Wednesday 21 February 2018

Movement manifesto

Our bodies are 200,000 years old.
Genetically, physiologically, anatomically, we are undistinguishable from the first Homo Sapiens ever to have walked the earth.

Among the animal kingdom we are almost unparalleled in our capacity to move our bodies in space. We may not be the strongest or run the fastest, but we can climb, crawl, brachiate, swim, invert and walk on our hands, jump, flip, and roll… We are wobbly bipeds with a steady pronograde past. Powerhouses and endurance machines. We are the ultimate generalists, limited only by the rules of gravity and our imagination.

We once lived on an earth athletic. We once depended on movement to survive: to hunt, to chase, to escape, to fight, to gather. We used to be lithe and active, but the world has moved on... And whilst our biology may be stuck in the past of a common ancestor, we have made our surroundings comfortable and risk-free. We have become clumsy and sedentary.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Front planche on a rope

bodyweight exercise
When my circus and aerial skills instructor showed this technique to me, she called it a 'front planche on a rope'. The name seems a little misguiding to me -and I am not sure it is even the common name for this move- but for want of a better one, I have kept it here...

The technique itself is not terribly hard -maybe of an intermediate level- and it relies more on skill than brute muscle power. It does require a fair amount of core strength however, and -as you can see from the picture- some straight arm and bent arm pulling strength.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Weights vs bodyweight exercises

Here are a few questions I see cropping up time and time again, and I hope this article will help settle them once and for all:
  • - How does weight training compare to bodyweight exercises? 
  • - Is bodyweight training effective for muscle building?
  • - Can you get stronger without lifting? 
  • - Which is better for getting into shape?

Photo credits: Flavio Simonetti, German natual bodybuilder , and Yuri van Gelder, gymnast (source: Raymond Nieuwenburg; transferred from nl.wikipedia)

Sunday 30 March 2014

Start Bodyweight on reddit

I have been finding it increasingly difficult to answer all the questions asked through this website, as well as the facebook group and my personal messages.
I decided to create a subreddit, as a forum of sorts to support the Start Bodyweight routine.
The forum format is more appropriate to questions and answers than a blog, and it will give followers of the program a chance to interact and support each other.
Feel free to post about your progress, to share your thoughts and suggestions about the program, and make sure to support new users.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Embodied knowledge and bodyweight training

Long Jump, 1887, Eadweard Muybridge

As I walked down the street, the stranger nodded at me almost at the same time as I nodded back. There was a moment of instant recognition, the way riders usually acknowledge each other when they come across another motorbike on the road; a shared experience.

I am no great fighter, but I have trained in boxing and a few other martial arts, and I can usually recognise a fighter, less by the distinctive marks their face sometimes carry, but rather by the way they move, and look at other people and gauge and assess them… This particular guy was clearly a boxer.

Similarly, a dancer will move in a particular, almost inexpressible way that makes them easy to spot: a certain poise and grace. Long distance runners, sprinters, gymnasts, climbers… all have distinctive movement patterns honed through countless hours of drilling the same motions. A tacit knowledge that is carried within the body, and constantly accessed even in the ordinary movements of daily life.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Get lean with bodyweight exercises

This is the story of this site’s banner: the story of an article that was never written. And it all started with my cat!

I must confess, I have limited amounts of energy: I let work get the better of me quite easily, and when I get busy, my whole life seems to collapse. Winter and springtime are always a busy time for me.

Around this time last year, I realized the winter months had taken their toll: I’d fallen into a slump, my training had virtually become non-existent, and I’d piled on a few pounds. At 80 kg (176lbs or 12 ½ stones) I was the heaviest I’d been since I could remember.

It was then that I decided I could actually make the best of a bad situation: I could use this opportunity to write an article on how bodyweight strength training could be used for weight loss. I would put together a 12 week program, and I would document my progress with weekly pictures. No fake before and after pictures here, no photoshopping: just clear weekly photos, from the same angle, illustrating my progress.

Monday 3 March 2014

Twelve principles of bodyweight training

1. Master your body
It’s not about how much you can lift, but whether you can move and control your own bodyweight in the first place.

2. Progressive overload does not discriminate.
It does not matter if you lift iron or your own bodyweight ; for the same weight lifted (or equivalent mechanical disadvantage) your strength gains will be the same!

3. Stay out of the comfort zone
Work on your weaknesses: chances are, you’ve been avoiding certain movements and patterns all your life simply because you weren’t very good at them. This will create imbalances in the long run, and stall your progress. Venture out of your comfort zone: it’s the only way to grow and improve!

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Basic routine infographic poster

 StartBodyweight poster

To download the Start Bodyweight basic routine infographic, with all 8 bodyweight progressions and an overview of the routine, click here.

You can also download the  PDF version here.

Sunday 19 January 2014


One of the main aims of many of those who come to bodyweight training is to learn how to do a handstand.
A solid freestanding handstand is by no means an easy feat however, and it will require many hours of practice before you can hold the position for any length of time.

This progression will suggests some steps towards building a strong handstand.
There are many different methodologies to train this skill however, and this is only one of many.

Prerequisites: Wall handstand push ups

Thursday 16 January 2014

Ab wheel rollouts

Ab wheel rollouts provide a great core workout with the use of a simple device: the ab wheel. Though the exercise may look deceptively easy, performing ab wheel rollouts from your feet is a challenge that should not be underestimated.

Prerequisites (for standing versions):
Wall plank ; hanging straight leg V-raises