I was catching up on some blog meat and ran across this post by Steve Maxwell, kettlebell guru, world champion Brazilian Jiujitsu player, and ultra-fit 50 year old.
In it Steve makes a good case for the importance of bodyweight training. That is no machines, barbells, or anything using external loading.
I too have found bodyweight exercises to often be the toughest for people that are either overweight, weak, or both. When someone reaches the point where they can do 10 chinups and more than 30 consecutive pushups (in good form!) then you can bet that person will not only look good, but likely have good core strength, healthy shoulders, and a strong back.
How about someone that can do a leg matrix (24 jump squats, 24 lump lunges, 24 squats, 24 lunges) in 2:30 or less? Chances are they will have strong legs and be in pretty damn good condition.
The same cannot be said for alot of guys you see in gyms benching and squatting.
So now if I may rant a bit if you happen to see someone doing pushups, chances are their form sucks, so let's lay out proper form:
The elbows should be tucked to a 45-degree angle to the body should actively “pull” himself down to the bottom position using back muscles (recruiting scapular retractors). The hips shouldn’t sag (leads to back pain), and the head/neck should be neutral, not letting your head drop forward. The chest, not the chin or hips, should touch the ground first.
At the top the arms should be straight - no significant bend in the elbow. In other words finish the movement.
Now the beauty of all this is that now you have no excuse to not train, no matter if you are traveling or don't have access to a gym. If you want to feel and look good consistent and hard effort is required. It's as simple as that.