Best Bodyweight Exercises for Strength? Do the Dip

When you do your next workout make sure you add a few sets of bodyweight dips into the mix. This effective, multi-joint exercise is considered one of the best bodyweight exercises available. Talk about getting a lot of “bang for your buck” from one single compound movement. Let’s take a deeper look at this exercise.

Exercise Technique
  • Take hold of each handle with a firm grasp. Extend both arms until they are almost locked out and the body is vertical.
  • Engage the core by drawing the navel in towards the spine.
  • Inhale as you lower the body downward by flexing the arms.
  • Slowly lower the body until the triceps are parallel to the floor while keeping forearms vertical. Arms should be at a 90-degree angle.
  • The upper body is leaning forward slightly throughout movement. Pause and return to the starting position as you exhale.
Targeted Muscle Groups

The exercise is ideal for building strength and muscle mass in both the chest (pectoralis major, pectoralis minor) and arms (triceps brachii). There is also demand placed on the shoulders especially the anterior head of the deltoid. In addition, the back also gets some work (latissimus dorsi, rhomboid and trapezius). This is one reason why it’s considered by many as one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do!

Exercise Options

One of the great things about this particular movement is its versatility. The options and exercise variations are many.

  • Machine-based dips
  • Machine-assisted dips
  • Bench dips (feet on the floor)
  • Bench dips (feet elevated)
  • Traditional dip (as pictured)
  • Weighted dip (*hold off until you can perform 10-12 bodyweight repetitions using good form*).
Muscle Recruitment During the Exercise

The great thing about performing dips is depending on how you position the body will dictate the load placed on different muscle groups. Meaning, as you lean forward slightly (45-degree angle), on the upward and down phase, you’ll put more demand on the chest muscles. When the focus is the chest, the arms are angled away from the body slightly. In contrast, when the body is positioned and held more vertical, the demand shifts more towards the triceps. If the goal is to target the triceps more, then keep the arms closer to the body. As seen in the left photo below.

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How Dips Help Other Exercise (like “Boost Your Bench”)

By doing dips periodically, you end up getting not only stronger, you’re able to push through plateaus better, for exercises like bench press. Research shows that exercises that require you to move your body through space, versus stationary exercises, require more muscle recruitment. This is why an exercise like a squat will always be superior to a stationary or supported movement like a leg press. A dip exercise also develops a large proportion of muscle that sits on the upper body. Personally, in addition to getting my chest and arms stronger, I feel like my shoulder muscles – used as stabilizers – get that added bonus of also getting stronger as a by-product of doing dips. If you have any type of shoulder issues or have been told you have a shoulder impingement, this should be a contraindicated exercise. Stay Strong with Jefit.

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Look Beyond Sets and Reps to Exercise Volume

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An important strength training variable that one should be aware of is exercise volume. A periodized strength training program, monitors exercise volume to see how someone is adapting to the demands of a training program.

“If these factors are not considered and/or monitored, the likelihood that the training program will result in less than optimal results will increase markedly.”

Greg Haff, PhD

There are specific components that make up a well-designed strength training program. Some of the components include metabolic conditioning, speed and agility, endurance work and of course strength training. Having an idea of the workload for a training session, and to be able to calculate this, can let a trainer or coach know many things. As an example, it can offer insight into things like fatigue factor of a person or athlete. Once someone is able to minimize or manage fatigue, overall work output from training typically improves.

What is Exercise Volume?

In order to determine workload for a training session, volume needs to be calculated. Exercise volume is a strength training variable that calculates the total amount of work performed in a training session. For this to happen, three main training variables need to be calculated. This includes the number of sets, repetitions and weight lifted. The best estimate of volume needs to have total weight lifted not just the total number of repetitions performed. There are two equations that are used most often to determine the volume of exercise. The first equation (below) is seen more often in gyms and training studios.

Equation 1: number of sets x number of repetitions x weight lifted = volume

An example (abbreviated workout)

Squat, 5 x 5/225 = 5,625 lbs.

Bench Press, 3 x 10/185 = 5,550 lbs.

Barbell Bent Row 3 x 8/60 = 1,440 lbs.

Total Volume: 12,615 lbs.

Equation 2: number of sets x number of repetitions x % 1-RM = volume

In addition, a second equation (seen above) can be used when 1-RM testing is involved. There are many training programs based off 1-RM testing such as Olympic lifting and college and professional athletics. Developing workouts based off 1-RM testing is part of a smart training philosophy. The result is a safer training program long-term with less injuries and superior gains.

Jefit App Calculates Volume for You

One of the many unique features of the Jefit app is it calculates volume of work for all workouts. The app reports this to you on a weekly basis via email to all members. Below is an example of workout volume from a Jefit home routine using both exercise equipment and bodyweight as resistance. Stay Strong!

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Best Home Workout Program – No Gym Required

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One of the better home workout programs now featured on the award-winning Jefit Elite app is their new Total Body Circuit program. The one-day, intermediate-level session for Elite members, was developed by the Jefit team. What makes this workout so good is the efficiency of the routine and program design for this individual session. The program design includes 8 exercises performed for three set each using a circuit-training format. Once the first segment of the workout is complete, the Jefit app continues to progress the user through a third and fourth circuit. This is the point in the workout where the exercise intensity really starts to pick up.

During phase two, a user follows the same 8 exercise sequence but now moves through 4 challenging supersets. For example, the first superset of this part of the workout begins with a Kettlebell Goblet Squat immediately followed by an Inverted Row. The user is asked to move through this twice before advancing to the next superset. When all is said and done, the 8 exercises are performed 3x each for a total of 24 sets. Depending on the fitness level of the individual, the session could take on average, 30 to 50-minutes to complete. The goal of the program is to burn maximal calories, improve overall fitness and aerobic capacity.

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Elevated Push-ups (Jefit Bench Push-ups) are the 3rd exercise featured in the Total Body Circuit program

Looking for the Best Home Workout Program? Try Total Body Circuit by Jefit

Total Body Circuit Exercise Program

1A. Kettlebell Goblet Squat 1×10

2A. Inverted Row 1×10

3B. Elevated Push-ups 1×10

4B. Bicycle Abs 1×15

5C. Kettlebell One-Arm Push Press 1×10

6C. Barbell Curl 1×10

7D. Weighted Dips 1×10

8D. Superman – for time

After completing the first circuit of 8 exercises (1×10) you then need to cycle back through for a second & third set but this time they should be performed as supersets. Therefore, the original 8 exercises become 4 paired exercises now done as supersets with no rest between exercises: AA, BB, CC, DD. Perform this program initially twice a week before progressing to three times a week for 4-weeks.

Exercise Equipment Needed

The great thing about this program is that it requires minimal equipment to do it. You will need a kettlebell, dumbbell, Olympic bar, bench or stability ball for the dips (you can even use a chair if need be).

Try downloading this program for your next workout. If you happen to have a heart rate monitor, please wear it and keep track of heart rate. Record what your heart rate is at the end of the first, second and third circuit. Then determine how long it takes for your heart rate to drop below 100 beats per minute post exercise. Record peak heart rate immediately after the workout and then one-minute post workout and record the delta. This is an important number that can tell you a great deal about your cardiovascular health. Stay Strong!

Additional Reading

Heart Rate Recovery 10 Seconds After Cessation of Exercise Predicts Death, Journal of the American Heart Association , 2018.

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Spice Up Your Exercise Routine With These Creative Home Workout Ideas

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After months of dealing with Covid-19, gyms are starting to open slowly around the country. More people then ever before started working out from home during this time period. Forbes reported two items purchased most often during the pandemic have been bread machines and gym equipment. From a consumer standpoint, it’s often difficult to know what exercise products are best options for a home gym. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on that question and more.

What Home Workout Equipment People are Buying Most Often

ResearchAndMarkets.com recently published an article on the state of the health and wellness industry. During the coronavirus lockdown, fitness equipment sales jumped by 170%. The equipment mentioned in their report were more big ticket items though like treadmills, rowing machines and bikes. To put this in better perspective, online sales of fitness equipment from last year rose 70% from February to March. As a year to year comparison, sales increased 535% during the same period this year, according to Adobe Analytics.

The numbers below represent how much of an increase home exercise equipment has risen from 2019 through 2020 according to ZDNet. This is a good starting point in terms of possible products to purchase depending on someones needs and space requirements.

Equipment                                                   Sales Increase 2019 vs. 2020
Dumbbells                                                                    1980%
Weight Plates                                                               1355%
Kettlebells                                                                     1000%
Pull Up Bar                                                                    640%
Benches                                                                        530%
Barbells & Attachments                                              355%
Power Racks & Smith Machines 315%
Equipment Mats & Flooring 300%
Weight Storage                                                              285%
Push Up Stands                                                             200%

Source: eBay 

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Digital Fitness

According to L.E.K Insights, “consumer investment in digital fitness has increased by 30%-35% relative to pre-COVID-19 levels, positioning the sector for faster growth in the future.” Options for home exercise include subscription-based online classes and exercise apps. The number of online classes have exploded with offerings for everything from yoga to boot camp.

Home Workout Program Options

The following series of programs are currently featured on the free version of the Jefit strength training app. All of these workouts can be done with minimal equipment right from home or eventually back at the gym. Jefit features thousands of workouts and exercises for its user base. Jefit is one of the best workout planner & tracker apps and that could be the added motivation that you’ve been looking for.

Home Exercise Program for Beginners with Minimal Equipment

1 – Body Transformation – (Week 1 & 2)

2 – Body Transformation – (Week 3 & 4)

3 – Body Transformation – (Week 5 & 6)

Bodyweight Home Exercise Routine for Beginner

The idea behind this bodyweight circuit workout that you can do at home is to pair each two exercises together. Exercise A1 & A2 are performed back-to-back before resting, then do cardio and repeat the exercise sequence for a second set. Then transition to the next series of exercise, B1 & B2, and so forth.

A1. Exercise Band Squat, 10×2

A2. Exercise Band One-Arm Row, 12×2

Jump Rope 2:00

B1. Push-Ups, 12×2

B2. Prone Back Extension, 10×2

Jumping Jacks 1:00

C1. Forearm Plank, 30 sec. to 1:00 hold x2

C2. Glute Bridge, 12×2

Mountain Climbers, 30 sec.

D1. Bodyweight Dips, 15×2

D2. Arm Circles, 20 reps forward/20 reps backward

Perform one set of each exercise and then go back through the circuit and repeat for a second set (or round) following a 2:00 rest period. Good Luck and Stay Strong!

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Workout Review: Strength & Cardio Circuit

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We all know that exercise is like medicine for the body. There are times though when you just want to move through your workout in minimal time. This where a good strength and cardio circuit comes into play. This is why circuit training is so efficient, it combines the perfect blend of strength and cardio in minimal time. The end result is usually the same, a great full-body workout and a body covered in sweat!

The cool thing about circuit programs are: they’re fast, fun and very effective at getting results. You never get bored because there are so many design options for a circuit routine. The featured strength & cardio circuit can now be found on the Jefit app.

What is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is training method that alternates between several exercises (usually 4 to 12) that target different muscle groups. A plan can even use different movement patterns (like push, pull, press, carry, etc.). The design of the program enables someone to move from exercise to exercise with minimal or no rest depending on their fitness level. Some of the many benefits of regular circuit training include improvements in body composition, muscular strength/endurance and aerobic capacity.

What is Interval Training?

Interval training, on the other hand, alternates between periods of moderate-to-high-intensity work with brief periods of active or passive rest. The main difference between circuit training and interval training is not what you’re doing but rather the intensity of the work being done. You have probably heard about HIIT (high-intensity interval training) before or seen it in some of the workout titles on the Jefit app.

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Equipment Need: Jump Rope, Weight Plate and Dumbbells

Circuit Design: UB/LB/Core/Cardio Sequence

The circuit session begins with four exercises group together following a brief warm-up. The session design alternates between an upper body exercise, a lower body exercise, and a core exercise before transitioning to cardio for 1-2 minutes. The program features 20 exercises (including four for warm-up) that comprise four rounds of “mini” circuits with four exercises in each group.

Here is what each of the four circuits (after the warm-up) look like in this latest Jefit circuit workout:

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I have personally been doing circuits for many years now and, like a lot of people, working through one never seems to gets old. In any event, circuits are fun and get great results, so why not give one a try for your next workout?

ADDITIONAL READING:

HIGH-INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODY WEIGHT: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment, ACSM Health & Fitness Journal, 2013.

Whole-Body Aerobic Resistance Training Circuit Improves Aerobic Fitness and Muscle Strength in Sedentary Young Females, J. of Strength & Conditioning, 2015.

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Designing Your At-Home Workout Program

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The at-home workout program has unexpectedly become the new norm due to area gyms closing as a result of COVID-19. A by-product of this is that we are spending more of our time inside. Many are now wondering how we can take our old workout plan we did at the gym and incorporate it into a new home routine?

Now that we are home-based, there seems to be additional questions we need to think about and work around. In addition to the question above, there are other matters to worry about too, like when you’re going to exercise, space availability, and equipment needs.

Approaching Your At-Home Workout Program Differently

A paradigm shift is a “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” This may be a perfect time to start thinking differently about how we exercise at home, meaning, how we structure and execute our training routine. Change can be a very good thing when it comes to an individuals body and how that body adapts and progresses during a training cycle.

5 Basic Human Movement Patterns

Whether your training plan is geared towards a full-body, split routine or circuit-training, should not be the focus. What really matters most is training movements not muscles. Do not rely on specific exercises, instead, make sure you add-in specific movement patterns during each training session. Movement patterns are exercise classifications and can be thought of as the movement direction of the exercise. There are different schools of thought on how these movement patterns are categorized and even talked about.

The following is a modified version of some of the basic human movement patterns that should be included in the design of any training program. This list could also include other categories like hip dominant, knee dominant, rotational and anti-rotational categories. For the purposes of this article though, we will refer to the following five basic categories.

Squat

Any variation of a Squat is considered one of the best compound movements you can do. Exercises listed in this category are considered hip or knee-dominant by some. You can think of this category as exercises that utilize muscles around the hip and knee, like a Barbell Squat, Dumbbell Squat, or a Goblet Squat, as examples.

Hip Hinge

This particular category of exercises consists of movements that involve a “hinging” motion at the hip joint, and have little to no movement at the knee. Classic examples of exercises that incorporate a hip hinge are a Kettlebell Swing and a Romanian Deadlift.

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Hip Hinge Category: Kettlebell Swing exercise

Pull: Vertical & Horizontal

The vertical pull includes moving a weight or body weight vertically, relative to the position that your body is in. Examples of these types exercises would include Pull-ups and Lat Pull-down.

The horizontal pull include any exercise that moves the weight toward your body horizontally. A few examples include: Bent-over Rows, Inverted Row or a Seated Row.

Push: Vertical & Horizontal

This category combines both vertical and horizontal in order to make life easier for you. The vertical push, includes exercises that move a load or weight vertically in relation to the torso, like a Military Press or Push Press.

Horizontal push is a category of exercises that involves moving a weight straight out in front of you, away from the body, like a Bench Press.

Weighted Carry

Many strength and conditioning experts agree that a Weighted Carry is the best, all-in-one exercise a person can do. The Carry is ideal for increasing overall strength, especially back, core and grip strength. The exercise benefits don’t stop there though; it’s also ideal for improving stamina and functionality. A simple definition of a Weighted Carry is picking up a weight or a load and carrying it for distance or time. The best exercise example is a Farmer’s Carry.

The importance of adding these five movement patterns into your at-home workout program is invaluable. It offers someone a better way to design and customize their training program to meet all their needs. It also assures that an individual will work through the various planes of motion more often during training compared to a traditional training plan. The benefits of focusing on movement patterns instead of working specific muscles ensures a well-balanced, strong, functional body.

Exercise Program Design

Now that you have a better understanding of movement patterns, it’s important to use them in your next at-home workout. To experience measurable gains with your at-home training program, it’s important that you understand the basic concept of periodization.

  • “Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.” Len Kravitz, PhD

To get the most benefit out of any at-home workout program, a periodized training plan should be followed. This is where adjusting the various training variables over time (i.e. sets/reps/rest/load/time under tension) comes into play. The idea is to control these variables during each training day and over the course of a full training year. By following such a training format over time, you’ll ensure maximal gains long-term, safely and effectively. Think about that for a moment. If you have not had strength gains in a while, maybe a lack of periodization is the culprit?

Use the Jefit App for Additional Workout Guidance

The JeFit app makes thousands of strength training routines accessible. It comes with a customizable workout planner, an extensive exercise library, and a members-only Facebook group page. Check it out!

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