Bodyweight exercise tends to be discounted a lot in the strength training world by many training enthusiasts who label it as ‘easy’ or discount its effectiveness due to lack of external loading. However, if you look at bodyweight training closely and perform it with maximal effort, you will see that it can be made into quite a difficult training tool and you can really push the body’s energy systems by using it properly – train with a gymnast if you believe otherwise.
The following bodyweight strength workout comprehensively works most of your body’s muscle groups in a single workout. The workout is performed in a series of supersets with fatigue accommodated for by a 5-10% reduction in reps for each subsequent superset. As a general guideline, you can expect the reps will drop by around 10% for the ‘A’ exercises and 5% for the rest of the exercises for each subsequent set. Don’t be surprised if you get really high rep ranges for some exercises (e.g. Bulgarian split squats).
Do as many reps as you can of each exercise until your form starts to breakdown – at that point cease the set. Be sure to start each single limb exercise with the weakest side first and do not exceed the reps performed on this side with that of the stronger side. See below for the program walkthrough as well as definitions and abbreviations. A pdf copy of the program and video demonstrations are featured below for your reference (ignore any external loads used in videos).
Bodyweight Strength Workout:
For your convenience, a PDF copy has been provided via link below:
We will use Session 1 of this bodyweight strength program as an example:
Perform exercise A:1 (Chin-Ups – close grip) for As Many Reps Possible. Rest 10 seconds.
Perform exercise A:2 (Parallel Bar Dips) for As Many Reps Possible. Rest 60 seconds
Repeat the superset A:1 + A:2 an additional two times for a total of 3 sets of each exercise – dropping the reps by 5% each subsequent set. Once all 3 sets have been completed for the ‘A’ exercises, move onto the ‘B’ exercises and proceed in a similar sequence, remembering to drop the reps by 10% in each subsequent set.
Definitions & Abbreviations
Reps = the number of repetitions/repeats of a given exercise
Sets = a cluster of reps performed in sequence without rest
es = each side – exercises with this abbreviation require both sides of the body to be worked (e.g. Alternating Incline Dumbbell Curls in phase 1).
AMRP = As Many Reps Possible
%max = percentage of maximum reps for the particular exercise
Chin-Ups – Close Grip:
Paralell Bar Dips
Inverted Rows – Wide Grip, Overhand
Bulgarian Split Squats
(Ignore the added external load in the above example)
*if you do not have the abdominal strength to perform the torture twists you may regress this exercise to a bicycle crunch – see below:
Other Program Notes
In regards to the bulgarian split squat and back extension video above, ignore the added external load in the above example. Also, in regards to back extensions, use a 45’ bench as a starting point for this exercise. Progress to a 90’ version if the 45’ version is too easy – remember, you can always get a training partner to hold your legs from a tall flat bench if you cannot get access to the aforementioned apparatus.
If you complete the bodyweight workout in its entirety and with the desired intensity, you should be pleasantly surprised the degree of difficulty and the effectiveness of the program. For subsequent workouts, look to increase the intensity and your performance by beating your previous workout with an extra rep on each corresponding set. As always, your feedback is most welcome – email firstname.lastname@example.org