High volume bodyweight training

Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by NoahMarek, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. NoahMarek

    NoahMarek More than 500 posts

    I have been reading recently about Herschel Walker and the Great Gama’s training styles. Both involve very high volumes of bodyweight training exercises (obviously a bit extreme but the principles can still be applied). I am gonna give this a go and focus on push up variations, squat/lunge variations, and some pull up/row/curl variations (I don’t have a great place to do pull ups currently hence the rows/curls) in addition to kettlebell snatches. I plan on sticking to this for at least a month and building volume steadily. Excited for this! I’m really curious about what effects it will have on body composition. I will report back results and what I did!

    For others that have done something similar to this, what have your results been like?
    Kozushi likes this.
  2. Chrisdavisjr

    Chrisdavisjr Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @NoahMarek I'm not familiar with those particular training styles; what sort of rep range are we talking about here?
  3. Jak Nieuwenhuis

    Jak Nieuwenhuis Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    yeah that stuff is great man. tests your body as well as your mind

    a lot of really tough (for lack of a better word) guys have used routines of very high-reps

    they almost always stick to "beginner" level calisthenics movements.. basic push ups, pushups done between milk crates, pull ups, rows, sit ups, leg lifts, body weight squats, and walking lunges

    the "big three" are pushups, pullups, and sit ups. you always here about those.this is because a lot of the people using higher rep routines were also jogging every morning, jumping rope, and running stairs.


    How Did Robert Conrad Train? - Tom Furman Fitness

    Mike Tyson Workout, the Training Routine of the Baddest Man to Ever Live - Brawl Bros.

    Initial Test - 200 SITUPS

    1,000 PushUps a Day, How to Do it and Why - Brawl Bros.

    if you have not already checked out the @pet' training log.. he uses high reps a majority of the time and has maintained/built strength for advanced calisthenic movements (front lever, One arm chin, freestanding handstand pushup) with them
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
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  4. NoahMarek

    NoahMarek More than 500 posts

    @Chrisdavisjr Herschel was known for doing about 1500 push ups and 2500 sit ups a day (or variations of these). The Great Gama was known for doing thousands of reps of Hindu squats and Hindu push ups daily.

    For me, I am thinking more like 50-300 reps per day.

    And thanks for the info @Jak Nieuwenhuis !
  5. WhatWouldHulkDo

    WhatWouldHulkDo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I'm coming to the end of a little "break" period where I'm staying off the weights and just doing high rep calisthenics, primarily pushups, squats and leg raises. Nothing too impressive, it's a good day if I rack up 100 reps or so.

    The one thing I've noticed is that the fatigue kind of sneaks up on you. I don't feel that wiped out after any one session, but I definitely feel "run down" here at the end of week 2 - ready for a couple days off. Might just be the body trying to adapt to the different demands, but something to watch out for.
    Joeyboy likes this.
  6. Chrisdavisjr

    Chrisdavisjr Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @NoahMarek Yikes. I did 100 pull-ups last week and I felt like hell the day after. Still, if you start low, add 10 reps a day and take a day off every few days I'm sure some pretty impressive numbers are manageable. I used to hit between 200-300 push-ups every other day as part of my training. I didn't gain anything strength-wise but my pain tolerance was pretty good and it burned a bunch of calories.

    Edit: I should clarify that, at the time, my goal was to add muscle mass and gain strength and that I had no idea what I was doing.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
  7. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    As @Jak Nieuwenhuis said, the high volume bodyweight training is something I often do because it works well on me.

    First off, it is important to remember that H. Walker follows a strict diet (vegetarian + warrior diet if I remember well). Plus, this high rep training is in addition to his specific training (nowadays MMA). Then, I guess that getting this kind of physique is his is a combination of these items. Finally, some folks respond better to high rep training than low rep training, and vice versa. This is very "personal". I never got sore or neither "tired" doing multiple rep training. However, a true strength training (excepted GTG) will fatigue me pretty fast.

    I built up volume until reaching 1500 push ups a day and "only" 1000 sit ups. Regarding the leg, I walked about 10km a day (no car, just daily life) and ruck with 20kg the WE. I also paired the push ups with 2 or 3 sets of pull ups, close to failure, to work on agonist and antagonist pairs. I also do a few "full tension" back bridges after each sets of sit ups. That work I work the spine in flexion and extention.

    Regarding the results, with a balanced diet, I finally got pretty visible abs ! Regarding strength, it permits to maintain my "top moves" (front lever, bent arm planche, pistols @24kg for reps, OA chin, free standing HSPU for reps, feet elevated OAOL PUs for reps).

    Of course, this high rep training may not be optimal to really gain strength. However, sure it maintains maximal strength once you reach a certain "critical" volume. I noticed that for my body, I have a better transfer from "high rep easy variation" to "low rep hard variation" than the contrary. This means that I transfer better strength-endurance to max strength, than max strength to strength-endurance. I am also far more powerful training that way. M. Tyson also use massive basic calisthenics moves.

    Also, these sets during the day build a huge mental toughness and discipline. They become something natural which is easily incorporating in the daily routines (such as a shower, brushing the teeth, and so on).

    Below are some other protocols:
    push up
    Proper Situps - Pass Situps Tests - Curlups, Crunches Tests From Stew Smith CSCS

    sit up
    PT Secrets - The Pushup Push: Double Pushups in 14 Days (FREE) - Stew Smith Fitness Ace the PFT - Preparing Americans for Military,Special Ops, Police, and Fire Fighting Professions

    pull up
    Pullup Push - Double Your Pullups in Two Weeks! (FREE) - Stew Smith Fitness Ace the PFT - Preparing Americans for Military,Special Ops, Police, and Fire Fighting Professions

    Kind regards,

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
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  8. mprevost

    mprevost More than 500 posts

    Recently, for about 6 weeks or so, I did this simple bodyweight routine:

    Workout A: Pushups, followed by bodyweight squats, X reps every minute on the minute for 25 minutes. Stretch. Repetitions depend on ability.

    Workout B: Either X pullups every minute on the minute, or X pullups every 30 seconds, for 25 minutes. Then I did a core circuit. Stretch.

    I alternated workout A, then run day, then workout B, then run day, then workout A, etc....

    Really enjoyed the workouts, which were done outdoors in a park. I like to do this sort of thing a few times per year to get out of the gym.
  9. mprevost

    mprevost More than 500 posts

    I should mention that I do not have ANY aggressive strength goals. If so, this would not be the kind of workout program I would recommend at all. I can maintain strength on a workout like this, and enjoy being outdoors when the weather is good. There is something to be said for that. For us non-professional athletes, we do not always have to be optimizing our training. Having a bit of fun is OK.
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  10. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    I will be eager to hear what your results are with this.

    With all respect to the great Gama, is something you can do 1500 times a day really enough of a challenge?
  11. Sergej

    Sergej Triple-Digit Post Count

    Not just a day.
    For years!
    The mental aspect should not be overlooked!
    Also,who are we to judge someone like gama/tyson/ali,etc.
    What they did worked for them.

    Back then training was simpler.
    You knew what you had to do and you did it!
  12. vegpedlr

    vegpedlr More than 500 posts

    Try a couple strength moves 1500 times and get back to us! My guess is that stays a big challenge for a long time.

    Perhaps a more relevant question is what benefits such high volume training provides, and to whom would it be most useful?
    Kozushi likes this.
  13. Adam R Mundorf

    Adam R Mundorf More than 500 posts

    Yeah, and it's fundamentally different from what StrongFirst does. StrongFirst trains for max strength, I think the Gama was training for endurance at that point.
    Kozushi likes this.
  14. Sergej

    Sergej Triple-Digit Post Count

    I don't think the gama was thinking along these lines.
    As i tried to express earlier,back then you didn't have all those narrow training specialisations.
    And guys like gama would laugh at these conversations while squatting for the 1000th time.
  15. NoahMarek

    NoahMarek More than 500 posts

    @Kozushi I am not going crazy with the volume like they did. My idea is more about building quality volume using variations of basic bodyweight exercises such as push ups, pull ups, and squats/lunges. I normally train with heavy weights for low reps so now I want to train bodyweight exercises for high reps. For example, I am doing 100-200 push ups 3-5 days per week using normal, diamond, Hindu, and one arm push ups.
    Kozushi likes this.
  16. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    Your wording better expresses my meaning.

    Yes, certainly thousands of pushups would be very hard - it's like going for a 10 hour walk - very hard (done that before), but doing something easy for a ridiculous number of reps - what is this for? You don't get more limit strength and the conditioning to the extreme like this has what benefits for what? It certainly isn't fun doing that kind of training, so I don't get it.
    sizzlefuzz likes this.
  17. Kozushi

    Kozushi More than 2500 posts

    I'm intrigued, especially since you know what limit strength training is all about. I read all kinds of different and often quite conflicting opinions on the relative benefits of limit strength training versus endurance strength training. There is no doubt that S&S is endurance strength training especially for the swings component. There is also no doubt at all in my mind that deadlifting took my strength in all senses (tested on the judo mat) much much further than S&S.

    I don't think I am correct, but at this stage in the game I'm seeing the high rep low weight stuff as primarily cardio training, which you could also get from skipping rope or jogging - almost no point doing high rep "strength" moves if you're doing low rep limit strength moves. Like I said I doubt my own thesis right now and I am trying to prove it wrong. If only this stuff were settled, but nope, lots of conflicting ideas and studies!
    NoahMarek likes this.
  18. pet'

    pet' More than 5000 posts


    Studies may be confusing regarding the results of high volume bodyweight training, I totally agree with @Kozushi

    I think this "strategy" can greatly improve max strength if one starts "from scratch". However, the more we progress in terms of max strength using this strategy, the less optimal it becomes due to the body adaptation.

    If I caricature: at the begining, 10 reps may give 1 unit of strength, but after a while, maybe 20 reps will be necessary to barely gain 1 unit of strength. This does not mean it does not work, it just means there are better ways, such as adding resistance to increase tension.

    For an already experienced lifter, I do not think a brutal switch from weight training to high rep bodyweight training would be a "great idea" to rapidly gain strength. However, it seems that a "critical volume" of easy variation move can be enough to maintain maximal strength, but not necessarily enough to increase it, I agree.

    Then this is a matter of transfer: do high reps transfer better to low rep ? or do low rep transfer better to high rep ? If I consider my body, I fall into the first category.

    Kind regards,

    Kozushi likes this.
  19. Maine-ah KB

    Maine-ah KB Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    So high rep was my introduction to training. At my best was 60-70 push-ups and sit-ups per set for 3 sets also 8 pullups and 10 chin-ups (because chin ups were a bicep exercise) also 3 sets . Daily for 4-6 months. I was also living off eggs coff and booze... mostly booze... i wasn’t that bright at 22. Any who I did loose fat and had some very modest nooby gains. I could also pick up a stack of two 50 lb potatoes boxes and walk around for a while on and off for 8 hours (I am thankful that isn’t my job anymore).

    After I switched lower rep strength practice my endurance took a hit though I can still bang out about 50 push-ups. I’ve also put on more muscle mass. For me low rep grinds and high rep ballistics really make my stronger and more athletic.

    Notable differences, I was weak,new to training, ate poorly and have a gift for gaining weight (fat or muscle). You already are strong seem to have a better grasp of nutrition and most certainly have better technique. I’ll be interested in the results! Have fun with your experiment!
    Kozushi likes this.
  20. NoahMarek

    NoahMarek More than 500 posts

    @Kozushi High volume training especially for someone does mostly low rep, limit strength training is a powerful and novel stimulus for hypertrophy/ body composition improvements in addition to improving work capacity and endurance. That is what i’m hoping to get out of it.
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