Bodyweight Workout Routine

I’ve tried many workouts over the years.  Cardio, weightlifting, calisthenics, only playing sports, it’s always been something that kind of annoyed me.  Some would work… others, only for a time and then a plateau would reach and no more gains could be made.  Eventually, I settled on a bodyweight workout routine that I’ve been able to progress that continues to work for me.  Read on if you’re interested in learning more about why I choose and how I perform my bodyweight workout routine.

Why a Bodyweight Workout Routine?

So why a “bodyweight workout routine”?  After trying just about everything, I’ve concluded that the best workout for me must include the following:

  • require minimal equipment; I travel a good bit and don’t want lack of access to specialized equipment to make it easy for me to skip a workout.
  • a way to do a full body workout in a minimal amount of time
  • maximize a full range of natural motion to minimize injuries
  • prioritize building muscle without a complicated means of altering the routine when hitting plateaus.
  • emphasize Functional Strength training

The Exercises

The Bodyweight Workout Routine that I follow focuses on a few core exercises.  These are arranged in such a way as to hit most of the major muscle groups with the fewest number of exercises.

Push

The push exercises I use are mostly pushup variants.  I alternate with dips especially when my pushups have not been progressing in order to change things up.

Pull

My pull exercises include pull ups, chin ups and inverted rows.  I also incorporate my ‘pull’ muscles in some of my core exercises.

Legs

I exercise my legs with air squats and walking lunges.  Even though I do these with a weighted vest, I’ve been working on being able to do proper single leg squats to progress further.  I do these assisted or alternate with shrimp squats at this point in time.

Core

I try to incorporate core exercises in everything I do.  This occurs by always being mindful of the ‘Hollow Body Hold‘.  In addition to this, I incorporate planks, V-Ups and hanging knee raises.  Hanging Knee raises also hit my pull muscles at the same time.

Cardio

My cardio is mostly walking and hiking/rucking.  I do sprints one day a week.  On my active recovery days, I do at least one High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session focused on the ‘Nitric Oxide Dump‘.  When I refer to ‘light cardio’, it’s either unweighted walking or rebounding.

Mobility

For mobility, I use both Yoga and the 5 Tibetan Rites.  If I’m stuck on a progression and I think it’s due to a mobility issue, I’ll often factor in something that I’ve learned from more in depth calisthenics programs.  This is the area where my routine changes the most frequently.

Useful Equipment

My core routine consists of bodyweight exercises that I can do anywhere.  This being said, there are certain pieces of equipment that make things easier when I am home.  Most of this equipment is focused on making the movements safer or allow me to increase the difficulty.  The equipment that I find useful (and alternatives if you don’t have them) include:

  • A Multi-Grip Pull-Up Bar – This is probably the most important piece of equipment.  Without it, you’ll need to find a branch or other outcropping to do your ‘pull’ exercises on.  Most of these alternatives won’t give you the variance in how you can pull yourself up (and you’ll probably want a pair of gloves to protect your hands🤣).
  • Wooden Gymnastic Rings – I prefer to use gymnastic Rings for my ‘rowing’ exercises.  You can also use them for progressing and varying your ‘push’ exercises.  Without rings, a Dip Station also works.  Without either of these options you can use a properly weighted table or two chairs.
  • An Extra Thick Yoga/Pilates Mat – This is especially useful for ‘core’ exercises but it’s pretty much required if you’re going to also incorporate Yoga.  It also helps with progressing single leg exercises like shrimp squats.
  • A means of making exercises more difficult with resistance and/or added weight – My favorite things in this area is to start out with a weighted vest and adjustable ankle weights.  To really build muscle, you’ll want to add an Adjustable Dumbbell and Barbell Set.  To make the most out of loading your full range of motion, nothing beats a Stackable Resistance Bands Set.
  • A High Density Foam Roller – Eventually, you’re going to go a bit too hard and need some help with recovery.  A foam roller is a good first place to start for this.

Progressing Your Bodyweight Workout Routine

Since I want to avoid injury and being constantly fatigued, I target rep ranges for each of these exercises in the high hypertrophy/endurance range.  My last strength day of the week is meant for attempting to break personal records.  More about all this below when I discuss my day to day routine.  Before deciding your own structure, you need to set a baseline for each of the main exercises.  If you can do 15 – 20 reps max for each one, that’s a great place to start.  If not, you’ll need to find an easier version of the exercise where you can do 15 – 20 clean reps and progress from there.  I use this basic guide to push progressions and have helped people do pull ups with this pull progression guide.  There’s no shame in doing these easier versions, it’s the only way that you’ll progress to the more difficult ones.  If you find yourself plateauing with one progression but still unable to move to the next one with the proper rep range there are a few additional things you can do.  

  • Add more reps to the progression that you can do cleanly
  • Add some more weight to your current progression
  • Add resistance bands to the progression you’re trying to move to in an ‘assistive’ fashion
  • Sometimes, bouncing down to a lower progression with far more reps is necessary in order to correct form issues that you have that are preventing you from using the muscles necessary to progress

I recently started using blood flow restriction (BFR) training with lighter weights to get more from my workouts.

My Bodyweight Workout Routine Structure

Now I’ll describe what I do each day of the week.  If something comes up, I’ll shuffle days if necessary, but I avoid having three of the same ‘types’ of days in a row.

Every Day

There are a few things that I strive to do every day.

  • Start every morning with the 5 Tibetan Rites.  This really gives me a burst of energy to start my day.  I’ve also been incorporating Pigeon Pose into this routine recently.
  • Walk a minimum of 11000 steps.  I do the bulk of this during three periods.  The first is after I’m done consuming my caffeine for the day.  The other two times is right after my meals for a bare minimum of 15 minutes.  I try to walk outside whenever possible.
  • Incorporate Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT);  I try to get as much ‘exercise’ that doesn’t look like exercise into my day as possible.  I’ll walk when I can drive, park at a distance, climb stairs, etc.
  • Bring glucose transporter type 4 to the surface of muscle cells before eating.  This is a ‘trick’ that I picked up from Tim Ferriss’ book The 4 Hour Body.  I mostly use air or isometric squats for this, but have played around with all the techniques that he mentions. 

Day 1

  • Warm up with 5 min of light cardio
  • 3 sets of straight pushups 70% of your maximum number of reps
  • 3 sets of rows 70% of your maximum number of reps
  • 2 sets of walking lunges 50 reps
  • 2 sets of hanging knee raises 15 reps (each side)
  • 2 sets of V-Ups 15 reps

Day 2

This is an endurance/recovery focused day.

I do one HIIT session (often with BFR) for about 10 minutes

I do an additional workout after recovered that consists of:

I’ll do a short Yoga session on this day as well.

Day 3

  • Warm up with 5 min of light cardio
  • 3 sets of most advanced pushup progression 75% of your maximum number of reps
  • 3 sets of most advanced rowing progression 75% of your maximum number of reps
  • 2 sets of chin-ups 75% of your maximum number of reps
  • 2 sets of walking lunges 50 reps
  • 2 sets of hanging knee raises 15 reps (each side)
  • plank for maximum hold time

Day 4

This is an Active Recovery day.  I do one HIIT session (often with BFR) for about 10 minutes.  Otherwise I focus on longer walks and/or rucks.  I’ll often do a short Yoga session as well.

Day 5

This is the day for setting new records.  Getting 90% of your maximum reps is the minimum. What we really want to do here is move to a more advanced progression or add clean reps to the maximum that we can do in our current progression.  We then use this to reevaluate our plan for the next week.

  • Warm up with 5 min of light cardio
  • 1 set of pullups to 90% of your maximum
  • 1 set of most advanced pushups to 90% of your maximum
  • 2 sets of straight pushups 70% of your maximum number of reps
  • 2 sets of rows 70% of your maximum number of reps
  • 2 sets of walking lunges 50 reps
  • 2 sets of hanging knee raises 15 reps (each side)
  • 2 sets of V-Ups 20 reps

Day 6

  • Warm up with 5 min of light cardio
  • 5 sets of sprinting as fast as you can for 100 meters with no more than 2 minutes rest between sets

Otherwise, this is an Active Recovery day.  Focus on longer walks and/or rucks.  Do a short HIIT session if recovery for the week has been good.  Do some Yoga otherwise.

Day 7

Active Recovery

Longer hikes and/or rucks
• Yoga and mobility exercises


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  1. […] Even though I’m a huge fan of Incidental Activity as the majority of my exercise, I run through a vigorous short but dedicated workout routine. […]

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