Bodyweight Training within an Olympic Weightlifting Program.

June 18, 2015

A complete portrait of strength at least by my standards, includes mastery of one’s own bodyweight.  Even at 286lbs I was still able to bang out a few muscle ups and do various tricks on the pull-up bar.  Now at 228lbs, my options once again are more numerous.  In 2005, I decided I wasn’t into any sort of bodybuilding anymore because it “did not serve a purpose.” I decided that instead I would supplement my Olympic lifts with bodyweight training and wrestling. It made for a pretty decent physique and let me be on my high horse when bros at frat parties would ask me how much I bench.

“BENCH? HAHAHAHA! OH, SUCH PEASANTRY. YOU SIMPLETON.”

I eventually grew out of that phase.  Although to this day, I rarely if ever bench press. I first mastered the muscle up in 2005 because my friend from high school said that DMX did them for upper body strength.  Yup, you read that right.  I actually had no idea what the blossoming company, Crossfit was at the time.  No.  I started doing muscle ups because I wanted to prove to myself that I was as good as fucking DMX, the rapper.  Standards.

But that’s actually not where my interest in bodyweight training started.  I can actually pin point the exact moment in my childhood that I first realized that mastery of one’s bodyweight is a skill that I never wanted to be without.

I was in 5th or 6th grade.  I was with my family on a trip to Monterey for Summer vacation.  My brothers were still pretty young at the time so my parents decided that we would visit the “Denis the Menace Park” pretty close to Cannery Row.  This was a basically a park with a legit play area for kids instead of a standard play structure.  Me being all mature at 12 or 13 years old had no interest in this.  Luckily for me, a skate park opened up just across from the park.  The only skate park I had ever visited before that was in Davis and that one was so small, it was surely meant for “posers.”  I wasn’t all that good.  I mean, at 5’6 I looked like I was about as wide as I was tall.  With the baggy shorts only leaving my “cankles” exposed and an oversized plaid shirt, I was basically a grunged out pirate ship while at full speed on my deck.  But still I was able to bust out a few tricks and shredded to my heart’s delight for two or three hours at the park up until my dad walked up to the chainlink fence letting me know it was time to go.

He told me to throw my board over and hop the fence.  Simple enough.  I tried 6 or 7 pathetic efforts.  Each time I would fall back to the ground weighed down by my pop-tart rich diet and shame.  Each time I felt the eyes of other boarders stopping to watch as the fat kid couldn’t hop a chain link fence.  Pitiful.  What was worse is the look on my dad’s face when he realized his kid probably couldn’t escape a burning building if he had to;  A one story building. Having enough, I let my dad know I was just going to take the long way around.

It was a long walk.

“Ey, Dawg. You should be ashamed of yourself.” I was, DMX. I was.

That moment probably affected me more than it should have.  By the time I was 18, I could leap over a fence or given enough effort pull the damn thing down.  Mastery of my bodyweight would always be a skill I’d want to develop.  But it didn’t just stop at pull-ups and decently strong abs.  I started working out at a rock climbing gym to take my game to another level.  I’ve eased up over the years.  I’m saving all my really cool bodyweight stuff for after my lifting career.  I’ll usually throw in 15 minutes or so of playtime after my workouts 3 days a week.  My lifters also work on these skill sets.  I don’t make them do most of the stuff that I do.  But I do prioritize L sits from both the seated and hanging position, strict pull-ups, chin ups and various torso strengthening such as side bends, Chinese Planks and crunches.  This to me represents the bare minimum of what an able bodied person should be able to do.

Windshield wipers are a favorite of mine.  I'm also working on my human flag and pushups without my feet on the ground.

Windshield wipers are a favorite of mine. I’m also working on my human flag and pushups without my feet on the ground.

It would be a hard case for me to make that bodyweight training is directly beneficial to success on the platform, especially given the relatively underdeveloped physiques of some of the world’s best lifters.  But I do like to have my lifters work on general strength skills because I like developing them to be generally fit and capable people; That and I don’t want anyone to have to take the long way around.

-Trust the Process.

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