When you are a beginner, you are far from your ultimate physical potential of strength and muscle growth. Your body does not know how to perform bodyweight exercises properly by activating neuromuscular pathways efficiently. This means that your body does not know yet how to combine strength and technique efficiently to use all the horse power it already has. The reason you improve a lot in the beginning of a strength training program is not only because your muscles grow bigger, but also because your nervous and muscular system learn to co-operate more effectively.
The more you perform an exercise, the more your neuromuscular system evolves and becomes more efficient at using every bit of neuronally-integrated muscle fiber that can facilitate this movement. Think of your neuromuscular efficiency as untapped strength you already have but cannot take advantage of. It’s like having a fast car but not knowing how to drive yet. Focusing on proper technique in every exercise is essential in the beginners phase.
A beginner’s ability to recover also improves. Recovery can be trainable to some extent, especially in the beginning.
Simply put, a beginner is someone for whom the stress applied during a single workout is enough to cause an adaptation until the next workout. This means that a beginner can become stronger in every single training session! This allows him to add repetitions or move to a more difficult progression in almost every workout during the first couple of weeks. After that, more reps or a more difficult progression can be performed about every two to three work outs. The end of the beginners phase is marked when the minimum progress of adding one rep or performing a more difficult progression every week ceases to happen. For people new to strength training this is usually somewhere between the second and third month.
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The exercises that will be used as a criterion to the general guidelines above will be pull-ups, pistol squats and push-ups. Once you are able to perform at least 5 repetitions of pull-ups, pistol squats and push-ups with good form, then you are ready to move onto the advanced program. This does not mean that you shouldn’t focus on improving your strength in the rest of the exercises, but these three particular exercises are the best criterion to test your pulling, squatting and pushing strength and to conclude with when you are ready to switch to the intermediate phase.
Beginners Program Structure
The beginner program is divided in two parts. Part A, which is the introductory program with the purpose to gradually introduce you to essential bodyweight concepts and exercises. It contains 4 basic exercises, each one focused on strengthening a primal movement pattern. The basic primal movement patterns are Pull, Push and Squat. To cover these you will do:
1. Pull-ups and Chin-ups as pulling pattern movements
2. Push-ups as a pushing pattern and
3. Pistol squats (or bodyweight squats) as a squatting pattern movement.
Supplementary exercises will also be included for your core. I say supplementary because no matter what exercise you do, bodyweight training always activates your core for stability and control (this is one of the cool benefits of bodyweight exercise).
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