Bodyweight Exercise: the Foundation of it All

Squats. Push-ups. Lunge variations of all kind… all with nothing more than your bodyweight. Let me tell you, after years and years of working with college-level athletes, one thing rings more clear than ever: athletes, even ones considered elite, don’t move well in the weight room. Yes, after months and months of retooling and teaching techniques, they begin to move with fluidity and start looking like the super athlete we know them to be on the court. But, it takes time, dedication and a smart approach.

I have coached thousands of athletes over my career, and with each passing year, we see issues with how each of them move. They walk into my facility in the fall and have developed, over their lifetime, a laundry list of movement issues that will have to be corrected before we load them. And when I say “load them”, I’m talking about putting a bar on their back or a kettlebell in their hands.

How many of you watch more than two hours of television a day? Or perhaps two hours of computer time a day? How about time sitting in school, how much time are you in a seated position? And, what might be more and more a danger, how much time do you spend on your phone in a day? You know, hunched over, face glued to the magic on the screen and completely blocking out the world around you. Unfortunately, it’s probably more than any of us would like to admit to. I know for myself, at almost 42 years old, I burn probably 4-6 hours sitting in the day participating in any and all of the above mentioned activities. Not good. 

There’s something called the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) that we are all forced to adhere to. This principle simply states that whatever we do the most (sitting, running, jumping, typing, etc) our bodies will begin to develop strategies for that task to become “easier” for us the next time around. Your brain is constantly on surveillance to your surroundings and what is happening to your body, and it strives to create efficiency. There’s two great examples of this. First, when you see a huge bodybuilider. That guy or gal goes into the gym and does very specific exercises, at very specific weights for very specific reps to create all of that bulk and muscle. Over time, that stimulus becomes the most prevailing thing to the brain and therefore the body responds by laying down new muscle so it can be “easier” the next time around. The second example is when you or someone you know has broken a bone. Have you or someone you are close to broken either their foot/leg or arm? The doctor slaps a cast on that area, immobilizes the bone and the joints around it so you don’t move the bone and not allow it to heal. After a couple of months or so in a cast, the doctor cuts off the plaster, and what do you see? That part of the body is really skinny, weak and almost looks like it doesn’t belong to you, right? Because the brain knows the joints have been immobilized by the cast, and the use of that area drops to nearly zero, the system adjusts saying, “all this muscle is not necessary anymore because we aren’t moving it.” The body begins to change to the new environment. It’s quite an elegant system when you think about it. 

Stay with me. All of those hours we rack up hunched in front of a computer, TV or phone are an actual training stimulus. And, over the years and years of your life, your biology has created the perfect body for… sitting at the computer, watching TV or texting on a phone. If that was what you were going to go out for on your high school team, you know, varsity TV watcher, you would be training like an elite athlete in that event. BUT, you are a volleyballer. Explosion, hip extention, big time jumping, strong upper back and healthy shoulders are the name of the game for you. Did you know that sitting with shoulders rolled forward, curved spine and hips bent at 90 degrees is the EXACT opposite of what you need? Remember, our above posture that we hold for hours and hours a day is identical to the bodybuilder going in and curling for dozens of reps for their arms to get huge. You need something to counteract or undo all the “sitting training” you have been doing.

VOLLEYSTRENGTH is here to begin to start unwinding some of the postural issues that we all have created over time. We are going to help you unlock your hips, mobilize your ankles, strengthen your buns, and fortify your back and shoulders so you can begin to move like the athlete you know you can become. The smartest approach in doing so is by re-patterning your movements, and getting strong where we all tend to be weak. The bodyweight strengthening program is exactly what I do with my college athletes. When they walk in the door, they have weeks and weeks of learning to move how we want them to move in the weight room. I NEVER load an athlete without them going through comprehensive technique work, and thousands of reps of bodyweight exercise. Think of it as “qualifying” to put a bar on your back or putting a kettlebell in your hand. It’s the gold standard for me, and you have it in your hands right now. 

Consistency, dedication and focus is all that is needed to take you to where your volleyball dreams can take you… that and VOLLEYSTRENGTH.

Jason Wiseman

Director, 2405 Leona Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA