John “Roman” Romaniello is a trainer in NYC, physique model, literature geek, great writer and all around good guy. Oh, and he can do a mean push up. But that’s not why we like him. As fitness pros, we’re drawn to John because of his rare combination of muscle and movement control.
Roman is the perfect foil to the myth that you can’t be muscular and still have good mobility, flexibility and a high level of skilled movement. His mastery of perfect technique spans a wide range of exercise modalities, including bodyweight.
We’ve had several conversations with John about how he integrates bodyweight training into the programs that he writes for his clients. When we asked him if he had a favourite bodyweight exercise, he shared instead his favourite STRATEGY for using bodyweight in his programs…
Mechanical Advantage Drop Sets
The term Mechanical Advantage has been around for ages, but it’s usually applied to weight training. The principle involves combining 2 or more exercises that work similar movement patterns into one extended set. But the “trick” lies in the fact that each subsequent exercise puts you in a more “advantageous” mechanical position.
Check out the video, where John uses the push up to demonstrate this approach.
As you can see, Roman moves from the toughest to the easiest form of pressing exercise in his progression:
- Feet Elevated Pike Push Up (we call these Rocca presses…)
- Regular Pike Push Up
- Traditional Push Up
Doing the exercises in this order lets you hit the toughest movements while you’re fresh. You then progressively drop the resistance by changing the leverage through a simple realignment of your body position. It’s a clever way to squeeze out more reps. AND you get better and stronger at the more challenging movement variations WHILE still getting a full workout. That’s good thinking!
Roman suggests starting with 10 reps of each move, for a total of 30 presses over the course of the extended set. But you can adapt the numbers to your current level of strength and conditioning. You can also use other variations of pressing exercises to mix things up. The important thing is to go from the position of least mechanical advantage (the toughest exercise) to the position of greatest mechanical advantage (the “easiest” version).
Give this a try and let us know how you did in the comment section.
And for bonus points, let’s see ya get a little creative. Give us your best example of a bodyweight mechanical drop set circuit using different exercises than the ones Roman shared. There’s no prize short of the recognition of your peers. And the knowledge that YOU are the craftiest reader in BodyweightCoach Land.
Let’s see what you’ve got!