Fat loss, improved fitness, increased muscle tonality and stamina – this body weight workout delivers all this and more.
The 10 calisthenics exercises that comprise this body weight workout engage every major muscle group.
In addition, the combination of functional calisthenics exercises and high-intensity output will get your heart beating and blood pumping.
It’s these positive benefits that make this body weight workout a complete training session.
Body weight workout benefits
If you can make space in your training routine for his body weight workout, here are just some of the benefits you can expect.
Whole-body workout that requires no equipment
Improved whole-body fitness
Increased muscle endurance
Enhanced aerobic fitness
Improved muscular definition
Furthermore, you have a simple yet highly effective whole-body workout that you can do almost anywhere.
To complete this workout requires no equipment. All you need is a bit of space, a repeat countdown timer, and a training mat. (But even the training mat isn’t essential – grass or a sandy beach are far better substitutes).
How to do this body weight workout
This body weight workout couldn’t be simpler. Once you’ve warmed up – a jog around the block or five to 10-minutes of skipping will do – set a repeat minute countdown timer.
When you’re ready, start the countdown and begin performing air squats for one minute. Aim to maintain a methodical pace for the duration of the round.
As soon as the time elapses, immediately progress to the next body weight exercise – walkouts. Again, try to walk out and back without stopping for one minute.
Following the same format, proceed through all the body weight exercises. When you have completed the final exercise – one-minute burpees – either finish the workout or take a short break and go again.
Body weight workout exercises
Below are the 10 body weight exercises that you will be performing for one minute. Underneath each exercise, there is a brief outline of the muscles engaged, the fitness benefits, and a concise list of key technique points.
1: Air squats
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.
The air squat is a classic callisthenics exercise. Though simple it is an effective lower body muscle endurance developer. Like many body weight exercises, there are numerous modification options. For example, to increase the intensity of air squats you can include a plyometrics jump at the end. Also, to make the exercise more dynamic, you can throw in twists – where you jump and simultaneously rotate 180-degrees – or leaps – where you propel your body forward as you jump.
Muscles targeted: pectorals, anterior deltoids, tripes, and core.
Walkouts, if you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, is a more accessible modification of the handstand walk. Starting from standing, crouch down and place the palms of your hands on the floor at your front. Now proceed to walk your hands forward until you are in the start of a press-up – or high plank. At this point you have a few options. Option 1) walk back the way you came. Option 2) perform a press-up first. Option 3) execute a squat thrust.
3: Hill climbers
Muscles targeted: hip flexors, abdominals, glues, calves, pectorals, anterior deltoids, triceps.
A classic military exercise, hill climbers are as simple as they are physically demanding. In the press-up position, you are pumping the legs out and back like a pair of pistons. If you can sustain output for a full minute your heart will be knocking furiously at your chest and your hip flexors will be on fire. For burning fat and sharpening muscle definition, hill climbers are second only to burpees.
4: Flutter kicks
Muscles targeted: abdominals, hip flexors, quadriceps.
Flutter kicks are a safer abdominal-development alternative to conventional sit-ups. When performing sit-ups, the vertebrae is repeatedly flexed. It has been argued that this can weaken the spine and increase injury risk. Flutter kicks and other abdominal exercises (hanging leg raises and plank) do not require spinal flexion and thus are safer.
Muscles targeted: pectorals, anterior deltoids, triceps, abdominals, hip flexors, quads, soleus.
Press-ups are one of the most effective body weight exercises on the market. In addition to engaging a plethora of muscle groups, press-ups boast a multitude of variations. For example, to increase intensity you can switch to Hindu press-ups, geckos, or, for an explosive finish, pop into a plyometric clap.
Muscles targeted: abdominals, pectorals, anterior deltoids, triceps, hip flexors, quadriceps.
As discussed above, like flutter kicks the plank is a safer abdominal-development exercise because it does not require spinal flexion. However, this is only true if the plank is performed correctly. The most common mistake made is to allow the lower back to sag. This is a consequence of abdominal weakness. If you feel your lower back starting to sag, drop to your knees and take a brief rest.
7: Step and reach
Muscles targeted: abdominals, glutes, pectorals, anterior deltoids.
An amalgamation of multiple movements, the step and reach looks more like a Yoga pose than a body weight exercise. Arguably it’s both. In addition to developing muscular endurance across the whole body, the step and reach will also improve flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, abdominals, and chest. From the press-up position step one leg level with that hand of the same side. As you do so simultaneously stretch the hand of the same side to the sky. Return and repeat on the opposite side.
8: Shoulder press-ups
Muscles targeted: all three heads of the deltoids, the upper pectorals, triceps, abdominals, quads, calves.
The shoulder press-up is a variation of the press-up. However, the slight change of hand position shifts emphasis from the pectorals to the shoulders. The start position of the shoulder press-up, if you are unfamiliar with the exercise, is the same as the downward dog. With hands and feet on the floor, the body forms an inverted V. To perform the movement, bend your arms and lower your face as close to the training mat as possible before pushing back out.
9: Hindu squats
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, claves, core, shoulders.
In the book Combat Conditioning, elite-level wrestler Matt Furey classifies the Hindu squat as a Royal Court exercise, a title bestowed on a select number of exercises that develop complete fitness. He tells us that Hindu squats ‘build strength and endurance throughout the thighs, calves, lower back and chest.’ In addition, if you perform enough of them, Hindu squats also improve cardiovascular fitness.
Muscles targeted: all of them.
The burpee is the be-all and end-all of body weight exercises. They develop muscle endurance across the whole body. Also, burpees promote cardiovascular conditioning which means they encourage fat loss while enhancing muscle definition. The many benefits burpees confer make them a must-have movement in any body weight workout.
Body weight workout modifications
There are literally a million and one ways that this body weight workout can be altered and adapted. What follows is a brief outline of three ways you can mix up this workout.
Make this body weight workout an AMRAP
The AMRAP (as many reps as possible) method is a great way to increase training volume. It also enables you to squeeze a lot of exercise into a short space of time. To apply this method, instead of completing each exercise for a minute, perform 10 reps and then move on. The objective is to progress through the circuit as many times as possible in 10-minutes. Alternatively, you could approach this body weight workout as 10 individual AMRAPs. Set a two (or even five!) minute timer and see how many reps you can accrue before moving to the next exercises.
Vary the body weight station time
You don’t have to stick to minute rounds. Applying a time progression, in the form of an ascending pyramid, would work well here. For example, set a short 20-second repeat timer for the first circuit. Take a rest before advancing up the pyramid, which is now 30-seconds per exercise. Increase the station duration by 10-seconds after each completed circuit until finishing at the original one minute.
Throw in a few resistance exercises
If you want to increase the intensity of this body weight workout, use resistance equipment. For certain exercises, such as squats, press-ups, step and reaches, and burpees, you could include resistance bands and dumbbells. Alternatively, you could throw on a weighted vest and really challenge yourself.
Enjoyed this body weight workout?
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