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WARNING / DISCLAIMER This book is for reference and informational purposes only and is in no way intended as medical counseling

or medical advice. You must consult your physician prior to starting any exercise or nutritional program especially if you have any medical condition or injury that contraindicates physical activity. All forms of exercise pose some inherent risks. You must take full responsibility for your safety and know their limits. Before practicing the exercises in this book, be sure any kind of equipment or surface you train on is wellmaintained, and do not take risks beyond your level of experience, aptitude, training and fitness. If you are taking any medications, you must talk to your physician before starting any exercise program my Homemade Muscle workout. This publication is intended for informational use only and I will not assume any liability or be held responsible for any form of injury by the utilization of this information.

Copyright 2013 by Anthony Arvanitakis. All Rights Reserved http://www.homemademuscle.com/

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 About the program About bodyweight exercise The essential 8 exercises you are going to need Abdominals Warming up Exercise Menu Static Stretching Training methods & programs Plateaus, overtraining & undertraining Nutrition Common questions Making exercise a lifestyle 6 10 13 15 17 20 27 53 58 69 71 80 82

Copyright 2013 by Anthony Arvanitakis. All Rights Reserved http://www.homemademuscle.com/

Copyright 2013 by Anthony Arvanitakis. All Rights Reserved http://www.homemademuscle.com/


I will not to bore you with a long introduction about myself; I just want to share the facts about me that are relevant to the training program in this book and the proven results it has offered me and other people to whom I have suggested it... Many times, when I used to talk with a friend online or on the phone, telling them I just finished my home workout routine they would be quite curious but usually thought I was probably fooling around doing some pushups and whatnot. A couple of months later, when they saw how my body started to change they were amazed. All that just by training in your own home with no equipment at all? They asked... I explained to them that my approach had nothing to do with countless complicated exercises and training methods that required special equipment. It is about going back to the basics of bodyweight exercises, combining them with strength training principles, gaining control over your own body and finding ways to manipulate each exercise according to your current level of strength. It is as simple as that. As a matter of fact it is always as simple as that, when it comes to losing weight and attaining an aesthetic physique for 99% of people. It is not the complexity of training and nutritional programs that makes it difficult for people to accomplish their goals. It is all about finding the proper guidance and applying continuous effort over time by using basic exercise and nutritional principles...

My accident
Some people, usually the ones who train at gyms and still dont have any results after months or even years, have told me stuff like, I just have good genetics, therefore, I dont need to train hard to stay/get in good shape and thats why my home-workout was so effective. Due to an accident some years ago, my left leg was destroyed. As a result, I was in and out of hospitals for the following five years, being operated a total of thirteen times and consuming huge amounts of antibiotic boxes per year. All of the above combined with a stressed and depressed mental state for so long had really taken a toll to my body. From being in a really good shape as a competitive athlete, I ended up becoming: overweight from eating too much and too unhealthy. My whole body looked weak, my belly was bloated from gut bacteria imbalances caused by all the antibiotics and I became totally out of shape and out of balance (pic. 1).

Rising back from the ashes

Because I was always in a good shape most of my life, I got sick of watching how unhealthy I had become in the years that followed after my accident. I decided it was time for a change. The damage done to my leg from my accident was huge, and irreversible. A lot of soft tissue damage, loss of muscle tissue, a loss of almost three inches length from my lower legs length and a lot of nerve damage resulting in almost 50% loss of sensation bellow my knee. Some of my doctors kept telling me not to give up on hope, every year. But after having my leg supposedly fixed a couple of times, it always broke again a couple of months later. So after a total of five years and thirteen operations, I knew it was time for a big decision - a decision that no one had really ever offered me directly. I wasnt going to waste the rest of my life depressed, on crutches, and in and out of hospitals having more surgeries every year. I had to cut that useless part of my body I had been dragging for so long in order to continue my life in my own terms.

Picture 1 Even though I was always in a really good shape all my life my body became really unhealthy just in a matter of 8-9 months.

This was a not an easy decision, so I spent some time pondering over it ,while at the same time I finished my university studies in Sports science and Physical education; which I had quit at the time of my accident. After that I was sure that it was the right choice to make. So I talked with my doctors and the surgery was planned to be done in 6 months. I was in a slightly better condition at that moment, since I was exercising a bit, doing some swimming when my leg wasnt that bad and some pull ups now and then, but I was still in bad shape (picture 2), at least, for my standards.

Picture 2

I decided that if I was going to be in a good mental state for this surgery, I was also going to be in good physical shape. Being an athlete most of my life, I knew the importance of the body and mind connection. A great master once said To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. - Buddha Going to the gym at that time was not that affordable for me, plus, moving a lot was difficult since I needed crutches most of the time, and had no personal means of transportation. So I decided I that I would have to make the best out of the workout plan I could perform at home. Although I was really determined, I still had my doubts on how effective it would be in comparison with a program done in a regular gym, which was the environment I was used to in the past... So I sat down with my laptop and made a plan. I thought of all of the best bodyweight exercises, ways to progress into the ones I couldnt yet perform, and variations of the ones that were too easy. I thought of ways I could use stuff like regular home furniture and backpacks and turne into exercise equipment. After six months of hard training both my body & mind, and eating extremely healthy, all the work paid off (picture 3c). I was feeling healthier than ever and my body was in great shape, supporting me that way also mentally for the big challenge that I had to overcome (my amputation).

b Picture 3

Keep in mind that photos 3.a, 3.b and 3.c are not photoshoped or in a flexed state, as most of the fake transformation pictures in other books. When it comes to these before/after photos, Im only offering realistic ones to show the effect this program had on me. I didnt even use a professional camera or special lightning to take these pics. In fact, most of them are just still snapshots of videos I was making for personal use at the time, in order to observe if I was using good form while performing exercises, to keep me motivated and to keep track of my improvement. I did not know I was going to put all this in a book...After a whole year on my program (pic. 4) I am quite happy with my results, yet I know that there is still a lot of room for improvement...

Picture 4

"To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mindstrong and clear" - Buddha


Have you seen gymnasts performing at the Olympic Games? If yes, then you must have noticed the amazing bodies they have. All of the exercises these athletes use, are bodyweight exercises and a lot of them can be done at your home. If the gymnast example sounds too extreme, check out the new viral trend arising on youtube - people all over the world training only with bars and bodyweight exercises or as they call it StreetWorkout and Calistenics. You can see really amazing physiques on these guys which is just the result of training in their neighborhoods park. How cool is that !? Because of my love for exercise, I have been training hard most of my life, especially after I became thirteen and joined my hometowns rowing team. After that, I became a Flatwater-Canoe athlete (a really brutal sport if you dont know it check it out online!) winning my countrys national games for two years in a row, by competing in the double men canoe boat (although I owe a lot of that to my crew & coach A.Kiligaridis). During my ten years as a competitive rower and canoeist, I had been training using all kinds of methods including a lot of weight lifting in the gym. However, when I compare all the ways I have trained in the past for strength, I have to conclude that nothing beats a good bodyweight program. Just pick out a guy out of any gym who can easily pull his own body weight in the lat pull-down machine and ask him to do the same repetitions on a pull up bar, or a guy who can bench press double his bodyweight and ask him to do a one-arm push up... 99.9% of them will fail!

1.1 Advantages of training in your own home

Almost zero costs. The first and most obvious advantage of training in your home is that you dont have to pay for gym membership or expensive equipment anymore. Homemade Muscles workouts use only bodyweight exercises and the good thing about bodyweight exercise is that the only two basic factors you depend on are gravity and your own bodyweight. The only equipment I advise you to have in this book, is a pull up bar. That is because pull ups are the king of all exercises when it comes to bodyweight training. If you think of all the money you will be saving yourself from gym memberships just by spending 20-30 dollars for a pull up bar you will see that you are making a wise investment. If you still arent willing to make this investment though, I still offer some possible alternatives later on. Saving a lot of time. The most common excuse I hear from people who dont exercise is that they dont have time. Well, training in your own house besides saving you money also saves you a lot of time. Think about it, if you calculate all the time you need to pack a big bag, go all the way to the gym, change in the locker room, wait for your turn at the machines and then all of that in reverse, it usually costs most people at least an extra hour or two. Training in the comfort of your own house means no commuting, no need of looking for a parking space forever and no need to unpack big bags of sweaty clothes. Once you are done training in your home you can immediately take a nice hot shower in your own bathroom, wear dry clothes and kickback, or do whatever else you have to do. This program requires, on average, only 3 hours out of your time per week which is time worth spending by anyone, in reward of a healthier & stronger body.

Letting go. One of the things I love when training in my house is that I can really let go. You can express all of the frustration and aggression that bottles up in you during the rest of the day at your work, school or wherever. You can scream through those last reps, curse, yell and generally express whatever feeling you are going through that day or that phase of your life. Do and say what you are feel like! (Try though not to do this late at night, you dont want your neighbor calling the police thinking you are strangling someone!). This has a great calming affect once you finish training... It may sound weird to some and others will totally understand what Im talking about. I consider it as a kind of a psychosomatic catharsis... Many times training for me is more psychotherapy than exer cise. Just give it a try and you will understand. As I will also mention later on, general exercise has proven results on reducing stress and improving your mental health. However, doing it this way, you boost these benefits to a whole new level, I know this from personal experience and other athletes I have met during my life experience I know.

1.2 Is this program for everybody?

Bodyweight training can be quite challenging especially for beginners and heavy people. That is why every exercise in this book has progressions to help you ease into them. For each one of the exercises I have included several progressions, starting from the easiest and progressing towards the basic form of the exercise; plus, extra advanced variations for when you grow even stronger. So regardless of your sex, current physical condition and your weight, this program can be applied by anyone. Just to be realistic and not BS you I will mention that a lot of excessive fat/weight can get in the way of this program if you want to get fully benefited from it. Think about it, if you weigh 300 pounds and you are trying to perform a handstand push-up it would be the equivalent of trying to push more than 330 pounds on an overhead press machine. No matter how strong you become, it will be pretty difficult to attain such a huge level of strength and you will be stuck in the simple progressions of some exercises. For most it is going to be quite a struggle if not impossible to improve beyond that point. My advice to overweight people who want to get full use of this program is to combine it with a really good & healthy diet and get rid as much excessive fat as possible. Once your fat percentage drops below 20% and gets closer and closer to 10% for men and 15% for women your insulin sensitivity will also improve which will help you build muscles more effectively and reduce fat storage even faster! Moving also to the other end of the spectrum, if you believe you are too strong for bodyweight exercises, as I mentioned above, there are also advanced variations included to kick it up a notch. These can be used also later on once you start getting stronger. Be sure before progressing on advanced versions of the exercises that you can perform them with the proper form and technique. In most cases, performing an exercise with good form and proper technique conclude to you doing only half of the reps you would do with a faulty form, activating that way - a lot more effectively - the targeted muscles and saving you from injuries.


Great, this sounds easy Ill get in shape in no time! Keep in mind that training at home without all the fancy gym equipment doesnt mean that its also going to be easy. When you want results in life, there are no secret shortcuts. A exercise & health specialist, I have high respect for - Elliot Hulse likes to quote No one can escape the law of Sowing & Reaping which dictates that whatever you give, you will receive in equal fashion... So when it comes to seeking a healthy fit body you are going to have to sweat, you are going to have to accept the fact that there are going to be days (especially in the beginning) that you will be waking up with muscle soreness and that you will have to be patient and dedicated to your training schedule. Once you accept this and begin training the rest will follow.

"No one can escape the universal law of Sowing & Reaping which dictates that whatever you give you will receive in equal fashion..." - Elliott Hulse


I expect people to be excited when I motivate and tell them that they can get in great shape in the comfort of their own home without spending almost any money at all... Unfortunately, most of them just look at me in disbelief. It probably sounds too good to be true or they have tried getting in shape trying some other promising easy home workout that didnt work.

2.1 Bodyweight exercise Vs Gym machines

Side effects of gym machines. Unfortunately, most of us have become misleaded into believing that in order to get in shape we need all those shiny complicated machines we see in big corporate gyms with touch screens and all sort of other gismos on them. The truth is that training with most of that equipment leads many times to developing a dysfunctional body. Training too much with machines overdevelops prime mover muscles relative to stabilizing muscles causing muscular imbalances and the absence of some really important stabilizing muscle functions we need in real life. As a result, many people overestimate their functional strength. They fool themselves into thinking that they can still lift heavy stuff outside the gym - which are not in a fixed machine - like position - thus, requiring a lot more stabilizer strength than they possess. So what happens in the end, is joint and connective tissue injuries. People just lift a tool case and end up having herniated disks etc... Advantages of Bodyweight training. On the other hand, the training method used in this book strictly prefers bodyweight exercises. Mastering your own bodyweight requires a lot of hard work and persistence. Plus, once that is achieved, bodyweight exercises also have a more impressive visual appeal (they look cooler!). Bodyweight exercises can be done almost anywhere with minimum equipment and in my opinion they are a lot more entertaining and motivational for strength training because your goal is not just adding an extra plate of weight every month but performing more impressive and cool variations. Think about it, what is more impressive and fun... pushing a lot of weight on a bench press or performing a one arm push up? Bodyweight exercises improve balance, coordination, agility and kinesthetic awareness. They also incorporate many muscle groups at once, they strengthen your connective tissues relatively to your prime mover muscle and almost always activate your core muscles (yes including the famous Sixpack) in order to be performed right. Having a strong core is the key for a healthy spine and is the foundation on which you should develop your bodys extremities, not the other way around.


Quick summary: the main advantages of bodyweight training: Multiple muscle group activation in each exercise. Analogous development of muscles with their connective tissues Superior core activation in comparison with gym type machines Balance improvement Coordination improvement Agility (the ability to rapidly change the bodys momentum from one direction to another) Kinesthetic awareness (Kinesthetic awareness is your bodys knowledge of your surroundings which you receive via the sensory receptors in your joints, muscles and skin. After all the training systems I have tried in my life, I always conclude that bodyweight exercise makes me the strongest...

It always comes back to bodyweight training...



Bruce Lee said that simplicity is the key to brilliance. This principle can be applied almost everywhere in life, including exercise. Sculpting a lean muscular and symmetrical physique is something I consider a form of art. What I like the most about this fact is that if you know how to handle the right tools it can be a form of art mastered by anyone. This art-form may seem really complicated, especially if you enter a huge gym for the first time and become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of exercise equipment. And if you are new to exercise as well, it will be really intimidating. The fact is that movement and exercise quality is a lot more important that quantity. During my journey of getting stronger, I tried most of the bodyweight exercises that exist (and trust me, there are countless of them) but after a lot of experiment I concluded thatI only need to use and try to master 8 of them in order to get as strong as possible andattain an aesthetic physique. After doing some research on bodyweight exercise books I realized that all of them offer an endess list of exercises and mastering them would take a lifetime... After all, not everyone wants and can afford to train all day like a professional athlete just to look and feel good. Sometimes less is more. The 8 exercises I have chosen will train all of your bodys muscles efficiently and in symmetry. They resemble some of our most primal movement patterns which highly stimulate our neuromuscular system and strengthen our bodys prime mover muscles in balance with our core, joints, ligaments and tendons. Trust me, if you conquer every variation of the exercises in this book you will have greater relative body strength than 99% of all people around you.

3.1 Primal movement patterns

When I mention the term primal movement patterns, I mean movements which were important for survival before man stopped living in the wild. Think about it, if you lived in the wild, would bicep curls serve in any important movements? Not really...On the other hand, you would definitely have to climb up high surfaces which would require pulling yourself up in all kinds of different angles, according to the terrain around you. Once you pull yourself up until chest height when climbing a surface, the next thing you have to do is to push yourself up in order to get on it which resembles the movement in dips and push-ups. Living in the wild would also require you to press heavy stuff above your head; for example, in order to build a roof for a shelter. A movement like that would require the same muscles that you use in handstand push-ups. Even just for simple tasks - like, going to the bathroom - you would have to get in a deep squat position every single day (pistol squats anyone?). And last but most important of all, to perform every single one of these moves efficiently, you would have to have a strong core. No, our ancestors did not train their abs and low back muscles because all these muscles never atrophied in the first place. These muscles always worked in perfect coordination with the rest of their body during all the movements I mentioned above.

Unfortunately, our lifestyle has deeply weakened and de-trained these muscles, making us forget how to turn them on in harmony with the rest of our body when needed. Using leg raises, prone cobras and all of the exercises in this book with good form will help you re-establish the relationship between your core and the rest of the body. All the above are the 8 exercises that you will use in this program and they are the only ones you need to strengthen your whole body with.

"simplicity is the key to brilliance" - bruce lee


I devoted a whole chapter on this topic simply because people tend to be obsessed with this specific muscle group... Since the abdominals are part of a bigger unit - which is the core - I will also mention some stuff about the core in general. First, lets start with two of the most common myths when it comes to abdominal training...

4.1 Abdominal Myths

Although these myths are starting to become outdated in the fitness industry, I feel its important to make sure that everybody who reads this book knows basic principles and facts about abdominal and core exercise in order to understand the program fully. 1. Doing hundreds of abdominal exercise repetitions every day wont help you build a strong ribbed stomach! Your abs are anatomically just as any other muscle. They are a striated, skeletal muscle group which means that you dont need to train them more than three times a week and use a rep range of 6-15 repetitions per set, just as any other muscle. Overtraining your abs as many people do, can only cause muscle imbalances and encourage bad posture. 2. Abdominal exercises burn fat around your stomach! There is no direct metabolic pathway from your abdominal musculature to the fat tissue surrounding it. In order to burn fat and convert it to energy, your body must first send the fat to your liver where it will be broken down to fatty acids. Only then it will be send to your abdominals for fuel! This fat comes from all over your body, not one specific place. Gender, age and genetics are responsible for which areas are going to be more preferred as fat sources. For example if you are the chicken-leg body type while you are doing ab crunches your body may be burning more fat from your legs! In conclusion if you want a better looking stomach, first of all you have to get rid of the fat around your stomach and although strength exercise can help you achieve that, your diet will play the biggest role in revealing your abs once they are strengthened. That is why they say abs are made in the kitchen... Your abs may be even stronger than Bruce Lees but if you never burn the fat around them they will never be visible. Another factor you should keep in mind is your genetics, some people just have a harder time getting a ribbed stomach because they tend to store more fat around the stomach due to their body type. If you belong in this group of people then unfortunately you need to have greater patience.


4.2 The big crunch

Most of the people and even some experts say that the basic function of the abdominal muscles is movement production. A lot of research done in abdominal anatomy & kinesiology shows that a significant role of the rectus abdominus (specifically the lower area) and the external obliques is actually preventing motion and keeping our lumbopelvic region more stable. This means that instead on doing hundreds of crunches as most people do, focusing more on Leg raising type of exercises (like the ones in this book) is a more functional approach to abdominal conditioning. If you are watching your diet, then doing the leg raising exercises I demonstrate in this program and taking into account the abdominal activation required in many other of the bodyweight exercises, its enough abdominal work to get a good looking flat and ripped stomach. Typical floor crunches train mostly the upper part of your rectus abodminus, which many of the times is already too tight due to bad postural habits like being most of the day slouched in a chair staring at a computer monitor. If you see a typical over-developed guy in the gym or most of todays bodybuilders you will observe in most cases the classic protruding belly syndrome accompanied with an excessive lumbar lordosis. If you have ever studied the great Paul Chek he calls it the Donald Duck posture which is an easy way to remember and identify it. This type of posture besides being totally unaesthetic can lead to serious problems like low back pain.

4.3 The most important abdominal you never hear about

In many exercises, you will notice me mentioning that you should pull your belly button inwards. The reason I ask you to do that is to activate transverse abdominus (TVA). The TVA is your deepest abdominal muscle - some even call it Gods natural weight belt. Imagine it as an inner corset that begins from the lower part of your spine and wraps around your stomach. Every time you pull your belly inwards you contract the TVA muscle concentrically (reducing its size) and in combination with engaging your pelvic floor - the sling if you may call it of your genital mus-cles which is spanning the area underneath the pelvis you also tighten the base of your core which will help tighten your abs from all angles. A simple way to activate the pelvic floor is to think of the musle activation you would use to pause urination (no need to exaggerate this contraction just turn the muscles on).Give it a try and you will notice your pelvic floor muscles turning on. If stabilization of your legs is also required, then bracing your glutes in combination with all the above will help create rigidity and stiffness around the midsection. In a functional body this contraction is automatic when needed. You can notice this in healthy children who perform certain movements where the transversus abdominal is required by the pulling in of the belly button. For example when they jump vertically they do this in order to protect their spine from the impact on landing.


Because of bad habits and other reasons (surgeries, wearing typical weight belts etc) in a lot of people this muscle doesnt function properly and may even shut down completely through time. The de-training of that muscle can be one of the factors leading to the beer-type loose belly a lot of people have and it is not just a cause of being overweight and bloated. Check out old bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger and observe the amazing V-shape physique he had. The main reason for that was that they trained a lot their TVA. An interesting fact is that Arnolds coach - Vince Gironda who was and still is considered one of the most famous bodybuilding coaches, was totally against ab crunching! So give special attention to the exercise guidelines I give in abdominal and other exercises making sure to perform them properly. Correct activation of the TVA muscle will strengthen your core, protect your spine and give your stomach a more aestheticflat V look. Chapter quick summary: Strengthening your lower rectus abdominus and external obliques with the exercises shown in this book will train your abs functionally, will prevent you from having a Donald duck type posture and in combination with a proper diet and the rest of the bodyweight program, it will help you achieve a flat ripped and Vshape stomach.


I always take my warm up serious, since a proper warm up has been proven to increase performance and reduces injuries which can end up destroying results you have been working on for months. I divide my warm up in two parts: A) Dynamic stretching and B) Warm-up sets.

5.1 Part A - Dynamic Stretching

A short definition of dynamic stretching would be stretching as you are moving. To be more specific dynamic stretching is an active movement of your body that brings forth a stretch but is not held statically in the end position. When it comes to strength training, I generally prefer dynamic stretching in combination with warmup sets instead of doing traditional type warm up routines like jogging or static cycling, which dont really prepare you for the intensity of your workout and all the specific movement patterns you are about to perform. Think about it simply... What happens during strength training is stress being applied to specific muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. So how would static cycling or jogging prepare your upper body? For example, how would your shoulder area be prepared for doing a simple push up? The only positive effect cycling or jogging would have is raising your temperature and warming up your legs. This is not bad of course, but it is also not enough. Dynamic stretching on the other hand can prepare your bodys connective tissues and muscles by performing targeted movements which are more related to the movement patterns you will perform. The areas of your body that are about to be trained become warmer and more blood is pumped into them. This will also increase your range of motion and flexibility which will be needed to perform your workouts exercises. Once again, I am not saying that some jogging or cycling will hurt, but for me, doing too much cardio before strength training takes my edge off and I end up training with less appetite and energy. If you want to combine some traditional low cardio exercise before dynamic stretching, 5 minutes to raise your bodys temperature are enough. Dynamic stretching routine 1. Neck rolls. Standing tall and relaxed, drop the chin close to your chest and gently roll the head toward one shoulder in a semicircular motion. Do 5 rolls in each direction (right and left shoulder) but be careful not to leave the head fall too far backwards. Make slow, big and fluid movements (pic. 5) while keeping relaxed other muscles that arent directly involved in the movement (like your shoulders).


2. Shoulder rolls. Shoulder dynamic stretches are quite important because the shoulder area is one of the most easily tensed areas in our bodies nowadays, due to bad postural habits, lifestyle and mental stress. Again standing tall and relaxed, start rotating your shoulders forwards in a big smooth, circular motion.

Picture 5

Bring your shoulders up close to your ears (pic. 6a) and then back and down as low as possible (pic. 6b). Repeat by doing the motion backwards this time. Start slow and increase the speed a bit after 15 seconds. Do a total of 10 rolls two times with a 10-15 second rest in between.

Picture 6a

Picture 6b


3. Arm rotations. Start rotating your arms forward in a crossed position (right arm over left arm and try to alternate after every rotation) with your elbows slightly bent using a slow tempo (pic. 7a,b). As you get used to the movements, increase the tempo a bit as long as it feels comfortable. Do this for 20 seconds. Next rotate forward your arms, one at a time and each one for 15 seconds. Last, repeat all of this again but this time rotating your arms backwards.

Picture 7a

Picture 7b

4. Dynamic lat stretch. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Gently start to swing arms up and above your head (pic. 8a) and then back down all the way behind your body (pic. 8b). Keep your elbows slightly bended during the movement. As you feel yourself loosening and getting warmer try to extend the arms further in each direction. Perform this exercise twice for 20 seconds with a 10-15 second pause in between.

Picture 8a

Picture 8b


5. Dynamic chest stretch. Standing again with feet shoulder width apart, raise arms to chest height. Start swinging them across your chest (pic 9a) and behind your body (pic 9b) increasing gradually the speed a bit. Make sure you keep your arms close to chest height. Perform 10 repetitions twice with a pause of 10-15 seconds.

Picture 9a

Picture 9b

6. Shoulder dynamic stretch with elastic band. You can also find these as Shoulder dislocations around the web but dont worry you arent actually going to dislocate your shoulders. It is just the name of the exercise. This exercise is normally done with a stretching rubber band or if you dont have one just find a bicycle-wheel inner tube that you dont need any more, Im sure there is one lying somewhere around you. If not then you can buy a really cheap one for just 2 dollars instead of spending 30 dollars for a regular stretching band. I actually prefer bicycle tubes because they have the ideal amount of elasticity, not to hard and not too soft. Many people use also broomsticks but I highly recommend something with elasticity to make sure you dont injure your shoulders. How to do the exercise a. Start by holding the band about twice as wide as your shoulder width in front of you. b. Start raising your arms up overhead while being careful not to allow your shoulders to shrug upwards (pic. 10a). c. Bring the band all the way backwards, always making sure there is enough slack on it to allow you to do this movement without over-stressing your shoulders. (pic. 10b) d. As you warm up you can slowly try to decrease the width of your grip on the band. The more you increase your flexibility in this exercise, the more you will be able to hold a nar rower grip. Just make sure you always start wide enough and gradually decrease the width.

Picture 10a

Picture 10b

7. Static butt kicks. This exercise is performed just as the name implies - by trying to kick your butt with your feet. This is accomplished by jogging in a static position and raising your heels one at a time towards your glutes (pic. 11). Do 24 of these (12 for each foot), rest for 15-20 seconds and repeat. 8. Knee raises. To do the knee-raise dynamic stretch, step forward with your left leg and raise your right knee towards your chest (pic. 12). Wrap your hands or arms around the shin and pull the knee gently close to your chest. Hold for a split second and then step forward with the right leg and repeat by hugging the left knee. As your legs warm up start performing the exercise a bit more dynamically. Again do 24 of these (12 for each foot) rest for 15-20 seconds and repeat.

Picture 11

Picture 12


5.2 Part B - Warm up sets

The second part of the warm up consists of warm up sets - meaning sets that focus only on preparing your muscles for your work-out, without experiencing any great amount of fatigue. Start with 2 sets of pushups, one set of pull ups & chin ups and 3 sets of double legged squats (go as deep as comfortable). For those who have reached the intermediate program and have conquered or are able to do the first two progressions of handstand push-ups (check out chapter 6 later) add also two sets of handstands on the wall for an amount of time that feels comfortable. Using these 5 exercises is a really efficient way to complete warming up your whole body since they activate all your muscle groups. To be a bit more specific, the intensity of these sets should not fatigue your muscles that much but give enough of a neuromuscular stimulus to prepare yourself for the work-out. Do 35-45% of the total amount of reps you do in your normal sets or do more reps but using an easier progression (I will offer progressions in every exercise later on). Always start with the exercise that is the easiest for you, I prefer starting always with push-ups.


The general sensation we ought to have after completing an efficient warm up should consist of the following basic points: Feeling our muscles stimulated enough and fully energized but not fatigued Enough freedom of movement in our joints and muscles to perform all the exercises your program consists of. A raise of temperature just enough to cause mild perspiration. Some people due to genetics require raising their temperature in huge amounts in order to sweat. In case you belong to that category dont consider the last point mandatory. A good warm-up, especially before strength training, is extremely important. Remember, it is far better to spend 15 minutes warming up every time instead of training for months and watch all your results go down the drain, just because you skipped warm-up once and got injured.

"If you do not have enough time to warm up correctly, you do not have enough time to train" - old saying


As I mentioned previously, you are only going to need eight exercises to get in shape with the HomeMade Muscle workout. Keep in mind that everyone of is different... Weight, height, sex, level of strength and other variables play an important role in bodyweight training, so not everyone can start these exercises from the same progression. The beginner progressions are given in order - starting from the easiest and moving on to the more difficult ones. During your first week, experiment with the progressions in every exercise and find one suitable for you to begin with. By a suitable progression I mean one in which you can perform at least 2 sets of minimum 5-6 reps. Once you find the appropriate starting point, I suggest waiting until the recommended number of reps can be performed with good form before moving on.

#1 Pull-ups - The king of upper body exercises

TARGETED MUSCLE AREA: LATS SECONDARY MUSCLES: FOREARMS, BICEPS I cannot think of a better exercise than pull ups to determine ones relative upper body strength. If I had to choose only one exercise to strengthen my upper body this one would be it. It is best if you have a pull up bar as I mentioned previously, but you can also find other solutions to do pull ups if you are creative enough. Some pull up bar alternatives Pull ups on an indoor staircase. (pic.13). Although this is a good solution when you have a similar staircase in your house, there are also some disadvantages like the fact the grip is a lot more difficult, so it is not recommended for beginners.

Picture 13


Pull ups on a door frame. Once again the grip difficulty is the disadvantage in this alternative but it can also be an advantage in strengthening your grip and forearm muscles later on. An ideal door frame for pull ups is a wide transom type door frame (pic.14) which is the one I used when I didnt want to spend money on a regular bar.

Picture 14

The second way is to use the door itself. (pic 15a,b). If you use the door itself, you will want to put something soft on the edge you will be hanging off like a towel, or wearing some gloves to avoid a painful grip. Also wedge something under the door like a few books or magazines to close the space and avoid busting the doors hinges! Make sure you do pull ups on a solid door that can sustain your weight so you dont end up injuring yourself and breaking your houses doors!

Picture 15a

Picture 15b


If your house has an attic it is possible that there is a steady beam you can hang on and do pull ups. Wear some gloves for a better grip and to avoid splinters. Clothsline supports. Maybe your yard has one solid enough, this is also a good alternative for a pull up bar. Depending on the space you have around you there are countless possibilities just become creative and you will find a solution! Proper technique - The perfect pull up Step 1 Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the surface you have chosen to do your pull ups. Keep your wrists aligned with your forearms and bend your knees with your feet crossed (pic. 16). You should be using an overhand grip-palms pointing outwards so that they are facing away from you. Step 2 You should not just be hanging on your ligaments and letting your neck sink between your shoulders (pic. 17a). To avoid this keep your shoulders down and chest up by depressing your shoulder blades down and retracting them together (17b).

Picture 17a (wrong starting position)

Picture 17b (correct starting position)

Picture 16


Step 3 Now pull your body up by focusing on bringing your elbows to your sides and avoiding swinging motions of your legs and pelvis. To avoid involuntary swinging motions brace your glutes and pull your belly button a bit inwards prior to every pull up. Bring your body up until you pass at least the height of your eyes. As you get stronger, focus on bringing your body higher while maintaining your elbows close to the body for greater lat activation. I personally dont count a pull up if it I doesnt pass chin height. Step 4 Lower yourself down in a slow controlled motion. Common pull up mistakes Mistake #1 One of the most common mistakes is a lot of swinging motion in the waist and lower body area, doing a kind of cross-fit / kipping pull up. If you are not training to break a cross-fit record, then set your ego aside and focus on doing fewer reps with a proper smooth form. This will make a tone of a difference in getting stronger, more muscular and avoiding soft tissue injuries like tendon strains. Mistake #2 The second most common mistake is doing pull ups in a really small range of motion. Just lifting your body of the ground and bending your elbows is not a pull up and will deprive yourself from many benefits of doing a normal range pull up. Doing limited range of motion pull-ups is only OK for a beginner. Once you can do at least 5 normal range of motion repetitions, I see no reason to continue doing small reps.

Progressions for beginners:

Dead hangs. If your forearms are too weak to sustain your body while simply hanging on a bar or wherever you do your pull ups, then you must strengthen your forearms and your hand grip by performing dead hangs (meaning just hanging on the bar). Start with 4 sets of 3-10 seconds or more depending on your strength and as you get stronger progress to 30 seconds. Once again, dont just hang on your ligaments letting your head sink (pic. 16a), do the dead hangs with scapula activation and keeping your chest up (pic. 16b). This will also strengthen your upper back muscles as they will be contracting (isometrically). Negative / assisted pull up system. One of the best ways to master most bodyweight exercises is doing negative repetitions. In case you dont know what a negative repetition is read the following paragraph otherwise move on to the Negative repetition progressions.


What is a negative repetition? Every repetition has 2 basic phases. A concentric and an eccentric phase which is more known as a negative phase. The concentric repetition in bodyweight exercises refers to the pushing or pulling phase and the negative phase is the other half of the repetition where you are lowering your body against gravity. So in a pull up the concentric phase is the pulling up of your body and the negative phase is the lowering down of your body. In the case of push-ups the negative phase of the repetition is the lowering down of the body and the concentric phase is the pushing up.

Negative repetition progressions:

1. Place a steady chair that can support your weight under the pull up bar. Get on the chair and grip the bar. Keeping the bar at chin height try to lower your body slowly (counting around 2-3 seconds) without depending on the chair. Once you lower yourself down, use the chair again to grab the bar at chin height and repeat. Depending on how easy the exercise is for you perform 5-12 negative repetitions, two times, with one minute rest between each set. Once you can perform 12 repetitions move on the next progression. 2. Place the chair a bit behind the pull up bar, put one leg on the chair and pull yourself up using as less as possible strength from your leg. Once you reach the top remove your leg from the chair cautiously and lower your body down slowly (counting 2-3 seconds). Start again with 5-12 reps and once you can perform 2 sets of 12 repetitions with 1 minute rest move on the next phase. 3. At this point, you should be able to do at least 2-3 normal pull ups. Begin the set by doing as many normal pull ups as you can and continue with assisted pulls until you complete a total of at least 5 reps. As you grow stronger you will eventually be able to do 3 sets of 5 normal reps. Once you achieve this just start adding more reps until you are able to do 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. After that start trying advanced variations. Keep in mind that performing 15 reps is a goal that takes a huge amount of time if you focus on keeping perfect form. Quick summary: Start with negatives reps Do as many normal pull ups as you can, combined with assisted pull ups Build it up to at least 3 sets of 12 good form pull ups before you move on to a more advanced variation. Note: Another exercise that will contribute in doing normal pull ups are the table rows. As you grow stronger in table rows you will also get better in pull ups.


Advanced variations:
Chest height pull ups. These are my favorite pull ups and they are just like normal pull ups but instead raising your body until eye level with the bar, this time you will raise your body until the bar touches height of your upper chest - just bellow your collar bone. This way you will also focus more on you lats because the lats are fully contracted when your shoulder are drawn down and back. Once you can perform 12-15 reps move on the next variation. Nowdays, I am going even lower touching the bar on my sternum which has given me great results in pulling strength. Pull ups with legs raised. Start with bended knees (90 degrees) in front of you. As this becomes easier extend your legs until they are parallel to the floor. Once you can perform 15 reps move on the next variation. This progression will also give your abs a great work out! Weighted pull ups. Wear a weighted backpack (you can fill up your backpack with books, sandbags, dumbbells etc). You can also buy special weighted backpacks for bodyweight exercises online. A variation you should avoid: A common theory is that the wider your grip is when doing pull ups, the wider your lats become. In my experience, this only means a smaller range of motion and less lat activation which can lead to injuries - like in my case, where I strained my teres major using a wide grip - a common injury in bad form or too wide-grip pull ups.

Chin ups - The best bodyweight exercise for big guns!

TARGETED MUSCLE AREA: LATS, BICEPS SECONDARY MUSCLES: FOREARM FLEXORS I consider chin ups more as a variation of the pull up, than a different exercise and that is one of the reasons why I categorize pull ups and chin ups as one exercise in my programs on chapter 8; since the basic difference is the way you grip the bar. The other two basic reasons I combine pull ups and chin ups as one exercise, are: a) because including them as different exercises and doing too many sets of them combined in a program can get your arms to tired for the rest of the exercises and b) when they are combined as one exercise they give incredible results in upper body strength and muscle development.


Chin ups use an underhand grip where your palms face inwards so that they are facing towards yourself. Although pull ups and chin ups focus more on your lats and biceps they also strengthen your forearm flexors, the trapezius (upper back muscle), the infraspinatus muscle (a muscle on the outside part of your shoulder blades) and even turn on your the pectoralis major (chest) and external obliques (side abs). The biggest difference between pull ups and chin ups shown in a electromyographic study in 2010 was that chin-ups activated in a greater extent the bicep and the pectoralis major muscle (chest) in comparison to pull ups which activated a bit more the lower trapezius. The coolest finding of this study is that chin ups even activate your chest muscles up to 57%. You dont have to remember all the above details,of course... I was just trying to prove you how many muscles get involved in bodyweight exercises. The basic thing you want to keep in mind is that pull ups/chin ups both focus on the lats & arms and combined together in one exercise they will activate your upper bodys musculature in a great extent. Combining pull ups and chin ups, in my personal experience, is the best way to get killer gains in the arm and back department! Proper technique and common mistakes Besides using an opposite - underhand grip (pic 18a) the rest of the technique and common mistakes are basically the same as in pull-ups. I would advice you though not to straighten your elbow joints completely in the lowering phase and keeping them a bit bent as in the bicep isolation chinups variation. Locking-out (straightening) the elbows with an underhand grip puts too much stress on the elbows of many people, including me.

Picture 18a

Picture 18b


Progressions for beginners:

Use again as in pull ups the same progressions. Once youll be able to do pull ups you will definitely be able to do chin ups, since they are pretty similar and they are usually easier for most people. Both of them assist each other in the beginning while learning them so try to perform both.

Advanced variations:
You can again use all the variations used in pull ups, plus, the following one if you want to isolate your biceps more: Bicep isolation chin ups. If you want to focus more on your biceps reduce the distance between your hands to half your shoulder width. Pull yourself only up to eye level with the bar and then slowly lower yourself ending the negative phase, without extending your elbows fully but keeping them a bit bent so you keep the tension on your biceps. From this position, pull yourself up again. During this variation focus on the contraction of your biceps especially during the concentric phase (pulling up). This is the greatest bodyweight exercise for building big guns!

#2 Push ups
TARGETED MUSCLE AREA: CHEST & TRICEPS SECONDARY MUSCLES USED: SERRATUS ANTERIOR This is one of the most classic bodyweight exercises, although many people who train for strength have come to underestimate them. The main reason many underestimate push-ups is because without being aware of it they cheat the exercise by using bad form. Performing a set of push-ups focusing on perfect form might have you reevaluate your thoughts on them. Later on, instead of quitting on them when they become too easy give the one-arm push up a try and you will be once again humbled by this great exercise. For others it may be a great challenge just performing a couple of reps since a typical push up uses approximately 65% of your total bodyweight. This can be quite challenging for many people depending on their physical condition and weight. The great thing about push-ups is that they can be done anywhere! In comparison with a bench press the push up also requires core stability especially from your rectus abdominis (six-pack). A typical push-up requires lifting 65% of your total bodyweight and also activates your abs!


Proper technique - The perfect push up 1. Starting position. Keeping your fingers spread, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, next to the middle of your chest. Your legs should be next to each other or you can cross them keeping one on top of the other and alternating the leg on top after every set. Keeping legs, waist, shoulders and head aligned you will properly activate chest, triceps and abdominals (pic.19).

Picture 19

2. Performing the push-up. Pull your belly button inwards prior to lowering your body. As you lower yourself keep your elbows close to your torso by pointing them back. This is really important for a balanced tricep - chest activation. If your elbows flare outside your body, you neglect your chest in a great extent. Once you are slightly above the floor, press yourself back up. Personally, I like to slightly touch my chest on the ground without resting on it though. Common mistakes Mistake #1 - Neck & head alignment. Keep your neck and head aligned with your torso. Many people tend to pull their heads upwards. This is usually combined with shrugging the shoulders which is the second most common mistake. You can see a combination of bad head alignment and shrugged shoulders in the following picture (pic.20). Mistake #2 - Shoulder shrugging. A lot of people raise their shoulders towards their ears which besides encouraging poor posture and neck tension problems, also forces the triceps to work more and the chest less. This can be often caused by placing your arms too high above your shoulders.


Mistake #3 - Letting your hips sink. By letting your hips sink (pic. 21) you take the abs out of the equation. This either means you are cheating the exercise by reducing the range of motion to do more reps or that you are not ready yet for normal push-ups and you have to take a step backwards by doing an easier progression. Planks, which are described further on, are also a great exercise for this problem.

Picture 20

Picture 21

Progressions for beginners:

Incline push-ups. When it comes to mastering a classic push-up I dont agree on starting with the typical push-ups on knees progression. The reason is that by depending on your knees you shut down your core. It is better to start with incline push-ups keeping your core always integrated into the exercise. Choose a height that will challenge you but will also allow you to do at least 5-6 reps. Place your arms for example on a bed or a chair and perform the exercise just as like you would if you were doing normal push-ups. As you get stronger and reach 15 reps start lowering the height. Planks. If your arms are strong enough to support your body but your waist keeps on sinking towards the floor every time you try to do a push up, then planks are a great exercise to develop core stability for push-ups. Simply get in a push-up position and place your forearms on the ground instead of only your palms. Your elbows should line up just bellow your shoulders. To prevent your waist from sinking, squeeze your glutes and activate your core by pulling you belly button a bit inwards. Your body should be in a straight strong line from head to your toes - just like a regular plank. Start with 10-20 seconds depending on your strength and build it up to 45 seconds. You can also use a crossed leg position but make sure again you alternate the above leg between sets (pic. 22)


Picture 22

Advanced variations:
Deep push-ups. Use two even elevated surfaces to place your hands on in order to bring your chest deeper toward the ground while lowering your body. Use something like thick books, printing paper stacks, bricks, whatever you can find available. Another solution is using three chairs one for each arm and one for your feet (pic. 23a,b). If you have sensitive shoulders then it is better to avoid this exercise.

Picture 23a

Picture 23b

Ball push-ups. Find a football, a basketball or any ball of a similar size and use it to balance one of your arms (pic. 24). Due to the unstable surface of the ball the side thats depending on it, will get more stimulated or get as it is called a proprioceptive response, which increases neuromuscular activation for stability. Make sure to alternate hands. Later on, you can use two balls for both hands.

Picture 24


Diamond push-up. The only different thing with a diamond push up is hand positioning (pic. 25). Assume a normal push-up position but now place your hands next to each other with the tips of your index fingers and thumbs touching to form the shape of a diamond. Now just lower yourself down and push yourself up just as in a regular pushup. This variation focuses more on your triceps instead of your chest.

Picture 25

One arm push-ups! The one arm push up is a really hardcore bodyweight exercise. This exercise requires extreme arm, chest, shoulder and core strength & stability. The difference in this variation is that your working-hand is more in the middle bellow your chest and you start with your legs in a more wide comfortable position (pic 26a,b).Your free arm can rest on your lower back or on the back of your thigh.

Picture 26a

Picture 26b


Progressions for the one-arm push-up:

One-arm incline push-up. Find a height challenging enough that allows you to do around 5-8 reps and build them up to 12. Once you can do 12 reps of incline waist height push-ups, move to the next progression. Chair-Assisted push-ups. Find a short chair/stool or any kind of stable surface that is not higher than knee height (pic. 27a). Assume a push-up position but place one arm extended with your palm on the stool (if it is too difficult to have your arm extended, you can bend it a bit in the beginning.) As you lower yourself (pic. 27b), put as much pressure as needed on the extended hand to make the movement smooth. Once you can do 12-15 reps, start working on normal one-arm push-ups. At this point you should be able to do 1-3 reps with your feet in a comfortable wide position.

Picture 27a

Picture 27b

#3 Inverted Rows
MUSCLE AREA TARGETED: MIDDLE BACK (TRAPEZIUS) SECONDARY MUSCLES: LOWER BACK (LATS) Although pull ups and chin ups are great for strengthening your back muscles, their disadvantage is that they focus more on the lower part of your back (lats) neglecting your trapezius muscle which is the muscle between your shoulder blades. Inverted rows if done right; will focus on that area and will support you on building a strong symmetrical back. Equipment required Find two stable surfaces (such as two tables) of equal height. The height of them should be a bit more than your arms reach so you dont restrict your movement when lowering your body during the exercise. Now place on the surfaces some kind of rod. For example, you can use a crutch which is what I used (pic 28a,b), your pull up bar, a weight bar in case you have one available, a pipe, a strong curtain rod etc. Just make sure that that whatever you use, is strong enough to sustain your weight.

Proper technique Lie beneath the rod so that your chest is directly under it and grab it placing your hands shoulderwidth apart using an overhand grip (pic. 28a). It is important to keep your body aligned during this exercise. Prior to pulling yourself up activate your core by pulling your belly button a bit inwards and squeeze your glutes, this will help keep your thighs, pelvis and upper body in alignment. When you pull yourself upwards, make sure that you bring your chest as close as possible to the rod and keep your head in alignment with the rest of the body (pic 28b).

Picture 28a

Picture 28b

Important tip: In order to properly activate the correct muscles in this exercise, it is essential to focus on bringing your shoulder blades as close as possible to each other as your reach the top height of every rep. If you dont focus on this scapular retraction you will just activate your lats and arms therefore neglecting your upper back muscles.

Progression for beginners:

Do the exercise with knees bent at about 90 degrees and by placing your feet flat on the floor. If the exercise is still too difficult either try resting your back on the floor for three seconds after every rep.

Progressions for advanced:

Legs raised. Raise your legs higher using a chair or a stool (pic. 29). Paused reps. When you reach maximum height remain there for 3 seconds (pic. 29) focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together. This will add a great isometric contraction on your upper back. If 3 seconds are too long start with 1 second and build it up to 3. One leg. Use one leg to balance your lower body while keeping the other leg extended just above the floor. Again this will also activate more your core, glutes and hamstring muscles.


Swiss bal. Place a Swiss ball or a basket ball(s) underneath your feet (pic. 30). This will also activate more your core, glutes and hamstring muscles.

Picture 29

Picture 30

#4 Handstand push-ups
TARGETED MUSCLE AREA: SHOULDERS SECONDARY MUSCLES: TRICEPS This is the best exercise to strengthen the antagonistic muscles of pull ups and my second favorite body-weight exercise after pull ups. The reason I love handstand pushups is because in my opinion it is the most demanding bodyweight exercise of all. It requires tremendous relative upper body strength, balance and kinesthesia due to your bodys reversed position. Neglecting this exercise and overloading you shoulder joint long-term with pull ups/chin ups can lead to shoulder issues. Proper technique 1. Place your hands approximately 1 foot away from the wall (this may vary a bit depending on your height), have your hands a bit wider than shoulder width, your fingers spread and parallel to each other. Position your feet just as a 100 meter sprinter would in a starting position, one leg close to your body and one a bit more far away. Usually placing your kick/strong leg closer to your body is more comfortable. 2. Kick up with the leg closer to your body into a handstand. Remember to maintain your fingers spread out and once you touch the wall keep your back slightly arched and slowly bend your knees approximately 90 degrees leaning on the wall (pic. 31a) either with the upper half of your foots sole or just the toes, whatever feels more comfortable.


3. Engage your core muscles and carefully lower yourself down (pic. 31b) and press yourself up.

Picture 31a

Picture 31b

Remember this is a really difficult exercise; personally it took me 5 months of consistent training to conquer 8 good form reps.

Progressions for beginners:

1. Pike push-ups. Begin from a push-up position and bend your waist, lifting your hips up and coming toward your toes so that your body forms upside-down V. The distance between feet and hands should be almost as long as your legs length (pic. 32). Bend your elbows to lower your head toward your hands and press back up. Work your strength up to 15 reps before moving on to the next pro-gression. 2. Elevated pike push-ups. Elevate your legs using a chair/stool (pic. 33)

Picture 32

Picture 33


3. Handstand balance against the wall. If you have never practiced the handstand position before, work on the handstand stance against a wall without doing any push-ups until you feel really confident in this position (pic. 34). You should be able to hold a handstand against the wall for at least 10 seconds before moving on the next progression. Activating your core by pulling your belly button a bit inwards and bracing your glutes helps in keeping your lower and upper body connected and rigid.

Picture 34

4. Negative handstand push-ups. Perform negative reps until you can perform 5 of them. To do this, kick up in the handstand stance, lower your body slowly down, bring your feet right back down and repeat. Having a pillow bellow your head is recommended. I suggest not more than 8 reps, because kicking up in the handstand position consequently more than 5 reps might get you a bit dizzy. 5. 50% range of motion. Perform half repetitions until you can perform 12 reps. Placing a couple of pillows below your head to know when you reach the appropriate height is quite helpful. After being able to do 12 reps of 50% range of motion (rom) you should be able to do at least 2-4 normal reps. Start combining them with 50% rom reps in order to do one set of 5-6 reps (full + 50% rom). As you get stronger you will reach a point where you can do 5-6 reps of full rom. 6. Hand placement. Having your palms parallel to each other is going to be really difficult in the beginning. An easier hand placement to start with is: fingers spread as before, but thumbs pointing towards each other, so that the extension of them and your indexes form an imaginative triangle.


Advanced variations:
Go deeper. One way to do this without any extra equipment, is by turning your head a bit backwards and bringing your nose close to the floor (pic. 35a). You can also increase the range of motion by placing your hands on elevated surfaces such as bricks, books (pic. 35b) etc... Start increasing the height gradually though, because even a slight increase such as an inch in the beginning makes a huge difference to the intensity of the exercise.

Picture 35a

Picture 35b

Contradictions: This exercise puts also a lot of pressure on your shoulders so dont try this if you have shoulder issues. Also, because it requires your legs to be elevated and causes blood to rush to your head I would not recommend it to people with high blood pressure or those who get dizzy easily.

#5 Pistol squats
TARGETED MUSCLES: QUADRICEPS, GLUTES SECONDARY MUSCLES: HAMSTRINGS, CALVES This is probably the greatest bodyweight exercise to strengthen your legs and in comparison with barbell exercises which apply extra axial loading on your body it is usually safer for your lower back. Also there is a phenomenon known as the bilateral deficit, which states that the sum of the forces produced by each leg is greater than the total bilateral force production. This means that the overall load you can overcome with each leg in exercises, such as the pistol squats, is higher than bilateral leg exercises, such as squats. Also because of the balance required, your neuromuscular system is challenged in a great extent contracting, stretching and stabilizing at the same time a big amount of muscles. Pistol squats is an exercise that recruits your lower bodys muscles probably more effective than any other leg exercise.

If you have difficulty getting down in a deep squatting position, that probably means you need to stretch muscles around your hips and ankles. Just getting in a deep bilateral squat position, trying to keep balance with your arms extended in front of you or grabbing on something in the beginning is a good exercise to stretch the muscles required to get in a deep pistol squat. Pistol-squat proper technique Stand on one leg straight, with the other leg out in front of you just above the floor. Slowly lower yourself as if you want to sit in a very low chair and focus on keeping most of you weight on your heel. As you lower yourself down start extending your arms in front of you to counterbalance the weight shift towards the back, and always maintain the foot you are leaning on, flat to the ground. At the bottom position (pic. 36), your hamstrings & glutes will be resting on your calf. Next, get back up to the starting position. Core activation is also important in this exercise. As your knee starts to bend slowly inhale and draw your belly button inwards. The drawing should match the intensity of the exercise. Once you pass the bottom sticking point of the exercise gradually exhale through pursed lips. That is one rep. Mastering pistol squats is really challenging for most people, so, be patient!

Picture 36

Progressions for beginners:

Bilateral bodyweight deep squat. In order to do a pistol squat, first of all, you should to do regular bilateral deep squats. If you are unable to balance yourself when reaching to the bottom with your arms extended in front of you, try holding two big bottles of water (1,5-2 liters), on each hand to use as counterbalance. Even though this might sound more difficult than the normal version of the exercise it actually makes it easier by creating a helpful counterbalance and improving your stability. Start at the standing position with the bottles on your sides and as you start lowering you body, raise your arms to shoulder height.


Sitting Pistol Squats. Sit yourself on a chair using a pistol squat (pic. 37). Keep your arms also extended straight in front of you at shoulder height. To get up again lean your weight a bit forward and push yourself upwards. Chair assisted pistol squats. Have a steady surface about knee height next to the leg you are going to extend, (if you feel this height is too low for you can use a higher surface about waist height). You can use a sofa, a chair, a table, a stool (pic. 38) whatever you find most convenient. Lower your body down and come up again using the surface to balance and push yourself upwards. As you get stronger, use the surface more for balance and less to push on. Once you dont need to push at all on it, move on to the next progression.

Picture 38

Picture 37

Counterbalanced Pistol squats. If you cant progress yet to a normal pistol squat because you are unable to balance yourself when reaching to the bottom position due to the weight shift dragging you back, try holding again two big bottles of water (1,5 - 2 liters), on each hand to use as counterbal-ance. I remind you, that even though this might sound more difficult than the normal version of the exercise, it actually makes it easier by creating a helpful counterbalance improving that way your stability. Start at the standing position with the bottles on your sides and as you lower you body start raising your arms to shoulder height (pic. 39).


Picture 39

Advanced variations:
Keeping your arms closer to the body. This way, you have to recruit a lot more stabilizing muscles to keep the weight from pulling you back. Pistol squats with calve raise. At the end of every repetition as your body is ascending to complete the rep, instead of finishing flat on your foot, continue to rise your body by doing a calve raise on your toes. This requires a great amount of muscle coordination, balance and concentration which leads to a great contraction of your calves. Paused Reps. Pausing on each rep at the bottom takes out the suspension movement reflex occurring when you approach the lowest point of the squat, which makes the exercise a lot more difficult. Note: Avoid letting your knee move out too far away from your toes. Keeping the knee aligned with the second toe is a good general rule of thumb. However, there are some people anatomically built with shins that are too big in analogy with their thighs, so in that case it may be normal to move a bit away from their toes.

#6 Dips
TARGETED MUSCLE AREAS: CHEST SECONDARY MUSCLES: TRICEPS, SHOULDERS This is one of the greatest exercises for strengthening the chest. Find two stable and equal heighted surfaces. The height of them should not allow your knees touch the ground, as you lower yourself during the exercise. These surfaces can be two tables, two bar stools, a narrow staircase, two sofas, kitchen countertops (pic. 40), etc. In case you cannot find surfaces that are exactly the same height, add a book to even out the height, or make sure you switch sides after every set.


Proper technique Place your palms on the surfaces, shoulder-width apart or a bit wider if you want to target more your chest. Be careful not to go to wide - you can hurt your shoulders. Assume the starting position by leaning on your palms with your knees bend and feet crossed (pic. 40a). Smoothly, lower your body and lean a bit forward to put more pressure on your chest. When you reach 90 degrees of elbow flexion (pic. 40b), push yourself back up, keeping your body as stable as possible during every rep.

Picture 40a

Picture 40b

Progressions for beginners:

Negative reps. Start with negative repetitions (just the lowering phase) and once you can complete 12 reps, move on the next progression. 50% range of motion. Perform dips doing half or 4of the range of motion (rom). Lower your body halfway down and go up again. Once you can do 12 repetitions, move on. Combine 50% rom reps and full rom reps. By now you should be able to do at least 2-4 full range of motion dips. Start with as many full rom dips you can do and complete the rest of the set with 50% rom. As you get stronger, try doing more full rom reps.


Advanced variations:
Weighted dips. Fill a backpack with some extra weight. Add heavy books, sand bags or whatever you have available and wear it on your back. Concentration dips. Focus on one arm at a time using the other hand as less as possible. Legs raised. Perform the exercise raising your knees close to your chest. This way the exercise will become more demanding by placing more stress on your triceps, your shoulders, which have to work harder to stabilize your body and your abdominals. As you get stronger at this variation, you can start extending your legs further away.

#7 Leg raises
TARGETED MUSCLES: LOWER ABDOMINALS SECONDARY MUSCLES: EXTERNAL OBLIQUES Supine Leg raises. This is an exercise done by a lot of people in gyms, but most of them start with progressed versions of it, activating the wrong muscles and missing out on all the benefits their abs and core can get out of it. Everyone should start from the following two steps and only if they can perform them with perfect form, should allow themselves move on the next progression. a. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers bellow your back just under your belly button. Raise your legs up until the knees are pointing towards the ceiling. Roll your pelvis back until you feel your low back lightly pressing on your fingers. From this starting position (pic. 41) lower your legs to the floor, without releasing the pressure on your fingers by arching your back. If your back begins to arch, stop and return your legs to the starting position. b. As you grow stronger through time, start extending your legs without letting your back arch and stick off your fingers.

Picture 41


Advanced variations:
Hanging leg raises with knees bent. This is a great exercise for your abs (plus, they look cooler that regular ab crunches!). To do the exercise, you should first perfect the supine leg raises and be able to keep a dead hang with an overhand grip on a bar (or whatever surface you will be using) for at least 30 seconds. You should be using your abs to initiate the movement and not just swing your legs in the air. To do this, you should focus on the following two steps: 1. Start position: Grab the bar or whatever it is that you are going to be hanging off, and posteriorly tilt your pelvis flattening this way your spine. 2. Pull your belly button in prior to raising your legs and bring your knees to the chest, maintaining the posterior tilt at all time (pic. 42)

Picture 42

Hanging leg raises. Legs extended. Following the previous steps and as you get stronger, start extending your legs. Important tip: Make sure that as you raise your legs, the spine never goes into lordosis. This can lead to less abdominal activation, over recruitment of the wrong muscles (iliopsoas, hip flexors) and back pain. Remember to always have control of the movement. Avoid swinging / jerking your body up, down, forth and back. Your upper body should be as stable as possible.


One arm hanging raises. Using one arm to hang, perform leg raises in the same fashion. Keep your other hand extended at shoulder height and move it sideways to balance yourself (pic. 43) This is quite a difficult progression and takes a lot of time to be mastered and performed smoothly. It requires a lot of grip-strength so you may need to add some one arm dead hangs in your program to have adequate strength to perform the exercise. Adding 3 sets of one arm dead hangs in the end of your workouts for approximately 1-3 months until you can keep a one arm dead hang for 30 seconds straight does the trick. This variation hits a bit more your side abdominals.

Picture 43

#8 Prone Cobra
MUSCLES USED: LOW BACK MUSCLES (ERECTOR SPINAE) SECONDARY MUSCLES: SCAPULA RETRACTORS, POSTERIOR DELTOIDS This is a great exercise, especially for people who sit at desks all day, gamers, and generally those with a sedentary lifestyle, with that type of rounded posture. If you tend to have a hyperlordotic posture, squeeze your glutes during this exercise, this will reduce over-recruitment your low back muscles which, in this case, are probably already too stressed. Use prolonged sets of twenty to sixty seconds, with fifteen second rest periods. Start with 1-3 sets and progress until you can perform 3 sets of 60 seconds.


Proper technique 1. Lie face down on a soft surface and rest your arms at your side. 2. Lift your torso while simultaneously squeezing your shoulder blades together and externally rotating your arms by pointing your thumbs up. 3. When you have reached the proper end position, your palms should face way from your body, your head and neck should be in neutral alignment and your toes should be touching the ground (pic. 44)

Picture 44

Chapter End notes: Doing an exercise with good form, contrary to doing an exercise with bad form, can play a huge role on the difficulty of it, and injury prevention. Just the feeling that you are performing an exercise correctly, doesnt always mean you actually are. Its important to observe your form once in a while. You can use mirrors, or ask someone experienced to spot you while exercising. Almost every cell-phone has a camera today, so you can also use your phone or any other device available for you, and film your trainings to see how your form looks like. If you notice mistakes, write them down and focus on them next time. Having the perfect technique in every single rep and every single moment is not always possible, not even by professionals.. But that doesnt mean you should not try. As one of the quotes I like says, Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" - Vince Lombardi


Static stretching is quite a dark and controversial area in the exercise community. Every decade, if not less, opinions change but as with most controversial things in life, I believe you should first listen to different opinions - and after experimenting with them - make your own conclusions. Most people are bored of stretching... And those who hate stretching the most usually have the worst flexibility. I used to belong to that category but once I experienced all the benefits static stretching provides to my body, I started appreciating it. Stretching can help you be more efficient in your workouts and prevent injuries. They will keep your musculature more balanced and improve your movement quality. I know, a lot of you dont have the mood or time to stretch your entire body every day but dont worry, you can still get many benefits from just doing 10-15 minutes of strategic static stretching per day, as long as you do it at least 4 days per week. Personally, I like to practice strategic static stretching before dynamic stretching when I train, and also at days when Im very stressed physically and/or mentally, I add another session before I go to sleep, which helps my body calm down.

7.1 Strategic static stretching

There is a tendency for people in the fitness industry, especially in areas like yoga to over-stretch the body. This is not as productive as some of these people may think and can even lead to injuries. Depending on our lifestyle and genetics, all of us have smaller or bigger muscle imbalances. These imbalances lead to phasic and tonic muscles. Tonic muscles tend to be short and tight, whereas phasic muscles mostly tend to be weak and elongated. For this reason, it is really important to focus on stretching your tonic muscles and avoid stretching muscles that are already too loose. Typically, your tonic muscles will be the ones that feel really tight when you stretch; muscles you use predominately in everyday life, and also muscles that tighten up quite easy when you are stressed or have bad posture. For example, muscles around your neck. There might not only be specific muscle groups but also specific sides of the muscles groups. For instance, your right hamstring may be tighter than your left; in this case you should even up the flexibility of your hamstrings by focusing more on the tight one. I recommend that you do a full body stretch session, noting down which muscles felt the tightest. These areas of your body that feel tight during the day just by doing regular stuff, should be your main priority in static stretching. These are some examples of typical tonic muscles in many people: Upper trapezius - Superficial muscles on the back of your neck Pectoral muscles - Chest muscles, especially in people with rounded shoulders. Hamstrings and hip flexors - Common in people who sit all day Gastrocnemeus and soleus muscles - Your calve muscles

Personally, I try to do the following 6 stretches before I start warming up for my training sessions. They focus on all of the muscles that tend to tighten up a lot from the strength exercises I use, and the muscles that tighten up from sitting a lot on a desk. Stretch in every exercise for 20 - 30 seconds and repeat it one or two more times depending on how you feel.

7.2 My personal stretching routine

1. Doorway chest & shoulder stretch. Stand under the middle of a doorway with one foot straddling the threshold and your hands gripping the inside of the doorway, on each side. Shift your weight on the forward foot until you feel a pull in your shoulders and chest (pic. 45). Keep your hands at chest height first to focus more on the chest. After that, place your hands just above your shoulders height to focus more on your anterior deltoids (front part of the shoulder). To isolate arms separately, face your body a bit towards the opposite side of the arm you want to focus on. 2. Shoulder dislocations. This exercise is explained in detail in the warming up chapter and is a dynamic stretch. However, I like to include it in my static stretching routine as well, because it helps release a lot of tension around the neck area (pic. 46).

Picture 45

Picture 46


3. Neck stretching on a chair. The musculature around our neck is one of our most sensitive areas. These muscles are also called stress-muscles due to the fact that whenever people get stressed, they tend to fire up, stiffen and also be the cause for headaches. Observe yourself when you are typing on your computer on a busy day or even when you are washing the dishes having stressful thoughts flying around your head. You can notice many times your neck musculature stiffening up while doing the easiestt daily tasks that require no use of these muscles. Long term stiffness in this area can cause all sorts of problems which can get worse with exercise if you dont learn to relax them. Dealing with a lot of tightness around the neck myself, I have found the following exercises to be the most efficient to loosen up these muscles. Body positioning. To begin with, sit in your chair with good posture, spine elongated, and chest out. If you tend to have rounded shoulders perform a shoulder roll backwards with both of your shoulders while you gently slide your shoulder blades down along your spine. This will help keep your chest open and is in general a good exercise to perform whenever you feel your shoulders hunched. Try to remain in this position relaxed. Reach down on the right side and grab the bottom of the seat with your right hand (pic.47a). Now follow the next three steps: a. Tuck in your chin. b. Tilt your head bringing your left ear towards your left shoulder until your feel a bit tightness on the right side of your neck. c. Lean your body towards the left side, keeping your right shoulder down and stable by holding the seat underneath you as described in body positioning (pic 47a,b).

Picture 47a

Picture 47b


A lot of people tend to pull their head with their other hand to increase the intensity of the exercise but if you maintain proper posture in this exercise, that will not be required. Your neck has some really sensitive muscles, so avoid pulling your head that way and putting excessive force in these stretches, especially in the beginning. In situations when you feel specific smaller muscles tight on one side of your neck and you need to isolate them, you can do the following variations as well: If you want to isolate the upper trapezius after tucking in your chin down and tilting your head towards the side you are stretching, turn your head a bit towards the same direction before you lean your body to initiate the stretch. To isolate the levator scapula after tucking your chin down and tilting your head away, turn your head towards the opposite side you are going to lean to. Take into account that sometimes just stretching these muscles wont be enough. It is really important to develop daily awareness of these muscles and prevent them from tightening during the day due to stress and neurotic holding patterns you have developed over time, in all sorts of different physical and psychological situations. 4. Desk stretch for lats and chest. You can use your desk, a windowsill, a kitchen counter or any kind of ledge about waist height. Sit on your knees, bend over and place your hands on the surface just a bit wider than shoulder width. Gently lower your torso until you feel the stretch on your lats and chest (pic 48). You can also isolate one arm at a time. 5. Hamstring stretch with bike tube. Using again the bike tube, an elastic band, or even a wide belt, lie on your back, keep your left leg on the floor and bend your right leg so that your foot rests flat on the floor. Loop your elastic band around the upper part of your right foot, holding onto an end of the band with each hand. Straighten your knee and pull the leg slowly towards your chest (pic. 49). You will feel in a stretch in the whole back area of your right leg. Pull your leg really slow so you dont end up straining your hamstrings or anything else. Do the same for the other leg. This stretch is ideal for people with a sedentary life style where these muscles tend to be quite tight.

Picture 48

Picture 49


6. Hip flexor stretch. Lay face down on the floor, with your hands placed outside the top of your shoulders. Bring one right leg up and close to your body by bending the knee and let the left leg rest on your thigh relaxed, without squeezing your left glute (pic. 49a, b). Imagine that your left leg is para-lyzed and anchored on the ground. Now pull yourself towards the front using your hands, without moving your left leg until you feel a stretch in the hip flexor area of the left side. Repeat for the other leg as well. Do this 2-3 times for every leg, keeping the stretch from 20-30 seconds.

Picture 50a

Picture 50b

Try to get into your stretching routine for a week or two, even if you are utterly bored of it. Later on you will notice the benefits and it will become a pleasant habit.

"The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken" - Samuel Johnson


8.1 Basics
My general guideline for amateurs, who dont want to follow a specific training program, is to start using the exercises by doing sets of 5-6 reps from the progression that is appropriate for them, and once they reach 12-15 reps, they can continue with a more difficult progression or an advanced variation. Focus first on learning how to do pull ups & chin ups, pistol squats, push-ups, inverted rows, leg raises and the prone cobra. Later on, slowly introduce dips and handstand push-ups in your personal exercise plan. If you reach such a high level that 15 reps of the most advanced variation is not enough for you, then you can always manipulate the exercises tempo for example working in a 1-1-3 tempo (read more about this in paragraph 8.5). Mind over muscle. If you are a rookie in bodyweight training, the first 1 month it is really important to focus on proper form until it becomes automatic. Focus more on quality and training frequency instead on intensity. Especially in the beginning, it is not only your muscles that have to get stronger and bigger in order to perform more reps, but you also have to improve your neuromuscular connections, meaning that you have to get used to the exercise technique and proper activation of the muscles. How much should it burn? After training for a month, you should start getting more serious if you want to grow stronger. You will have to experience discomfort; there is no other way around it, no tricks... You will have to struggle and feel that burning sensation in your muscles when you are at the end of the set. These feelings should become your friends and reminders that you are doing it right. You should realize that when you are doing strength training, you are not building muscle; in fact, you are destroying muscle tissue. The objective is to destroy enough muscle cells during a workout so that you stimulate your body to rebuild bigger, stronger and thicker muscles until your next workout. Be careful though, experiencing the discomfort mentioned above should not be misunderstood with pain in your joints, ligaments, tendons or sharp muscle pain. Whenever you experience that kind of pain, stop training immediately and if the pain insists go see a specialist.


8.2 The beginners program

This program is for those who cannot yet do basic important exercises like pull ups. Handstand push-ups and dips will be left out at the moment and will be included later on, once you have a more solid strength foundation. My experience has shown me that this is also best for avoiding injuries by overloading your joints and tendons. Your program will consist of two phases. Phase A is introductory; it lasts 2 weeks and will ease you smoothly into the program. Phase B will be completed once you can do at least one set of 5 good form pull ups and one set of 15 pushups. Phase A - Introduction phase. This is a full body workout program, meaning that you will train your whole body in every workout. Always perform the exercises in the order shown in the tables. The workout frequency is two times within a week keeping a minimum of three days rest between each workout. i.e, you can train on Monday and Thursday, or Tuesday and Friday. You will perform 2 sets per exercise with 1-2 minutes rest between each set, depending on how you are feeling. After completing all the sets of an exercise, you should rest for 2-3 minutes before proceeding to the next exercise.

The goal of these first two weeks is to get used to the exercises, focusing on starting to learn them with good form. The training frequency is small, so you have enough time to rest and avoid training too sore, since its normal to get quite sore as a complete beginner or someone who hasnt trained in a long time. You will perform 2-3 sets with 2 minutes rest between each set in every exercise. After completing both sets of an exercise you should rest for 2 minutes before proceeding to the next.


Certainly, if this is your first time doing these kind of exercises, in most cases, you wont be able to start doing normal pull ups, pistol squats etc so start in every exercise from the easiest progression and see which one is ideal for you to perform at least 5 reps. As you get stronger increase the repetitions gradually to 12-15 for your upper body and 5-5 for lower (squats) and then move on the next progression. About the Prone cobra. Since this is an isometric exercise (meaning there is no joint movement), there are no repetitions so you have to count the time under tension of this exercise with a watch. The sets are not specific because there are no movement progressions in this exercise. Aim for two and if you can do more go up to four. Phase B - Moving on phase B. the basic difference is one additional training session per week. Spread your workouts during the week so they are done in none consecutive days. Train either on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Depending on the exercise, you will perform 2-5 sets with one minute rest between each set. After completing all the sets of an exercise, you should rest for two minutes before proceeding to the next one.

Note: As I previously said, do not train to failure your first month, just focus on perfect form. Being completely new in bodyweight exercises will provide enough of a stimulus for your neuromuscular system to improve and will save you from potential injuries. At the end of each set of every exercise you should feel like you can do at least 1-2 more reps...


8.3 Intermediate program - Pull & Push

Once you complete the beginners program or training with bodyweight programs and you are able to do 5 pull ups and 15 push-ups with good form, you can begin the intermediate program. This program is based on the classic Pull/Push system. In short a Pull/Push training system contains two types of workouts, each one usually performed twice a week. The first one is a pull workout where the exercises used are pullingpattern exercises. The second type is a push workout in which the exercises are pushing-pattern ones. You will also add handstand push-ups and dips in your program, now that you have the appropriate strength foundation. Why Pull & Push? There is a reason why old classic training systems like Pull/Push continue to be popular and used for many decades; the reason is they offer guaranteed results. The basic benefit of this system, at this phase, is that it allows you to focus a lot on specific exercises by doing more sets in comparison with a full body program. This way, you will get more reps in difficult exercises, like pull ups. Also you will be able to learn new exercises more easily, like handstand push-ups for example. The handstand push-ups are quite demanding and take a lot of time/effort to be conquered. Another advantage of this program is that you can train four times a week, thus increasing your metabolism more frequently, burning more calories and fat which will help you get rid of any unnecessary weight that might be keeping you back from practicing difficult bodyweight exercises. Benefits of the Pull/Push system in short: Avoiding the risk of injury Proven effectiveness Ideal for learning new bodyweight exercises Good for weight loss The Pull & Push routine. Your weekly routine will contain 2 pull workouts and 2 push workouts. Your program will start with a pull day and the next day will be a push day. Next you will take a day off, and after that you will repeat the first two days. After that take two days off and you have completed a weekly cycle. The following are two examples of weekly pull/push schedules. Example A is ideal for people who prefer to work out during the week and like to have a more relaxed weekend. Example B is for the ones who prefer to train on weekends, having more free time during the week.


On your pull days, you are going to do 3 exercises: Pull ups & Chin ups, Inverted rows and Leg raises. Focus on doing your sets with good form and give the last set of every exercise all youve got. The resting period between each set is 2 minutes. Im not that interested in you having short resting periods in this phase as in the rest of the programs. Focus on performing many reps and getting stronger in all the exercises you lack in.

Push day. Your push days consist of 3 push exercises: Push-ups, Handstand push-ups, Pistol squats, Dips and the Prone cobra as a finisher exercise, which will also help reverse posture side effects you might have from all the pushing pattern exercises this day contains. The push-up sets in the beginning serve more of a shoulder warming-up purpose for the handstand push-ups .You will not go hard on them but instead you will do 4 easy sets. By easy sets I mean just doing enough reps to get some blood flowing into your muscles and feeling some resistance but not feeling fatigue by the end of each set. If you are not sure how many reps you need to do take the amount of pushups you would normally do and reduce it by 30% of the total reps. So, for example, if you would normally do 10 reps do 7 instead. In the rest exercises focus on doing many reps (always maintaining good form) and take big resting periods from 2-3 minutes until you feel ready to hit the next set.


Deloading week. Due to the frequency of this training system and the all compound exercises used, you may end up overtaxing your neuromuscular system. Because of that, I highly recommend once every 3 months you have a deloading week. This means that you will reduce the training volume into half by doing only one pull day and one push day spreading them two days apart.

Prerequisites for moving on the next phase. You can progress to the basic program once you can perform one set, with good form of the following exercises: 12 pull ups 12 dips 5 handstand push-ups Note: You dont need to be able to perform these consecutively, take as much time as you need between the exercises. Reaching this level depends on a lot of parameters (age, weight, sex the physical condition your were in before you begin etc...). Keep in mind that it will usually take anywhere from 6 up 18 months, so just enjoy your journey of getting stronger without feeling stressed if progress takes time.

8.4 Basic Program

First of all, if you started from the beginners phase and have come this far, congratulations! I know it takes a lot of hard work to perform exercises such as the handstand push-ups and others, if you have never done them before in your life. When it comes to bodyweight training, I have found that once you have reached a good level of relative strength; full body routines are the most suitable and effective programs in building a healthy, strong, symmetrical and ripped body. I am not saying that training more will either get you better or worse results. I have experienced great results also by training more than this, but always at times when I didnt have anything else important to do, having all the time in the world to have an ideal stress-free recovery...


Today almost everyones life demands a big amount of energy and time, leaving all kinds of physical and psychological stress on our body. Whether you are a student or a family-guy, your physical recovery is not always optimal since it will be frequently hindered by bad sleep quality, psychological stress, bad food choices and other bad lifestyle habits. We all know that in some periods of our life these simply are inevitable. Draining out every single last drop of energy by over-training can do more bad than good to som ones health. That is the main reason I consider this basic program as the ideal long term training frequency for 95% of people. Full body program benefits. One thing I personally like about full body trainings is that you can attack every training with your batteries charged, since there is always at least a day of rest in between every session. Other benefits of full body training are: It is less boring. It is less possible that you will get bored with the frequency of this program. Free time. You have more free time on your resting days. Ideal for training only with compound movements. It is ideal for the number and type of exercises used in this program. Enough time to rest properly. Your muscle and nervous system function together as a one. Its like electricity and magnetism, you cant have the one without the other. So whenever you apply stress on your muscles you also apply stress on your nervous system whether you are doing pull ups or pistol squats. When youre stimulating your neuromuscular system day after day, eventually it becomes fatigued and the overall amount of reps you can perform on a daily basis really takes a hit. With this full body program, you can train all your body 3 times per week and give it enough time to recover fully, every seven days for at least 4-6 months of continual training. Simple Scheduling. If you miss training for whatever the reason that may be, you can simply wait until the next opportunity and youll still be hitting all your exercises and muscle groups. When you are doing a split program if you miss out a workout, you mess up the whole training schedule for the rest of the week. Push yourself to the limits. Once you reach the basic program, you will have matured enough to know how to force your body to its limits in every training without injuring or overtraining yourself. Obviously, it isnt always possible to train to failure in every set of every exercise, every single day. But pushing yourself to the limits in the last set and last 1-2 reps of the exercise is important if you want to avoid plateaus.


Basic program routine. The basic program consists of 3 training sessions per week. Besides leg raises and the prone cobra, the rest of the exercises in all three sessions are pretty much the same with slight differences in the order they are placed in and the total amount of sets they consist of. The most demanding exercicses in this program, for the majority of people are Pull ups, Handstand push-ups, Dips and Pistol squats. That is why the first three of them are placed in the beginning of one workout once every week. This way you can hit them hard with your neuromuscular system fresh & energized, improving your form and adding more reps to them. As for pistol squats, since they are a lower body exercise, they are placed in the middle of every routine so you are not too drained and they can give your upper body a bit more time to recover before continuing with the rest of the upper body exercises. You will notice that there are some differences in the total amount of sets - in different exercises - from session to session. That is done for two reasons. Number one is that there is always some extra volume in the first exercise of each workout for the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. Number two is a decrease in sets of some other exercises that come later on in each training session. This is because the big common muscle groups that get stimulated in the first exercise, will remain a bit fatigued. The first workout of the week starts with pull ups & chin ups doing 6 sets in total. Combining these exercises together builds immense upper body strength, especially in the arm and back department. For reasons mentioned in chapter 6 I organize them always together as one exercise.


Workout 2 starts with handstand push-ups. Since this is a highly intense and your beginner exercise this day, make sure you warm up your shoulders quite well. Handstands on the wall and pike pushup warm up sets are ideal to prepare for this performance.

The last workout of the week starts with dips which is one of the best bodyweight exercises for the chest. This is the last day of the week, so dont be afraid to push yourself a bit more. There will be plenty of time to recover the next two resting days.

If you want to focus even more on one of the three most demanding exercises (pull-ups & chin ups, handstand push-ups or dips) you can place the day that the exercise is most dominant (meaning first in order) at the beginning of the week. This way your batteries will be fully charged after a two-day rest and you will be able to put more effort in it.

8.5 How to get big with bodyweight exercises

In order to get a more big and swollen look in bodyweight training, you have to manipulate the tempo of your repetitions and the duration of resting periods between sets using bodybuilding/hypertrophy variables. You need to train your muscles to store more muscle glycogen by performing slow tempo reps and keep short resting periods between sets (40 - 60 seconds). Muscle glycogen is the fuel your muscle uses and its the main reason why bodybuilders get that pumped-up look. In order to produce this hypertrophy effect on your muscles, your sets should last from 30 seconds minimum up to 60 seconds. The exact total time under pressure varies depending on your genetics (predominant types of muscle fiber etc). Using a 1-1-3 tempo per set with each set lasting around fifty seconds is one of the best ways to stimulate hypertrophy (muscle size). What is a 1-1-3 tempo? When I say use a 1-1-3 tempo, I mean that the positive phase of your repetition should last 1 second, the transitional phase again one second and the negative phase should last 3 seconds (look at chapter 6 if you dont remember what a negative and a positive phase is). For example, in order to do a pull up this way pull yourself up normally (counting approximately 1 second), when your body reaches maximum height, stay there for 1 second again and perform the lowering of the body (negative phase) in a real slow tempo, counting 3 seconds. In order to do a push-exercise, like a dip, lower yourself in a slow tempo counting 3 seconds, stay on the bottom for one second and push yourself back up in 1 second again. Quick summary: For optimal hypertrophy I recommend you use a rep range of 8-12 reps, keeping your sets duration always around 50 seconds (10 seconds) and keeping short resting periods from 40 - 60 seconds. In the table bellow there are three examples of hypertrophy training.


If you are a fan of the bodybuilding-swollen physique, you are skinny and you want to boost a bit your self-confidence; I suggest that you first achieve 12 reps of good form in every exercise before you start applying bodybuilding tempos and rep ranges. In the beginning, no matter how you train, strength training will always produce muscle growth especially if you are a guy... The importance of food in hypertrophy. Something I couldnt avoid stressing enough for the skinny guys out there is that being in a caloric surplus is essential if you want to gain size in hypertrophy training. If you are eating only enough for your bodys basics needs, your muscle growth will be hindered severely. If you are a healthy individual , I would recommend that you calculate your daily caloric needs and add another 300-400 extra calories per day. Calculating your daily caloric needs is easy, just go online, Google something like daily calorie intake calculator bodybuilding and you will find many calorie calculators on popular bodybuilding websites for free. Chapter endnote: Dont get caught up in trying to perform extreme variations and moving on too quick to the next training phase. Enjoy your journey of getting stronger and have patience. The fact alone that you have submitted yourself in such a demanding program, is a huge win. As the wise Lao Tsu said, A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" - Lao Tzu


The three basic reasons that cause plateaus in strength training are the following: 1. you may be training too hard 2. you are not training hard enough and 3) your lifestyle is getting in the way... The following tips will help you prevent these scenarios. Tip 1 - Keeping notes. If you want to keep improving and getting stronger it is crucial to take notes during your workout (or after, if your memory is better than mine). I know it sounds kinda boring but it only takes a couple of minutes or even less in every workout. There are 3 important things you should always write down: 1. Failing from your first set means you are overdoing it and you have to either reduce the repetitions or move to an easier progression. 2. Pain or annoyance during an exercise should be also something you have to note down. If its a slight annoyance then consider laying off the exercise/s in which the pain occurred. If its much more serious and insists then you should go see a specialist. 3. If you start to feel that the amount of reps you are using is too easy and doesnt challenge you enough note it also down so you can experiment adding an extra 1-2 reps next time. Psychosomatic factors - Are you too stressed or/and depressed? You must appreciate the fact that you muscles grow while you are resting. Two really important factors to take under consideration for a proper recovery in strength development, are: 1. your sleeping quality and 2. Physical & mental relaxation during the day when you are not training. When you are too stressed mentally for long periods of time your bodys capability to build muscle optimally will be hindered. Your body will be constantly producing stress related hormones, like cortisol, which reduce the production of opposite anabolic hormones (Testosterone, Growth Hormone etc) that help your body recuperate and build stronger muscles. You may think, ok, this is all good but I cannot command my mind not to be stressed or depressed, can I? This brings me to my next tip. Meditation and exercise against stress and depression. There have been actual studies proving that exercise in combination with meditation and a little bit of sun exposure, work better than antidepressant drugs! Personally, besides exercising, I also meditate every day which has made a huge difference in my stress levels and has improved the quality of my thoughts, making me a more positive person. Meditation has been clinically proven to have the following effects on our health and mind: Reduces blood pressure Stress reduction Improves creativity Improves sleep quality Strengthens the immune system Makes us react more calm in stressful situations Helps against premature aging

Improves concentration and more The type of meditation that works for me is mindfulness meditation but there are many types of meditation out there, each one suitable for everyones idiosyncrasies. Here are some different forms of meditation: Mindfulness Bioenergetics and dancing meditation Sound meditation Body awareness meditation Breath Awareness Meditation Chanting meditation And the list goes on If you are interested, just find a good book on the type of meditation that seems most appealing to you and begin practicing every day. Even as little as 15 minutes a day can make a difference! Sleep quality and quantity. Our DNA hasnt changed much the last 10.000 years and that means that our biological clock works optimally in the same natural rhythms as our ancient ancestors. Our bodies are programmed to sleep according to the circadian cycle which basically means that we are programmed to sleep when there is darkness and wake up when there is light. After reading a lot of studies on sleep quality, I would recommend having a general rule of thumb - not going to bed any later than 23:00 and not to get up earlier than 06:00. Also, make sure you arent eating heavy meals 3 hours prior to your bed time. Bad sleeping quality will mess your bodys optimal hormone regulation and especially the production of anabolic hormones, like growth hormones which are crucial for muscular growth and regeneration. The amount of sleep varies usually from person to person, according to age and lifestyle but for adults, it is somewhere between 7-9 hours. My opinion is that you should try to always lay in bed for a minimum of 8 hours no matter if you feel sleepy or not. Studies have shown that there might even be a connection of bad sleep with diabetes, obesity and depression. Sunlight. Many people suffer from symptoms of seasonal affective disorder during the winter months. This is closely correlated with lack of sunlight exposure. Sunlight exposure can benefit mood by boosting levels of key hormones and also by producing vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced in the liver and kidneys from precursor chemicals that are synthesized in the skin, when UV rays from the sun shine on it. Know that plateaus will always occur, it is inevitable. It is also natural though, since overcoming them is what always adds an extra level of strength to your body.

"If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life.There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them" - Bruce Lee

Not all diets work for everyone and thats because we all have our own bio-chemical individuality. Not everybody has exactly the same metabolic rate, water content, oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and all other kinds of genetic predispositions. The diet of primitive Eskimos for example, was based 80% on animal fat and they had almost zero heart-issues. So even though an Asian person might do well in a vegetarian diet, a primitive Eskimo would be probably sick in a matter of months or even weeks! Long story short, we are all simply different... Some diets work good for some people but less good for others. After studying a lot about nutrition I know that it can be a really frustrating subject to research... Everyday new diets arise, nutrition specialists change their opinions daily, and people get even more obese. Nowadays, statistics show that even though more people are on more diets than ever, we are also fatter than ever! The truth about fat loss. If you only care about controlling your weight, then the solution is pretty simple. In case you are a healthy individual who doesnt have adrenal fatigue and their hormones are in balance, then losing weight is strictly a matter of calories in and calories out. Your body burns a specific amount of calories every day, which you can easily calculate if you go online. If you are not familiar with calorie calculators, just Google something like free daily calorie intake calculator and you will find many calorie calculators for free. After that, it is just a matter of counting your calories every day. If you want to lose weight you have to be on a caloric deficit and if you want to gain weight, you have to be on a caloric surplus. There even was an experiment done by a nutritionist who got 90% of his calories from chips, biscuits and other sugary stuff like that in combination with some veggies a protein shake and a multivitamin for two months. The results? He lost 27 pounds and his blood work even improved! Of course we dont know what the long term health effects of that diet would be, but in my opinion, in the best case scenario you would probably develop at least one chronic disease (such as diabetes) after some years... The exceptions. The only diets that might have a slight benefit over the general rule of caloric intake, are high protein diets and fasting related diets. High protein diets have a slight benefit due to the fact that protein is a macronutrient that has a bigger thermogenic effect on your body. The reason for that is that breaking protein down (protein catabolism) into amino acids and other simple derivative compounds, requires more energy from your body. Still, high protein diets are not ideal for everyone for health reasons related to their genetics. Some people like Asians, tend to do OK on a vegetarian diet, while others, lik north Europeans, need at least some meat in their diet. As for fasting diets, it is believed that they do have a metabolic adva tage mainly due to the hormonal manipulation, but the scientific data is still incomplete to specify how big that advantage is since in the end the human body tends to balance out in a great extent most of these fluctuations.


The main point here is that no matter what diet you do, if your daily calories overextend your daily caloric needs, you will without a doubt gain fat after a certain point... Of course the media, doctors, and other health specialists who want to promote their new groundbreaking diet books and other products, will try to mislead you. The fact though is when you are trying to lose weight, the truth is as simple as doing some calorie-math. No matter what you hear all the serious and unbiased scientific research backs this up. What should I do then? Find the diet that works best for YOU. Just because a friend of yours may thrive on the Warrior diet or the Paleo diet for instance; this doesnt always mean it will also work for you. Find a diet that suits your own lifestyle, covers your personal needs in nutrients, and try to eat primarily real food that agrees with your body. If you are wondering what real food is, dont worry. It is a reasonable question since our societies have deteriorated to such an extent today where recognizing real food isnt always easy for many people... By real food, I mean food that is as less chemically processed as possible. A product that is the end result of sun, air, water and earth, or in other words if you cant kill it, grow it out of the earth or pick it off a tree then dont eat it! Take an apple for example it grew on a tree which grew out of the earth using water, sun and air. On the other hand a typical ice cream can be made with none of the above in a laboratory! For example instead of eating cereal full of sugar have something more natural like oatmeal or even better have some buckwheat or quinoa. Avoid trans fats (fried food, biscquits etc) and eat healthy fats like nuts, fish, eggs... Even real food though sometimes can cause problems to your health so I would advise you to experiment with food elimination of common food allergens such as wheat and dairy to see how you feel after a month. Most of the people who have food intolerances dont even know it! My last and most important point is to stop seeing your diet as an arduous process that only makes you hungry in order to lose weight. The word diet comes from the Greek word dieta () which means way of living. The only way that you will able to control your weight in long term is if you turn your diet into a long lasting lifestyle that vitalizes you, keeps your mind clear, keeps you healthy, doesnt make you over-weight and as a result of all the above makes you happy. Doing extreme/express diets every year for a couple of weeks to lose rapidly weight only puts stress on your body and mind, messes up your metabolism and usually leads to regaining the weight you lost quite soon again. Seeking constantly instant pleasure in junk food may make you feel better temporary but always has a larger negative impact on your physical and mental health in the long run. If you understand all the above then you will know that putting the effort to create a proper and organized diet on a weekly basis is the smart thing to do (plus it saves you more time)...


In summary a good diet should be a long lasting lifestyle that: Vitalizes you Keeps your mind clear Keeps you healthy Keeps your bodyweight in balance And as a result of all the above makes you happy What works for me - Intermittent Fasting (IF). Because I tend to get lazy when it comes to counting calories, the best way for me to control my weight and for my body to function optimally is Intermittent Fasting (IF). I know fasting may sound a bit scary at first if you are not familiar with this diet but dont be afraid; you dont have to wonder around the desert of Jerusalem for 40 days like Jesus in order to fast. Intermittent fasting consists of two phases which take place on a daily base: 1. a fasting phase and 2. an eating phase. The only important thing to watch when you are doing intermittent fasting is to remain hydrated in the fasting phase, and get all of the calories you need daily in the rest of the eating phase. If you think about it, we all fast intermittently at night when we sleep, the only thing that changes usually in IF is that you fast for a couple of hours more after you wake up. Thinking of IF in the beginning as just skipping breakfast makes it easier for you mentally, instead of using the term fasting which may have a more frightful effect on your mind. In order to fast intermittently, you eat every day your last meal 3-4 hours before you go to bed. I pe sonally eat my last meal around 7 - 8pm since I sleep at 11pm. After fasting for 16 hours (during which you have to make sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated) you can have your first meal the next day around 11am - 12pm. So, in total, you fast every day somewhere between 15 and 16 hours which is the ideal amount of fasting hours in IF. I try not to go beyond 16 hours, because that way I dont have enough time to fulfill my caloric needs without compromising my energy levels by overeating during the rest of day. During the fasting phase (8pm 12pm the next day) I always take care to drink a lot of water, which is important, especially in the morning hours and during my workout, since I train in a fasted state. Other than water, you can also have coffee and tea as long as they contain no sugar. As with every diet, there is going to be a brief adaptation phase in the beginning for everyone. But after a 3-7 days tops, most people start noticing the benefits of this way of eating such as improved energy levels, mental clarity (especially in the morning fasted hours) and improved productivity in strength exercise. If you find it too difficult to start immediately fasting for 16 hours, you can start progressively with 12 hours and add one hour every one or two days until you reach 15-16 hours. Personally, giving my body a break from eating, helps me function better, especially during the fasting phase in which I having increased energy levels and can also concentrate more effectively on my everydays tasks. One of the reasons this happens as believed by authors of fasting diets, is that

your body gets a break from digesting food all the time and your nervous system can focus more on the rest of your bodys voluntary (e.g. concentration) and involuntary (e.g. energy levels & liver detoxification) tasks. Breakfast - Not really the most important meal of the day... For some of you who stay updated with the latest studies in nutrition, this wont be something new to you. For others, it may even sound crazy... But I have been told all my life by parents, doctors and tv commercials that breakfast is this most important meal of the day, you will think... The outdated logic about breakfast you have been brainwashed into while growing up. When you havent eaten anything for a whole night your body needs immediately a breakfast rich in carbs to have energy for the rest of the days mental and physical tasks. Not eating breakfast will damage your metabolism, make you fat, decrease your energy, cause world war 3 (black humor) and other horrible stuff... The truth is simple, think about it from an evolutionary point. Did our hunter and gatherer ancestors who lived in the wild for hundreds and thousands of years, had food available to them the moment they woke up? The answer is no of course. They had to hunt or at least go out and wonder in the wild to gather it... We might not live as hunters and gatherers anymore but the modern lifestyle which includes a breakfast as an important meal started probably a couple of hundreds of years ago. In a species that is around earth for a couple of hundred thousands of years, thats quite a small amount of time... Reality and science behind breakfast. In typical healthy individuals, cortisol levels peak every morning after a good night sleep for about an hour to ninety minutes after you wake up. This normal spike of cortisol helps break down your body fat by increasing the release of fatty acids being burned for energy. Some of you might ask yourselves wont Cortisol also break down muscle? Here is where growth hormone comes to the rescue. Another thing that happens in the morning, is the release of a hormone called Ghrelin. Ghrelin, besides making you feel hungry in the morning, also stimulates the release of Growth Hormone which also stimulates fat burn and doesnt allow your body to burn muscle tissue. When you start consuming big sugary bowls of cereal and in general, foods rich in carbs in the morning, you spike up your insulin which shut downs the production of all the hormones associated with fat burn I mentioned above. Most people, once they get used to it, function a lot better without breakfast since beside the fat burning benefits, they also notice their energy levels sky-rocket! The reason for that is after having fasted for about 8-10 hours in your sleep when you wake up your body turns on your sympathetic nervous system which is basically your fight or flight mode. When you eat a breakfast rich in carbs, insulin production increases and you over-stimulate your opposite-parasympathetic mode which in simple words means you start feeling lazy and sleepy. Thats the main reason that so many people feel sleepy in the morning hours at work and need a liter of coffee to get by these heavy hours.


If you belong to that small amount of people who dont function well when skipping breakfast, try starting your day with a meal high in protein like an omelet which wont spike your insulin that much. Exercise and IF. I have done my best workouts during a fasted state. Besides feeling really good during working out in a fasted state, training this way is the best way I have found to stay lean. Most of you have heard that eating many small frequent meals speeds up your metabolism and does all kinds of magical things... The truth is that this is just a myth and studies have disproven it. We have become so brainwashed today when it comes to food, that we are afraid to stay unfed for even a couple of hours believing that that will screw up our metabolism or burn all our muscles. To tell you the truth, I was also a bit like that but then I read books, like Orie Hofmeklers book The warrior diet, Jason Ferrugias The renegade diet and Eat stop eat by Brad Pilon which totally changed my perspective on nutrition and broadened my research on nutrition. The human body is an amazing organic machine and wouldnt have survived hundreds of thousands of years in the wild if it suffered such consequences when it stayed unfed for a little bit more than 15 hours. Do you think your cavemen ancestors had a fridge in his cave where they could go and have a snack whenever they felt they had the munchies? So, if you feel good about training on a fasted state, you can train ideally just before you break your fast. Once you are done with training, jump on the first meal of the day. Also, having a cup of coffee before exercise will help a bit with fat burn due to its thermogenic effect. IF for fat loss. If you want to lose a big amount of fat, then you will have to modify IF a little bit. Although I would advise you to start first with regular IF and only if it doesnt have such great results or if you reach a plateau after a certain point, you go try this approach. In order to make sure that you are not exceeding your daily caloric intake, stay away from carbs during the day until you have your main meal at dinner. During the day, eat vegetables, fruits and food with healthy fats and rich in protein like meat, eggs, yogurts, kefir, cottage cheese etc... When eating meat during the day, go for easily digestive meat sources, such as fish and poultry. At the end of the day, help yourself with a fulfilling meal containing vegetables, carbs and protein. Start with the vegetables which will aid your digestion later on (your stomach digests in layers) and continue with protein leaving your carbs last. Leaving your carbs for the end of the meal is a smart way to avoid overeating because by eating first food rich in protein, will help you reach satiety faster. Knowing that you will end your day with a satisfying meal and no carb restrictions, is going to make it a lot easier to stay disciplined until your main course, which you can enjoy at the end of your day. That way, you will feel satisfied and relaxed (this also due to the serotonin response to carbs) which is the perfect state to digest properly a nice, fulfilling meal. Also, avoid drinking anything with your meal since fluids dilute the stomachs digestive acids and disrupt the digestive process. Wait for at least half an hour after which you can have a glass of water or a nice cup of tea that aids digestion, i.g, linden tea. Diets that keep you continuously eating small meals, fail because they keep people feeling unfulfilled the whole time.

Example of IF diet plan I followed for fat loss (low budget) 1st Meal at 12pm: Salad with olive oil, 5 cooked eggs (including the yolks) with butter. 2nd Meal 2pm: 2-3 servings of fruit with 1 handfuls of nuts. 3rd Meal 4pm: One big cup of yogurt with honey. 4th Meal 7pm: One big meal - veggies, one protein source (usually meat) and 1-3 servings of carbs (1-2 servings on none training days and 2-3 on training days). Dont you burn muscles if you fast? Although I answered this question in a small extent above, I will reissue it for those who still have their doubts. Dont worry if you have a good fulfilling meal before you start fasting; you can last a lot more than 16 hours on a fasted state in order for your livers glycogen stores to run out and start muscle breakdown to fuel you.. If you want to be 100% sure that youre on the safe side, then I would not recommend prolonging your fasts the days you train for more than 18 hours. The only thing your muscles may lose during a fast is water, and that will be replenished after you have a meal rich in carbohydrates. Quick summary: Because I dont like to bullshit people, Ill tell you that there still isnt enough scientific data to conclude if IF has such a metabolic advantage due to the hormone manipulation as most of the authors of IF related books claim so. What I know, is that it works amazingly for me and many other people I know, and see on the internet. One thing I know for sure is that its ideal for people who cant handle eating small meals and need big meals to fill satisfied. If you cant handle small meals and they make you even hungrier as they do to me this is probably an ideal diet for you. Eating all of your food during a specific time frame helps you also not fixate and get obsessed over food during the whole day. It fits most peoples lifestyle since most are quite busy in the early hours of the day and not bothering with food at that time saves them also a lot of time.


In summary about IF: What is IF? 1. Eat a fulfilling meal 3-4 hours before bed time 2. After that fast for 16 hours during which it is important to stay hydrated (drink a lot of water) 3. Once you break your fast, you have an 8 hour window to consume the amount of calories you need. Basic Benefits of fasting: Increased fat burning Increased production of Growth Hormone in the morning hours(GH hormone plays a really important role in building muscle). Increased IGF (insulin-like growth factor). This is a hormone responsible for muscle growth, tissue repair and fat burning. Bodybuilders inject synthetic IGF to get big and ripped! Increased energy levels Some of the people I wouldnt recommend fasting are the following: Kids whose bodies are still developing Special groups of population with health issues People with really high metabolic rates who are trying to build muscle or highly competitive athletes who need big amounts of calories to sustain their weight. People, especially women who still dont feel that good after a week of trying this way of eating. The truth about supplements. Almost all supplements promise extreme results, by misleading and brainwashing many people in the exercise-fitness community. What you have to know is that if your diet and our lifestyle are perfect, you will get zero benefits out of supplements. Just to be clear I am not anti-supplement. I just find it too boring to deal with supplements in my daily schedule because I just prefer eating and spending money on real food (despite all that I have studied supplements quite a lot). For example, take a look at protein supplements which are probably the most popular supplements today. In my knowledge, there isnt a single proper/unbiased scientific study proving any benefits in building muscle more optimally (that is, of course, if you have a proper diet as I mentioned above). I will mention some examples of bad lifestyles, diets which would probably require from someone to supplement his diet just so you can see both ends of the spectrum. Example 1: If you live in a country with limited sun exposure and your work most of the weeks daylight hours has you sitting in an office cubicle, then supplementing your diet with vitamin D would benefit you. Example 2 : If you are vegan then protein supplements would benefit you.


Example 3: If you cant eat for a big amount of time after your training session, especially if you have trained fasted then again a protein supplement would benefit you. So my advice is to find the weak links in your lifestyle and diet and if you cannot fix them naturally, ask a specialist to give you some advice on how to cover these needs. Dont forget though, supplements are not magical and wont give you extra results, especially if you dont train hard enough. As a matter of fact, a poor diet with a good training program will give you greater results than the perfect diet in combination with the finest powder and pill supplements. Getting rid of junk food addiction. When we eat junk food - meaning highly processed foods with no nutritional value; we trick our taste buds into thinking that nutrition has arrived. When the food reaches our intestinal receptors they find minimum to almost zero nutrition, so they send a message back to your brain saying there not enough nutrition here. So the appestat (the part of your brain that triggers satiety) sends a message to keep eating until we get the required nutritional value our body needs. In simple words, eating all these junk-food carbohydrate and sugar based meals on a long-term, can destroy your self-control and discipline by making you overeat, thus making it really difficult to regulate your diet. A study done on mice showed that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine! So even though one ball of ice-cream isnt going to make you fat, it is what follows long term that will lead you there. Eventually most of us end up losing control. Its like telling an alcoholic to have just one drink, it aint gonna work! My opinion is that if your goal is to lose excess fat, you have to stop consuming bad quality food cold turkey. Only when you have achieved your goal start allowing yourself some cheat meals once in a while and find an ideal frequency of cheat meals you can handle without getting hooked back again to bad habits. Make real food tasteful again. If you are like me, then you love your junk food and if you have been eating junk food too much and for too long, healthy food wont probably have an appealing taste to you. Although my body tolerated huge amounts of junk food during my twenties, especially in my university years, as I grow older towards my thirties, I have noticed that junk food has all sort of negative effects on my body. By that I mean skin problems, decreased energy, nausea and Im sure they would cause all sorts of other long term issues I wouldnt have yet noticed, had I not reduced them into a great extend. I will not go deep into all the health issues that junk food causes, such as coronary disease, premature aging etc, but I am going to share my solutions to get rid of junk food addiction! The basic solution for this is to re-train yourself to enjoy real food. Our taste buds evolve and can weaken over time. This is most evident when comparing taste buds of children versus those of the elderly. Children have super sensitive taste buds. For example, their heightened taste sense allows them to taste the bitterness in vegetables more than their parents cannot. On the other end of the spectrum, elderly persons lose much of their sense of taste as they get older. Most of us have lost the capacity to enjoy the subtle taste of real food, which is easy to change if you have the appropriate self-discipline.


Eat all the healthy stuff at the beginning of the day. The biggest amount of time most of us spend without eating anything, is before we have the first meal of the day, after our night sleep. Due to this fact our taste buds will appear to be more sensitive, making for instance fruits appear sweeter and most vegetables appear more tasteful. Avoid drinking sugar added beverages in the morning (or even better always) and start your day with a big fruit salad and some nuts. Even though I always considered fruits quite boring, eating this way (especially after a fasting period of 13-16 hours) makes my fruit salads one of my favorite meals. Eliminate sugary beverages and sweets from your diet. Eliminate beverages, such as sodas, prepacked juices and all types of chemically sweetened products. You might think why even eliminate boxed juice? Pre-packing juice significantly reduces vitamins, minerals and their naturally occurring alkaline properties so you end up basically drinking water, dead enzymes and fructose which in this case is almost the same thing with normal sugar. Follow these basic steps and in a matter of three weeks, real food is going to taste significantly better. After that, you may start introducing natural sweeteners in regulation to your diet, only if you need to make some natural foods taste better. For example, you can start adding honey to your yogurt, and stevia to tea and coffee.

"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art" - La Rochefoucauld



11.1 Dont you need to isolate certain muscles in order for them to grow?
A lot you, while reading this book, will wonder if you can really focus on small muscles, like your triceps and biceps by performing compound bodyweight training without using specific isolation exercises, such as extensions and bicep curls. The answer is, yes, it can be done and judging by my experience, even more effectively. My arms, for example, are not that bad and they look a lot more pumped and jacked than people I know who spend countless hours and even years in the gym, doing bicep curls and tricep extensions. So lets take a little moment to examine the science behind compound VS isolation exercises. Not only do compound exercises target a greater portion of muscle fibers, they also cause greater release of anabolic hormones in body, such as testosterone and growth hormone. These two hormones are the most important ones when it comes to building muscle. Some people in the gym may also tell you that you have to train these types of muscle in different angles in order to shape them better but the truth is that the shape of your muscles is 99% defined by your genetic predisposition.

11.2 Can you train all your muscle groups with body-weight exercises?
Not only is the answer to this question affirmative but in my opinion, besides targeting all your muscle groups, bodyweight exercises are the best way to train your upper body in balance and symmetry. Lets see in detail how every part of your body is highly stimulated through the 8 essential exercises of this book. Starting from top to bottom: Shoulders - Handstand push ups Chest - Dips and Push-ups Upper back - Inverted Rows Arms - Chin ups & Handstand push-ups (basically all upper body exercises offer a great stimulus to your arms in this program but these are the top 2). Lower back (lats and erector spinae) - Pull ups, prone cobras Abdominals (rectus abdominus & external obliques) - Leg raises Glutes, thighs and calves - Pistol squats. Your calves may not get activated that much in the typical pistol squat but once you progress to the pistol squat with a calve raise you will also start getting a more targeted calve workout.

11.3 Dont you need cardio in order to burn fat?

Anytime you enter a gym, you will notice treadmills, step machines, stationary bikes, elliptical machines and all kind of other cardio equipment occupied by people wanting to burn some fat or an extra piece of cheesecake they ate late at night. But you will also notice months later, that the same people will be on the same machines, still struggling without any result. Why is that? Well, as increasingly shown through the last years, studies and specialists conclude that cardio has been overrated and nowadays everyone working in the fitness industry has begun to realize that. People may

keep training on stationary bicycles, looking like they are preparing for Le tour de France without having the desired results. Lets see why that is... Cardio burns more fat - Myth busted! This outdated opinion was based on the fact that low intensity cardio utilizes more efficiently energy from your bodys fat storage, meaning, you burn fat faster in comparison to strength training. That may have some truth in it but the total amount of calories and fat burned long term is a lot smaller than most people think, and actually less in comparison with strength training! For example, 40 minutes of slow jogging on a treadmill burns around 240 calories which may surprise you since thats only the equivalent of one piece of chocolate cake or a piece of pizza! Forty minutes of cardio in comparison with forty minutes of strength training - may burn slightly more calories during the training session (even so, not always!). However, because strength training increases your metabolism even after your training session has ended, it is superior for fat burn...This after-burn effect that occurs in your body is caused by muscle tissue repair and can last 14 hours and more (depending on the intensity of your training)! The second benefit of strength training, when it comes to fat loss, is that as you gradually start building muscle and your metabolism will speed up because muscle tissue is a lot more active in comparison with fat. This causes your body to burn more calories even in a resting state. Long story short - there are two really important benefits of strength training in comparison with low intensity cardio, when it comes to fat loss are: Increased post-workout metabolic effect. Increased resting metabolism due to more muscle tissue. Strength is the foundation from which all forms of athletic movement become possible. A solid strength foundation should be, in my opinion, the first and most important element in someones exercise program. Just so I do not get misunderstood, I will highlight that I dont mean cardio is completely useless. However, if you are going to invest your time only in one form of exercise and your main goal is to get stronger and leaner, then strength training is without a doubt, the way to go! If you have more free time, then strength training combined with low or high intensity cardio 2-3 times per week, will give you the best results. Just make sure you dont overdo it, because pr longed cardio sessions can hinder muscle growth. I have done a lot of running in my youth on the mountains of North Greece and I know that this type of cardio - meaning running outside in nature has another great effect on your health. Running outside in nature after a stressful day can be the best tool to heal your soul. I know one part of that is endorphins produced by our body but there is also something else. A more primitive feeling of release, freedom and coming in contact with nature... Do this always when it feels natural and dont force yourself because its healthy for you.



The biggest percentage of people who want a good physique but never attain it, fail because they always find excuses on the way. When I was developing this homeworkout program I had a severely fractured leg which means, I had to train for most of the time with full leg casts, special fracture boots and crutches. Of course I do not recommend people recovering from bone fractures training hardcore with bodyweight exercises. My point here is that if you want to get into shape, you have to stop finding excuses!

This photo is not so clear but thats me doing chin ups on a door-frame with a full leg cast on my left leg

Common reasons people quit on their training and how to avoid them
Limited time. On average, this program takes 3 hours per week out of your time. A week has 168 hours, so training 3 hours per week means you have to spend less than 2% of your week in order to accomplish your goals. I believe anybody can sacrifice that amount of time in order to feel better mentally, get in shape, feel healthier and have a beautiful physique.


Fear of failure. Sometimes, we just make up excuses to avoid chasing our goals because we are afraid. This fear may be conscious or subconscious but it is there and its usually the fear of failure. Many times, we are too scared that we will put time and effort in something that has no guarantee of success. A lot of people take this even a step further and fail in their minds before even trying. Fear is nothing we should run away from though. Fear is a natural human emotion and its not bad to have it. On the contrary, fear is a good sign; it means you are getting out of your comfort zone and thats the only place you can find room for improvement.

Accept your fears but dont be a coward...

An evil deadly sin. Sloth is the fifth of the seven deadly sins in Christian religion, and even though I am not religious, I greatly appreciate the wisdom that the 7 deadly sins offer. Sloth - meaning laziness - is another great enemy everyone faces when they set a goal, and especially when it comes to exercise. We even make fake excuses to cover our indolence, despite being aware of what were capable of, but still, we are too lazy and overwhelmed by all the effort we need to put into it. We are too attached to immediate gratification in favor of long term growth. Unfortunately, nothing in life worth attaining comes quick and effortless... If you commonly face laziness during the beginning of this path, a good advice is to block these feelings and just focus on warming up and preparing for the program. Act mechanically, like a robot, dont think, just do. Once you get over the warming up part of the program I guarantee you that you will complete the rest of it without a lot of mental effort; feeling really good about yourself in the end of your workout. Taking a break - Stay in shape with 30 minutes per week. Even if you develop a really passionate relationship with exercise, there will always be periods in your life when you wont want to exercise at all. As with any long-term relationship, passion always comes and goes through time. During dark periods when you feel you have no flame in your heart for training, it is quite easy to just let go and see all your hard work disappear. This is quite easy to happen since it takes less than forty days for most people. When people experience these periods of not wanting to train, they usually do one of the following two mistakes: a) they push themselves to train as hard as they always train ending up resenting exercise. b) they instantly quit for good and rarely do they start working out again.


The best strategy during dark times is to train just enough to maintain your condition without focusing on any improvement, and reaching your personal best records. The following training plan contains two fifteen minute training sessions that will help you stay in shape during those times. Even at our darkest hours, I think we can all force ourselves to train 30 minutes a week.

Perform each exercise by doing the same reps you perform in your normal program.

"You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity" - Epicurus


I am not going to be obsolete or arrogant and tell you your bicep wont grow with bicep curls or going to the gym doesnt give results just because I want to promote my program and my way as the only way, that would be a whole load of BS... What I know is that the workout plan in this book is the best way I have experienced when it comes to growing stronger, after having tried most systems of strength training. Dont fool yourselves though; if you do this program with no devotion and zeal then do not expect your body to change after a certain point. You will see some results in the first months but after that your body will just get comfortable and stop improving just as with any other strength training program. If you are just looking to build an athletic physique that is totally fine, of course. Once that is accomplished, you can just do the conditioning program I have offered you and retain those results without a really big effort.

Fire in your heart and a hint of Madness in your mind

But if you want to achieve more than that, you need to hit your workouts with fire in your heart and a hint of madness in your mind. Only then will you be able to break plateaus and keep getting stronger. I believe that cultivating a strong and healthy body should be our way of showing gratitude for this amazing vehicle we were given to experience life from the universe, God, the collective consciousness, or by the astounding result of evolutional coincidences through billions of years. No matter what call it, doesnt really make any difference... Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, said It is a disgrace for someone to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable, which is one of my favorite quotes! Time flies faster than we realize and one day, it will be too late to make a difference. So stop disrespecting your body, get off the couch and start strengthening both your body and mind! There is only one thing that can get between you and your aspirations, and that is yourself. If you are having a really good day, use that positive energy and let it charge your workout. If you are having bad days, then think of it as psychotherapy. If you are too angry, use the anger to fuel your body through those difficult last reps. Consistence is whats going to make your muscles grow steadily over time... There are no magic pills (at least not any that wont damage your health) or diet plans. These are only supplementary stuff and they wont mean a thing if you dont apply the basics of working hard with dedication and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.


There will always be excuses and problems in the way of whatever you want to accomplish in life. Today even though I have a prosthetic leg my passion for exercise is stronger than ever. Look at your problems as interesting challenges life offers you to make things more interesting! A life with no challenges is a boring life after all. You can either let them wear you down or make you stronger. You can let them be the reason you quit or the reason you feel a bit more proud once you achieve... Remember that the only person you should try to impress is yourself. That is the only way to never run out of motivation - Try to impress others and you will always end up disappointed.

"No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable" - Socrates

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SPECIAL THANKS TO: Ro for the e-book design Elijah Kay for most of the photography of the book Lela Bedukadze for proofreading the book My personal doctor V.M de Jong and all the rest of the doctors at the AMC hospital of Amsterdam in Netherlands for their support and professionalism.

Copyright 2013 by Anthony Arvanitakis. All Rights Reserved http://www.homemademuscle.com/