Bodyweight Training

I recently admitted to myself that, since quitting the gym, my attempts at weight training have been pretty lame, and that I needed to be following a program of some sort. I needed something external to refocus my flagging (or practically nonexistent) self-discipline, but I didn’t want to hire a trainer or join another gym.

I downloaded (and subsequently convinced a bunch of friends to download) Mark Lauren’s book and app, “You Are Your Own Gym”. I love the app– I love that you can work with it without needing the book and I’m totally impressed that, for $1.99, I get an app that includes:

  • a database of body-weight exercises that is easily searchable;
  • multiple variations (from easy to moderate to hard) for the vast majority of exercises;
  • great photographs of the phases of each exercise;
  • good training plans that are both simple and challenging

Last night was my first night on the “Basic” level training plan. Week One, Day One. It consisted of four exercises, each repeated on a four-step ladder progression for several minutes. What that means is that, instead of just doing a few sets, each consisting of an equal number of reps (the standard practice for every gym program I’ve followed in the past), you start out with a set of one rep, then increase by one rep each set until you get to four, then reduce each set by one rep until you’re back at one. You keep going up and down this ladder progression until the app tells you to stop. Your rest period between each set should be approximately the same amount of time it took to complete the last set. So it might look something like this:

Set 1: 1 rep
2-second rest
Set 2: 2 reps
4-second rest
Set 3: 3 reps
6-second rest
Set 4: 4 reps
8-second rest
Set 5: 3 reps
6-second rest
Set 6: 2 reps
4-second rest
Set 7: 1 rep
2-second rest

As you go (and go, and go, and go — until the app tells you to stop), you may find it takes you longer to complete three or four reps in a set; and then you’re equally lengthening your rest period before the next set.

For the Week 1 Day 1 workout of the basic training program, my four exercises were:

  • Inclined push-ups;
  • Seated bench dips;
  • Let Me Ins (example);
  • Let Me Ups (example)

By the end of twenty minutes, I was sweating buckets, my arms were noodly weak and my hands were so shaky that I had trouble frosting the cupcakes I’d baked earlier (for a co-worker’s birthday). I had completed 96 incline push-ups; 78 seated bench dips; 70 let-me-ins; and only 30 let-me-ups (I think this was in part due to picking the wrong table to use to pull myself up; the sharp edge of the dining room table was killing my hands after only a few reps. I switched to the kitchen table, which has more rounded edges, and was able to keep going a bit more before my hands and arms quit on me.)

All day today, my arms still felt noodly. I’m just now starting to feel the first hints of soreness, primarily in my lats and, unsurprisingly, in my core. Hey, good form is all about activating the core! I have a feeling I’m going to be in some deep muscular soreness when I get up in the morning.