6 Techniques to Add Variety to Bodyweight Exercises

different bodyweight techniques(In honor of the new Beautiful Badass Bodyweight 10 Phase Training System that was released this week and is currently available for 50% off, here’s another article showing you some awesome ways to add variety to your bodyweight workouts. Enjoy!).

Bodyweight exercises should be included in everyone’s strength training program to some degree. Heck, some people train with bodyweight workouts exclusively out of necessity or personal preference. So how can you change them up so you don’t bored doing the same thing every time and can keep getting stronger and achieving body-transformation results?

For the past year most of my workouts have consisted of bodyweight exercises and several months ago they started to get a little stale so I added some variety by using different techniques to make the same old exercises somewhat “new” again, and more challenging.

Below you’re going to see six ways to add variety to bodyweight exercises. These training techniques will present new challenges and shake out the cobwebs if you’re tired of doing the exercises the same way for weeks or months straight.

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7 of the Best Bodyweight Exercises (and Easier to More Difficult Variations) You Should be Doing

7 Best Bodyweight ExercisesDo you include the exercises in this article in your workouts?

If you don’t, you most certainly should.

Some people incorrectly assume that you can’t lose fat, build muscle, or get stronger with bodyweight workouts. They think, since you can’t “progressively overload” bodyweight exercises (i.e. add more weight as you can with dumbbell and barbell exercises) that you can’t make progress long-term.

Now, if you only perform traditional push-ups and bodyweight squats with your bodyweight workouts long-term without any progression, that’s absolutely correct.

However, if you use an appropriate variation for an exercise and progress to more challenging/advanced variations, then you’re improving your performance and THAT is what matters most, no matter what workout tools you use.

Another reason these bodyweight exercises are so awesome is because you can do them absolutely anywhere: at home, at a local playground, when you’re traveling … anywhere. And for those who are trying to save money and don’t want to pay for a gym membership, bodyweight workouts allow you to keep training and getting results.

Below you’re going to be presented with seven of my favorite bodyweight exercises and their variations. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned strength trainee, you’ll be able to scale the exercises listed below to your current strength level, and see how to progress as you get stronger.

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How to Perform Assisted Handstand Push-ups

assisted handstand push-upHandstand push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise not only for your shoulders, but for building upper body pressing strength.

Most people can’t kick into a handstand and bust out a flawless handstand push-up from day one. This exercise usually requires slow and steady progression, but once you can do one, it’s definitely a great accomplishment.

You’ve seen handstand push-up progressions on Lift Like a Girl before, but today you’re going to learn a unique way to perform assisted handstand push-ups.

Before you watch the demonstration video I will note that you should not attempt this exercise unless you can hold a handstand (feet resting again a wall or other object is fine) for at least one minute. You need to be comfortable being in the handstand position and have the strength to hold your bodyweight for one minute or more, otherwise you may attempt this exercise and smash your face on the ground. Don’t do that.

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Motivational Stuff is Stupid

photo: some rights reserved by opensourceway

“Nia, why are you constantly telling women to ‘be the strongest, most awesome version of themselves’ and write motivation type-stuff? Why don’t you just post more workouts and training-specific things? After all, your website is called Lift Like a Girl.”

There was a time I strongly disliked self-help and motivational “You can do it!” type stuff. I didn’t like to read it and certainly never expected to write about it. But many articles on Lift Like a Girl can be classified as “motivational.” Even though some people think motivational stuff is stupid (and I did too, once upon a time) I’m perfectly fine with that, but I’ll keep writing it anyway.

One reason is because I know too many women who feel like they’re fighting a battle they’ll never win. Too many women feel obligated to look a certain way, to reach an “ideal” bodyweight, attain (and forever maintain) a low body fat percentage, or other standards that value them exclusively on their physical appearance. Day after day they hate their bodies and are constantly looking to the next diet or “miracle” that will help them lose weight and reach society’s standards.

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3 Ingredient Crock Pot Shredded Chicken (Cheap, Fast to Prepare, and TASTY)

crock pot shredded chickenFirst, allow me to acknowledge my terrible photography skills. They’re just horrible, I know.

But that doesn’t matter because this crock pot (or slow cooker, if you prefer) shredded chicken recipe is AMAZING, and that totally makes up for the crap-tastic pictures.

There are a few reasons why this recipe is so dang good and why you need to make it. (The sooner, the better).

1. It’s very versatile and can have numerous variations
2. It’s cheap
3. It takes only a couple of minutes (tops) to put together
4. Did I mention it’s DELICIOUS?
5. It uses my favorite kitchen tool – the crock pot (get 4 more great recipes here)

Now that you know WHY you should make it, let’s get to the recipe.

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1 BIG Reason Women Should Lift Heavy Things

women should lift heavyI’m all for people doing what they enjoy and what works for them.

This undoubtedly means that some women will never lift progressively heavier weights – they’ll always stick to the tiny, pretty pastel colored dumbbells that weigh less than the purse they carry around all day.

Do I think strength training with a focus on getting stronger and improving performance is superior to lifting very light weights for high reps for losing fat and building a better looking body?

Of course!

And there are some amazing additional (better) benefits too.

But there’s another BIG reason women should lift heavy things, and it has nothing to do with losing fat or aesthetic goals, and it’s why I encourage women to at least give progressive strength training a shot.

A BIG reason women should lift heavy things is …

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13 Ways Women Can be MORE, Not Less

be MORE, not less
photo: some rights reserved by Scott Swigart

Take a glimpse at the cover of most magazines and you’ll see several headlines promoting tips and tricks that will help you eat less and weigh less.

“Lose up to 10 pounds in one week!”

“Simple tips to eat fewer calories!”

“Shrink your stomach with three easy exercises!”

Eat less. Weigh less. Shrink.

What is this obsession with encouraging women to be less?

I don’t know about you, but I’m dang sick of it. There was a time when I  used to look for, and practice, a lot of these “be less” tips so I could come up with sneaky ways to eat less food and decrease my bodyweight. But one day I thought, “This really sucks. Constantly trying to eat less and weigh less is mentally exhausting.” Not only that, but if you fail to eat less or weigh less (as I did several times), you end up experiencing shame and feeling like a failure, so then you move on to the next tip and hope that it’ll work.

But going day after day constantly striving for “less” is exhausting, frustrating, and definitely not fun. That’s why it’s time to choose to be MORE, and stop looking for ways to be less.

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Things Don’t Always Go as Planned – This is What You Do

things don't always go as planned
photo: some rights reserved by Next TwentyEight

How many times has this happened to you? You had your day planned – you were going to eat well at every meal and go to the gym in the latter part of the day for a strength training workout.

But somewhere along the way, things didn’t go as planned. Maybe you chose a dough-nut instead of a homemade smoothie or oatmeal french-toast cake for breakfast. Or maybe someone bought pizza for lunch at the office so you ate that instead of your prepared lunch.

Or maybe something happened last minute and you couldn’t make it to the gym for your workout.

Okay, maybe those exact things didn’t happen, but I know you’ve had days where things just didn’t go as planned. You didn’t eat as well as you wanted to, your workout sucked and you weren’t able to improve your performance, or maybe you had to skip your workout all together. Heck, maybe you didn’t have the motivation to do those things and chose instead to veg out on the couch.

Bottom line – things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes we get off track either by choice, or by circumstance.

THIS Is What You Do

And how we choose to respond when things just don’t go as planned is important, and there are basically only two options.

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12 Ways to Alter Exercises for More Workout Variety

12 ways to alter exercises
photo: some rights reserved by Carlos Varela

This is a guest post from Jon Goodman, author of Ignite the Fire. He shares 12 awesome ways you can change practically any exercise (beyond just changing how many sets and reps you perform). Refer to these if you want to change up your workout routine or simply want to experiment with some new methods.

Conventional thinking is that the only way to alter an exercise is by changing the weight, sets, or reps. The reality is that training is a lot more fun and varied once you understand the basic principles outlined in this article.

Below are 12 ways to vary any exercise. Some variations make the movement harder, some easier. Others change the purpose of the exercise all-together.

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The Bare Essentials Produce Extraordinary Results

the bare essentials for extraordinary results
photo: some rights reserved by ShareHows.com

When trying to reach your fitness and body-transforming goals, what’s the quickest way to fail? (I know that’s a heck of a question, but bear with me because there’s a good point).

The answer: do too much all at once. Sadly, this is the approach most people take.

Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself (I know I have) when you tried to do everything right. Because you were incredibly determined to reach your goals you drastically changed your eating habits (maybe even went on a strict diet that had a list of foods-to-eat, foods-to-avoid, you counted calories, weighed your food, ate at certain times and not at others, etc), strength trained several days per week, and did a lot of cardio too.

You wanted to do everything perfectly so you tried to obey all the rules of when, what, and how much to eat. You searched for the best strength training program. You included a lot of cardio. You were doing it all.

But, inevitably, after some time, this time-consuming and complicated regimen proved to be too much. You couldn’t follow such a strict diet long-term, nor could you maintain such a grueling workout schedule that left you exhausted.

Try to do too much all at once, and you likely won’t maintain that routine for long.

“What’s the point?” you’re likely wondering. Trying to “do it all” is a recipe for failure. But doing only the few things that truly matter is the recipe for success, both short- and long-term.

The few things that truly matter = the bare essentials.

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