Michael Grogan is a Personal Trainer/Movement Coach in Melbourne CBD & Clifton Hill, Australia.  He uses a combination of Gymnastic Strength, Advanced Mobility and Barbell Strength & Power exercises to achieve increased levels of performance and body composition with his clients. For more information follow him on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelgrogan_movement/ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGroganMovement and for enquiries contact [email protected] 

I remember the day – proud as punch as I cracked my first 100kg Barbell Back Squat, yes the form was a bit sloppy and my a$s was far from the grass but, at the time, I didn’t care, I’d cracked the hundy!

It was shortly after I would go round the gym asking leading questions to my gym squad about how their training was going in the hope they would then in turn as me about mine and I could share with them my momentous feat. Because that’s what mattered right, how much weight one could lift?

I remember I was preparing to blurt out my squat weight when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a man performing a single legged pistol squat.  It looked very cool and he made it look simple as he performed 10 or so reps on each side.  I thought I’d give it a crack too, after all I could squat 100kg, surely this pesky pistol squat was well beneath my superior level, I called the gym squad over to show them my attempt (claiming it as my own invention naturally) as I went to perform the exercise resembled a pink flamingo trying to ice skate as my hips and knees buckled uncontrollably and I fell square on my a$%.

We all love shifting Iron, what’s your heaviest Deadlift? or what’s your 1RM Squat? Are often questions heard around performance centres and gyms as a barometer of strength and ability. But what good is being able to Dead 2-hunge if your body is inadequate at performing exercises using its own body? After all if you are transferring your gym performance to real life situations, surely it makes sense to have full control over it during any movement.

There are a whole host of challenging bodyweight exercises that are often overlooked in favour of ‘making gains’ using additional weight like barbells and dumbells. The purpose of this article is to give you some options to master your body and utilise it as a training tool as opposing to always reaching for the additional weight as a first resort. I have handpicked 4 progressive bodyweight exercises that can be scaled to any ability in order to illustrate this:


1. The Pistol Squat

The younger, trendier and, lets face it, the cooler alternative to the Barbell Back Squat.

The Pistol squat firstly is a challenge in mental resolve because when you first attempt it, as I experienced, you will no doubt be a quivering mess in the hip and ankle joints before your muscles gain the capability to properly perform the exercise.

Pistol squats are a hugely beneficial exercise for those wanting to gain symmetrical strength in their lower body as they each side of the body individually throughout repetitions.

Try a scaled version to start by holding on to something sturdy for balance.


2. Ground Lever

The ground lever is like a sit-up on steroids – the challenge, which I am yet to master, is to keep your body in a perfectly straight position as you slowly lower it to the ground.

This move will intensely strengthen through your abdominals, lower back and glutes.



Scaled version is to bend at the hip whilst slowly lowering towards the ground.




3. Back Bridge

If you have never done any flexibility work through your spine then the back bridge may give you nightmares. The basic goal of the back bridge is to create space and strength through the spine. It usually feels very uncomfortable when first attempting the manoeuvre as it reverses the usual kyphotic position we spend a lot of time in through sitting or working at a desk. But the quick improvements through regular practice will give you an intense release through your spine and much improved posture.

The Freedom created through the spine also gives you a better range of movement for your squat and dead lift.

Try as scaled version by mastering the hip bridge before you launch into a full back bridge.


4.  L-Sit

I love banging on about the L-Sit. Once you have incorporated the L-sit into your training; your days of bobbing up and down like a marina buoy on the Dip Bar are over.

The L-Sit strengthens intensely through the arms and also through the core. Master this movement by doing multiple sets of 5-20 second holds.

Try a scaled version by keeping your tippy toes grounded until you are ready to fully support your body weight.

To Conclude:

Its now time to assess what is going on with your body and check to see if you can touch your toes, balance on one leg or support your own body weight in a suspended position. If you think you would struggle with any of these movements it may be time to put down that barbell or dumbbell and begin to master the shell you live in.  Rest assured when you pick up that barbell again in the future you will most definitely be a stronger and better version of yourself for it.


For all those wanting help with their bodyweight training please get in touch: [email protected]




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Michael is a Human Performance Coach based in Melbourne, Australia creating high performance human machines since 2009. Michael believes in building physical performance using gymnastic strength, advanced mobility and barbell strength & power. Building mental performance through constant challenge, goal setting and skill based activities. Building lifestyle performance through discipline and mental drive.