Reddit is a place for answers. Not all of these answers are correct, but they are numerous, covering nearly every subject from Dota 2 strategy to underground steroid purchases. And on r/bodyweightfitness, users have joined forces to answer a question being asked by millions of people making their New Year's exercise resolutions: What is the perfect workout?
The result is an extremely convenient, bodyweight-oriented solution to a mystery that has sold billions of dollars of fitness books, gym memberships, and equipment. Their program, as outlined in this video by YouTube fitness celebrity (and leading r/bodyweightfitness poster) Antranik, consists of three hour-long workouts that utilize simple movements such as planks, l-sits, handstands, and pull-ups—time-tested exercises that trainees were doing in 19th-century gymnasiums. The regimen is intended to be progressive, meaning that trainees will hold these poses for longer amounts of time or perform additional repetitions as they develop greater strength and flexibility.
First-time posters on r/bodyweightfitness typically describe themselves as out of shape and lacking access to a gym or information about fitness and nutrition. For individuals with such limited means and low starting skill levels, the workout would be effective, Equinox trainer Jason Strong told Motherboard. "I watched Antranik's video and I must say I am impressed," he said. "The workout is simple but thoroughly thought out. The progressions and regressions are very important. The breakdown of the workout is smart and follows traditional procedures--warm-up, skill movements, strength--and I love the prerequisite to move on to pull-ups. Now, if this is all you ever did, it is lacking rotational movements and stretching, but I do like it."
Anthony Roberts, a fitness journalist and trainer, agreed with Strong's assessment but cautioned that the absence of weight training from the workout would slow and eventually limit a trainee's ability to continue developing total-body strength.
"Bodyweight or gymnastics movements will get you better at those types of movements," he told Motherboard. "The disadvantage is that without using an external load such as a barbell or kettlebell, you're limited to your bodyweight. You're unlikely to get very big or terribly strong with this kind of training, but you can certainly attain an athletic build on just bodyweight exercises. And this routine has a minimal barrier to entry, as it requires no equipment or gym membership. Plenty of guys in prison develop very respectable physiques with just bodyweight training. But 100 percent of them would have better physiques if they had access to weights."
Ryan Johnston, who co-founded Panther CrossFit at the University of Pittsburgh, stressed that no single workout regimen will prove effective for all trainees. "Many people are just looking for someone to tell them an exact routine to do so they can start doing it tonight and tomorrow," he said. "The great thing about computers is that they take a lot of cognitive load from humans and allow us to do things with our brain that are easier and more fun to do. The bad thing is is that we're so used to getting our answers from them now that we forget we don't need them to do simple addition."
Even so, for out-of-shape novices looking to drop a few inches and pounds, a one-size-fits-all workout is way better than nothing.