4 Ways to Modify Any Exercise for Your Needs and Goals


If me, I like to coach with nothing however my very own physique weight. There are simply so some ways to progress calisthenics workouts that I’ve received a lifetime’s price of challenges with out even worrying about exterior weights.

I perceive that not everybody feels that approach, nevertheless. Plenty of individuals love the sensation of slinging iron—and I completely get that! But as somebody who coaches individuals day in and day trip, I additionally assume each lifter can borrow 1 necessary concept from body weight coaching: Namely, that you may—and will—modify workouts in additional methods than simply including or subtracting weight from the bar.

Regardless of your most popular modality, you possibly can apply the next rules to change any train to fit your wants, targets, and expertise degree. Like the previous saying goes, “Give a person a fish and they’ll eat one meal, but teach that person to fish and they’ll eat for a lifetime.”

Though I educate these ideas at my body weight coaching seminars, the next truths are so common that every one of them might be utilized to weight-training workouts as properly.

Let’s go fishing!

1. Tempo

By merely lowering your motion pace, you can also make just about any train exponentially tougher. Bodybuilders have been saying for a very long time that point beneath stress issues as a lot as—if no more than—the quantity of resistance moved, and going slower makes your muscle tissues work tougher and forces them to develop.

This approach works nice for calisthenics fundamentals like squats and push-ups, but it surely’s particularly useful within the case of workouts like pull-ups and toes-to-bar leg raises, the place it is quite common for individuals to make use of momentum to finish their reps. In reality, most individuals aren’t even conscious of how a lot they’re counting on momentum till they try and carry out these workouts slowly.


Decreasing the pace of your actions is extraordinarily efficient in weight coaching, as properly. This does not imply you need to go super-slow—that is one thing else totally. What I am speaking about is solely being in full management of each centimeter of each rep, with out the usage of the slightest little bit of momentum. Depending on the train, this may increasingly take anyplace from 3-5 seconds per rep.

Give it a shot, however be ready to make use of much less weight than you are used to lifting!

2. Range of Motion

I am at all times psyched after I meet a brand new shopper who needs me to assist them get their first chin-up. If they have already got sufficient grip energy to hold from the bar, one of many first issues we’ll work on is the unfavorable chin-up.

By simply reducing down from the highest place, they’re capable of construct energy and start to get a really feel for the motion sample, with out having to concern themselves with the concentric section. This is 1 instance of utilizing a restricted vary of movement to regress an train, however there are lots of methods to use this precept.

Another instance could be when working with a shopper who’s unable to go all the best way down on a squat. In this occasion I might need the shopper begin out with a 1/2 squat. Over time we’ll work towards rising their mobility till they’ll carry out a full vary of movement with their hamstrings touching their calves within the backside place.

Range of Motion

Conversely, this idea can be utilized so as to add issue to an train by rising the vary of movement as a substitute. For instance, attempt doing a chin-up the place you convey the bar all the best way to your collar bones, versus stopping at your chin.

This similar precept might be utilized in weight coaching. After all, why is a clear and press a lot extra work than a deadlift? It might need one thing to do with the truth that you are transferring the burden 3 times as far!

Increase your vary of movement, and you may nearly at all times enhance the issue of your train alongside the best way.

3. Leverage and Body Length

Everyone is aware of push-up in your knees is more easy than 1 carried out in your toes—however why is that this so? The reply is straightforward: Leverage. The longer you make your physique, the farther your arms wind up out of your fulcrum level, creating extra torque in your muscle tissues to withstand.

Though the push-up is likely to be the obvious method to conceptualize this concept, it may be utilized to many superior calisthenics strikes, from the again lever to the human flag—each of that are finest discovered first with the legs in a tucked place. From there, you possibly can progress to a single-leg tuck after which a straddle leg place, earlier than lastly performing both transfer with each legs collectively and absolutely prolonged. The extra you straighten your legs, the longer your physique will get, and the tougher these strikes turn out to be.

Leverage and Body Length

This 1 might be trickier to conceptualize within the weight room, however here is a method to consider it: Compare a fly or pull-over together with your arms bent to 1 the place the elbows are absolutely straightened. It’s rather a lot more easy together with your arms bent, is not it? This is because of the truth that straightening your arms locations the burden farther away out of your physique, rising the quantity of torque in your muscle tissues. The dumbbell lateral elevate is one other instance of this precept utilized to a basic weight-training train. Once once more, the straighter and farther away you progress your arms out of your physique, the tougher the train turns into.

4. Technical Progression

What’s the following step after you are able to do a pistol squat? How about merely doing a greater pistol squat? Nobody’s first rep of something—or with any PR weight—is their finest, and simply since you’ve managed to do a couple of reps of a brand new train, does not imply you’re essentially able to attempt one thing harder or heavier.

Simply engaged on bettering your approach is usually a type of development. This is true for superior calisthenics strikes, but it surely applies when lifting weights as properly. If you concentrate on performing each rep you do with rock-solid approach, you’ll not have to raise practically as a lot weight to be able to tax your muscle tissues to the identical diploma. Plus, you’ll reinforce good motion mechanics throughout the board.

Technical Progression

Heavier doesn’t essentially equal higher! But in case you concentrate on higher, you possibly can positively make heavier really feel simpler and cleaner—and that is strong progress.

No matter your most popular modality, you need to use these common rules to adapt and modify any train in your routine. In that regard, calisthenics and weight coaching even have a terrific deal in widespread.

As for me, I’ve received some weight to raise…my very own!

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(Editor references)

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