The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. These five words perfectly encapsulate the message behind “Smart Bodyweight Training,” by Red Delta Project founder Matt Schifferle.
There are specific exercises in the book for the entire body. You can measure your progress if you can do more of them over time. You can easily see if you are attaining your goals. The information is incredibly relevant to help you get stronger and it is certainly timely because it is a book that goes a long way to making your fitness life a lot less complicated.
I bought this book expecting to wowed, informed and common sensed (yep, common sensed) into some great workout science. It did not disappoint.
Schifferle’s book hits on all of those points and more. If you workout at home, on your own or you’re a trainer looking to take your client sessions to another level, this calisthenics training resource will get you there and then some.
When it comes to finding high quality information about exercise, sometimes I think it would be easier to find a needle in a haystack. “Smart Bodyweight Training” IS that needle in the health and fitness haystack.
If an incredibly common sense, no BS, all steak/no zizzle, real world proven method of exercise is something that appeals to you, then you're in luck. You’ll like this book.
If you're looking to use this to tell your “fitfam” how you “just crushed your gym sesh," nothing to see here, move along. And really, if the fitness industry achieves one thing in 2019, I hope it is breaking up the fitfam and turning the gym sesh into a thing of the past. So how about we get that done!
I was recently lucky enough to get some of Schifferle's time to talk his book. His fitness knowledge has helped thousands of people worldwide maximize their fitness program results while minimizing the time wasted to reach them.
He's incredibly genuine, down to earth, very chill and just a damn good person who is incredibly passionate about this industry and making sure people have the most complete information possible to help them reach their exercise goals.
We had a great conversation (I think I ruined his next client's workout by getting him all fired up) and here's how the conversation unfolded.
What is Smart Bodyweight Training?
In one of the best episodes of Seinfeld, George and Jerry are sitting around talking about an idea for their TV show to pitch. Long story short, they come up with a show about nothing, which was actually something. Nothing really happens, but something always takes place.
That's what "Smart Bodyweight Training" is. A workout book about nothing that is actually something. If I haven't lost you yet, don't go, it gets better.
This book is nothing flashy, and that's something that is one of its biggest strengths. It is nothing groundbreaking. It is based on a very simple approach to something people are hell bent on making more complex: working out.
If you use it, it isn't anything that will get you onto the social media highlight reels. If you read it and apply its principles, it is something that “will transform your workouts, your runs and any other physical activity you enjoy doing.”
"Smart Bodyweight Training" does a great job of getting people to recognize some key components of a successful fitness program:
1) What are your goals?
2) What are you after?
"It’s all about adjusting things around your goals," Schifferle said. "What are you aiming at? The most important thing you can do is to get a clear picture, then you can focus in on the 1.1% of the things that actually matter."
One of the things about this book is that there is nothing that can show you where your strength gaps are like calisthenics training. That my friends is a big something because if you don’t what gaps to fill in, you can’t effectively progress in your gym sesh (apologies for any ocular lactic acid accumulation…).
One of the bigger gaps I’m currently trying to fill, single leg hip stability, is one of the things this book can help with. Isometric bodyweight exercises are worth their ounces in lactic acid gold to help you build a more solid movement platform.
“(This book) Exposes a lot of weaknesses," says Schifferle “ We've gotten away from how the legs work, and a lot of other training modalities are not the most organic ways to use our legs.”
While picking up heavy things feels great and builds the ego, bodyweight training can have the opposite effect. Mostly because you've got to do it right for it to work and your brain has to have perfect control over your muscles moving your bones.
The video below from the Red Delta Project YouTube channel, "This Is Why You're Weaker With Bodyweight Training" explains this very well.
Sitting to move weights falls into this category. Our nervous system is designed to get our muscles to move our bones in a 3D world were we provide our own base of support. Sit down to exercise, and you don’t get the full benefit from what you’re doing.
“When we are supported, we don't work the right way,” Schifferele says.
How is "Smart Bodyweight Training" different from other bodyweight training books?
When people would ask him questions, he'd usually refer people to staples of the body weight training world: Paul Wade's "Convict Conditioning" series, or "OVERCOMING Gravity" by Stephen Lowe. These two books are widely considered the gold standard for bodyweight training.
"It is the book I wrote about year and a half ago, I never thought I'd write," says Schifferle. "It was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn't want to put out a rehash of basic bodyweight training."
He didn’t want to write a book unless he felt he could bring more value to the table. While there are a ton of books out there on calisthenics training, I’ve found this one to be one of the better ones.
“That’s always been the challenge,” said Schifferle. “There is so much information out there. Everything has its merit, but only 1% is going to apply to you.”
Schifferle wanted to create something that was more of along the lines of giving people an exquisite set of exercise ingredients then allowing them to make their own gourmet workout meals. It wasn't supposed to be a book about an exercise methodology, or something to help the reader build their own workouts.
"I wanted to give people a principle plan of what bodyweight training is, then you add/fill things in," he said. "’Smart Bodyweight Training’ recognizes the principles of exercise and bodyweight training to help you master progressions to do the things you need to work on better."
The biggest reason is because you don’t need to be in the fitness industry to not only appreciate what’s between the covers, but to build a rock solid fitness program as well. It is less of a training manual and more of a movement resource with mass appeal.
The book does a great job of helping you explore the principles of using you as the load for exercise. Where it excels is putting the emphasis on the mind muscle connection that is the key to calisthenics training.
"Bodyweight is (just) the method to explore the principles,” says Schifferle.” It’s really about training what makes things the most effective: your mind."
The book takes a deep dive into to getting you to realize the most effective element of exercise comes down to one thing: what you are thinking when you move? Without a clear roadmap of how you want to achieve your goals, it can be a "hell of slog."
The video “Mental Muscle Training #1” is a great explanation of what he means.
That's all we have time for this week. We'll pick it up here next time. How about that for an opening literary salvo to 2019?
The reason is there is never a shortage of awesome fitness information when I'm lucky enough to talk to Matt. So much so, that I'm breaking this up into two pieces and you get the rest next week.
Thanks a ton for reading, it is always much appreciated!