Training with your own body weight

After trying out a few studios(Kieser Training, Venice Beach, etc.), I stumbled upon the "bodyweight training" trend. Then, being someone who likes to read up on new topics, I picked up the book Fit Without Equipment by Mark Lauren. The biggest advantage I see with this form of training is that a) you don't have to travel (you can do it anywhere - at home, in a hotel, outside, etc.) and b) you don't need any equipment except maybe an exercise mat. The work itself seems to me to be a landmark in the bodyweight movement. The author was a former soldier and instructor, but that shouldn't scare you off. The exercises are possible for everyone - after all, you train with your own body.

And that is the big difference to training in the studio. A classic example is a push-up, in which the chest muscles, triceps, shoulders and torso are trained. In the studio I would do this with certain machines or dumbbells to train the muscle group chest or triceps specifically and mostly isolated. At the risk of injuring yourself due to too heavy weights - muscularly or even worse to joints, tendons, etc. When training with your own body, this is avoided if you proceed step by step and slowly increase the load. Because you can do that with your own body, too. For example, beginners start upright with push-ups "against the wall", move on to push-ups on the knees and then to the "normal" push-ups. You can then increase these by keeping your hands closer together, putting your legs on a bench, etc. I confess that I've never seen so many variations of the good old push-ups (which we used to have to do as kids and teens in between swimming practice as a disciplinary measure) before. And so it goes on in the book for all sorts of muscle groups. The functional approach avoids one-sided training, as several muscle groups are always strengthened.

The individual exercises are always described with pictures and an accompanying text on more than 100 pages - that makes up a little more than half of the book. In the new edition, according to reviews, they are also presented in a much more contemporary way and described even better than before. However, the exercises alone are only worth anything if they are combined in a meaningful way. Therefore, the exercises are followed by various programs lasting several weeks, which ensure progressive muscle building - if you bite through. They are divided into First Class (beginners), Master Class (advanced) and Chief Class (extremely advanced). A self-test is included for proper classification. For example, as a beginner you should be able to do 10 push-ups, as an advanced you should be able to do 8 one-arm push-ups per side (hand placed on a medium-high surface) and as an extremely advanced you should be able to do 8 "normal" one-arm push-ups. It quickly becomes clear that most people go into a program like this as a beginner - and that makes perfect sense. If you stick with it, you'll quickly notice how your strength increases and how you can move on to the more challenging exercises.

Finally, something about the beginning of the book. In the first 50 pages, Mark Lauren introduces himself, introduces the topic of bodyweight training, talks about fitness, nutrition, motivation, etc. I think it's worth it to at least skim through that. However, there are also sections that I ignored right after reading - especially on the topic of nutrition, I rather advise to consult works of a nutrition professional.

I find the section on motivation the most important, also because it talks about the excuses you can think of to skip a workout. Discipline over the long term is and remains the key to success in this and any other workout. If you find this too difficult alone, you should look for a training partner, this type of training is also great for a lockdown-compliant video call session.

I would buy the book again and it has given me valuable impulses for the way of training and permanent motivation. It was a turning point for me towards functional training, which I still do to this day in one form or another. You have to approach this, as always, with life in mind. Which exercises suit me? Which ones don't? There are definitely some that I simply couldn't do and had to replace with alternatives.

And here's my suggestion as a test to start here and now: how many push-ups can you do right off the bat? 1? 5? 10? I look forward to hearing your feedback. There is also an app to accompany the book, which I will report on separately.

Classic Studio Experience: Kieser Training

Once you realize that training is important and want to get down to business, you have to make a decision about how to do it. Train alone? With dumbbells or bands or??? Or go to the gym? At the time, I decided to go to a gym - and signed a contract with Kieser Training.

The reasons for this lay in the Kieser concept, which in my opinion is reduced to the pure purpose: namely the training. There's no radio blaring, no bar, no sauna, etc. there. I like it that way because I am very focused in that respect and don't want any distractions. Furthermore, I go to the workout to ... work out. Nothing more, nothing less.

Another advantage I see in the approach and the idea behind it to train the essential muscle groups effectively. The goal is the healthy body, without back pain, etc.. For this purpose, an individual plan is created, with which the muscles and the counterparts are systematically trained. Since most of the time the opposing muscles are underdeveloped, this stabilizes the body after a short period of time. Speaking of time: a workout can be completed in about 30 minutes - that is enough to load all muscle groups and since they are loaded to exhaustion, one is also completely served in a positive sense. It is also intended to check again and again via measurements how symmetrical the muscle build-up is and where there may still be deficits. Finally, it is possible to train with your studio card in any Kieser studio - I have tested several times and it works flawlessly. The training plans from the "home studio" can then even be transferred to the guest studio.

My conclusion: I see many advantages in the Kieser approach as described above. The disadvantage is perhaps that the plans become monotonous after a certain time, but then you have to talk to the staff and change the machines if necessary. Kieser is also not a cheap form of training, but those who like an efficient concept without frills, like me, will gladly pay for it. For this reason, I can answer the question of whether I would do it again with a resounding yes.

Later I went to Venice Beach, I'll write about that later. But then I discovered functional training for myself - which I still do today with success and a lot of fun.

From 130 to 79

A good friend of mine had after the birth of her children and various life circumstances 130 kilos on the scale with a height of 1.71. She used to do a lot of sports, but for many years then nothing at all. When we met, she was down to about 100 kilos through a lot of hard work in the gym. And there it has stagnated. One of the reasons is surely that cycling in the gym is one of the most boring things you can imagine. Another reason is that you should take a closer look at your diet and exercise.

When it came to diet, I clearly saw that there was a quest for (supposedly) good food. For example, muesli for breakfast. But then also two plates full. I didn't easily manage to dissuade her that she "needed" it. We then installed an app for her to log and analyze her meals and that was a real aha moment. Of course, one has to be careful not to be enslaved by such apps. Food is and always will be a pleasure, after all! But to see where you have enough and where something is still missing - they are good for that.

When it comes to sports, we started very small. With jogging. At first it was "I can't" or "I've never done that before". But then we just started. I ran slowly, at first only 1 km with breaks. That hurt her in many ways - there were blisters on her feet and the first sore muscles! But: she did it and tasted blood. With the time we were then at 10km (!). And that at a very acceptable average of 6:30 min/km. We are now in "give me more" mode.

We have supplemented the endurance with self-weight exercises. And we had and still have to this day the issue of maintaining the desired weight (today no less than 79 kg). Because maintaining a target weight is much more difficult than losing weight itself. Topics for the next articles ...

Going off the Rails on a Crazy Train

Allright now, as Ozzy always says. Let's get going ... as the life clock goes past 40, sport becomes more and more important from my point of view. And sport has to be different than it used to be.

Why important? I've always been athletic since I was a kid, sometimes more, sometimes less (college, new job, etc.) and I've always felt good about it. Because that's what it's all about: a healthy mind needs a healthy body. Of course, there are those who have never exercised, or haven't exercised for a long time, but have recognized the need, I've written some thoughts on that here. And then there are those who have never exercised and don't plan to - I'm not writing about them.

Why different? I don't know exactly when it started, but sometime around my mid-30s I realized that it wasn't as easy to maintain your figure with your previous workload. I put on a lot of weight during that time and I didn't like it - visually or in terms of feeling good. And then I set out to find options, which I will address in further posts. It's primarily about combining strength, endurance and nutrition in the right way, but also varying it. I think the latter is very important, as I find some variety essential for both the mind and the body.  

Even Ozzy (you don't have to like him, but he's one of my musical idols) does sport from time to time and has amazingly managed to continue to stumble through the world on two legs in relation to his lifestyle! All aboard?