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7 Ways to Increase The Difficulty of Bodyweight Training

For a ton of us during this COVID-19 lockdown, bodyweight is the only tool available for workouts in our homes. And while some of you may be past the point of bodyweight in terms of using it during your workouts, that doesn’t mean you can’t manipulate some variables to make workouts with bodyweight plenty challenging.

Here are seven ways you can up the ante using just your body weight.

Decrease rest periods

If you shorten the recovery window, you’re gonna make your muscles and heart work harder as the cardio output from shorter rest periods is going to put a little but of stress on the ‘ol ticker.

Increase time under tension

Time under tension simply refers to the time your muscles spend in a contracted state. The longer this is, the harder they’re going to work. So take your time on the *eccentric portion (down portion for most lifts), and then take your time on the *concentric (up portion for most lifts) as well.

*eccentric: muscle fibers are lengthening while under load

*concentric: muscle fibers are shortening while under load


Performing movements quickly and explosively is a great way to activate different muscle fibers that you may not use on a daily basis. This can help stimulate muscle growth, increase strength, and burn more fat. Uhhhh, yes please!

Increase the range of motion

When muscles work through bigger ranges of motion, they need to contract longer and through bigger angles. This increases time under tension and can be a really great way to help break through strength plateaus.

Intelligently implemented pauses

Similar to slowing things down during the eccentric and concentric portions of your lift, adding pauses is also a great way to increase time under tension, thus making your muscles work harder. Plus, you can add them in at various joint angles as well which can really cause some muscles to burn.


Performing two exercises back to back that target the same muscle or muscle groups can pre-fatigue them, making the movement that much more exhausting (ex: split squats before squats, modified handstand pushups before pushups)

Drop sets

Or you can just combine several of these methods at once for a truly brutal burn! (ex: increased power ➡️ increased ROM ➡️ pauses)

Squats are used here, but these methods hold true for mostly all bodyweight exercises!

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