The new Progressive Calisthenics Certification is open to anybody who wants to learn more about bodyweight strength. I know it will be a fantastic resource for martial artists, personal trainers, footballers and yoga masters. But I also want to draw in a group of athletes real close to my heart—bodybuilders.
You might be surprised to hear me talk of a fondness for bodybuilding. I am known as a guy who pushes realistic, athletic workouts: not pumping and posing in a thong. Hell, I admit it: I have taken my share of potshots at the bodybuilding scene.
But bodybuilding is a bigger world than most folks give it credit for. Yeah, the idiot shooting himself full of thousands of dollars worth of dangerous crap while training like a schlub is a bodybuilder. But so is the guy trying to lose a little tub, while putting an inch on his arms. So is the underweight girl who trains hard to fill out skinny limbs and turn her flat ol’ butt into a nice round booty. So is the disciplined grandpa or grandma who wants to hold aging at bay by restocking their skeleton with some quality meat. In fact, the vast majority of folks who start training want to build some muscle, for whatever reason.
They are bodybuilding, whether they know it or not.
Bodyweight training builds muscle—but you need to make it progressive.
One of the great tragedies of the modern fitness world is that bodybuilding has become—maybe indelibly—connected to training on machines and other forms of equipment. You do not need special equipment to build muscle—what you need, first and foremost, is your body’s own weight.
Hey, everyone knows my opinion on this. You don’t need to listen to me. How about the guy who made all the training machines so famous?
Arthur Jones was—without doubt—the biggest figure in the history of training machines. It is unlikely that anyone will ever eclipse his success. The man is still a famous and controversial figure in strength and conditioning, years after his death. Jones was an inventor, exercise ideologist, genius, and ass-kicker. He single-handedly invented the Nautilus brand of machines back in the sixties. His son developed the popular Hammer Strength brand of training machines, and Nautilus Inc. has branched out and now also owns Schwinn, Universal, Bowflex and Stairmaster. Every exercise machine, in every gym, all over the planet, has been influenced by Jones in some way.
Arthur Jones participating in his brainchild, the infamous “Colorado Experiment”.
This should tell you something. Arthur Jones was the poppa of training machines.
So you would assume that Jones—above all people—would have sung the praises of machines? You’d probably guess that Jones would be doing all he could to spread the idea that building muscle needs to happen on expensive machines, right?
Wrong. Jones was a straight talker. At the height of his fame he caused thousands of jaws to drop when he published this:
“…just about anybody else in this country can produce nearly all of the potential benefits of proper exercise without spending much if anything in excess of about twenty dollars. You can build both a chinning bar and a pair of parallel dip bars for a total cost of only a few dollars, and those two exercises, chins and dips, if properly performed, will stimulate muscular growth in your upper body and arms that will eventually lead to muscular size and strength that is very close to your potential.
Adding full squats, eventually leading up to one-legged full squats, and one-legged calf raises, will do much the same thing for your legs and hips. Using this very simple routine, when you get strong enough to perform about ten repetitions of one-armed chins with each arm, your arms will leave very little to be desired.
Or, instead, you can do what many thousands of others are now doing and piss away thousands of dollars and years of largely wasted effort while producing far less results. The choice is yours.
One of the best pair of arms that I ever saw on a man belonged to a guy that I knew about fifty years ago in New York, and he never performed any sort of exercise apart from chins and dips, and damned few of them.” – Arthur Jones, My First Half-Century in the Iron Game
Interesting words, huh?
I’m not saying nobody should use machines—PCC isn’t about telling athletes what not to do. But when the guy who practically brought about the exercise machine revolution tells you that bodyweight works just as well, it counts for something.
Arthur Jones oversees Mr Universe, the great Boyer Coe, through a set of chin-ups.
The PCC curriculum is an expansion of Convict Conditioning; it includes both progressive pull-ups and progressive dipping chains; not to mention the one-leg squat progressions referred to by Jones.
Take this as an open invitation. PCC is not just for “functional” trainers and cross-training athletes. If you want to build some muscle—or if your job is to help others build muscle—participation at the inaugural PCC event will be a massive opportunity, either to maximize your own ability, or to fulfill your potential to help others.
You never get a second chance at being the first. Please don’t miss this one.
Keep doing those push-ups,
Paul Wade is the author of Convict Conditioning, Convict Conditioning 2, the Convict Conditioning DVD series and is the co-creator of the new Progressive Calisthenics Certification (PCC).