Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hindu Push-up

The Hindu push-up is a great upper-body and core exercise. This exercise might seem a bit awkward at first (especially if you're not alone at the gym or at home) but it's definitely worth a try. Start in a push-up stance with your hands and feet close to each other so you form a "V". Go down in a loopy manner (your chest and abs should touch the floor) then go up. Round your back again and repeat. This push-up variant is fairly advanced and requires a bit of training. It will blast your core, shoulders, triceps and chest. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

  • Works many muscle groups in the upper-body and core.
  • Since your body touches the floor you need a soft surface like a gym or camping mat.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Knee Push-ups

    Knee Push-ups are an underrated variation of the oh so classic exercise. Assume the standard push-up position then drop on your knees. Go down/up in a controlled manner. This altered version emphasizes less the core and really focuses on the shoulders, triceps and chest. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. As with regular push-ups you can change hand positions to work more the chest or triceps. You can also perform it using negative reps to increase the difficulty.

    • Can be done anywhere.
    • Works large muscles in the upper-body.
    • None

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Standing Calf Raise

    The standing calf raise is an isolation exercise that trains an often forgotten muscle group: the back of the lower leg (aka the calf). This one's easy: assume the standard standing position then stand on your toes (keep your legs straight) until you feel the burn (aim for a 5-10 seconds). Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

    • Can be done anywhere.
    • None.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    One Leg-Deadlift

    The one leg-deadlift is a great core and lower body exercise. As a matter of fact, many people aren't aware that the deadlift can be performed without weights (instead of lifting a barbell/dumbbell, you're lifting your leg). Stand up then lower your upper body and raise one leg at the same time (repeat on the other side). You can perform the movement either in a stiff-legged or bended stance. This exercise is fairly advanced and requires good core strength and stability (make sure you do it in a controlled manner). Do four alternating sets of 8-12 reps. If done right, this deadlift variant will work your hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads and entire core.

    • Can be performed anywhere.
    • Works the entire leg and core
    • None.
    1/ Stand up

    2/ Lower upper body and raise leg at the same time

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Push-up Bars

    If you're a push-up enthusiast you may want to invest in a simple piece of equipment: a pair of push-up bars
    What are the advantages of doing push-ups with bars?

    1. It allows a greater range of motion (similar to pressing weights on a bench) which stimulates more muscle fibers and makes the exercise more difficult. 
    2. Puts less pressure on the wrists.
    One can execute all kinds of push-up variations with the bars (diamond, wide, Hindu,etc...). You can buy push-up bars at your local sports shop or on the Internet. Most are reasonably priced (10-30 US dollars).That being said I wouldn't recommend the bars to beginners as a decent amount of upper-body and core strength is required to pressing your bodyweight with good form.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    One Arm-Plank

    Remember the good old Plank? I've got a great advanced variation for you guys and girls: the one arm-plank. It's simple: assume the standard push up position, remove one hand (leaving the remaining hand in the middle). Pause for 10-40 seconds (repeat on the other side). This variant focuses more on the forearm/shoulders, but it's still a great core exercise. Do 2-4 sets.

    • Great core and upper-body builder.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • Can be brutal, you need decent stability and strength to perform this move properly. Make sure you master the standard plank before attempting this. 

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Parallel Bar Dips

    Maybe you remember about the Chair Dips? Now it's time to take it to the next level with the Parallel Bar Dips. For this exercise you'll need parallel bars (most gyms have them) or two tall sturdy chairs. Grab the bars/chair corners, elevate then go down (stop when your triceps are parallel to the bars). Go back up and repeat. This will blast your chest, shoulders and triceps. This is an advanced move so make sure you use good form in a controlled manner; going really low can hurt your shoulder. Do 3 sets of 5-6 reps (you may not be able to do as many at first, be patient and work your way up).

    • Works several large muscle groups in the upper-body.
    • Can injure your shoulders. Please consult a physician before doing those if you have chronic shoulder pain.
    • Requires equipment: bars or sturdy chairs. 

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Reverse Flutter Kick

    The reverse flutter kick is a great core/lower body exercise. Lay on your stomach then raise one leg (keep it straight) until you feel the burn (aim for 5-10 seconds); that's one rep. Repeat on the other side. This move works the abs, lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Do 3-4 sets of 8-10 alternating reps.

    • Works many muscle groups in the core and lower body.
    • You need a mat of soft surface otherwise your ribs might get sore.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Bird Dog

    The Bird Dog (also called two-point box) is an effective core, back and lower body exercise. On a gym mat or soft surface start with the dog position (knees and hands on the floor). Then comes the bird phase: raise your left arm and right leg simultaneously so they're parallel to the floor; hold for a few seconds until you feel the burn. Go back to the dog position and repeat the bird phase on the other side. This underrated exercise works the lower back, hamstrings, middle back, abs. Do 3-4 sets of 6-10 alternating reps.

    • A true whole-body exercise.
    • You need a gym mat or soft surface otherwise your knees will suffer.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Mountain Climber

    The mountain climber is an interesting variation of the plank. Start in a standard push-up position; bring one knee towards your stomach; repeat on the other side then start over (always in a controlled manner). This exercise works the entire core, hamstrings, hip flexors and upper arms. Do 2-3 sets of 30 seconds.

    • Works the entire core, arms and legs.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • None

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Diamond Push-Up

    The diamond push-up is a variation of the classic exercise that targets the triceps (back of the arm, approximately 70% of the muscle mass in the lower arm). Start in standard push-up position then bring your hands closer so you form a "diamond" shape with your fingers. Go down in a controlled manner then go up. That's one rep. Do 3 or 4 sets of 5-6 reps.

    • Works the triceps (an often forgotten muscle group), chest, shoulders and core.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • None.
    1/Form a diamond with your fingers

    2/Go down then go up

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Cat Camel

    The Cat Camel is an underrated upper-body and core exercise. If you're into Yoga, you're probably familiar with it. Grab a gym or camping mat and start with the "camel" position with your hands and knees on the floor (your butt should be slightly up). Then you want to assume the "cat" position: round your back as high as you can with your head looking downwards; aim for 10-20 seconds (that's one rep). Do 3 or 4 sets of 6-8 reps. This exercise works your back, core, shoulders and pectorals, not bad!

    • Works many core and upper-body muscles.
    •  You need a gym or camping mat (or any soft surface), otherwise your knees will suffer. 

    1/Camel position: keep your butt up.

    2/Cat position: round your back, head down.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Plyometric Lunge

    The plyometric lunge is a jump-based variation of the classic exercise. Go down with one leg forward and one leg back (in a controlled manner), pause, then jump in the air inversing the leg positions. That's one rep; repeat on the other side. This move will blast your quads, hamstrings and calves. It will also engage your core. Do 3 sets of 8-10 alternating reps.

    • Works the entire leg and the core.
    • Can be noisy if you live in an apartment, you may want to do this outdoors.  

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Shadow Boxing

    Shadow Boxing is a great warm up and core exercise. It's easy: keep your guard up then punch! You can jump/move sideways to avoid an imaginary opponent. Of course you can use all punch variations: straight punch, hooks (low circular punch), uppercut (high circular punch) and combinations of the formers. Shadowboxing works the entire mid-section (especially the transverse: the deep abdominal muscles); it also engages the major upper body muscles to some extent (chest, triceps, shoulders). For warming up: do 2 one minute sets. For core training do 2-3 thirty seconds sets.

    • Works the entire core.
    • A great warm up.
    • Can be noisy if you live in an apartment, you may want to do this outdoors.

    1/Keep your guard up


    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Abdominal Training Myth

    Everybody wants slim and defined abs that's for sure! Most people end up doing a zillion crunches and sit-ups but please please please ... reconsider that approach! You want to target your whole mid-section (aka the core) and not just your abs. Core training is more efficient and less time consuming than abdominal training. So how do you engage your core? The answer is simple: compound exercises! Most compound moves will work your core and that of course includes the abdominals.Can't think of any? Squats, push-ups, pull-ups, sprinting, the plank,  I could go on and on .... Having a strong mid-section is highly beneficial for all kinds of physical activities and injury prevention. So forget about abs and think Core and compound exercises.

    These are the main core muscles,
    as you can see the Rectus Abdominis
    (abs) is just a small part of the

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Static Lunge

    The static lunge is an isometric (stabilization) variation of the well-known move. Lower your lower body moving one leg forwardly, then pause (aim for 15-30 seconds). That's one rep; repeat on the other side.
    It is an intense exercise that will make your quads and hamstrings burn. You core will also be engaged a lot in order to stabilize your frame. Do 4 alternative reps.

    • Works the entire leg and core.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • Can be brutal if you're just starting out, might make your knees really sore. If you're experiencing any pain after your workout, rest and wait until you body heals.

    Firstly: stand with your feet slightly wide.

    Go down in a controlled manner and pause.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Email Contact

    Do you want to make suggestions? Or just say hi? You can now contact Phil directly by email:

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Phil's Bodyweight Gym has moved!

    Phil's Bodyweight Gym has moved to URL is simpler to remember and reflects the informational nature of the blog.



    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Static Ski Squat

    The static ski squat is an isometric (stabilization) variation of the classic exercise. Lean against a wall.Go down, when your thighs are parallel to the floor: pause (aim for 20-30 seconds). That's one rep. Do 3-4 repetitions. Trust me you will definitely feel the burn in your quads and abs.

    • Can be done anywhere.
    • Works the legs and core.
    •  None

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Side Plank

    The Side Plank is an excellent variation of the classic exercise previously reviewed. Lay on your side then lift your body with your elbow. You can also lift your body with your arm for added difficulty. Pause for as long as you can (aim for 30-40 seconds). Repeat on the other side. This is an excellent exercise for the whole core (especially the side abs) and the upper arms. Do 2 alternating sets.

    • Works the whole core including the obliques (side abs), an often-forgotten muscle; and the upper arms.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • Can be brutal if you're just starting out.
    • Hard to keep good form.
    Side Plank with elbow

    Side Plank with extended arm

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Jump Rope

    Jump rope/skip rope training is an awesome total body exercise. It's very simple: grab a rope, rotate and skip! The exercise targets many different muscles: core, quads,calves, upper arms, shoulders and can be used for strength training, cardio or warming up.There are many variations to straight skipping: you can bring your knees up to focus more on the lower abs, side skip for the obliques, I could go on and one. Skipping develops coordination and quickly increases your metabolism (burns lots of calories). For warm ups do 2-3 sets of 1 min at low speed; for strength training do 4-5 sets of 30-40 secs at very high speed, for cardio skip continuously for 10-15 minutes.


    • Develops coordination.
    • Greatly increases metabolism and burns lots of calories in very little time.
    • A true total body exercise.
    • Has to be done outdoors, or gym facility because of possible space and noise issues.
    • Can be really tough on ankles and Achilles, if you have pain just rest and heal.
    • You need a rope! However they tend to be affordable, unless you want a high-end model.

    Sunday, January 30, 2011


    It may not sound obvious to some but sprinting is a great bodyweight exercise for the lower body and core. Indeed sprinting requires tremendous lower body strength to actively move the legs/glutes ;and core power as well to stabilize one's frame. The arms are also used to some extent in the stabilization process. Sprinting will increase your metabolism in a great way leading to lean muscle gain. Do 3-5 sprints of approximately 100 meters (rest 1 or 2 minutes between sprints).

    • Works the entire leg, core.
    • Increases metabolism.
    • Requires access to park, empty facility, etc .... 
    • Also requires good weather conditions if done outside.

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    One-Leg Squat

    The one-leg squat is an interesting variation of the classic compound move. Stand on one leg then go as low as you can in a controlled manner. Go back up, switch to the other side. Do 3 or 4 sets of 6-10  alternating reps.

    • Works your legs and core.
    •  Develops your balance.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • None.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Bodyweight Training and Rest

    There's a common misconception about bodyweight training: many say you do not need to rest between workouts. This is just absurd! In many circumstances moving your own bodyweight can be an extremely challenging task, think of pull ups, negative push-ups, plyometrics etc ... As a matter of fact compound bodyweight moves can be difficult compared to isolation moves with weights. When you do a push-up you push roughly 60-70 % of your bodyweight (and even more if you do it in a controlled manner aka negative training).Not so bad, isn't it? Here are some tips when it comes to rest:
    • Never train with sore muscles, it's the best way to injure yourself. Wait until the soreness is completely gone; whether it takes 2 days or 1 week does not matter.
    • Eat lots of proteins year round, they are essential to muscle maintenance and construction.
    • Avoid excessive cardio between workouts.
    • Warm up/cool down before and after workouts but not excessively: a few minutes suffice.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    3 Point Push-up

    The 3 Point Push-up is an interesting variation of the classic exercise. Start in standard push-up position then elevate one leg. Go down in a controlled manner then go up, that's one rep. After you're done with a set, repeat on the other side. Do 4 alternating sets of 5-6 reps.

    • Works an astonishing number of muscles: hamstring, lower back, core, triceps, chest, shoulders.
    • Can be done anywhere.
    • None.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    How to Structure your Workout

    How do I structure my workout? This is a common question amongst people who devote their time to strength training. Unless you're into competitive bodybuilding, I advise a full body work out. Indeed a split workout can be hard to manage (ex: legs on Monday, Chest on Wednesday, etc ...) as we all have priorities in life (work, school, family you know how it goes). Also try to choose compound exercises that train several muscle groups at the same time (you'll gain a lot of time). You workout needs to focus on all following groups:


    It's the largest muscle group in the human body and is used for pulling / rowing movements as well as supporting your entire frame. Bodyweight exercises you can do: 2 point box, bridge, pike push up, pull-ups.


    The legs (and yes that includes the glutes) form the second largest muscle group after the back. They are essential for jumping, walking, running. Bodyweight exercises you can do: any form of squats/lunges.


    These are mainly used for pressing movements. Bodyweight exercises you can do: push-ups and dips.


    This is basically your midsection (abs, side abs), it is used for bending/twisting movements as well as supporting your frame.Bodyweight exercises you can do: the plank, side plank.

    Of course there will always be some form of cross-training in your workout but that's actually a good thing: this will work many complementary muscles you might ignore if you focus on one specific area. Many people work their biceps in isolation, forgetting the back and legs which are way bigger and more important. How about the number of reps? If you're looking to build mass: 5-8 reps; 9-20 reps if you're looking to build muscular endurance. However don't hesitate to experiment. Last but not least: never train with sore muscles! It's the best way to injure yourself, just let your muscles heal and you'll see great gains! Have a great workout!

    Back and legs: the biggest muscle groups.
    Chest/Shoulders/Triceps & Core: smaller but important muscle groups.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011