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Bodyweight Bodyweight lessons learnt overseas

Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
Hey all,
I'm on the way back from a month over seas.
I did not have access to a gym and I was forced to be limited to a local outdoor calethstenics gym.
Here are some takeaways
1) Eccentrics is a legitimate way to bulk-
I am pretty proficient in bodyweight training and I was worried that I would would not be able to push my body hard enough from just a pullup bar and dip bar.
I got some inspiration from @North Coast Miller abd decided I would focus on isometrics and Eccentrics to make the pushups ,Pullups,dips and chinups progressively harder.
My training plan was as follows:
Sets of 5 alternating Pullups and chinups with an extremely slow descent with an isometric hold for about a second halfway down.
Sets of 10 pushups alternating with 3 dips.
Slow descent with pause halfway.

I honestly didn't expect much from it as I'm used to doing sets of 25 pullups and sets of 50 pushups.
Results: to my surprise I visibly added lean mass to my arms and chest.
After every workout my arms had a hot feeling that lasted for about an hour that I had not gotten from bodyweight training in years.
It was also a lot easier on my cns as it was in the low rep range.
I'm so thrilled to have discovered a new angle of bodyweight training as it was getting a bit monotonous.
Does anyone have any experience with using bodyweight in this way?
Also I'm having a hard time seeing a way to make it progressively harder because at a certain point I feel like there are diminishing returns for longer or slower holds?
Does anybody know a way to train with this long term
 

Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
Hi Abishai, you are much more experienced than me, and my answer might not be helpful.

I think a person experienced on this type of training can give you advice on how to progress etc.

But I think the untold truth about hyperthropy most of the time is personal differences in between indivuduals. The principals of hyperthrophy is common, but results are not.

My cousin worked up to one hand dead hangs and he has skinny forearms. I am 12 years older than him, I worked up to 75 sec dead hangs w both hands and my forearms gain a lot of muscle. If you ask him dead hangs don’t result in hyperthrophy. If you ask me, they do. When will my hyperthrophy gains from hanging stop? I think no one can tell. But some one can tell how to work, program, progress etc the dead hangs. When it stops hyperthorphy, it stops…

And one more thing, I consider my self an easy gainer, but of course this is totally based on personal expectations. Some one can achieve better hyperthrophy than me but he/she can still think it is too little. That even makes hyperthrophy even more different.

There are articles from Pavel on training Type I muscles for hyperthrophy. They might give an idea on long holds or eccentrics programming, cause I believe in your rep range you are mostly going after Type I hypertrhophy.

For hypertrhophy, if I was able to do sets of 50 push ups, I would try going one arm push ups. With pull ups I would go some sort of uneven versions of pull ups to keep them challenging and probably more hyperthropic. But there are people in this forum w great hyperthrophy results with iso holds. I respect to people who can stand that level of pain. I am sure you will have some solid advice to your question rather than my rumblings. Best, Ege
 
Last edited:

Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
Hi Abishai, you are much more experienced than me, and my answer might not be helpful.

I think a person experienced on this type of training can give you advice on how to progress etc.

But I think the untold truth about hyperthropy most of the time is personal differences in between indivuduals. The principals of hyperthrophy is common, but results are not.

My cousin worked up to one hand dead hangs and he has skinny forearms. I am 12 years older than him, I worked up to 75 sec dead hangs w both hands and my forearms gain a lot of muscle. If you ask him dead hangs don’t result in hyperthrophy. If you ask me, they do. When will my hyperthrophy gains from hanging stop? I think no one can tell. But some one can tell how to work, program, progress etc the dead hangs. When it stops hyperthorphy, it stops…

And one more thing, I consider my self an easy gainer, but of course this is totally based on personal expectations. Some one can achieve better hyperthrophy than me but he/she can still think it is too little. That even makes hyperthrophy even more different.

There are articles from Pavel on training Type I muscles for hyperthrophy. They might give an idea on long holds or eccentrics programming, cause I believe in your rep range you are mostly going after Type I hypertrhophy.

For hypertrhophy, if I was able to do sets of 50 push ups, I would try going one arm push ups. With pull ups I would go some sort of uneven versions of pull ups to keep them challenging and probably more hyperthropic. But there are people in this forum w great hyperthrophy results with iso holds. I respect to people who can stand that level of pain. I am sure you will have some solid advice to your question rather than my rumblings. Best, Ege
Very good points
 
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Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
Another interesting point I noted that I got the best results by doing the isometric work at my weakest part of the Movment.
My theory is that your limit on how much hypertrophy you can ad is not maxed out until there is an equal amount of strength throughout the entire movement.
Meaning that a lot of potential mass is being left on the table if you are weaker on one part of the movement.
To my recollection Paul Anderson, Bob Hoffman and Bob Peoples used isometrics in barbell training to shore up weak spots in barbell movements.
 

Ege

Level 5 Valued Member
Another interesting point I noted that I got the best results by doing the isometric work at my weakest part of the Movment.
My theory is that your limit on how much hypertrophy you can ad is not maxed out until there is an equal amount of strength throughout the entire movement.
Meaning that a lot of potential mass is being left on the table if you are weaker on one part of the movement.
To my recollection Paul Anderson, Bob Hoffman and Bob Peoples used isometrics in barbell training to shore up weak spots in barbell movements.

And I feel as if, this reflects to extended ROM as well. I mean, if you stretch your muscles to ranges that you did not go before, and keep iso holds, it stimulates hyperthrophy. I can’t prove (to my self cause I don’t have photo) but trying to improve my squat rom by bodyweight squat holds grew my glutes.
 

Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
And I feel as if, this reflects to extended ROM as well. I mean, if you stretch your muscles to ranges that you did not go before, and keep iso holds, it stimulates hyperthrophy. I can’t prove (to my self cause I don’t have photo) but trying to improve my squat rom by bodyweight squat holds grew my glutes.
Spot on.
I think the method of judging strength only by how much weight and how many reps is a bit simplistic.
Symmetry in the amount Strength throughout the lift/ move and ROM are legitimate metrics as well.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Another interesting point I noted that I got the best results by doing the isometric work at my weakest part of the Movment.
Longest muscle lengths. Isometric training is most effective at long muscle lengths, which tends to be the same point in a ROM where mechanical leverage is at its lowest.

There is a growing body of evidence that training the lowest/weakest/ longest muscle length in the ROM of a given exercise is almost as effective as training the full ROM.

On a personal note, am not the biggest fan of sub-max isometrics as a stand alone strategy except for newbies and the elderly. They seem to work well paired with isotonics though.
 

Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
Longest muscle lengths. Isometric training is most effective at long muscle lengths, which tends to be the same point in a ROM where mechanical leverage is at its lowest.

There is a growing body of evidence that training the lowest/weakest/ longest muscle length in the ROM of a given exercise is almost as effective as training the full ROM.

On a personal note, am not the biggest fan of sub-max isometrics as a stand alone strategy except for newbies and the elderly. They seem to work well paired with isotonics though.
Fascinating.
Eccentrics and isometrics is a whole new world for me....
 

Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
I wonder if this can somehow put to rest the fierce debate of feeling the muscle vrs lifting the weight.
Overall focus should be on lifting the weight but there should be a full consistent muscle contraction throughout the movement.
If you notice a weakness focus on feeling the muscle/isometrics
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I wonder if this can somehow put to rest the fierce debate of feeling the muscle vrs lifting the weight.
Overall focus should be on lifting the weight but there should be a full consistent muscle contraction throughout the movement.
If you notice a weakness focus on feeling the muscle/isometrics

Even when I was training BB, I never really gave much thought to feeling the muscle. The only time I ever really dialed it in was…at the bottom of the ROM when setting up for a lift. Even now I always pre-load a bit to make sure posture is solid.

Since training isometrics I still am not paying attention to muscle so much as form and effort. Once I start to really dig in on a push/pull, I’ll feel the working muscles firing.

Fascinating.
Eccentrics and isometrics is a whole new world for me....
For me it’s been a strange ride so far.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
Another interesting point I noted that I got the best results by doing the isometric work at my weakest part of the Movment.
This is a common method in the calisthenics and handbalancing world to "unlock" movements you couldn't previously do. Some examples would be freestanding HSPU, press handstands, and stalder presses. I think the reason this works has to do with the second article I linked below. Beardsley discusses how different functinal regions of a muscle are actually differently controlled by the nervous system similar to how individual muscles themselves are controlled. It at least seems that you are literally teaching the muscle to contract harder/better at that range.

I wonder if this can somehow put to rest the fierce debate of feeling the muscle vrs lifting the weight.
Overall focus should be on lifting the weight but there should be a full consistent muscle contraction throughout the movement.
If you notice a weakness focus on feeling the muscle/isometrics
Get ready for the "d" word.

It depends on your goal :)

I recently posted links to a whole slew of articles by Chris Bearsdley about the role of mechanical tension in hypertrophy. If hypertrophy is the goal, maximizing tension in the relevant muscle fibers must occur. If lifting a weight or completing a skill is the goal, this may not occur. It's not black and white, however, and there is a lot of grey area and some crossover between the two.

Some not so light reading:

From that list and pertinent to your inquiry about "feeling the muscle:"

From the above article:"
"When we perform a movement with an external focus of attention, we likely only produce force with those [muscle] regions that are optimally structured to contribute to that movement. In contrast, when we perform a movement with an internal focus of attention, we may well produce force with additional [muscle] regions as well, and these regions may not contribute particularly effectively to the movement. This would cause greater overall muscle activation without substantially increasing the external force or joint torque (which is what we observe) and could also lead to greater overall hypertrophy, because of muscle growth in additional regions of the muscle that are not trained when using an external focus of attention."

External focus of attention = goal-oriented focus; i.e. "lift the weight"
Internal focus of attention = "feeling the muscle" or focusing on "squeezing the muscle"
 

Abishai

Level 5 Valued Member
Pretty well known and proven.

At last in the world of gymnastic ring bodyweight work, there are oodles of videos on YouTube discussing slow eccentrics.

Stretch mediated hypertrophy being one of the main factors.
Guess I'm late
External focus of attention = goal-oriented focus; i.e. "lift the weight"
Internal focus of attention = "feeling the muscle" or focusing on "squeezing the muscle"
All true.
However I believe the fundamental debate should include 3 categories
1)PL or Olympic lifting ,gymnastic ect -all about the movement
2) hypertrophy- all about the muscle activation
3)overall strength- both.
Even if the muscle activation will activate secondary muscles that are not necessary for the movement it is still overall strengthening the body and will provide additional strength for irradiation..
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
All true.
However I believe the fundamental debate should include 3 categories
1)PL or Olympic lifting ,gymnastic ect -all about the movement
2) hypertrophy- all about the muscle activation
3)overall strength- both.
Even if the muscle activation will activate secondary muscles that are not necessary for the movement it is still overall strengthening the body and will provide additional strength for irradiation..
What's the debate?

Regarding the part I bolded:
Perhaps there was a misunderstaning. When I quoted Beardsley he used the term "muscle region." He was not referring to "secondary muscles." He is referring to regions within a particular muscle. This phenomenon apparently occurs because some muscle fibers do not run the entire length of the muscle fascicle. That is: they don't run all the way from one attachment point to the other.

From this one:

Incidentally the above article has a brief section on how concentric-only vs eccentric-only training influences regional hypertrophy.


All I was saying (based on Beardsley's work) was that hypertrophy-oriented training might benefit from internal focus, whereas skill-oriented (or strength-skill, if you prefer) training seems to benefit from an external focus. For example, in SF literature, we see cues such as "squeeze the lat," compared to "wedge under the weight." Imo those are examples of internal and external focuses, respectively. There are folks who get even more into the weeds who might say that even if you can't "feel the muscle" the same amount, that doesn't mean it is experiencing less tension.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Question: how is recovery from eccentric/isometric work?
The more you go toward the eccentric end of things the more you’ll feel it in recovery. Still tends to be pretty mild.

For me, after the first few weeks of straight up isometrics, recovery was not even remotely an issue. It took a long time to get used to not feeling like I was training at all.

As I began to add more pulsing and overload eccentric I began to feel a little of the old residual muscle heat and hint of DOMS from time to time. Still and all, recovery is not an issue.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Does anyone have any experience with using bodyweight in this way?
Also I'm having a hard time seeing a way to make it progressively harder because at a certain point I feel like there are diminishing returns for longer or slower holds?
Does anybody know a way to train with this long term

Check out Mindful Mover on Reddit / Instagram. His entire workout is heavy eccentrics and he really only trains 5 movements. He's a strong, muscular guy. He's your guy for long-term training in this method. He's got the progressions for his 5 movements laid out to infinity -- the further you go on it, the more of a beast you'll be.

I turn everything into an archer movement (more weight on one arm than the other, so my dips are as close to a one-armed movement as they can be) and thanks to North Coast Miller's posts about moving under isometric load I've added typewriter motions (so for dips, I'll be lowering with the majority of my weight shifted onto one arm, I'll pause part way down and carefully move my body sideways so the other arm now has the load, then I'll move it back to the first arm and continue the dip; I'll repeat on the way up). Googling archer push-ups and typewriter pull-ups will show you the motions I've adapted.

Also, I was recently reading some Logan Christopher and Bud Jeffries work where they talk about adapting old-school isometrics and partial ROM work to build phenomenal strength really quickly. The idea is that if you train your longest ROM to be as strong as possible and your shortest ROM to be as strong as possible, your body will fill in the gap. There's a famous calisthenics guy on youtube (I forget his name, sorry) who has built up to some pretty phenomenal strength feats using this method. I once saw a video of him training one-arm push-up partials at both ends of the ROM with an absurdly heavy dumbell in his free hand. His form was grotesque, but when he ditched the dumbell, his unweighted one-arm push-up was basically effortless -- and he's not a small guy. I wish I could remember his name because I'd like to learn more about this method.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
I realized part of that makes no sense. It should read: the idea is that if you train final few inches of your ROM to be as strong as possible and the beginning few inches of your ROM to be as strong as possible, your body will fill in the gap.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
I realized part of that makes no sense. It should read: the idea is that if you train final few inches of your ROM to be as strong as possible and the beginning few inches of your ROM to be as strong as possible, your body will fill in the gap.
I don’t know how relevant this is, but I did come across some warnings against using overcoming Iso at shorter muscle length/top of the ROM depending on the lift. Stuff like squats, DL, Benching will tend to put very little strain on the muscle compared to forces on the joint. This is where it becomes possible to hurt yourself using Iso.

I’d imagine it would be most helpful on stuff like rows, chins etc
 
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