Updated 28/09/2009 : although I wrote this article more than 3 years ago, surprisingly little has changed – these guys are all still very much at the top of their game. Good stuff.
In that time, however, I’ve worked with a number of other trainers and coaches who combine various bodyweight and resistance training approaches. Chief among these – and the only one I would add to this list – is Adam Steer. Extremely creative, and well worth tracking down.
To get an idea of his current bodyweight training approach, check out the brilliant Bodyweight Blueprint. Love it.
If you’ve ever been tempted to incorporate a few bodyweight exercises into your training, you may like to look through a few of these sites for ideas.
Considered by many to be the foremost kettlebell instructor in the US, Mike Mahler brings a combined weighted/bodyweight approach – not to mention over a decade of experience as a Strength Trainer – to an ever-hungry audience.
He is the first to admit that a mixed approach is usually the best – he favours a blend of bodyweight, kettlebell, clubbell and traditional free weights in his routines. My thoughts exactly.
Matt Furey has a wrestling background, switching from a successful career as a wrestler to one as a trainer in 1987. In 1990 he began studying various martial arts and gradually combined this knowldge with wrestling – writing his first book, The Martial Art of Wrestling, in 1996.
Also beginning in 1996, Furey won 3 national titles for the Chinese art of Shuai-Chiao – the oldest fom of Kung Fu – before winning the world title in 1997.
In 1999 Furey moved to Tampa, Florida, in order to commence training under Karl Gotch. Several books followed, including the infamous Combat Conditioning.
Having a solid grounding in the Russian grappling art of Sambo, Scott Sonnon gradually formed a series of techniques all centred about the principle of ‘dynamic flexibility’ or ‘flexibility in motion’.
These were based around CST – or Circular Strength Training – and made strong use of traditional items such as Clubbells. Clubbells in particular help to strengthen the joints through their entire range of motion.
Sonnon has written two key books on the subject of CST. The first, Body Flow, establishes the theory behind CST and provides a good range of exercises to demonstrate this. The second, Softwork, shatters the notion that there are fundamental differences between conventional fitness training and martial arts. CST walks – and blurs – the line between them.
Pavel Tsatsouline (aka the ‘Evil Russian’) cut his teeth training members of the Spetsnaz (an elite Soviet special-forces unit) for a number of years before duplicating his successes with American agencies. Although perhaps most widely known for his Kettlebell skills and knowledge, Pavel trains people using a wide variety of both bodyweight and weighted techniques.
His thinking encompasses a concept rarely considered by many bodybuilders. Rather than increasing strength by adding muscle, he teaches methods of contracting existing muscle much harder. Naturally, both approaches have value; however it is far more common to see people ‘building’ than ‘enhancing’.
The man now known as ‘Scrapper‘ certainly has the credentials to train others in bodyweight exercises. Having spent over 10 years as a Navy diver (4 years of which was supporting Navy SEALs), he trained with World Jiu-Jitsu Champion and Super Brawl Champion Egan Inoue for 3 years; going on to win Future Brawl 6 in 1996 and his debut professional fighting match in 1999.
He has also worked for a number of years training various military personnel using his particular brand of physical fitness. This has proved to be astonishingly successful, with those who had previously failed PRTs finding themselves passing after his training. His Basic Training by Fish program has also enjoyed a 100% success rate in preparing candidates for SAR training.
Realising that nearly 40 years of traditional weight training was beginning to take a toll (the usual nagging injuries gradually became more frequent, and more severe), Brooks Kubik completely redesigned his training regimen – based on a combination of bodyweight exercises and a few items more commonly associated with strongman and grip training.
This new training style quickly became the basis for Dinosaur Training, and a swag of books and DVDs soon followed. I have to say, it works.
But wait, there’s more
If you need some more motivation, check out Alwyn Cosgrove’s latest piece on EliteFTS. It may just change your thinking on the value of bodyweight training.
Update: Mich pointed me in the direction of Ross Enamait (of rossboxing.com fame), outlined below. A great find.
Ross Enamait has been involved in competitive athletics for over 20 years – baseball, soccer, US football, wrestling and most notably boxing. Unfortunately, the boxing resulted in injuries (fractured hands and damaged ligaments), which steered him toward the helping of others.
In addition to his formal education (Enamait is a certified trainer with the International Sports Sciences Association), he has trained with world champion Marlon Starling, title contender John Scully, Olympian Lawrence Clay-bey, and many other world-class athletes.