We have talked previously about the benefits of bodyweight training and I'd like to discuss another one of the less appreciated advantages of this form of exercise.
Most people who don't know very much about bodyweight work think that it is limiting in that you can't control how much resistance you are utilizing. At a first pass this would seem to be true, after all you can't change what you weigh right? Well maybe you can over the long-term, but certainly not between sets. This leaves people thinking that bodyweight work would not be appropriate for them because they are either too heavy or too light to get a goo work-out with bodyweight given their strength level.
Fortunately these people are WRONG! Most any bodyweight exercise can be increased or decreased in difficulty by modifying body position and thereby adjusting the torque (<--click this link, it is worth understanding!) and effective resistance.
This can be done throughout a set so that one is continuously working at their maximum possible tension level. Bodybuilders sometimes adjust the weight during a set by taking of plates once they hit failure. This is called a drop-set. Bodyweight exercise allows even finer control though, as it is possible to increase resistance on the eccentric (also know as the negative or lowering portion) of the rep where you can handle more weight and then decrease it on the positive (concentric or lifting phase) where you are weaker. For example in the glute ham raise, one can do the negative with the arms extended overhead and the positive with the arms at the sides. It would also be possible to bend the waist a little more on the negative than on the positive. In addition to this variation one can gradually decrase torque from rep to rep. In this way one can be at the point of muscular failure for the entire set!
This technique is very hard on the body and should probably not be used for every set. Nevertheless I tend to use it all the time, because I can't get enough of the burn. For the time being I'll call these torque sets. Can you guys think of a better name, let me know in the comments. Also I'd be curious to hear if any of you employ this method and on what exercises.