Your Body is All You Need: The World’s Oldest Training Method (and a 1% Workout)

Are you ready to commit to 1% a day? Join the Spark Challenge now!  https://www.fitocracy.com/spark/

By John Romaniello

Arnold said it best: 1%. Just 1% of your day—15 minutes—can make a tremendous difference in your life, and in the lives of others. For some, that’s a little hard to believe, especially from a champion bodybuilder known for his marathon workouts. But it’s true. 

I understand why some people might be skeptical. My article on the return of bodybuilding training didn’t touch on this directly, but it also raised a number of questions and concerns—is this what I need to be doing? What if I don’t have time? What if I don’t have time? 
These are valid questions, and concerns. After all, bodybuilders in the Golden Age certainly did spend a lot of time in the gym; Arnold himself is known for training twice a day—for two hours at a clip—up to six days per week. That’s a lot of time; too much time.
Thinking that you need hit the gym twice a day, every day is enough to scare anyone away, and that is the last thing we want to do. Instead, we want to inspire you, help you take control of your health and achieve great things; and we want to show you that you can do this in less time than you might be thinking.
Thankfully, you don’t need to spend 20-24 hours a week in the gym doing it. In fact, you don’t even need to go to the gym at all. Arnold knows this, and so do all of the top trainers in the world.  Stay tuned, and I'll show you how at the end of this article.
 You don’t need hours a day in the gym. That’s the old way.  Still effective? Absolutely. Necessary? Not even close. If my last article was a discussion of the old way, let this one be the introduction to the new way. And, if we’re looking at training in the modern age, we need to look at something called metabolic resistance training. 
At some point in the near future, I’ll have an entire article on metabolic resistance training, but for now, you only need to know three things:
  1. MRT is essentially fast-paced circuits, where you move from one exercise to the next with little rest in between.
  2. MRT workouts have been proven to be one of the most effective training methods for weight loss, both in the gym, and in lab settings.
  3. MRT workouts can be done with any type of equipment—or none at all—in as little as 15 minutes.
That last point is the one I really want you to focus on first: you can do these workouts in 15 minutes. You can do these workouts with no equipment. Now, look go back to the second point: these workouts have been shown to be one the most effective for weight loss. 
Let’s think about that for a second. It had been proven in both gyms and labs that a 15-minute workout done with no equipment at all…can be one of the most effective things for burning fat and getting in shape.
That sounds hard to believe, but, as Arnold has said, it’s amazing what you can do with just 1% of your day.
And so today, I want to give you such a workout—a 15-Minute workout that you can do with just your body weight. A 15-minute workout that anyone can do, anywhere. A workout that will get you started on the path to help; or, if you have started, take you one step further. In short, a 1% Workout.
Some of you may still be skeptical. You may be wondering if it’s really possible to get a great workout with just your bodyweight. You’re more likely to be thinking this if you’ve been serious with weights before. It’s okay. I get it. 
And so, to allay your fears and skepticism, before we get to the workout, let’s first go talk about bodyweight training, and why it’s so effective. 
A Brief Discussion of Bodyweight Training
Before the inception of weights, machines, genetic engineering, time travel, light sabers, or the Internet, people who wanted to get big and strong had to train using only their bodyweight. Although it originated out of “necessity,” this training method continues to be used because of its efficacy.
The methodology of bodyweight training has a long and storied history, particularly in military settings. From the Spartans to the Romans to the Navy SEALS, bodyweight only training has been a consistent component of the methods of nearly every military organization from antiquity to the present.
Admittedly, this is due in part to the inexpensive nature and the inherent convenience of not needing any equipment and being able to perform these exercises anywhere.  However, expense and convenience notwithstanding, bodyweight workouts are undeniably effective for everyone from new recruits to drill sergeants.
Outside of being used in the training of the world’s greatest warriors, bodyweight exercises continue to be used in the athletic training world, and are a key component of many of the best fat loss and muscle gain workouts available, anywhere—like this one.
Within the context of a complete program that uses weights as well, bodyweight training has some specific benefits. Now, notwithstanding the fact that bodyweight exercises have been empirically proven to be effective, speaking generally, bodyweight exercises are fundamentally different from most weight bearing exercises—even when the same muscles or movement patterns are involved.
As an example, I don’t think anyone would debate that there is a tremendous difference between a bodyweight pull-up and a machine pull-down.
This fact remains true despite the fact that the same muscles—the latissimus dorsi, teres major, rhomboids, et al.—are involved; this will also remain true if one were to use the same load.  That is, use weight on the pull-down comparable to your bodyweight, which acts as the load on the pull-up.
Of course, this raises the question: why are they different?
In the gym, your run of the mill meathead will tell you it’s a matter of pull-ups being “hardcore” and pull-downs being kind of a wussy exercise. The may be true, and while you know I love a good broscience argument more than anyone, that answer isn’t really relevant to your goals.
Instead, let’s focus on something substantial.
Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and the like belong to a group of movements known as “closed kinetic chain exercises.” Closed kinetic chain exercises include those in which the distal end of the exercise is fixed, such as a squat or lunge, where the foot remains in place. In other words, are exercises performed where the hand or foot is fixed, and does not move relative to the body.  
Compare these with exercises like the pull-down, bench press, leg press, or leg curls, which are known as “open kinetic chain exercises.” In contrast to CKCEs, open chain kinetic exercises don’t have a fixed distal point. Put another way, OKCE are performed without the movement hand or foot being fixed, and instead allow movement relative to body position. 
Speaking generally, if you are moving your body towards or away from an object (instead of moving an object towards of away from your body), the chain is closed; if you’re moving something either towards or away from your body (instead of moving your body towards or a way from an object). 
This might seem a little academic, and while I apologize for boring you with the science, the differentiation is of vital importance when considered within the context of a complete training paradigm.
All of which is to say that bodyweight exercises are incredibly valuable, and often underused. 
To drive this point home, let’s briefly go back to the example of the pull-up (CKCE) versus the pull-down (OCKE), so that we may look at the total picture. Physiologically, pull-ups require more in the way of coordinative ability and stabilization. 
More importantly: as we’ve covered several times by now, there is a tremendous difference between pulling yourself towards a fixed object and pulling an object towards yourself in a fixed position, in terms of both muscular and neurological activation.
While any further discussion of those differences would be beyond the scope of this writing—not to mention boring—there is a central point to make: incorporating bodyweight closed kinetic chain exercises into training programs stimulates your nervous system in a way that is completely different from open chain kinetic exercises.
In fact, some closed kinetic chain exercises to be superior, because they require the coordination of multiple muscle groups in a more functional movement. Personally, while I acknowledge that OCKE are generally more functional, as with any other aspect of bodybuilding or strength training, combination of both is always going to be best. 
For example, a push-up is in many respects a superior exercise to a bench press and—assuming equal load—can theoretically lead to greater development; however, that doesn’t mean you should abandon the bench press. They both have tremendous value.
This has numerous benefits. Exposing your nervous system to different types of stimuli helps to increase overall neurological efficiency; therefore doing CKC exercises like a push-up will have carryover to and help with increases in OKC exercises like the bench press.  Over time, this will help you increase both strength and mass.  
Additionally, the neurological stimulation activates muscle tissue in a different way, allowing for greater total recruitment. This is great for hypertrophy, of course, but also increases energy expenditure and fat loss.
Something else to consider is the ease of transition from one exercise to another—because there is no equipment, it takes no time or effort to move from one to the next. This saves time, and in the context of a fat loss program, keeps the rest periods down, keeping your heart rate elevated and increases your metabolism.
Closing Thoughts
All told, bodyweight training is not only effective in it’s own right, but when added to a program involving weights, increases efficacy as well. This is true whether you include bodyweight exercises in weight training workouts, or do entire workouts comprised only of bodyweight training—like this one.
In short, bodyweight training is not only great for beginners or those getting back into fitness, but anyone who wants to give themselves an edge when it comes to building strength, burning fat, or gaining muscle.
The 1% Workout
This bodyweight workout can be done 3-4 times per week, and is intended to help you burn fat and build strength. If any of the exercises feel too hard, make modifications and build up to them. 
  1. Bodyweight squats – 8-10 reps
  2. Push-ups (or knee-push ups) – 5-8 reps
  3. Plank – hold for 15 seconds
  4. Jumping Jacks – 15 reps
  5. Bodyweight Reverse Lunges – 6 reps per leg
  6. Lying Hip Raise (double or single leg) – 10 reps
How to Do it
Cycle through the exercises sequentially, resting and repeating as prescribed based on your fitness level. 
Beginners: Perform exercises 1-6 in order, resting 30 seconds between each. This is one circuit. Perform a total of 4 circuits, resting 90 seconds between each. This workout should take you approximately 15 minutes.
Intermediate: Add 10 seconds to the plank. Perform exercises 1-6 in order, resting 20 seconds between each. This is one circuit. Perform a total of 5 circuits, resting 75-90 seconds between each. This workout should take you approximately 18 minutes.
Advanced: Add 20 seconds to the plank. Perform exercises 1-6 in order, resting 20 seconds between each. This is one circuit. Perform a total of 6 circuits, resting 75 seconds between each. This workout should take you approximately 22 minutes.
Elite: Add 3-5 reps per exercise and 30 seconds to the plank. Perform exercises 1-6 in order, resting 10 seconds between each. This is one circuit. Perform a total of 6 circuits, resting 45 seconds between each. This workout should take you approximately 18 minutes.
With the above workout, you are on your way to the next level of fitness, no matter where you’re currently starting. Remember, in just 15 minutes, you can start to make a tremendous change in your life. All it takes is a spark, and 1% of your day

Are you ready to commit to 1% a day? Join the Spark Challenge now!  https://www.fitocracy.com/spark/


John Romaniello is an angel investor, the author of two upcoming books with HarperCollins, and the founder of Roman Fitness Systems, a training and online coaching company based in NYC. Romaniello regularly works with all types of clients, from youth athletes to social media moguls.

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