From the consumer standpoint, the fitness industry can be incredibly difficult roads to navigate. There is a plethora of information to sift through with some of it really good, and some of it, not so much.
One of the easiest ways to start a movement program (workout less, move more, trust me, you'll have more success) is to use your body as your gym. Bodyweight fitness is about as easy as it is effective.
Very few people have a better working knowledge of this methodology than Red Delta Project founder and calisthenics Master, Matt Schifferle.
In part one of this interview we covered his book "Smart Bodyweight Training" and why he wrote it. This time around we get into why people need it and how it can help them get strong as hell.
He's as nice as he is versed in the subject, we had a great conversation a few weeks back and here's the second part of what we covered. If you are looking to move more and want an incredibly efficient way to do it, the teachings of Matt Schifferle will get you there.
Why do people need Smart Bodyweight Training?
"Not just to get what they want, but to have a fundamental understanding of what exercise is and what it actually does, Schifferle says. "It is a reality filter."
In the book, Matt says that working "smarter gives you the opportunity to escape the exercise rat race." He is spot on. Nowadays, people are working harder not smarter and don't really seem to be getting anywhere.
They seem to be more interested in how hard their workout was rather than how effective their approach is. This is where a smarter approach to training can help. Working some vitamin RDP into your workouts will help you do this.
There's a reason basics work best. They clear the clutter to cut out any unnecessary static noise allowing you to put your efforts into an optimum approach to getting stronger. If you allow it to happen and force yourself to slow down, you'll get to your goals a lot faster.
The video below, "3 Simple Steps For Quality Calisthenics Workouts," gives a good explanation of that. It is a great look into the optimal approach to using bodyweight to get stronger.
The Red Delta Project philosophy is centered around helping you be "more productive from as little as possible." Its one of the things this approach is can help you achieve.
"Efficiency is so important so crucial, its easy to get stuck in work harder mentality running in the opposite direction," Schifferle said. "It bites."
This book is the culmination of the "Delta Principles of Fitness." These are the five fitness factors that will either help you be successful, or keep you from reaching your goals. It is a simple list, but for some reason it seems to be the hardest thing for people to plug in to their workout strategy.
If you plug in these five principles into your fitness programming, you'll drastically improve your chances of being successful:
1) Consistency: the efficiency of bodyweight training makes it a lot easier to regularly exercise.
2) Progression: If you don't up the level of difficulty in your routine, it will be a harder to get anywhere..
3) Learning: This style of training forces you to learn how to turn on your muscles without an external load.
4) Emotional Drive/Motivation: The simplicity of the approach allows you to get into a deeper focus leading to more results.
5) Plan of Action: Failure to plan is planning to fail is the take away here.
"We've really bought into as long you work hard enough, results will come," says Schifferle. "That's not at all the case."
And that my fitness friends is the very essence of "Smart Bodyweight Training." Give your workouts a K.I.S.S. and you will accomplish more with less.
Why "Bodyweight Training for Cycling?"
In addition to "Fitness Independence" (his first book) and "Smart Bodyweight Training," Schifferle, a former mountain bike racer, has also written "Bodyweight Training For Cycling." I bought the kindle version and read it in one sitting.
Having strength trained bike riders since 2006, I found it to spot on in both its approach to cycling specific core strength building as well as the information it contains to help you get stronger. It was a really simple approach (the RDP hallmark approach to getting stronger for sure) and found it to be incredibly consumer friendly.
The book lists the following reasons as to why bodyweight training is a rider's best friend:
1) It adds horsepower to your engine
2) It helps correct imbalances and chronic problems
3) It compliments the benefits of cycling
The video below goes into detail about "The Biggest Mistakes Bikers and Runners Make" when they put together their training plans and what the biggest glaring omission is.
Strength training is probably the biggest piece of performance puzzle. Calisthenics is one of the more effective ways to create a solid plan to ride/run/swim your best.
I use quite a bit of it to help my riding, and I can verify first hand it is an incredibly effective way to make every ride more enjoyable. It has reconnected my diagonal loading patterns (the most critical component to moving your best) and that has exponentially improved my ability to nail a switchback.
"The biggest advantage is the efficient nature produces minimal interference affect," says Schifferle. "Want to get better at a sport? you've got to do strength and conditioning."
One of the things that is a bit tricky from time to time is to convince a bike rider (let alone racers) to get out of the saddle and into the gym. The additional time is usually the strongest reason as to why it doesn't happen. Even though strength training is the absolute best way to undo the repetitive stress from the seated position when riding a bike.
"There's resistance to it," Schifferle said. "Already training for riding, now you want me to spend more time, energy and money to lift weights?"
Enter bodyweight training for cycling to help you ride stronger to pedal longer. It is one of the easiest ways to make life a lot easier on a bike, particularly going uphill.
Bodyweight training "directly addresses the vary hiccups/gaps that cycling leaves. It stretches whats tight, strengthens whats weak and it reconnects your body to your brain."
For a cyclist, sitting down while riding can shut off the glutes, and when that happens, all h-e-double-hockey-sticks can break loose leading to knee pain, low back pain and lost of enjoyment being on your bike.
The right approach off the bike can help your performance on it. This is where using Schifferle's book as your fitness is domestique is worth its weight in gold.
"Bodyweight is so multi-dimensional. Strength and conditioning can compromise cycling, but the efficient nature of bodyweight training makes you more stable, more mobile plus you don't need a gym or dance equipment a ton of benefit with a lot less cost,"he says. "It’s perfect."
Since your body will only let you put out the amount of power your joint stability allows, build a more stable base of support to move from, build a bigger motor on the bike.
What are most riders missing in their programs?
I asked Matt what he felt most riders are missing in their approach to helping them ride better. He said mobility issues in the front half of the body are some of the biggest reasons as to why people don't perform their best on two wheels.
"You're hunched over in the car, at your desk and your bike," he said. "You get way too tight, and you lose your ability to connect to the posterior chain."
Given that the posterior chain is the most important component on your bike, you want the back half of your body as strong as possible. Using calisthenics is a great way to do this.
What should riders be focusing on?
In his book, Matt does a brilliant job of equating the various parts of the bike and what part of the body they equate to. I was pretty damn impressed by this when I read it.
It was such an easy analogy and one I'd never thought of. He breaks it down in chapter two when he gives you "Three Moves For Ultimate Performance."
1) Squats, or your frame
2) Bridges, or your wheels
3) Planks, or your drive train
"You have to have those (exercises) squats, bridges and planks," Schifferle says. "Focus on those if you want to really improve on your riding."
I know when I focus on these three things I ride better. Until I don't. To quote Dan John, "it worked so well, I stopped doing them," and that's when my body "strongly advises me" that its time to start focusing on those again. Funny that.
You’ve only got 15 mins 3x/week, what exercises are you doing and why?
One of the reasons I love talking to Matt is because he's always got the best ideas on how to do a whole lot with not all that much. I asked him the 15 minute exercise solution version of the "desert island, what are you bringing" question, and here's what he said.
"Push, pull and squat man. Pushup variation push/anterior chain, pull chain , extension chain, Bulgs (rear foot elevated split squats), lunges and bodyweight squats."
He said doing this for 15 minutes 3x/week can go a long way to keeping someone on track with a fitness program. He also gave a pretty effective way to approach this.
"Circuit fashion will cover everything to some degree. Mobility, stability, work holistically, every muscle in your body."
An incredibly easy total bodyweight movement sessions that is as simple to do as it is to benefit from? Sign me up.
I can't thank Matt enough for his time for an interview as well as his ongoing contributions to the industry. He is constantly teaching this old exercise dogs new tricks to keep my muscles moving my bones as well as possible. If it works for me, it will work for anyone!
At any rate, if you'd like to learn more about the Red Delta Project, (and honestly if you read Part I and finished up the sequel, why wouldn't you?), here's how to do it.
1) Red Delta Project Website
2) RDP YouTube Channel (binge worthy fitness watching!)