Men's Health Your Body is Your Barbell

14

Chapter

THE WORKOUTS 8 CHALLENGING ROUTINES FOR FAT-BURNING, STRENGTH, AND ENDURANCE!

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Everyone, it seems, wants to lose body fat. But there are a lot of other worthwhile motivations for fitness, and bodyweight training can help you achieve those, too.

In this chapter, you’ll find workouts for just about every goal, whether you’re looking for rapid fat loss, striving for serious muscle gain, or trying to build strength, power, or endurance. There are workouts for people with a minimalist approach to fitness or those looking to work their upper or lower body separately. If you find yourself really short on time, use the 8-minute workout to get your fat-burning on without needing to completely overhaul your busy schedule. There’s something for everyone and every goal. Here are the workouts and how to build them into your life.

The BODYWEIGHT 8 Workouts

How many weeks do you perform each workout?

Well, the answer depends on your fitness level, goals, and training schedule. If all you care about is fat loss, you can keep rocking the Bodyweight Burners from Chapter 13 until the end of time as long as you switch up the exercise variations you’re using every 2 to 4 weeks. If you want to regularly rotate between different training goals, you can jump to a new one of this chapter’s workouts every 4 to 12 weeks. Beginners will do better by switching less frequently (every 6 to 12 weeks), where advanced trainees will do better shaking it up more often (every 2 to 4 weeks).

The most important thing to remember is the concept of progressive overload. This means you need to keep challenging your muscles with harder exercise variations to reach your goals. No other exercise variable is more important than training intensity, which is why shorter 10- to 30-minute workouts can be so effective if you push yourself hard enough. That’s why you spent so much time learning all of the exercise progressions. It’s paramount that you continually reference the step-by-step progressions for the Bodyweight 8 exercises in Chapters 5 through 12 to completely customize your fitness experience for each workout. You’ll be using the easier exercise variations for warmups and higher-rep endurance workouts and the harder exercises to build muscle and strength. Sometimes, you’ll be using multiple exercise variations of varied levels of difficulty within the same training session. But don’t sweat the details. It’s easy to get caught in paralysis by analysis by trying to find your perfect workout program. Just pick a workout and get started right away. Remember: This chapter is for more flexible exercisers. If you prefer more variety, feel free to change between different workouts as much as you’d like. All that matters is that you train consistently, you work hard, and you make sure that you progress on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis by advancing to harder moves. If you find yourself in need of a rest week every once in a while, feel free to take one. Just be sure to still be active that week: Walk, play recreational sports, stretch, foam roll, and otherwise move around. Most people could do with an active recovery week every 6 to 12 weeks or so based on their training schedules, age, and fitness level.

#1BODYWEIGHT BUILDERS

This simple and effective muscle-building program uses nothing but your body weight. Here we will alternate between an upper-body and a lower-body workout to allow your muscles more time for recovery (and growth) between workouts. Select the exercises that are right for your level of fitness. But keep in mind that you’ll want to choose moves that are challenging enough in the classic bodybuilding rep range of 6 to 12 reps instead of working for time as you do with workouts designed for fat loss. Since your legs are stronger than your arms, you may need to use single-leg exercises or add an external load like a weight vest, dumbbell, or kettlebell to the lower-body exercises.

Here’s how it works

Perform four workouts per week, alternating between an upper-body workout and a lower-body workout. In each workout, alternate between two exercises that work opposing muscle groups; that’s known as a superset format. You are free to choose the exercise level and variation you wish as long as you can complete the reps with good form. Complete a superset of 6 to 12 reps per exercise every 5 minutes. Perform 6 total supersets for a 30-minute workout. Your weekly training schedule is outlined below.

Use the first superset in each workout as a warmup. Choose easier exercise variations of the basic move for 10 to 20 reps to warm your muscles, lubricate your joints, and groove your movement patterns. Then perform the remaining 5 supersets in a rep range of 6 to 12.

For best results, you must perform your reps with a 3-2-1-1 training tempo to maximize time under tension. This means you’ll take 3 seconds during the lowering portion, hold the finishing position for 2 seconds, take 1 second during the lifting portion, and then take 1 second to reset between each rep.

Once you can perform 5 sets of 12+ reps for a given exercise variation, you must move to the next level of progression in order to keep stimulating muscle growth.

If you’re performing a unilateral exercise other than a Single-Leg Squat for Lower-Body Workout B, you’ll need to perform 6 to 12 reps per side within each 5-minute superset block. For example, if you were performing a superset of Single-Arm Pushups and Single-Arm Rows, you would need to complete 6 to 12 reps per arm and leg for each move within a 5-minute time frame.

If you’d like, for the 6th and final superset, you can back off to an easier exercise variation and perform as many good reps as you can for a serious muscle pump. For example, if you were using Feet-Elevated Pushups for sets of 6 to 12 reps, back off to regular Pushups for reps of 15 or more. You can perform these reps faster, still emphasizing a slower lowering speed.

If you find that you have a lot of extra rest time between sets, use exercise fillers like self-massage (foam rolling) or stretching/ mobility work to fill in the gaps.

Exercise

Workout A

Workout B

MONDAY 

Upper Body

TUESDAY 

Lower Body

THURSDAY 

Upper Body

FRIDAY 

Lower Body

1

Pushup Variation

Deep Squat Variation

Handstand Pushup Variation

Single-Leg Squat Variation 

(Left Leg)

2

Row Variation

Hip Thrust or Hip Hinge Variation

Pullup Variation

Single-Leg Squat Variation 

(Right Leg)

#2 THE MINIMALIST

This workout is for someone who prefers a workout program that focuses on fewer movements and fewer total workouts per week.

It’s a total-body workout in just three exercises. Do it once or twice a week. You’ll still burn fat, build muscle, and boost metabolism, but you’ll do it with the least effort possible.

Here’s how it works

Alternate between the three exercises in the chart during each workout.

If your goal is to build strength and power, perform as many sets of 3 to 5 reps for each exercise as you can in a 30-minute time frame. Only rest as much as needed between exercises, and be sure to choose exercise variations that challenge you in a 3- to 5-rep range.

If your goal is to build muscle, perform as many sets of 6 to 12 reps for each exercise as you can in 30 minutes. Rest only as much as needed between exercises, and be sure to choose exercise variations that challenge you in a 6- to 12-rep range.

If your goal is to build endurance, perform as many sets of 15 to 20 reps for each exercise as you can in 30 minutes. Only rest as much as needed between exercises, and be sure to choose exercise variations that challenge you in a 15- to 20-rep range.

Use the first 1 or 2 sets for each exercise in each workout as a warmup by using an easier variation.

If your goal is to train multiple muscle qualities within the same training session, then in every triset, mix between the various rep ranges mentioned above.

Make certain you mix between the different exercise options within each Big Bodyweight 3 category from workout to workout (for example, mix between Pushups and Handstand Pushup variations).

Be sure to perform an equal number of sets per side for all unilateral exercises, unless you are trying to strengthen an imbalance between sides by doing more total sets on the weak side.

Exercise

Big Bodyweight 8 Exercise

1

UPPER PUSHING VARIATION: 

Pick a Pushup or 

Handstand Pushup Variation

2

UPPER PULLING VARIATION: 

Pick a Row or 

Pullup Variation

3

SQUATTING VARIATION: 

Pick a Deep Squat or 

Single-Leg Squat Variation

#3 PURE POWER

Power is moving your body as quickly as possible. To build it, use easier to moderately difficult bodyweight exercise variations. Power engages what’s called the stretch reflex, or the rubber band-like qualities of your muscles and tendons. These explosive muscular contractions target your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are key because they burn the most calories and have the largest impact on your metabolic rate. Power moves also elevate your heart rate higher than any other movement and enhance your athletic performance. In fact, circuiting a handful of bodyweight power training moves that work your whole body for only 20 minutes will have a ridiculous metabolic impact that rivals that of sprinting. A power workout is inherently higher impact, so it should be done only if you’ve been exercising regularly for at least 3 months.

Here’s how it works

Perform this 20-minute total-body workout two or three times per week with ideally 48 hours between workouts. You could also alternate between this workout, Super Strength, and Extreme Endurance to train every key muscle quality within a given training week.

Alternate between 20 seconds of work and 40 seconds of rest for each exercise in the bodyweight circuit in the chart.

Completing the four exercises is one cycle. Perform up to five total cycles for a 20-minute workout.

Before you start the workout, perform 10 to 20 reps of an easier exercise variation for each move in the circuit to warm up your muscles, lubricate your joints, and groove your movement patterns.

If you prefer to work for reps instead of time, perform 5 to 10 reps of each exercise every minute and use the remainder of each minute to rest and transition to the next exercise.

For all unilateral exercises, switch sides at the halfway 10-second mark and perform an equal number of reps on each side. If you find that 10 seconds isn’t enough time to get in enough work, perform 20 seconds on each side with no rest between sides. This will still give you 20 seconds of rest and transition time until you start the next exercise within the circuit. You could also perform 5 to 10 reps per side and use the remainder of that minute to rest.

These reps should be performed nearly continuously for maximum benefit and to get enough reps within each 20-second work period.

Exercise

Bodyweight 8 Exercise

1

VERTICAL JUMP VARIATION

2

PLYO PUSHUP VARIATION

3

JUMP SQUAT VARIATION

4

PLYO ROW VARIATION

#4 SUPER STRENGTH

You will develop maximal strength in a 3- to 5-rep range using heavy loads or advanced exercise variations performed at slower, more controlled tempos. The one drawback of traditional strength training is that it requires long and boring rest periods (often 3 to 5 minutes or longer) between sets, leaving many people feeling like they didn’t sweat or work hard enough. So I’ve created a 20-minute strength circuit where you minimize workout time without sacrificing results. The cool thing about this setup is that you end up getting more than 4 minutes of rest before repeating the same exercise again while you’re working other muscle groups. This keeps the intensity high for a serious calorie-burning and cardio boost.

Here’s how it works

Perform this 20-minute total-body workout two or three times per week with ideally 48 hours between workouts. You could also alternate between this workout, Pure Power, and Extreme Endurance to train every key muscle quality within a given training week.

Alternate between 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for each exercise in the following bodyweight circuit.

Completing the five exercises is one cycle. Perform up to four total cycles for a 20-minute workout.

For best results, perform your reps with a 3-1-1-1 training tempo to maximize time under tension. This means you’ll take 3 seconds during the lowering portion, hold the finishing position for 1 second, take 1 second during the lifting portion, and then take 1 second to reset between each rep. Over the course of 30 seconds, you could do at most 5 total reps.

Before you start the workout, perform 10 to 20 reps of an easier exercise variation for each move in the circuit to warm up.

If you prefer to work for reps instead of time, perform 3 to 5 reps of each exercise every minute and use the remainder of each minute to rest and transition to the next exercise.

For all unilateral exercises, switch sides at the halfway 15-second mark and perform an equal number of reps on each side. If you find that 15 seconds isn’t enough time to get in enough work, stay on the same side the whole set and switch sides from cycle to cycle (making sure to perform an even number of total cycles, either two or four). You could also perform 3 to 5 reps per side and use the remainder of that minute to rest and transition to the next exercise.

Exercise

Bodyweight 8 Exercise

1

HIP THRUST VARIATION

2

PUSHUP OR HANDSTAND PUSHUP VARIATION

3

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION (Left Side)

4

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION (Right Side)

5

ROW OR PULLUP VARIATION

#5 EXTREME ENDURANCE

To train endurance, you need to perform higher reps of easier bodyweight exercises with short rest periods between moves.

This creates a surge of blood and nutrients to your muscles and builds up your lactic acid tolerance, or your ability to handle the burning sensation in your muscles that comes with higher-rep training. Your lower body has more natural muscular endurance than your upper body because it’s used more often, so you’ll find that upper-body moves are difficult to maintain for 1½ minutes. Either employ short 3- to 5-second rest periods when needed or regress the exercise. Another option: Do a drop set. Perform the harder exercise variation for the first 45 seconds and then immediately regress to an easier move for the final 45 seconds.

Here’s how it works

Perform this 20-minute total-body workout two or three times per week with ideally 48 hours between workouts. You could also alternate between this workout, Pure Power, and Super Strength to train every key muscle quality within a given training week.

Alternate between 1½ minutes of work and 30 seconds of rest for each exercise in the chart. Completing these five exercises is one cycle. Perform up to two total cycles for a 20-minute workout.

You can do these reps faster than you would with the Super Strength workout but still take a little longer during the lowering portion to relieve pressure on your joints and make your muscles work harder.

Before you start each workout, do 10 to 20 reps of an easier exercise variation for each move in the circuit to warm up your muscles, lubricate your joints, and groove your movement patterns.

If you prefer to work for reps instead of time, perform 15 to 20+ reps of each exercise every 2 minutes and use the remainder of each 2-minute block to rest and transition to the next exercise.

For all unilateral exercises, switch sides at the halfway 45-second mark and perform an equal number of reps on each side. If you find that 45 seconds isn’t enough time to get in enough work, stay on the same side the whole set and switch sides from cycle to cycle. You could also perform 15 to 20 reps per side and use the remainder of that 2-minute block to rest and transition to the next exercise.

Exercise

Bodyweight 8 Exercise

1

HIP THRUST VARIATION

2

PUSHUP OR HANDSTAND PUSHUP VARIATION

3

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION (Left Side)

4

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION (Right Side)

5

ROW OR PULLUP VARIATION

#6 THE 8-MINUTE WORKOUT

While most people can find 30 to 60 minutes to train a couple times per week, there will be days where things get so busy you’ll only have 10 minutes to spare. Well, 10 minutes is way better than nothing! In fact, a recent study showed that a 10-minute workout had the same postworkout metabolic boost as a 30-minute workout, though the 30-minute workout burned more total calories during the session due to the higher exercise volume. The key with a shorter workout is intensity. With such a low total exercise volume, you really have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and take little to no rest between exercises in order to get a good workout.

Here’s how it works

Alternate between 50 seconds of hard work and 10 seconds of rest for each exercise in the following bodyweight circuit.

Perform as many reps as you can with perfect form within each 50-second work period. If it’s an isometric exercise, simply hold the position for as long as you can. If you need to rest or pause at any point, please do so. Your goal is to eventually be able to continuously work for the full 50 seconds without stopping.

For all unilateral exercises, be sure to switch sides at the halfway mark so you perform 25 seconds of work on each side.

You should be able to perform at least 10 total reps (5 per side for a unilateral movement) within each 50-second work period. If you’re consistently getting fewer than 10 total reps, make the exercise easier by using one of the microregressions within each exercise level. If you’re consistently getting more than 10 total reps, make the exercise harder by using one of the microprogressions within each exercise level. You can also feel free to mix and match between other variations of a given exercise level, if you’d like.

If you’re using plyometric exercises like Jump Squats or Plyo Rows, pause for 4 to 5 seconds in the top or bottom position between explosive reps to emphasize quality over quantity. You can also alternate between 10 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest three times to fill the full minute.

Exercise

Bodyweight 8 Exercise

1

HIP THRUST VARIATION

2

PUSHUP VARIATION

3

DEEP SQUAT VARIATION

4

ROW VARIATION

5

HIP HINGE VARIATION

6

HANDSTAND PUSHUP VARIATION

7

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION

8

PULLUP VARIATION

#7 ULTIMATE UPPER- AND LOWER-BODY WORKOUTS

These workouts are inspired by German Volume Training (GVT), a program in which you do 10 sets of 10 reps of an exercise for a certain movement pattern or muscle group. I’ve modified them to use more functional bodyweight exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once so you don’t have to train one body part per day.

Here’s how the Upper-Body Workout works

Perform two upper-body workouts per week, taking at least 72 hours of rest in between. Each workout consists of a superset of a pushing exercise and pulling exercise.

In Workout A, alternate between a Pushup and Row variation that you are strong enough to do for 12 to 15 reps in a single set.

In Workout B, alternate between a Handstand Pushup and Pullup variation that you are strong enough to do for 12 to 15 reps in a single set.

Try to perform 10 reps of each exercise within the superset every 4 minutes. Do 10 total supersets for a 40-minute workout.

You most likely will not be able to perform 10 reps for all 10 sets; bump down to 9, 8, 7, 6, or even 5 reps toward the last sets. Once you can do 10 reps for all 10 sets, advance to a harder variation.

Before you start each workout, perform 10 to 20 reps of an easier exercise variation for each move in the superset to warm up.

For the unilateral exercises, you may need to perform 5 reps per side to get your 10 total reps.

Here’s how the Lower-Body Workout works

Perform two lower-body workouts per week taking at least 72 hours of rest in between. Each workout consists of a superset of a single-leg exercise.

In Workout A, alternate between right and left sides of a Single-Leg Squat variation that you are strong enough to do for 12 to 15 reps per side.

In Workout B, alternate between right and left sides of a Single-Leg Hip Thrust or Hip Hinge variation that you can do for 12 to 15 reps per side.

Try to perform 10 reps on each side every 4 minutes. Do 10 total supersets for a 40-minute workout.

You most likely will not be able to perform 10 reps for all 10 sets; bump down to 9, 8, 7, 6, or even 5 reps toward the last sets. Once you can do 10 reps for all 10 sets, advance to a harder variation.

Before you start each workout, perform 10 to 20 reps of an easier exercise variation for each move in the superset to warm up.

Exercise

Workout A

Workout B

MONDAY 

Upper Body

TUESDAY 

Lower Body

THURSDAY 

Upper Body

FRIDAY 

Lower Body

1

PUSHUP VARIATION

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION

HANDSTAND PUSHUP VARIATION

SINGLE-LEG HIP THRUST OR HINGE VARIATION

2

ROW VARIATION

SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION (Other Leg)

PULLUP VARIATION

SINGLE-LEG HIP THRUST OR HINGE VARIATION (Other Leg)

#8 THE SHREDDER

This is my go-to routine when I’m trying to get really lean for a photo shoot. To torch fat and still maintain muscle mass, I start with a 40-minute strength-training circuit that works my whole body using harder exercises, lower reps, and longer rest periods. Then I finish with 20 minutes of a classic metabolic-resistance-training (MRT) circuit. This provides the best of both exercise styles. If you want to focus more on fat loss, bump up the MRT circuit to 30 minutes and bump down the strength work to 30 minutes. Just keep the total workout to 60 minutes or fewer.

Here’s how it works

Perform this whole-body workout three times per week with ideally 48 hours between workouts.

This workout has two parts to be performed in this order:

Part I—Heavy strength-training circuit: 40 minutes

Part II—Metabolic-resistance-training circuit: 20 minutes

FOR PART I, perform one cycle within 10 minutes. Take ample rest between each exercise to keep intensity high, and use any remaining time to do active recovery like foam rolling or stretching.

“Heavy” means you select a variation of each exercise that challenges you in a 3- to 6-rep range using the Bodyweight 8 exercise progressions. For all unilateral exercises, be sure to perform 3 to 6 reps on each side within each 10-minute time frame.

Perform four cycles for 40 total minutes. Use easier exercise variations in the first cycle to warm up.

FOR PART II, perform 60 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest for each exercise in the chart.

That’s one cycle. Perform four total cycles for about 20 total minutes and then grab a cold shower!

Use variations of these exercises that are significantly easier than the ones you used for the heavy strength work so you can get 10 reps to 20 reps within every 60-second work period.

For all unilateral exercises, be sure to switch sides at the halfway mark so you perform 30 seconds of work on each side. You could also perform all your reps or work on one side and then switch sides from cycle to cycle, if you’d like. Just make sure to perform an equal number of reps on each side and perform an even number of total sets.

Part I

Part II

Heavy Strength Training Circuit

Metabolic-Resistance-Training Circuit

HEAVY SQUATTING EXERCISE

HIP THRUST OR HIP HINGE VARIATION

HEAVY PULLING EXERCISE

PUSHUP OR HANDSTAND PUSHUP VARIATION

HEAVY PUSHING EXERCISE

DEEP SQUAT OR SINGLE-LEG SQUAT VARIATION

 

ROW OR PULLUP VARIATION



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