Everyone knows my affinity for the barbell.  In my opinion, there is no greater all around tool to develop strength, power, etc.  With that being said, however, there are many bodyweight movements that you need to consider adding to your programming.

No matter if you are a enthusiast or a Weightlifting disciple, stepping away from the barbell in your training is important for a number of reasons.  For starters, removing the barbell simplifies your training from a technical standpoint and allows you to attack strength/conditioning imbalances instead of technique deficiencies.  Bodyweight movements also help develop proprioception, or the sense of how your body moves through space, in (again) a less technically demanding environment.

These movements can be included in your general programming, but at Steelworks Strength Systems we incorporate most of these movements as accessory work at the end of our strength work and metcons.

1.  Handstand Holds


Working the handstand hold into your training develops the necessary muscular endurance you need to help you through long training sessions involving upper body vertical pushing movements.

Suggested Accessory Work

A.  Max effort handstand holds
x3 Rest 1 minute between each set.

2.  Lunges


Lunges are great at exposing leg strength imbalances that barbell squats can’t.  This movement is a great way to target the glutes and quads.  If you need more stability, you can also change up the direction you lunge.  Side lunges are great at developing the hip abductors/adductors and other frontal plane stabilizers.

Suggested Accessory Work
A.  AMRAP 5 minutes.  Lunge half circles.  Lunge forward, lunge to the side, lunge backwards.  Alternate each leg.

3. Hollow Body Holds/Rocks


Why people still do situps anymore is beyond me.  The hollow body hold/rock is a much better tool at developing the awareness of an engaged core without the negative effects to the lower back. Focus on keeping the shoulders up off the ground with the arms behind the head and the legs fully extended with the feet pointing out.

Suggested Accessory Work

A. Hollow Body Holds/Rocks
20 seconds on / 10 seconds off

4.  Pull-up Variations



So much to love about pullups.  They build good grip strength, upper body pulling capacity, and a strong  and protected back during weightlifting movements.  The only problem is that lots of new folks struggle to do them unassisted.  A big problem I have found with progressing athletes towards their first strict pullup is lack of volume of pullups throughout the week and also relying too heavily on too many assistance bands.  In our programming we have begun to implement lots of accessory training depending on the athlete’s needs and current state of fitness.   See below for some suggested pullup variations.

Suggested Accessory Work

A. If very thick bands are needed to perform 1 pullup:

ME Deadhang Holds.  Stand on a box and grab the pullup bar.  Step off the box, engage midline by pointing the toes out and keeping the legs squeezed together,  retract the scapula, and then hang for as long as you can until your grip gives out.  Repeat 3-5 times after resting for two minutes.

B. If moderate bands are needed to perform 1 pullup and the athlete has relatively stronger biceps than lats:

Lat or Scapula pullups

C.  If moderate bands are needed to perform 1 pullup and the athlete has relatively stronger lats than biceps:

Negative Pullups.  Stand on a box and jump your chin over the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing you).  Hold for a second and then descend for varying time length depending on capacity and skill.  We recommend at the very least a 5 second descent with 5 reps in 5 sets.

D.  If light bands are needed to perform 1 pullup:

Bar Assisted Pullups


Perform 3- 5 reps with a 3 second descent on each rep.  5 sets total.  Notice how the hips stay down, the torso stays more vertical instead of horizontal, and that the chin comes all of the way over the bar.

Depending on your where you weaknesses rest, take these four movements and include them right after your workouts for a little extra volume work.  Spend enough time with these movements and in a couple of weeks, you’ll start ironing out some basic weaknesses.