In part one and part two of this series, we went through a lower body and upper body strength and power workout for throwers using only bodyweight and a shot put. I have already heard from a lot of coaches and throwers wondering how they can keep this training going for the next few weeks until the craziness of the beginning of school goes away and they can get in the weight room at school.

In today’s post, I am going to outline some strategies to make the workouts in part 1 and part 2 a little harder to increase the difficulty and make sure your athletes are still progressing and pushing themselves.

The biggest idea for you to keep in mind is this: Changes should happen but they should be small changes made on an as needed basis. What does this mean? When you continue reading below, you will see that there are a handful of strategies to make the bodyweight workouts even tougher. You will want to implement one strategy per week and only to those exercises that need it.

For example, if you are able to complete all of your pull ups, you can add some external resistance in the form of a backpack filled with clothing or a few books. If you can only squeak out 4 pull ups, there is no need to add any external resistance. You will find that certain exercises require you to make adjustments to increase their difficulty while other exercises are difficult enough on their own.

Here is a list of some things you can do to add difficulty to bodyweight movements.

1. Add some external resistance. We already touched on this above, but adding external resistance to your bodyweight movements is a guaranteed way to make them much harder. Some examples of external resistance would be wearing a backpack filled with clothing or books, wearing a weighted vest, having a partner manually apply resistance (pushing on your back during push ups or holding your legs during pull ups), or rigging up a resistance band around your shoulders or waist.

2. Change the angles. Depending on the set up you have, changing the angles of the movements are a great and free way of making the exercises more challenging. You can elevate your feet on a step during push ups, get your body more parallel to the ground during recline rows, place blocks or bricks under your hands to increase the range of motion on push ups, or even perform planks with your feet lifter high in a swing. Use your imagination with this and find a position that is slightly more challenging every week.

3. Increase the velocity of the movements. For every movement listed in day one and day two, you can add an explosive movement to increase the velocity.  On day one you can replace bodyweight squats with jumping squats. On day two you can replace push ups with clapping push ups.

4. Increase the volume. Once your body becomes more accustomed to the training, you will want to increase the volume of the work that you are performing. Many times, increasing the volume means increasing the amount of repetitions that you perform per set. As throwers, improving our endurance is not a very high goal on our list of things to do. In order to properly increase the volume (the amount of work) that you do during these workouts, and keep the training focused on strength and power development instead of endurance, add one set per exercise as needed. For example, if jumping lunges on day 1 starts feeling easy, don’t add more lunges to each set. Simply add an extra set. So instead of increasing from 6 sets of 4 reps per leg to 6 sets of 5 reps per leg, do 7 sets of 4 jumps per leg. Add more total work to your training by adding sets, not reps.

5. Change the exercise to make it harder. Probably the easiest way to make any workout harder is to change up the exercise to something more challenging. It can be tough to do this if you are just starting out as a coach or if you are a new athlete. Some great examples are to change the recline rows to pull ups, the push ups to feet elevated push ups, the short sprints to bleacher runs, or the hill sprints to a bounding or skipping movement. Even changing the shot put tosses to one arm or one leg variations will still keep the idea behind the workout the same while increasing the difficulty.

By increasing the volume, changing the exercise, changing the angle of your body, adding external resistance, or increasing the velocity, you will be able to take a simple bodyweight training plan outlined in part one and part two and make it more difficult for weeks or even months at a time. This strategy gets even better when you realize after a few weeks you can start to combine strategies, such as increasing velocity and the amount of sets per exercise. The changes you can make are seemingly endless, as long as you make sure the changes are gradual and you (or your athletes) are physically ready and able for the tougher work.