Body Weight and Free Exercise

Topics that focus on building strength and muscle using old school and modern training techniques. Post questions, share training tips and programs.

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Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by peter yates » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:14 pm

In a recent conversation with Gil Waldron, he mentioned that although there was a section for weight training there was nothing specifically for body weight only exercise. So this can be where we can post anything regarding those exercise systems that focus on health and physical development and maintenance primarily using the body weight for resistance. Many of us started out with such systems and also kept them up over the years and it would be interesting to know how people fared with these systems and any insights into training with them, unusual exercises and programs etc. Hoping for some response with this as it is an area that is becoming popular again and of much value to the physical culture fan.Wherever your body is you have a gym.
Regards,Peter.
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by Internalfitness » Wed Jan 24, 2018 7:28 pm

One of my favorites over the last 15 years or so is something I first knew as the 'Gentleman's 8 Section Brocade'. In fact it has many names (and spellings) but for anyone searching, then Ba Duan Jing will get you to the right places.

There are many videos online, many offering slight variants and I fear it is this confusion that puts people off this and similar routines, which is a shame as essentially it is just 8 stretching exercises that give the whole body a good basic workout (there is a slightly harder variant known colloquially as the 'Warriors' Brocade, and doing this as a follow on really gets me sweating).

This is as good an example as any:


youtu.be/3K-0JpiJu-o

It is more than likely you will recognise the moves, or at least variants of them. My favourite move is probably Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Hawk (second image from the left):
qigong-baduanjin.jpg
qigong-baduanjin.jpg (130.83 KiB) Viewed 6070 times
Richie.

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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by peter yates » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:51 pm

Hi Richie,
Ba Duan Jin is a wonderful set and one of the best known sets of qi gong in China and probably around the globe.It was in fact the first qi gong set i ever learned and as such has a special place in my heart. It is attributed to the Shaolin temple but the truth be known it probably existed in one form or another before the temple even existed. I went on to learn several versions eventually settling on one that fit my needs and what i then taught for many years. While it is possible to learn the moves from a video it really needs a teacher to point out the subtleties and make form corrections to obtain full benefits. Certainly a good addition to a complete inner/outer physical culture program. BTW my 87 year old father in law does this set every morning and has done so for about 50 years.
Thanks for mentioning this set Richie.
Regards,Peter.
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by Internalfitness » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:06 pm

Hi Peter,

We utilised this as a warm-up before our tai-chi classes, as you say with many variants such as:

Stretching the inner tube out to the front, then out to the side etc.
Make a diamond shape with the fingers then stretch up to the sky and look through the diamond as you twist left to right.
Etc Etc.

I always exercise in front of a mirror (certainly not for vanity) to ensure on workouts such as this my trunk is kept in line with my hips and I don't go off on some funny angle - which can be easy do if you have a tightness you aren't really aware of.

As with a lot of fitness, I found once I understood the mechanics of what I was doing, that is when I could really make it my own.

(Have just done a round of the 8 exercises and am genuinely feeling like I have done a full 'workout').

Richie.

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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by peter yates » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:11 pm

Hi Richie,
maybe qi gong related material should be in the martial section, as traditionally all martial systems had their own qi gong sets to build the kind of power and body conditioning required to practice the style. However as it fits in also with free exercise and you have already started the discussion we can continue on this thread. One of the main differences between early physical culture movements of both the East and West,and i include the pioneers of modern PC from the mid 19th to mid 20th century, and modern drug enhanced, bodybuilding,powerlifting etc. is the focus on the development of the internal organs/ glands,or as Bob Hoffman used to say "the internal workings." Any true PC system must be concerned with building an healthy organic system. It was often noted that a strong, muscular physique was the outward appearance of good internal function, unfortunately these days it is more a case of the outward appearance is a sign of the drug cocktail a bodybuilder is taking.My late master Share k.Lew used to say that by practicing qi gong you make your own vitamins and minerals He was referring to the beneficial effect on the endocrine system and healthy hormonal function, plus improved digestion and elimination.
Regards,Peter.
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by Internalfitness » Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:42 pm

This is my bodyweight move of the day: the swing and stretch from a book by the wonderful Eileen Fowler. She included this in many of her books over the years and it is a favourite of mine. I once saw a Russian prison documentary and was surprised but delighted to see one of the inmates do a similar movement as his version of the hindu squat.
Swing and Stretch.jpg
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by peter yates » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:08 pm

Nice one Richie,
i do something similar in my warmups for martial arts and lifting. Sometimes i just do it when the mood takes me as it does open everything up really well.
Regards,Peter.
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by peter yates » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:25 pm

As i mentioned previously the traditional East Asian fighting arts employed various sets of Qi gong as a means of building the body, both inside and outside, to be prepared for the actual combat training. Central to this was the practice of standing still in various postures. This is called such names as Ding Shi [fixed posture] and Zhan Zhuang [post or stake standing.] Every system had a number of these pertaining the to style and many were common across the board such as the Horse posture or Ma Shi. One system created in the early part of the 20th century by a renowned master named Wang Xiang Zhai has become well known around the world and offers many benefits for those willing to put the time into practice. While Wang created the system to build internal and external power for his fighting style, Yi Chuan [ intent boxing] later changed to Da Cheng Chuan [great achievement boxing] thousands of people worldwide practice it as a way to become stronger and healthier. I taught this system for many years and recommend it to anyone who has an interest in starting Qi gong practice. The book The Way of Energy by Lam Kam Chuen is a very good introduction to the practice of Zhan Zhuang and for most all they will ever need. Master Lam also has several videos on YouTube.One thing that always amused me was having big strong guys come to my class who could not stand for even a minute at first. It takes and builds a different kind of strength but one that will make a more complete Physical Culturist.
Regards, Peter.
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by Gil Waldron » Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Most of my training now consists of free exercise, mainly because I no longer feel at home in a modern gym. I own a couple of kettle bells and some exercise bands, but prefer bodyweight movements. You are your own gym. I started in the local woodland climbing trees, doing pull ups and lifting and rolling trunks of fallen trees, not to mention struggling with heavy logs on my shoulders to get up the steep slopes of the woodland. All this before I left school and went into the world of work. Then I could afford a Charles Atlas course, good old Charlie showed me how to plan a routine, no more pushing, pulling and lifting without a plan. This was a way I could logically develop strength and physique. Maxalding was the next method I embraced, this taught me how to use my mind in my training, and that free exercise could be just as hard if not harder than weights and equipment. It’s this basic knowledge that I have taken forward to this day, over 60yrs later. I have used weights along with free exercise throughout my training life and I have no preference for either method.
My training now is a mix of the two previously mentioned systems, and thanks to my mate Peter qi gong. I find the three systems fit together marvellously, and certainly work for me.
People, when I discuss with them free exercise, talk about progression. There’s loads of ways to progress without putting more and more weight on the bar or equipment. Those of you who’ve tried one armed pull ups or one legged squats, press ups on one arm or Tiger Bends, will have soon realised that weights are not the only thing in the trainer’s armoury. We have every Maxalding exercise on the HOPC site along with guidance on how to use them, give them a try. Training now consists of squats, varying leg positions, press ups, narrow, shoulder width, and very wide hand spacing, to bring into play various muscle groups. I use Maxalding for biceps, lats and traps etc. and train daily. What I do on that day depends on what my body tells me. After all these years I have learned to listen to it.
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Re: Body Weight and Free Exercise

Post by Talbot » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:31 pm

I'll second Gil Waldron's recommendation of Charles Atlas and Maxalding. Those two courses have been around a long time, with the Atlas Course still being sold. Nothing lasts that long, unless it gets results.

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