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Bodyweight for Upper Body Strength

Just finished my early morning clients, which included a lad named Mike. 

Mike is looking to get stronger, he’s a runner and soccer player and asked for some upper body strength. Currently he’s on an Escalating Density Training (EDT) program to shift a bit of fat while building some muscle. EDT is a great method that I’ve used on myself and with clients, it never fails to get results, but more on that later.

Right now, I’m more interested in talking about the two drills we used:

  1. Bodyweight Row

  2. Push Up

Mike had been given his program  couple of weeks ago and I hadn’t seen him since. When I saw his log sheets from the workouts performed in my absence, I was impressed by his totals, so much so that I asked him to demonstrate his form in the two drills.

Aahhhhh! It all became clear. Done right, these two drills can form a great upper body workout, far better than their equivalent machine based drills. In my opinion, by adding weight to the body, they are more valuable than even free weight exercises for most people.

A bodyweight exercise forces you to activate the core, it ensures the whole body works as a unit. And any time you perform an exercise that moves your body through space, you activate more muscle fibres than if the body was stationary and the weight moved.

So how should they be performed?

The set up is almost identical in both exercises:

  1. Spine in neutral, this includes the head, don’t let it hang or twist it into an unnatural position.

  2. Shoulders back and down

  3. Chest lifted

  4. Core tight

The legs may be bent or straight depending on your strength levels. You may also change the angle of the body, starting parallel to the floor may be too challenging in either drill, you may change the height at the hands or feet accordingly.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s a couple of moving pictures that show the official version of these two great drills: The Body Weight Row [youtube=] The Push Up [youtube=]

If you train at home or outdoors, these two drills must be in your routine somewhere. For more great bodyweight training drills and ideas please check this out.

And for more on EDT, get over to Charles Staley’s site


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