Saturday, February 12, 2011

Body Weight Work with Dennis Frisch Part II - sample bw program

Welcome to Part II of the b2d interview with physical culturist and trainer Dennis Frisch of Denmark. In Part 1, Dennis talked about not only what draws him to bodyweight work, but why/how this approach has become his main training program. Dennis also offered some insights into getting started thinking about a bodyweight approach. Two of the things from that interview that struck me is that bodyweight work is skills based, and that one give themselves time (months and years) to develop that skills base.

In this post, Dennis covers three things: a sample bodyweight program, a way to think about developing a one arm push up, and a few additional bodyweight resources. Enjoy.

Dennis, in the last segment, you mentioned that you use bands [eg like iron woodies ]with your bodyweight work. Could you say a little more about that?
I use bands in a variety of different ways.
1) Loading mobility exercises, esp. end range of motion [as per the 9S strength & suppleness course (discussed here) -mc]
2) Horisontal loading for compound exercises; think of peg board [a z-health i-phase drill - mc], judo throws, punches etc.
3) Taking load of bodyweight exercises, i.e. one arm chins, levers etc.
4) Adding load to bodyweight exercises like pushups, dips, squats etc. - This is really cool since they add the most load in the strongest ranges of motion
5) Loading micro-exercises, i.e. when I am working on the one arm chin I will take a very light band a use it to load different positions of the motion. This is a nice low threat way to practice challenging exercises.
Super cool. So let's get applied. Let's kick it up to what folks are keen to get into: what are ways that folks might get started with a bodyweight program?
A "program" might be something like this:

2-3 times a week skill/strength training:

Pressing movements:
5-6 sets of handstands (hold for time or do reps)
5-6 sets of pushups (choose a variant that is challenging but doable)

Pullup movements:
5-6 sets of pullups

Leg movements:
5-6 sets of squats
5-6 sets of lunges

Wave the load so that you familiarize yourself with heavy singles and doubles as well as strength-endurance work in the range of 15-25 repetitions.
2-3 times a week "energy system development" aka intervals.
Combine this with a dynamic mobility protocol and you are good to go [one might think about Z-Health Neural Warm Up 1 (discussed here) as such a mobility protocol -mc ] Use it as a morning recharge, a warm up or just practice your mobility through the day.

So bottom line I guess is that bodyweight skill/strength building doesn't have to be all that different from regular strength training.

Another approach would be a less "digital" program, where you choose your skills and play with them as often as you like for as long as you like. From a motivational/habitual standpoint that is probably a more challenging approach, but when you are used to training daily and you enjoy playing with movement it gets addictive. 
Are there other resources in bodyweight skills you'd recommend? Awesome site with tons of progressions Cool inspiration for different skill sets Really cool blog and forum with tons of ideas on how to train using a minimalist/garage gym approach

The One Arm Push Up
With the one arm push up a lot has to do with the set up. Placing your hand in the right spot and getting the right amount of stability. 
Progressions would be to simply practice a one handed plank isometrically.

Then simply practicing lowering yourself slowly to the ground.

Then practice isometric holds throughout the range of motion. Then maybe try and do push ups in a limited range, start by unlocking and unlocking your elbow, and expanding from there.

I find that the one arm push up is more of a kinaesthetic exercise than merely adding as much tension as possible.

The Dennis Frisch Tao in Movement
As with the behavioural side of training, I generally try to help people realize that what they are really after isn't a skill, feat or attribute as much as it is a way of life.

So maybe you want to loose a few pounds or learn how to do a hand stand, but why do you want those things and how will it affect how you and others perceive you. Spending a couple of weeks to learn a cool skill is great and fun, it just makes it a lot more fun and worthwhile if that goal is just the beginning of something much greater; a life long exploration of physical living.

I have two poorly updated websites:

And you can contact me for private coaching, seminars and the like using dennisfrisch at
Thank you again, Dennis, for taking the time and sharing the knowledge.

Any gals starting a one arm push up quest? please post below, too. How's it going? whatcha been doing?

Also Dennis says as he gets some time, he'll try to get some vids done - as he does, we'll post 'em here.


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