my new exercise routine. I looked up a bunch of info on squats and found plenty, some from chiropractic… Read more »
Bob
Bob
7 years 1 month ago

Annika,

Maybe it’s time to change chiropractors instead of workouts!

Just think how much more quickly those knees will age if you stop exercising them. Of course, you need to use common sense in your approach. Unless you have some sort of degenerative disorder, you should be able to make improvements through proper exercise.

Annika
7 years 1 month ago

I think the world of my chiropractor, but he and I may have to agree to disagree on this one. After all I’ve read in the past few months, and how much stronger I feel after a routine of squats, lunges, modified pullups, & pushups, I’m not about to give them up without some really compelling reasons.

Steve
Steve
6 years 4 months ago

Any chiropractor worth his weight will promote the proper use and application of strength training exercises. Chiropractics is good for putting things back in place but the muscles must then be conditioned to keep those things in place. To be honest I am shocked to hear of a chiropractor that is anti-exercise. The reality is that the body is designed to move. It’s designed for squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. Any type of medical professional that says otherwise hasn’t done his/her homework.

RobM
RobM
7 years 1 month ago

Annika,

I’ve had two knee surgeries done (I’m 30) and one of the bigger things that PT had me do to get my knee into working condition again, was squats and lunges. Like Mark said, a good thing is to let pain be your guide, if it hurts, don’t push it.

Jenny
Jenny
7 years 1 month ago
I started working out in January. Before I started, my knees hurt all the time. It would keep me up at night. I figured it was too many years of martial arts and “bad joints.” I started doing plyometrics once a week. At first I had to modify almost every move; even squats were hard – my knees would creak with every rep. After a few weeks, I was able to do most of the moves full out. The creaking stopped and so did the pain. Now I’m doing a high-intensity program with lots of leg work, jumping, and squats… Read more »
Annika
7 years 1 month ago

Thanks Mark! I was so excited about my pullup bar, but maybe that’s just too much stress for my poor wrist.

Indiscreet
Indiscreet
7 years 1 month ago
People like chiros don’t necessarily know all there is to know about exercise. My physio told me I should do lots of Pilates and stay away from heavy stuff. That’s not going to happen. I’m not interested in “toning up” – I want to get as strong as humanly possible. I’m 42 as well, btw – I have been training well over 20 years now. It’s ingrained. I have a lot of old war wounds but as well as the heavy stuff, I make sure I do corrective exercise to address my weaknesses. Incidentally, have you tried a PowerBall for… Read more »
William
William
7 years 1 month ago
I think the amount of heavy lifting one is capable of doing, is a result of genetics. Mark’s early career consisted of long distance running. Perhaps his genetics do not allow him the ability to perform long term heavy lifting. And there is nothing wrong with that; it simply is…. At fifty-five, I am still able to pack a moving truck with house full of furniture, for the most part by myself. I love the challenge, and since my genetics allow me to perform such a task, it is quite pleasurable to do so. I can also move an eight… Read more »
Richard Nikoley
7 years 1 month ago

Thanks for bringing that up, Will. I was really impressed with how readers jumped in to help with their own insights and experiences.

William
William
7 years 1 month ago

Make that, “injuries.” Sorry for the obvious mistake.

Carrie
Carrie
7 years 1 month ago
This article has prompted me to make my first post here. I’m a 45 year old woman, 5′ tall and about 30 lbs overweight, with lower back issues. I’ve been reading for a few months and working at changing my eating habits, but I have yet to start working out. It just seemed so intimidating. I have no idea where to start. I also live in the country, at least an hour away from any gym. While the exercises in this post are beyond my abilities, it has helped me realize that I don’t have to “go big or stay… Read more »
DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago
Carrie if you aren’t sure where to start then I recommend a home workout DVD program like Tony Horton’s Ten Minute Trainer. You can find it at BeachBody.com. It requires very little equipment (I think the DVDs come with a resistance band) and you can start at your own pace just doing 10 minutes a day if you want, or stack the workouts to do up to 30 minutes a day. They are very easy to follow and you can see the exercises being done with proper form. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the people in the… Read more »
Mark Sisson
7 years 1 month ago

By the way, for the record, I had NOTHING to do with the P90 or BeachBody nutrition plans. Yes, I designed a few supplements for them a few years ago to fit their workout requirements and demographic (that’s my expertise), and I taught Tony H the value of intervals 20 years ago. Full stop.

DaveFish
DaveFish
7 years 1 month ago

Mark, Tony speaks highly of you and your supplements at his fitness camps. In fact he’s the reason I learned about this site.

You both are great examples of how fit “men of a certain age” can be. I prefer your approach because it seems an overall more rounded where exercise doesn’t have to be your top priority every single day.

P90X helped me get fit but the Primal Blueprint keeps me fit. I thank you both for improving the quality of my life.

Bob
Bob
7 years 1 month ago
Carrie, There are a lot very effective things you can do without a gym. In addition to information Mark has here on the site, here are a few other suggestions: This site posts a 20 minute, scaled daily workout using no weights at all: http://fitness-solution.blogspot.com/ Here’s a link to a Crossfit site that has a bunch of travel workouts. http://centralbuckscrossfit.typepad.com/central_bucks_crossfit/travel-workouts.html In fact, quite a few of the Crossfit sites have them. Also do a web search for Turbulence Training. There are a lot of TT workouts on Youtube that you can follow. You can make tremendous progress using these and… Read more »
Joe
Joe
7 years 1 month ago

I really like body weight exercises with rings – the rings really work all the core muscles and stabilizers throughout the torso (and arms as well). I do dips and pushups with rings a couple times a week.

Haha
Haha
7 years 1 month ago

Hell yeah! Bodyweight is where it’s at if you want to incorporate intervals with heavy lifting. Just throw on a vest and have at it!

Chris
Chris
7 years 1 month ago

With regard to building “explodsive power” there is solid evidence that slow, high intensity training causes the brain to recuit the I, IIa and IIb fibers in orderly fashion. Fast, low intensity does not work IIb fibers. Type IIb fibers are responsible for power production. Type I fibers are capable of moving limbs at rapid speeds as long as force requirements are low. So it is not possible to lift a heavy weight rapidly, you can throw it, but this will not build strength or “power”, just injury.

Bob
Bob
7 years 1 month ago

Really? Tell that to Olympic lifters doing the snatch and clean and jerk. Not possible to generate power at a rapid speed? Really?

chima_p
chima_p
7 years 1 month ago

Find me an Olympic lifter that has zero injuries and that is not nearly crippled by the age of 60.

Olympic lifters represent a small nearly freakish group of humans whose genetics (look at them, they are all the same body type) allow such feats of strength.

Most humans who would train like that would hurt themselves very badly, very often.

They can do it despite their training not because of it.

Chris
Chris
7 years 1 month ago

Weightlifting as a sport should be called weightthrowing. These weights are hoisted vertically against gravity. The skill requied involves accelerating the mass in a manner that momentum allows the participant to jump under it. There is also a 100% chance of musculoskeletal damage for those who have competed a year or more. Controlled, submaximal repetitions actually lend strength to the body.

Griffin
Griffin
7 years 1 month ago

Ah, thank you for the post, Mark (and for the “shout out”)!

I have always been partial to bodyweight exercise. Though I’m now devoting a couple days a week to heavy lifting (I’m only 21), I still find something undeniably appealing about hoisting my own weight around, anywhere, anytime.

Even though I’m young, it’s pretty easy to detect that bodyweight training is safer than lifting, and I’m glad you’re looking out for yourself. Great post! Thanks again.

-Griffin

P.S. If you’re interested, these guys are great with bodyweight Circular Strength Training.
http://www.bodyweightcoach.com/

truckergirl
7 years 1 month ago
Thanks for this article, Mark. It’ll take me a while to build up to these, but You’ve given me a great starting point for stuff I can do in the truck and in the parking lot. I also followed the links and found the Prison Workout post you did, and that one’s gonna be a great help, too. Heh, maybe if I start doing burpees in the parking lot I can shame some of these other drivers into getting into shape 🙂 (assuming I can find a clean spot to do them… Maybe I should invest in a yoga mat.)
Dennis
Dennis
7 years 1 month ago

I was doing pull ups last January, exhausted myself, hung by one arm, and immediately had pain along the ulnar nerve. I’ve had ulnar neuropathy since, which has improved, but not resolved. So body weight exercises are not perfectly safe. I have recently been doing the Body by Science workout. I am 54, and avoiding further injuries is important to me. Sort of like financial investing; better to build on gains than to make up for losses.

PrimalK
7 years 1 month ago
Thank you for this article, Mark. I have some as-yet unresolved back issues that I manage to deal with, and still Lift Heavy Things. I am lucky enough to have a fantastic personal trainer who makes sure that what I do doesn’t compromise my ability and cause injury. Still, on seeing my newly revealed body in the mirror this morning, I am so pleased to see that underneath my fast-disappearing blubber, I have a good set of muscles for a lady of almost 40! Doing some body resistance workouts is already part of my schedule, but I think I may… Read more »
Yavor
7 years 1 month ago

This is not really related to the post, but speaking of chronic cardio and exercise machines, behold the stupidest exercise contraption ever invented:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUuwEq98ByM

PrimalDom
PrimalDom
7 years 1 month ago

I was wondering if fast jump roping is a viable option for a “sprint day”. Where I live it’s hard to get out for a run without a little travel time, I don’t have a stationary bike, but I do have a jump rope? I like to do “double-unders” or singles as fast as long as I can. Am I doing enough on those days I can’t literally sprint?

Mark Sisson
7 years 1 month ago

PrimalDom, jumping rope would be a fine substitute.

Alan
Alan
7 years 1 month ago

Grok on.

Mike Gruber
Mike Gruber
7 years 1 month ago
I have to wonder if bodyweight exercise will just introduce a different type of injury…. overuse, once you’re strong enough to get a lot of reps. For instance, I’m approaching my lifetime record (set back in my 20s) of 30 pull ups. I got 28 last week, and I’m 50 years old. I do one set most days, 24 if unweighted (not a max effort), or less if weighted. I do them weighted for two reasons. First, I don’t want to do 3 sets of 20 or something every day, because I don’t want an overuse injury. And second, sets… Read more »
Michael Gold
7 years 1 month ago

Anyone here from Houston, TX, like to start a local group?

Get together to discuss health, nutrition, exercise, and science?

Sincerely,

Michael Gold
Email: Micaelgold@aol.com

Hiit Mama - Meredith
7 years 1 month ago

Thanks for this article. I am going to be traveling a bit over the next few months and I seem to have a hard time getting my brain to wrap around bodyweight workouts in my hotel room. Hey, I’m a Taurus and am stubborn about sticking to my weights and treadmill routine.

DAVID OLAN
7 years 1 month ago
Mark: I met you in your office about a month ago as I am also a Malibu resident and surfer. Wow! I love your book – I know the principles of eating proteins and natural carbs but you articulate them in such a practical sensible manner- I always stay in shape and was travelling for about a month- been back now for a week and going tottally primal and loving it!! Also, I have been doing isometric workouts and again you explanation of how Grok lived ate and lived his life physically makes complete sense. Per our discussion Stand up… Read more »
dave
dave
7 years 1 month ago

Mark, Great bok and awesome site!! I will say though that at 56 I’m still moving some heavy kettlebells, resistance band training and “heavy dips, squats and chins with weights. Maybe you could consider just lightening up on your weights at the gym, but still move some prodigious weight occaisionally. As an ol’ timer with many years in the trenches, I hate to see another comrade giving up on the iron ……:) Dave

Michelle
Michelle
7 years 1 month ago
I’m definitely more into building muscle without lifting weights… if only because I get so bored! I have started taking Jazz Dance Classes after a 15 year break, and am remembering how well they work EVERY muscle I have. A typical class starts with a 45 minute warm-up where you really work all of your muscles. Plies (dance squats), pushups, pike (downward dog) with leg lefts, etc. etc. Within 10 minutes I’m sweating like crazy. Then we do other dance exercises for the rest of the hour and twenty minute class. I always come out of there feeling great. Plus… Read more »
marilyn
marilyn
7 years 1 month ago

I don’t ever go to the gym. I am 67 years old and have 4 horses that I ride and take care of. Believe me, I get to lift heavy things, sprint now and then (away from a kick etc), mend fences, clean pasture, and muck stalls. My heart gets to racing pretty fast when something spooks a horse big time on a trail ride.That also takes a fair amount of arm strength to manage the horse. So my advice to Carrie is to get a horse. Forget the gym.

Clark
Clark
7 years 24 days ago

Great post, Mark! Can you offer any suggestions for modified body weight exercises for those of us who are rather heavy and just starting out? I know push ups from knees and I’ve seen the modified pull ups. Are there other things out there or is it a matter of doing fewer reps and working into the “standard” exercises over time?

Mark Sisson
7 years 22 days ago

Clark, we are working on an eBook program that will offer modified bodyweight exercises and alternatives to start from scratch. Should be available in Dec or Jan. But for now, either choice works until you get up to speed: do modified versions of the prescribed exercise or just do fewer reps of the exact exercise. It’s all good.

Imerson
6 years 10 months ago

@Yavor That made my day ROFL! Why not just, you know, run on the pavement?

band exercise
6 years 8 months ago

Good article.Those flash images are very well explanation of work out routine.

Julian
Julian
6 years 5 months ago

Overuse shouldn’t be a problem if one progresses naturally to one arm bodyweight exercices: can’t see many people banging out 30 one arm pull-ups, press-ups or handstands!

kitty
kitty
6 years 2 months ago
*soapbox* i’ve been a hulahooping addict for a few months now and it’s the best exercise i’ve ever done. my favorite is a weighted 14′ diameter hoop (that i made myself). i still have my “mama belly” but i can actually see my abs again and i have crazy muscles in my arms that were never defined before, even when i used to play lacrosse in high school. it’s a fun activity for any skill level that doesn’t ever feel like “work”, despite the obvious burn, and i can enjoy it with my son (who is already way better than… Read more »
Darren
6 years 28 days ago

I also find I am starting to get injuries with heavy weight lifting. I have started working in more bodyweight exercises into my routine. I get just as good a workout just not the same kind of muscle building. It’s nice to see others workouts. Thanks for the great article.

benbcj
benbcj
4 years 10 months ago

Good Post! I’ve been working in body weight training in addition to lifting at the gym, and I think it helps a lot with the functionality of the fitness. It was good to see what a week of your workouts look like.

Jiggy-Z
Jiggy-Z
4 years 3 months ago
Here here on the body weight. Back in my early 30s, I went through a period where I was poor-money wise, so no gym for me, or alcohol, or fast food. I ran about 30 miles/week with 3 workouts devoted to sprint/intervals/hills. On my light run days I would do pullups from a tree limb and bar dips on my kitchen counter. I never added any weight and did many repetitions. I was able to run this way for 5 straight years without one single injury-not even a tweak of any kind, and I attribute it to the strong frame… Read more »
HICaveGirl
HICaveGirl
3 years 8 months ago

So glad to read this. I’m pushing 50 and have had major back surgery. I’ve been warned by my neurosurgeon to avoid any lifting that puts stress on the spine and, because of peripheral nerve damage, I also have some issues with my hamstrings and glutes. I’ve been following a Paleo way of eating for nearly a year now and have lost over 40 pounds. It’s time to kick things up a notch and this kind of work-out could be just the ticket.

dog
3 years 4 months ago

Its such as you learn my mind! You appear to grasp so much about this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that you can do with some percent to force the message house a little bit, but instead of that, that is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

Nikko
Nikko
3 years 1 month ago

Interesting post and also very impressive workout. I know a few athletic young guys and they can’t get anywhere near that many pullups. I was up to 3 sets of 6 with the “kung fu” pullups until I injured my finger playing football. For those that want to do body weight workouts, check out “Convict Conditioning”, great program for any age. Also checkout “The Science of the Six-Pack”, very tough workout for core work.

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