How to set up Bodyweight Workouts

metabolic workout finishers

bodyweight exercisebodyweight exerciseYou tend to ask this question all the time over at my facebook page and in emails, etc., etc.

So, you may want to save this email.

More on that in a bit, but first, I’m on a big bodyweight workout kick thanks to my nasty Friday workouts. On Fridays, I have a total body workout on the agenda, and it wipes me out every time.

We’re going to talk about bodyweight workouts this week, and in fact, I’m going to show you how to set up a bodyweight workout (because most people do it wrong).

First thing first – your question. “Mike, do you have a lower body finisher?” And of course, you ask the same for the upper body.

I tend to favor full body finishers, but let’s do this.

I wrote a lower bodyweight finisher for a client at least 8 months ago or so and it’s still one of my favorite lower body finishers I’ve ever written. It’s so simple, too.

Here is the lower body finisher…

Do the following superset as many times as possible in 5 minutes, resting ONLY when necessary.

Narrow Stance Bodyweight Squat (15)
KB or DB Swings (15)

Great times.

Now if you want to do all bodyweight, simply take out the swings and replace those with Total Body Extensions.

This style of finisher uses the density approach. This allows you to check your progress. So, write down how many rounds you were able to do and then next time, try to beat that.

For the upper body finisher, I actually like the same approach, but the tricky part is that the reps are much less, so you get to put in more rounds. It’s almost addicting, yet gets you angry about 2 minutes into it.

The Upper Body 4 X 4

Do the following superset as many times as possible in 4 minutes, resting only when needed.

Chin-ups (4)
Close-Grip Pushups (4)

I also like using the Triple Stop Pushup with this one… that’s when you pause halfway down for one second, then pause again at the bottom, and then finally come back up.

Great bodyweight finishers, huh?

Many people underestimate the power of using bodyweight workouts.  That’s because they do it all wrong. They walk into the gym and start pimping burpees and jumps right off the bat, and then they try to do their “resistance” training after that madness.

No wonder you’re frustrated… you must do the actual “resistance” first yo.

Quick note – why did I use “pimping” and “yo”? I have no clue.

Here is how to set up the ultimate bodyweight workout so you can get the best of all worlds.. metabolic resistance training, metabolic conditioning and of course, the metabolic finisher.

First, you MUST start things off right with a warm-up. And unfortunately, many people even screw that up. The idea of a warm-up is to warm up…not to destroy yourself right off the bat.

So if you start off with burpees and jump squats immediately… you’re going to burn out fast and won’t even make it to the “bread and butter” of your program.

The Warm-up

This is when you’ll use EASIER exercises such as bodyweight squats, pushups, planks and “not-so-taxing” moves. This is MUCH better than the boring treadmill and bike, plus it primes your body much better for the workout ahead.

Here is a sample warm-up that’s been working for me…

Jumping Jacks (15)
Bodyweight Squat (10)
Pushups (taking 2 seconds to go down and 2 seconds to come up… this warms up the abs as well) (8-10)
Prisoner Lunge (6/side)
Plank (20 secs)

Now that you’re warmed up and ready to go, you can just do burpees until you’re dizzy and frustrated.


Mikey, CTT

Ha. That was hilarious. Who’s got the Monday funnies? This guy –> Mikey.

Seriously, just after warming up, your muscles are primed and ready to rock. This is when you introduce the harder, more demanding moves.

Let’s do a sample metabolic resistance training circuit….

Do the following circuit 3 times, resting for 1 minute between circuits:

Bulgarian Split Squat (1-1/2 rep style) (8/side)
Chin-up or Strap Inverted Row (1 rep short of failure)
Decline Triple Stop Pushup (12)

 Obviously, these moves demand more and tire your muscles more than the warm-up exercises. But that’s the purpose. This is the “resistance” side of your workout, which is important.

After your metabolic resistance training, then you can introduce the metabolic conditioning. Here’s why you want to do MCT after MRT…

If you were to do conditioning first, you would find that you would struggle with your resistance training. Remember, resistance training is the important part of any workout program.

Alright – metabolic conditioning. I really dig this part. This is when you typically do higher reps and set it up as a circuit. It’s similar to cardio, but much more demanding and much less boring. Here’s a sample MCT circuit:

Do the following circuit 3 times, resting for 1 minute between circuits:

Lunge Jumps (6/side)
Close-Grip Pushups (15)
Total Body Extensions (15)
Spiderman Climb (10/side) 

Now to do a bodyweight workout without a grand finale is almost like cussing in church. So, after your easy warm-up, MRT and MCT, you can end it with a finisher. Be sure to rest 1 minute after your MCT circuit to get through the finisher. Here’s a sample bodyweight finisher:

Do the following circuit ONE time, resting only when needed. Record the time it takes you. The next time you do this finisher, try to beat that time.

Jump Squat (15)
X-Body Mountain Climber (15/side)
Burpees (20)
Elevated Pushups (15/side)
Total Body Extension (30)

So, you know the drill. C’mon don’t be shy. Let’s gather round in a really large circle. What did we learn?

“The perfect bodyweight workout should be set up like this…

Warm-up using EASIER moves, but not taxing the system Metabolic Resistance Training Circuits or Supersets –  using more resistance and tension on the muscles Metabolic Conditioning – using higher rep exercises set up in a circuit fashion Metabolic Finisher – Get crazy baby.

Oh yeah… and the Panthers are horrid in the 4th quarter”

Thanks imaginary friend sitting in my imaginary circle. You rock sir.

bodyweight workout

So, if you’ve tried bodyweight workouts in the past and were disappointed or you don’t think they work… this hopefully proves otherwise. And with the holidays approaching (can you believe we’re almost in November??), you may need to resort to bodyweight workouts.

You can get done-for-you bodyweight workouts here

More cool bodyweight stuff coming your way. Start AND finish this week strong. But of course…

May you never, EVER get bored with your workouts,

Mikey, CTT

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