Sunday, 4 November 2012

How to log the bodyweight 666 on Fitocracy

For those of you who are Fitocracy users, here are some ways you can log the exercises and progressions from the Bodyweight 666.

This is by no means perfect, and there are still a few exercises I have found no close match for. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box, and I will keep updating this page as I come up with better solutions.

If you are not on Fitocracy yet, I would urge you to take a look: it's an awesome fitness-based social network (which can be a strong motivator) and a very supportive community. Fitocracy also offers a workout tracker and some useful statistics. Feel free to add me on the site: I go under the username of El Diablo.

Floor L-sits

Floor L-sits (sometimes known as L-holds) are an extremely challenging core exercise: the minimum clearance offered by being so close to the floor leaves little margin for error.
Not only will the exercise tax your core muscles to their limit, but it will also engage your triceps and your quads.

Before attempting this progression, you should have reached level 11 in the leg raises progression, level 10 in the push-up progression, and level 8 in the dip progression.

Dragon flag

dragon flag progression
The dragon flag is a core strength exercise popularised by Bruce Lee which requires a high level not only of core conditioning, but of general strength. The exercise will tax your traps, your lats, your triceps, your forearms, your glutes and erector spinae, as well as your deep core muscles.

In order to comfortably attempt the exercise, you should have reached level 8 in the pull-up progression, level 9 in the leg raises progresssion, and level 5 in the plank progression.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


handstand tutorial
The unsupported handstand is a classic test of hand balancing skills.
This brief tutorial will show you how to progress from a wall supported handstand to an unsupported handstand, and give you an idea of the training required.

Before attempting the exercise, and in order to develop the basic strength for it, it is recommended that you have reached level 7 in the handstand push-up progression.

Muscle ups

muscle up progression
This post is going to focus on how to achieve strict muscle ups, without assistance from your leg swing (kipping). The basic movement involves performing a pull up, followed straight away by a dip, in order to get on top of the bar. The main difficulty of the move resides in the transition from the top of the pull up position to the bottom of the dip position. Though a deceptively simple move, the muscle up is a true test of upper body strength, and achieving your first one will require a significant amount of training.

Before attempting your first muscle up, you should have reached level 11 in the pull-up progression, and at least level 10 in the dip progression (though it is recommended you go to level 12).

Friday, 2 November 2012

One arm pull-up progression

In order to start building towards a one arm pull-up, you should have reached level 11 in the pull-up progression.

Performing one arm pull-ups is a true test of raw strength, and only very few will progress to that level.

In essence, there is very little difference between a one arm pull-up (with your hand facing away from you) and a one arm chin-up (hand facing towards you): your body will tend to rotate under the bar as you pull, towards a position that offers maximum efficiency for you. I personally find that one arm chins, or parallel grip pull ups are generally slightly easier.

The side crow

Like the crow stand, the side crow is an isometric yoga pose. The position will place some demands on your obliques and deep core muscles, as well as developing your hand balancing skills.

Before attempting the side crow, you should aim to achieve level 3 in the handstand push up progression, level 3 in the plank progression, and -of course- you should be able to hold the crow stand for at least 30 seconds.

The crow stand (a.k.a. the frog stand)

The crow stand (a.k.a. the frog stand) is a classic pose found both in yoga and gymnastics. It is usually performed to develop hand balancing skills, and as a building block towards the unsupported handstand and the planche. As well as developing your hand balancing skills, the crow stand will work your core stabilising muscles.

Before attempting this pose, it is recommended that you achieve level 3 in the handstand push up progression, and level 2 in the plank progression.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Anatomy of a pull up (and how to do your first one)

Have you ever tried and failed to do one single pull up, or would you like to better understand the performance factors at work for common bodyweight exercises? Luckily, help is at hand.

Even though I am going to use a specific example here (how to achieve your first pull up), the following principles will generally apply to all strength-based exercises, and the concepts discussed should be easily transferable to other pulling and pushing actions.

Essentially, there are 5 factors affecting your ability to do a pull up (and other common bodyweight exercises). These are:

Saturday, 6 October 2012

6 common mistakes seen at the gym

Bad lifting form

 Whether you’ve just embarked on a new fitness regime, or you have been an active gym user for a while, there is a strong possibility you might not getting the most out of your training. We all like to think we know what we’re doing, yet the overwhelming majority of people I see training at my local gym give into the same mistakes time and time again! The following list is neither a rant nor a criticism; it is intended as a prompt to encourage you to take a good look at what you’re doing and re-evaluating it. I have fallen into most of these traps myself, and I still do now and again.

Friday, 14 September 2012

How to do pull ups without a pull up bar

door frame pull ups
Pull ups, chin ups, and all their variations should be one of the core exercises of any good training program. As a multi-joint, compound movement, they work a wide variety of muscles, and they provide an excellent benchmark and target.
However, they can be hard to incorporate in a home training routine, unless you have a pull up bar.

This article will describe a few pull up variations you can easily do at home to build up the strength to do a full pull-up or chin-up, as well as ways to perform pull ups using your everyday environment.

If your aim is to achieve a full pull up, or if you wish to keep improving though, make sure to check out this pull up progression.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

How to do dips without dip bars

Dips should pretty much be a staple of any training program: they are a functional, compound exercise which translates to a wide range of movements, both in everyday life and in a variety of sports.

However, dip bars can be hard to find outside of a gym, and thus you might have to improvise to make dips an integral part of your home workout routine.

Luckily, there are a few dip variations and ways of performing this exercise with household furniture which will allow you to perfect the movement. Make sure to also check this dip progression for ways to build up to the exercise, and to keep improving.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

How to make a pull up bar

how to make your own pull up bar
Want to practice muscle ups or back and front levers without banging your head on the ceiling or other pieces of equipment?
Then most likely you will need a free standing pull up bar. And sadly, these don't come cheap...
The devil happens to love pull ups and all their variations, despite there being a dearth of gyms in hell! So here's a quick fix for an easy, adjustable, diy pull up bar which you can set up in a variety of places, and which can easily be dismounted and set up somewhere else.

What you will need:
- a tree with low hanging, sturdy branches, or low beams.

Top fitness websites

*This page will be regularly updated. Latest update: 04 November 2012*

It's only recently that Hell got its own internet connection, but since then all the minions and minor demons have been surfing the web almost 24/7. So, here's our pick and reviews of the best of the best fitness sites on the web.

Overall best fitness site and fitness community:
Fitocracy purports to be a social network, and an online game with rpg elements. Users level up as they log their workouts ; they can earn points through various quests and achievements, participate in user created challenges, and even duel each other! What sets the website apart are its online community elements though, with hundreds of groups to join and participate in, forums, and the option to 'follow' your favourite users. Progress pics abound (not all of them safe for work!), and fitocrats are incredibly supportive of each other. The one place where you can spy on the devil's workouts!
Here's a page on how to log the exercises from the Bodyweight 666 on Fitocracy.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Best fitness apps for android

*This page will be regularly updated. Latest update: 11 November 2012*

Make more of your android phone with this selection of fitness apps.
If you feel I have missed out on some apps in these reviews, please drop me a comment in the box below. All reviewed apps were tested and evaluated on a Samsung Galaxy Note running Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

weight training and bodybuilding app
Best weight training/bodybuilding app: JEFIT

The free version of JEFIT is worth downloading just for its database of exercises. However, as a weight training log, and as a community based app, it really does shine... You might not understand the greatness of JEFIT if you simply download the app though: the free version comes with just one preloaded workout... Log on to the website however, and the world is your oyster! You will find a database of thousands of user generated workouts which you can then synchronize with your device... And all this for free!!! You will never be lacking inspiration in your workouts again! The training log is really decent too!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

666 Fat Burner (home workout version)

6 weeks, 6 days a week, 6 bodyweight exercise progressions... welcome to the 666 Fat Burner.

This program takes a sustainable, progressive, whole-body approach to fat loss and muscle building and toning. It will yield visible results from week 1, and introduce you to the core principles of fitness and working out. It is designed to be easy to follow, and to maximise your weight loss, without having to go to a gym.

Because research has shown that exercise cannot spot reduce fat (or at the very best, that this is extremely limited), the 666 Fat Burner is not another 6-pack abs or butt-lift program: doing endless repetitions of crunches or hip thrusts will not give you a flat stomach or get rid of cellulite... It might give you slightly bigger muscles (though these kinds of programs work more on your muscular endurance than strength!), but they will still remain hidden under a layer of flab!

How does the 666 Fat Burner work?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

666 Fat Burner (gym version)

6 weeks, 6 days a week, 6 progressive sessions... welcome to the 666 Fat Burner.

This program takes a sustainable, progressive, whole-body approach to fat loss and muscle building and toning. It will yield visible results from week 1, and introduce you to the core principles of fitness and working out. It is designed to be easy to follow, and to maximise your weight loss.

Because research has shown that exercise cannot spot reduce fat (or at the very best, that this is extremely limited), the 666 Fat Burner is not another 6-pack abs or butt-lift program: doing endless repetitions of crunches or hip thrusts will not give you a flat stomach or get rid of cellulite... It might give you slightly bigger muscles (though these kinds of programs work more on your muscular endurance than strength!), but they will still remain hidden under a layer of flab!

How does the 666 Fat Burner work?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Triathlon strength training routine

A friend of mine (a nationally ranked triathlete in his age group) asked me to come up with a strength and conditioning routine which he could do, twice a week, after a run or bike ride. The goal was to see if he could make any improvements by developing his core strength, and targeting key discipline-specific muscles. He wanted these sessions to be approx. 30 mins in length, and requested a routine that would not interfere with the rest of his training and/or leave him unable to workout the next day.

We came up with the following progressive programme, which I thought I would share it here:

Thursday, 5 July 2012

666 bodyweight home workout

The Bodyweight 666 workout has moved. See the programme here

Abs and core progressions

These are actually 2 progressions which you should perform in parallel, in each session. Jointly, they will help you develop a rock solid core and work the muscles in your stomach (the rectus abdominis and the obliques, as well as stabilizing deep core muscles). The plank progression works these muscles isometrically (where the length of the muscle worked does not change) whereas leg raises develop them both concentrically and eccentrically.

These progressions will ultimately lead to such exercises as the dragon flag (a favourite of Bruce Lee), the hanging dragon flag and –from gymnastics- floor L-holds.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Handstand push up progression

hand stand push-up
Handstand push ups provide an excellent bodyweight workout for the shoulders. They primarily work your anterior and lateral deltoids and the muscles in the back of your arms (your triceps). They also engage the muscles of the upper back (the trapezius).

Handstand push ups also help building up towards unsupported handstands. A strong core and strong shoulders will help you find your balance and maintain the position more easily.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Dip progression

Dips provide an excellent upper body workout, and you should make them a staple of your training program. They primarily work the muscles in the back of your arms (triceps), but also the front of your shoulders (anterior deltoids), your chest (pectorals) and your back muscles (rhomboid).

The following progression takes youfurther than a standard dip, and on your way towards a muscle up (which is a pull up and a dip combined). Once you want to attempt Russian dips, you will need parallel bars, and a single bar for single bar dips.

With a bit of resourcefulness, the progression can still be followed even without a dip bar: how to do dips without dip bars.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Squat progression

bodyweight pistol squat progression
Squats are a compound exercise which will work your entire lower body. They primarily target the muscles in your butt (gluteus  maximus), the front of your legs (quadriceps) and the back of your legs (hamstrings). But they also engage some stabilizing muscles: your lower back (erector spinae), the outside of your thighs and bum (abductors), your inner thighs (adductors) and your calves (gastrocnemius and soleus).

Squats should normally be performed with your thighs at least parallel with the floor, but going lower through the whole range of motion will constitute 'deep squats'. The heels normally remain in contact with the floor, though in some variations you can raise on your toes (hindu squats).

When performing squats, you should ensure that your back remains in a neutral position, and that you head stays aligned with your body. Your knees should remain in alignment with your toes at all times.

Weight loss made easy

Weight loss does not have to be the work of the devil!
It certainly is one of the main reasons why people embark on a new fitness program, yet there are still huge misconceptions regarding what really works. “What are the best exercises to get a six pack, a firm bum, a flat stomach?” are all questions which a fitness instructor hears time and time again.

A common saying, which remains truer than ever, is that “6 packs are made in the fridge, not in the gym”. You can be ripped, but if your muscles are covered with a layer of fat, all your fitness efforts will not yield the results you expect.
One of the great fitness myths is that some exercises target certain areas: they don’t in terms of fat loss. They will help you build muscles, but endless sets of crunches will not give you a flat stomach unless your diet favours it. When you lose fat, you lose fat all over, and those areas which bother you are usually the last to go! Exercising will help you burn calories and to tone up muscles (improving appearance), but it will not help you lose fat per se, unless your diet is not appropriate...

Losing weight, then, is essentially 70% diet, and 30% training (and the same actually applies to building muscle). But how can sustainable weight loss be achieved?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pull up progression

Whilst some people may think of push ups as ‘the king of bodyweight exercises’, pull ups are a favourite of mine and a particularly devilish compound exercise! They will work the muscles in your upper back (the latissimus dorsi, and the trapezius), in your shoulders (the anterior deltoids), and in your arms (the biceps and brachialis). The closer together the hands are placed, the more the emphasis is on the biceps. And of course, pull ups will also test your grip strength.

Pull ups are normally performed with your hands facing away from you, while chin ups are done with your hands facing towards you (and chin ups also emphasize the biceps more). Chin ups are generally considered to be slightly easier version.

Push up progression

Push ups are sometimes described as the 'king of bodyweight exercises'. They will work the muscles in your chest (pectorals), in the back of your arm (triceps), and in your shoulders (anterior deltoids). Different variations and hand placements will affect to what degree these muscles come into play.

To perform a standard push up with good form, place your weight on your hands and feet, with your spine and head in alignement with your legs, and your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart (palm flat on the floor). Lower your upper body to the floor, flexing the elbows, then rise back to the start position. Keep your head still, and keep your eyes looking down. Breathe in on the way down, and out on the way up, and pull the abdominal muscles tight throughout the exercise.

El Diablo Intermediate Workout

weight training routine
The devil's special: this a functional workout routine which focuses primarily on core and upper body strength-endurance. You could add 30+ mins of cardio in the morning, and train in your sport of choice on alternate days. The routine runs over 7 to 9 days depending on your recovery, and each workout takes between 1 hour and 1 hour 15mins.

Start with a 5 mins warm up on cardio equipment, and do a few mobility exercises and dynamic stretches before main workout. Finish with 10 mins static stretching.
The first set should be a warm up set with light weight, then increase weight on the other sets to RM  (repetition maximum). Suggested recoveries are 30s between exercises and 90s between sets.

El Diablo Beginner Workout Routine

weight training
Let the devil guide you through this basic routine which will help you improve your functional strength and acquire good habits in the gym. It is designed for newcomers to strength training who already possess some level of fitness (i.e. it is not for complete fitness beginners).

The routine involves mostly dumbbells, but also the dips station and the cable crossover machine. Stick to it for at least 2 months before moving to an intermediate workout.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The fitness paradox

It’s never been easier to get fit and lose weight, and yet it’s never been harder. There exists countless diets and fitness programmes, new classes and sports appear every day, mobile apps track your progress and encourage you, personal trainers do all the planning for you... yet obesity and bad physical shape are rampant.

Nothing could be simpler than keeping fit though: you apply a small set of common sense principles (burn more than you eat ; overload the muscles then rest and recover ; carry out 30% of your training at or above your lactate threshold pace) and you cannot fail to see improvements. So why is it that so very few people manage to achieve their goals and sustain their efforts for extended periods of time?