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Building a bodyweight workout

The other day I wrote about how running, while great exercise, is not optimal for fat loss. I went on to say how strength training was better and gave you a bodyweight workout to experiment with.

Today I want to continue on the theme. Only this time I’m not going to give you a workout, I’m going to tell you how to create your own.

First, why bodyweight?

Simple, the people I see pounding the pavements are most likely the type who wouldn’t bother with a gym. The people who come to me for coaching most often tell me that they are looking to give up their gym memberships and train at home instead, or join the training at Wild Geese. So I’m guessing the people regularly reading this blog aren’t the typical gym bunny types either. Therefore bodyweight training is the way to go, no gym membership needed. If you wish to set up a gym at home, you won’t go wrong with investing in a pull up station and maybe a kettlebell or two, possibly build yourself a sandbag. Nothing else is needed.

The next thing you’ll notice is that when you are able to create bodyweight only workouts, you are never left without a gym, the whole world becomes your gym. You’ll spot places to train anywhere and soon will become proficient at improvising any kit you need, which isn’t much.

Then there’s the simple fact that every bodyweight drill is a core training drill and is also a functional training drill.

So lets look then at how to build a workout.

Step 1 – Get a timer. I’ve had a series of Nokia phones, all of which have a countdown timer function. More and more of you have one of those smart phone doohickies so you can download timer apps. Or get a Gymboss or a simple egg timer.

Step 2 – Designate a workout time. In other words, make an appointment with yourself, maybe even invite a friend. Don’t skip this appointment.

Step 3 – Choose your workout goal. For many, we’re still working off the mince pies, others are looking for strength, some conditioning. Pick your goal for this particular workout, or series of workouts.

Step 4 – Choose your exercises. Keep it balanced. Take 2-5 leg exercises, 2-5 Upper body push and 2-5 upper body pull. Pick drills that are appropriate to your goal, there’s no point doing 100 push ups if you are looking to get strong. Instead work a variation that stops you short, or keep the reps purposefully low but do multiple sets.

Step 5 – Build the workout Whether you use the alternating set method (often called superset), circuits, “minute drills” or density training, with the right drills and a little intensity you’ll have a great session. Over the next few days I’ll explain each of these methods of building your workout, go back to the last post and you’ll see an example of an alternating set workout. Regardless of the style of workout try to ensure you work the full body and use good form. For efficiency put non competing exercises together, for example a set of Push ups and a set of squats. This way you can reduce the rest times as your arms are resting while you squat. This will allow for a higher work rate without compromising quality.

Step 6 – Get on with it! There’s no time like the present, you can get an intense bodyweight session done in under 30 minutes, including a warm up so get on with it.

 Here’s a short bodyweight circuit to get you breathing hard:

5 x Pull Up 10 x Push Up (any variation) 20 x Squat

As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) in 15 minutes

Don’t forget to warm up first.


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