How To Get Stronger Without Weights

by Kilo on December 15, 2010

How to get stronger without weights? Very, very simple. Just do a bunch of the stuff this guy up here is doing. I saw this video for the first time about a year ago and I bet I’ve watched it at least once a month since. Absolutely incredible.

I’ve never been a big fan of bodyweight exercise for one simple reason: I like to lift weights and I like to lift heavy. It suits my temperament and my goals. But yes, you can obviously get insanely strong using bodyweight alone, as demonstrated by Mr. playground exercise in the video and the countless examples we could find of gymnasts.

They’re not too shabby in the physique and muscle department either. If there was one physique I could choose, it would probably be that of a swimmer or a gymnast. Again, I just don’t like to do what they do, so I’ll probably never look like they look. But at the same time, they could probably catch me in most areas of weightlifting, just because they have built up incredible levels of strength without weights. I suspect they’d adapt rather easily.

The principles of getting stronger without weights are not different than using weights. Choose exercises suited to your goals. Pushups, pullups, dips, one legged squats, handstand pushups, one arm pushups or pullups, planks, and so on.

Every single one of those movements has a near infinite amount of positions which will yield poorer leverages and higher degrees of difficulties. Then, if you want to go even further, adding weight to your bodyweight movements (like weighted dips, for instance) will make bodyweight alone feel incredibly easy once you go back to it.

But listen to me, talking as if I am in the know. What I know for sure is that the guy in this video has done a lot of bodyweight training. Specifics first. And I suspect that the reason it looks so easy for him is that he puts in quality practice and experiences few or zero injuries.

I also doubt he attributes much of his strength success to creatine or protein shakes, but who knows?

It is much more impressive to me to see someone making something hard look easy, than seeing someone strain and grind through something hard. We can all make difficult things look difficult!


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Darryl Lardizabal December 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Hannibal is quite the beast when it comes to a lot of that stuff. There’s some other interesting variations of Pullups from the Bartenderz as well.

Working up to some of those feats, although they’re quite frustrating.


John Sifferman December 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

I’m a huge fan of bodyweight training! You can absolutely build incredible strength using just your own body as the resistance. The body only knows resistance, not where that resistance comes from – whether it’s from a dumbbell, a stone, or your own bodyweight. Stress the system, build strength – every time.


Kilo December 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

What’s your favorite bodyweight drill, John? Interested in writing a post?


John Sifferman December 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Favorite, huh? I’ve got a lot… but one of my favorites is the leg swoop (aka the waterskipper). It’s a full body drill that is heavy on the core.

Would love to contribute a post – how about an instructional video with varying levels of difficulty? I can have it ready by next week.


John Sifferman December 17, 2010 at 12:08 pm

What do you think about expanding upon this tutorial:


Kilo December 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I would love that.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: