Why am I making no progress since I started in October?

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
For all of your chosen exercises you need to do a light warmup and execute a single set to failure, absolute, gravity wins, failure.
This is also a good program. Limiting your sets forces you to put all your mental focus on that one set.
To be clear, this set to wrenching failure is not part of the daily, but the equivalent of a 1rep max test - 'as many reps as possible' with a given BW exercise just to see where it might fit in a progression, using the Reddit BW RR as a basic template.

Normally I'd recommend a set to within an estimated 1 or 2 rep failure or technical failure, but in this case I'm not at all confident the OP has enough experience to really nail it with anything less than an arms/legs shaking stoppage.

Another factor that might confound this a little is many BW exercises entail a bit of balance to execute, and this tends to fail before the muscle completely fatigues.
 

Neuro-Bob

More than 2500 posts
a) how does the difference between good and poor technique look?
b)
c) i only gain fat when gaining weight. nope. first i need to know why i'm not gaining anything but fat.

ps: stave freides, i dont care for strength, i just care about aaesthetics.
Lots of good advice in this thread already. The book C-MASS by the Kavadlo Brothers may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Interestingly, they recommend just two sets of each exercise. But two sets to @North Coast Miller’s definition of “gravity wins” failure.

The BWF RR is a very good and complete routine. However, in my understanding it’s heavily influenced by u/eshlow and Overcoming Gravity - basically towards pure strength gymnastic variations. While I would expect physique change, I don’t believe the RR is an aesthetic/bodybuilding program.

No need to “major in the minors” of timing when you eat or anything like that. Just take modest variations of exercises and hammer out the long reps, way more than 12 (see Convict Conditioning progression rep ranges).

You CAN do this. But remember a physique takes a long time to sculpt....
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
Lots of good advice in this thread already. The book C-MASS by the Kavadlo Brothers may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Interestingly, they recommend just two sets of each exercise. But two sets to @North Coast Miller’s definition of “gravity wins” failure.
I never knew that - familiar with some of Kavadlo bros exercises but not the details of their programs.

In my experience it takes a lot of forward momentum to make a true HIT program work, and that being with a partner. Although with the higher reps used in a lot of BW exercises it is tough to make gains without going to failure, multiple sets in that manner will be tough to manage for most people if really exhausting to failure.

I normally recommend not going past one Rep in Reserve most of the time, even when doing dropsets and Rest/Pause.

Another thing I have noticed with myself relative to BW and other modes as well - once the rep count per set to reach technical failure gets much above 15-20 it becomes increasingly difficult to make gains of any kind. At that point I firmly believe you need to switch to a different variant and get the reps under 10 at a minimum, with some variations getting down in the 3 to 6 range.

That's the real challenge of BW relative to external loading, the fancier you get the more variants you need to become competent with.

You can also swap over to partial reps, static holds using the same basic movements, but I've never had much success with that compared to Rest/Pause, clusters, Dropsets done with multiple variants.
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
@Neuro-Bob Note that C-MASS has the Kavadlos on the cover but is written by Paul Wade (it's basically Convict Conditioning 4). Programming is a major weakness of CC1, and I haven't read any his other books, but I'm told that C-MASS has better programming information.

FWIW, I recommended Get Strong because the program is very explicit about set and rep schemes week-to-week.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
I'm having some trouble following exactly what you mean but it might appear to me that you are simply not doing enough exercise.

I remember doing 10X10 pushups every morning and seeing no real benefits at all (not that it wasn't a good thing to do!)

Either you aren't doing enough sets and reps or your aren't lifting heavy enough.

I 100% agree with Steve Friedes on this: go and buy a barbell, and follow a program with it. I am currently doing the Reload program with the deadlift and the press.

Another possible problem is that you aren't giving your body time to build new muscle after you exercise. If you exercise too frequently you aren't giving your body time to rebuild the muscles stronger before you wear them out again. I was meeting this problem regarding deadlifts - I was doing a few short sets a day or every second day with 370lbs and wasn't making any progress. Following Reload I only deadlift and press once a week.
 

Neuro-Bob

More than 2500 posts
@Neuro-Bob Note that C-MASS has the Kavadlos on the cover but is written by Paul Wade (it's basically Convict Conditioning 4). Programming is a major weakness of CC1, and I haven't read any his other books, but I'm told that C-MASS has better programming information.

FWIW, I recommended Get Strong because the program is very explicit about set and rep schemes week-to-week.
I stand corrected.....
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
once the rep count per set to reach technical failure gets much above 15-20 it becomes increasingly difficult to make gains of any kind
Let's add some context to this statement, which aligns with my own experience. A typical bodybuilder progression would be to do 3 sets of 15-20 reps one week, then 4 sets, then 5, then deload, then start again at 3 sets with more weight; if hypertrophy is your goal, this is a fine approach. It's a lot harder to do that kind of programming without machines. You can't go from doing 5 sets of 20 push ups to doing 3 sets of 15 push ups + 10 lbs. (I mean, you kind of can with close push ups or push ups on rings...)

A typical calisthenics approach to pressing is to do push up and handstand push up progressions. The bodybuilder programming above might look like: chest press machine and incline bench, and adding single-joint exercises for triceps and side delts. It takes a lot of time in the gym.

So like, that's a valid way to go, but I don't know how well it translates to bodyweight training.

FWIW, I hardly ever train to failure (especially with pressing because it aggravates my front delts), and the large majority of my resistance traning is 3-8 reps with 3-1 RIR.
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
Another factor that might confound this a little is many BW exercises entail a bit of balance to execute, and this tends to fail before the muscle completely fatigues
This is another important consideration. Instability prevents recruitment of those all important high-threshold motor units; your brain will not allow you to exert max force if it is not sure you're not going to hurt yourself. This is one of the reasons why calisthenics isn't the easiest way to build muscle. (It's also related to the neurophysiology around "strength is a skill" and Greasing the Groove.)
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
This is another important consideration. Instability prevents recruitment of those all important high-threshold motor units; your brain will not allow you to exert max force if it is not sure you're not going to hurt yourself. This is one of the reasons why calisthenics isn't the easiest way to build muscle. (It's also related to the neurophysiology around "strength is a skill" and Greasing the Groove.)
Interesting. In judo I'm always unstable so I suppose that training to work in this kind of environment would be a plus for me.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

Stable environment is crucial to train max strength, this is true.

Nonetheless, working on unstable ones may also be beneficial (to a certain extent), but not as a part of strength training. Indeed, unstable environment may help to develop a good footwork

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
Interesting. In judo I'm always unstable so I suppose that training to work in this kind of environment would be a plus for me.
recommend: single leg/opposite arm bottoms up thrusters on a balance board. or this:


(j/k)

If instability inhibits motor unit recruitment, should we be doing machine hack squats instead of BB squats? Obviously not, although this principle may help explain why machines are so popular with bodybuilders. Machines have their purpose, of course, but my point is that as you get more skilled in a movement, the brain learns that you are safe and stops holding you back. Plus, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand dictates the transfer to athletic activity, so training your nervous system that you're able to stabilize in this or that position may help your performance.

I wonder if some kind of cable pulling exercises while laying on the ground might have some transfer to judo? Whatever, I'm not a trainer or a judoka; I'm just a nerd who spends time reading sports physiology when I should be working :)

@Glen nice article!

I also found this one from Eric Cressey while searching for the pictures of stupid Bosu Ball exercises: BOSU Ball: The Good, Bad, and Ugly | T Nation
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I wonder if some kind of cable pulling exercises while laying on the ground might have some transfer to judo? Whatever, I'm not a trainer or a judoka; I'm just a nerd who spends time reading sports physiology when I should be working :)
If rotational torquing is what's missing, this would probably pay off. So might doing floor drills with a seriously heavy sandbag. Just dragging a 150 or 200 lb sandbag back and forth across your prone body using hands, elbows, knees, feet, would be a brutal core workout.

Gotta be careful when thinking outside the box with some of this stuff, ultimately too much rotational force winds up as shear force on the intercostals.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
recommend: single leg/opposite arm bottoms up thrusters on a balance board. or this:


(j/k)

If instability inhibits motor unit recruitment, should we be doing machine hack squats instead of BB squats? Obviously not, although this principle may help explain why machines are so popular with bodybuilders. Machines have their purpose, of course, but my point is that as you get more skilled in a movement, the brain learns that you are safe and stops holding you back. Plus, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand dictates the transfer to athletic activity, so training your nervous system that you're able to stabilize in this or that position may help your performance.

I wonder if some kind of cable pulling exercises while laying on the ground might have some transfer to judo? Whatever, I'm not a trainer or a judoka; I'm just a nerd who spends time reading sports physiology when I should be working :)

@Glen nice article!

I also found this one from Eric Cressey while searching for the pictures of stupid Bosu Ball exercises: BOSU Ball: The Good, Bad, and Ugly | T Nation
You must be right. My coach has several balance balls at the judo gym (it's his own gym) and his private students do stuff like this I think.

If you're interested in working out then start doing it!
 

George Locke

Double-Digit Post Count
You must be right.
Oh no! Kozushi! I was looking for the most dangerous thing you could do for a joke! j/k => just kidding. Sorry - my irony sometimes goes unnoticed IRL, and I can see where the "j/k" might not have fully expressed my skepticism about the more extreme forms of instability training. My point was that some amount of instability is good for general purposes (e.g. regular barbell), but one shouldn't get carried away.

If you want to practice applying force in an unstable position specifically for judo, I'd recommend seeking positions that closely mimic your judo practice. I've never grappled myself, but my actual suggestion is to do pushing and pulling while from the floor - I imagine there are certain positions you practice for judo, so get into one and pull on a cable from different angles. @North Coast Miller's suggestion of sandbag work is perhaps even more specific since you can pulling on a heavy sack, which seems closer to pulling a person's gi/pushing on a body than a regular cable handle (although I guess you could improvise a cloth handle or something).

I guess doing balance board stuff might possibly help you train for trips or something, IDK.

Here's an example of the kind of thing I had in mind from an MMA fighter called Mikkel Guldbaek:
This closely resembles the "to-elbow" step of the TGU; the landmine-esque setup has its own strengths and weaknesses.

"Strength is a general adaptation" is true and "SAID" is also true. So continuing with your barbell training will provide you with lots of benefits; if you want to add some "spice" that aims at sport-specific transfer, finding movements that actually help will be harder - that's what separates a good strength coach who knows your sport from book-smart internet randos like myself.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
Oh no! Kozushi! I was looking for the most dangerous thing you could do for a joke! j/k => just kidding. Sorry - my irony sometimes goes unnoticed IRL, and I can see where the "j/k" might not have fully expressed my skepticism about the more extreme forms of instability training. My point was that some amount of instability is good for general purposes (e.g. regular barbell), but one shouldn't get carried away.

If you want to practice applying force in an unstable position specifically for judo, I'd recommend seeking positions that closely mimic your judo practice. I've never grappled myself, but my actual suggestion is to do pushing and pulling while from the floor - I imagine there are certain positions you practice for judo, so get into one and pull on a cable from different angles. @North Coast Miller's suggestion of sandbag work is perhaps even more specific since you can pulling on a heavy sack, which seems closer to pulling a person's gi/pushing on a body than a regular cable handle (although I guess you could improvise a cloth handle or something).

I guess doing balance board stuff might possibly help you train for trips or something, IDK.

Here's an example of the kind of thing I had in mind from an MMA fighter called Mikkel Guldbaek:
This closely resembles the "to-elbow" step of the TGU; the landmine-esque setup has its own strengths and weaknesses.

"Strength is a general adaptation" is true and "SAID" is also true. So continuing with your barbell training will provide you with lots of benefits; if you want to add some "spice" that aims at sport-specific transfer, finding movements that actually help will be harder - that's what separates a good strength coach who knows your sport from book-smart internet randos like myself.
Hahaha! Funny!

S&S is great - lots of challenge to balance and lines of asymmetrical force. Free weights are great too for this. Chinups and dips are also great but in a different way - it's me that is in danger of falling off balance, not the weight making me off balance.
 

SASTOMO

My Third Post
Stewie at your level you have a multitude of programs at your disposal. At your stage, it is more about hitting the iron or whatever hard and eating (by that I mean not the BroScience eat more junkfood gainz). Remember if you want to look like a lifter (as you said initially) you have to become a lifter. That's the sad bit which a lot of us have sadly come to realise. There aren't any shortcuts but do enjoy the journey as it is a good one.

I'd do what Steve said (another tip is tp follow those with experience, they help - I know and have made my fair share of mistakes in my fitness journey). But if you do not want to buy a program there are many StrongFirst programs that have a lot of information available to them (preferably choose one that is a beginner). There is also a huge multitude of programs out there like Starting Strength, StrongLifts and but Arnold's Six is a good shout given your aesthetic orientated goals and used by the legend himself. On this, you need muscle before you cut and you'll find that out once you start lifting a lot more (like the difference between benching 60kg and 100kg).

Second off put your ego at the door. Something I had to learn. A beginner doesn't mean you are rubbish it just means you are new. Also, beginner programs are lots of fun and when you are new to something you'll see faster gains generally.

Nutrition is very important. Just eating more won't cut it as it's what you eat is important. I wish drinking 10 pints of Guinness after a match would give me more muscle but sadly that has been tried and tested (failure for those still wondering). My rugby team coach had a greater focus on strength training but his take on nutrition saw the biggest improvements. A tried and tested albeit very generalised approach is to eat 2 grams of protein for every kilo you weight (I believe my friends across the pond - the states would be more familiar with a gram for every pound you weigh which is very similar). The issue with carbs and fats that I won't get into as that is done to death but personally I tend to eat more carbs on intense days and less on others. That's when I saw my biggest improvements in aesthetics and strength. Especially as we were running around like headless chickens (practice and game time) alongside the gym so that shredded things off anyway!

I know it has been a bit of time since this thread was last used and I hope that is because our dear friend Stewie is now beasted it and is on the way to becoming one jacked SoB. Just thought I'd throw my thoughts out there.
 

william bad butt

More than 300 posts
Stewie,

You've been given a lot of recommendations. All of it is great and could help you. But it could be overwhelming what to choose. I would do what he said, for at least 6 months.

@Stewie, get a barbell and plates, and perform the powerlifts: squat, bench press, deadlift. Buy our ebook, Reload, for $6 and follow the instructions. Eat, sleep, lift.

-S-
Get Strong! The muscle will come. Kbells work. Body weight excersises work. But it is hard to beat the barbell for absolute strength and muscle gains. Do the 5x5 program or something similar. This includes the Reload book. Or just search the Articles on the main site, there are about 7 years worth of free programs. Iterations of the 5x5 program are in there.

Regards,

Eric
 
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