When most people think of strong or physical strength, they think of moving heavy weights. I’m a massive fan of all feats of strength on social media. I’m an enormous fan of getting regular people strong. It’s great when a client has a light-bulb moment when something hard BECOMES easy.

Then they realize exercise is not just about vanity but the quality of life too.

Lifting weights with progressive overload is the best way to get strong, but not the only way. Let me explain. There are two types of strength, relative strength and absolute strength. Relative strength is the weight you can lift compared to your body weight, and absolute strength is the weight you can lift, period.

For instance, I can deadlift 355 pounds at a body weight of 177 pounds, twice my body weight. If someone can deadlift this at a lower body weight, they have better relative strength than me. But our absolute strength is the same.

These four bodyweight exercises below will improve your relative strength so you can put more gas in the tank for this little thing called life.

4  Bodyweight Strong Exercises

This is a partial list; many exercises have been left out. But these are my four favorite bodyweight exercises to get people strong; hopefully, they work for you too.

Tempo Push-up

Manipulating the lifting tempo when doing a push-up puts the chest, shoulders, and triceps working muscles under more tension. Every rep has four parts: the eccentric (lowering), the bottom, the concentric (the lifting part ), and the top. Slowing down your push-up will improve your relative strength and help build muscle and burn fat.

How to do it:

Here I’ll use a tempo of 4212.

Get into a push-up position; hands shoulder-width apart, glutes engaged, and spine straight.

Lower to the floor with a four-count and pause for two seconds at the bottom.

Push up till lockout and pause for two seconds and reset and repeat.

Programming Suggestion: Perform for sets two to four and reps between eight to 15. And if you want more flex appeal, pair this with a triceps exercise. For example,

1A. Tempo Push-Ups 10 reps

1B. Overhead Triceps Extension 12-15 reps

TRX Inverted Row

Many people struggle with performing multiple reps of a chin or pull-up, and this is where the TRX inverted row comes in. Horizontal pulling is easier because you’re not pulling up your entire body weight but still build strength in the upper back and lats. With the TRX Inverted row, you can go underhand, overhand, neutral, or anything in between, and this is helpful if you have any wrist, elbow, or shoulder issues.

How to do it:

Get the straps on a setting that allows you to get under the TRX with your arms extended and not touching the ground.

Grip the TRX on both handles and lower yourself under it.

Raise your body and engage your glutes to get your body in a straight line.

With your shoulders down and chest up, pull until your wrists are by your ribcage.

Slowly lower down and reset and repeat.

Programming Suggestion: Two to four sets of eight to 15 reps. If you’d like to build your biceps, pairing this with any biceps exercise works well. For example

1A. TRX Inverted Row 8-12 reps

1B. Dumbbell Hammer Curl 12 reps

Broad Jump

Broad jumps build leg strength and explosive power, which can help with your pulling force when you deadlift or allow you to react quicker when it comes to all things lower body. This exercise improves the reaction time of your fast-twitch muscle fibers (with the most significant potential for growth) because you’ll need leg muscles to contract quickly to generate maximal force.

How to do it:

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed forward.

Hinge your hips back, keeping your shoulders down and chest up, and feel the tension in your hamstrings.

Jump forward, landing on the balls of your feet, and slowly walk back to start.

Hinge your hips back and reset and repeat.

Programming Suggestion: Doing three sets of three to five reps focusing on quality reps and distance after your warm-up and before lifting weight works best. Because this exercise is demanding, pairing it with a recovery exercise like foam rolling works well. For example:

1A. Broad jump 5 reps

1B.  Foam Roll Hip flexor 10 rolls on each side

Cossack Squat

Cossack squats are one of those unique exercises that improve your strength, mobility, and flexibility at the same time. Not only do Cossack squats train the glutes and quads, but the adductors too. Strengthening the adductors (inner thigh or groin muscles) improves hip mobility and plays a significant role in knee health.

How to do it:

Stand up straight and set your feet in a nice and wide stance, with your toes pointed forward.

Adjust your starting position to what feels comfortable.

Then shift weight to one side and squat until you feel a deep stretch on the opposite leg.

While squatting, rotate the opposite leg externally so the toes come up off the ground (point towards the ceiling) while the heel stays planted.

Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite leg.

Keep alternating sides for even reps.

Programming Suggestions: Depending on your mobility and balance, eight to 15 reps on each side for two to four sets work well. When looking to improve your hip mobility and prevent groin strains, try this superset.

1A. Adductor Quadruped Rockback 8 reps

1B. Cossack Squat 8 to 15 reps per side

Wrapping Up

With all the tools you have at your disposal to get strong, you may forget the most valuable tool of all, your body weight. These four bodyweight exercises will improve your relative strength, help you build muscle, burn fat, and improve your movement. Are they hard? Yes, but getting stronger isn’t meant to tickle.

Are you ticklish? I am. 😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *