By Kyle Shneider, CSCS
Since the summer started, the only weight I’ve lifted is my own. And, that’s the only weight I’m going to continue to lift this summer. I suggest you try doing the same!
Seriously, you don’t need free weights or machines to stay in shape. Bodyweight workouts are very effective when it comes to building a lean body, while also placing very little stress on your joints. Even more, it will allow you to take most of your workouts outside, where they should be during the summer!
Are you unsure of what I mean by bodyweight workouts? I’m talking about:
Yeah, yeah – I’m sure you’ve done these before! Don’t underestimate these deceptively simple exercises. You’d be surprised at how many ways you can do a push-up (as seen in this handy article from Greatist.com). Mix in some some boxing, sprints on the beach, and basketball for cardio — that’s pretty much all I’m doing this summer.
The key to bodyweight workouts is metabolic disturbance. This just means in order to create a change in your body, your cells have to endure adversity (AKA – you gotta work your muscles hard). They have to be forced to adapt. With bodyweight workouts, here are two ways ensure you feel the burn, and get you results:
1. Keep your workouts short — no longer than an hour.
If you still have energy and motivation left after 60 minutes of training (not including warm-up and cool down), it means you’re not working hard enough. A proper bodyweight workout should fatigue your central nervous system and muscles in 60 minutes.
When workouts are extended for too long, the stress hormone cortisol, which is a key component in promoting fat storage, elevates to excessive levels. Additionally, regular long-duration workouts overly stress the body so that it’s unable to recover as effectively.
Tip: The best way to shorten your workouts and increase intensity is to shorten the rest between sets and exercises. For bodyweight exercises specifically, limit rest intervals to 2 minutes at the most. The objective is to feel a little weaker with each successive set.
2. Manipulate Time Under Tension (TUT)
Or, in other words, aim to increase the duration your muscles undergo stress during each set. For example, if it takes you 50 seconds to complete a set of squats, that’s a total TUT of 50 seconds for all of the lower body, back, and core muscles involved in performing that exercise.
The longer the muscle is continuously contracting, the more TUT you’re placing the muscle under, the greater the metabolic response and growth hormone release into the bloodstream will be. By increasing TUT, you’re increasing workload, which causes a higher degree of muscle tissue micro tears. As a result, your body expends more calories after your training session so it’s able to work overtime to repair the (good) damage — both fat burning and muscle building!
Tip: TUT is directly related to tempo. Tempo refers to the amount of time it takes to complete each phase of a repetition. For example, a tempo of 3-1-2-0 corresponds to a 3-second lowering (eccentric) phase, 1-second hold at the bottom of the exercise, 2-second rising (concentric) phase, and no hold at the top portion of the exercise, for a TUT of 6 seconds for that repetition. Perform 10 repetitions and that’s a total TUT of 60 seconds.
Aim for a total TUT between 40-70 seconds to ensure optimal metabolic disturbance. Switch up tempo so that you’re working in both low (5-12 reps) and high repetition (15 reps & up) schemes to ensure muscle hypertrophy and muscle fiber type transitioning. I recommend finishing your bodyweight workouts with hold sets and/or sets to complete failure.
Kyle is not only the Director of Sales & Business Development at MCT Lean, but also a National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has a B.S. degree in Movement Science from the University of Michigan, is currently working towards completing his Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, and plans on attaining his Master’s in Exercise Physiology in the near future. At the age of 23, Kyle has worked with and constructed training programs for top high school and Division I, II, and III male and female collegiate athletes.
If you have any questions, want more information, need more convincing, or would like help creating a workout plan please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!