Taking a Bodyweight Routine from Basic to Advanced

Global Bodyweight Training in Men's Health
One of my favorite aspects of bodyweight training is how its underlying simplicity is so scalable, from basic to extremely advanced levels. So, today I’m going to highlight an outdoor bodyweight workout for lower and upper body that can be done at basic, intermediate or advanced levels, which was featured in an article about Global Bodyweight Training in last month’s Men’s Health South Africa, called “The Evolution of Exercise”. Click here to read the complete Men’s Health article as a PDF.


I’m pretty excited with how the Men’s Health article takes the time to explain the Global Bodyweight Training system, and in particular to demonstrate how the progressions work:

With GBT you start with the Basic exercises outlined below and then, after you’ve mastered those, you can progress to Intermediate and Advanced. “Since you can’t add more weight, you have to challenge yourself by decreasing your leverage, which means that gravity makes you work harder,” says Fitch. Don’t be frustrated if you can’t do the more advanced moves; there are still techniques that will take Fitch another two years to master. “There is no limit to the challenges you set yourself, and by starting this you’ll realise just how much incredible potential your body has,” Fitch explains.

Following is a brief recap of the basic, intermediate, and advanced versions of the upper and lower body routine featured in the article. Click on the thumbnail to the right of each section below to see the whole page with the detailed instructions and photos.

BASIC BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT

Mike Fitch - Global Bodyweight Training - Men's Health

Basic Bodyweight Workout


The basic outline for this workout is made up of eight different exercises. The movements are divided into four lower body movement patterns (Squat, Lunge, Step Up, Deadlift) and four upper body patterns (Vertical Push, Vertical Pull, Horizontal Push, Horizontal Pull). Now don’t be fooled, just because this says “basic” doesn’t mean that it’s easy! The only tools I used in the beginner workout is a pair of gymnastic rings, which you can get HERE.

Just as a side note, the exercise that is labeled V Shoulder Press is actually a Pike Push Up. The Pike Push Up is our Vertical Pushing pattern. Even though the body is inverted, it still simulates an overhead press. Also, when performing a bodyweight Deadlift, remember that it is more of a hip dominant movement and the emphasis should be placed on the glutes.

INTERMEDIATE BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT

Mike Fitch - Global Bodyweight Training Men's Health

Intermediate Bodyweight Workout

In the intermediate section we’ve now either increased the complexity of the movement variations or increased the amount of your own bodyweight you need to use. We’ve also begun to add in some plyometric movements. For example, for our Push Up, we’ve added in a leg and arm movement which adds more complexity and requires more stabilization. The Pull/Chin Up has turned into a climber which is a more difficult variation of the vertical pull. For the Row, we’ve raised the legs and extended the knees. This increases the percentage of your own bodyweight that you are rowing. Our Pike Push Up has been replaced by a supported Handstand Push Up. The squat has progressed into a plyometric Spider Man jump, adding in some explosive power. The Lunge is now multi-directional which changes the emphasis on the lower body muscles. The Step Up is now a Lateral Step down, focusing on the “negative” or lowering portion of the movement, as well as using the adductors (inner thigh). We’ve changed our regular Deadlift into more of a Stiff Leg version for hamstrings, lower erectors and glutes.

ADVANCED BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT

Global Bodyweight Training - Mike Fitch Men's Health South Africa

Advanced Bodyweight Workout

For the advanced section we’ve taken all eight exercises and continued to progress their difficulty. Our Push Up has now become a Behind the Back Clap Push Up, which requires a tremendous amount of explosive power as well as the challenge of decelerating the bodyweight on the way back down. In the Body Row, we’ve taken the legs and pulled them into a Front Lever Tuck position which requires you to pull all of your own bodyweight in a horizontal pull. If you spend enough time and practice With the third exercise, you can move away from the wall and take your Supported Handstand Push Up into the Unsupported version. This movement requires an incredible amount of strength and stability. The last upper body exercise is the L-Sit Chin/Pull Up. This movement is a killer variation for working the Abdominals, hip flexors and Quads in addition to the original vertical pulling muscles.

All of the lower body exercises have either progressed to plyometric versions or single leg movements. The Step Up is now an alternating Jump Step for explosive vertical height. The Pistol Squat is the advanced version of the Squat and one of my favorites. It’s an exercise that challenges both your hip and ankle stability as well as over all leg strength. The Lunge has also become an explosive version or plyometric movement. Lastly we changed the Deadlift into a hip dominant single leg exercise.

So as you can see, bodyweight training has a tremendous range for whatever your current fitness level is. The same basic movements can be made more complex and more challenging with modifications as you advance. Keep having fun with it!

You can check out the complete Men’s Health article HERE.

Want to see more on some specific exercise progressions? Check out some of my other articles with videos that take you through step-by-step progressions leading up to some great bodyweight moves:



OR:


And, sign up for our email list (don’t worry, we keep your email address private!) through the sign-up form at the bottom of this page, and you’ll get access to my free video, 25 PUSH-UP VARIATIONS FOR TOTAL CHEST DEVELOPMENT!

About Mike Fitch

18 Responses to “Taking a Bodyweight Routine from Basic to Advanced”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Alexandre says:

    Very good work man!!!
    It’s because I love bodyweight training: it is always possible to improve! It have uncomtable possibilities to work out! :)

    Keep with your amazing work man!

    Hugs

  2. nunh says:

    Congrats on the article!

  3. Patrick Van Rensburrg says:

    I have recently been to South Africa from the UK to see family and grabbed a copy of mens health while there and read your article, as soon as i come back started training the basic session and plan to progress through, i do both upper into lower as a big circuit and i am a convert to the body weight training!!

    I run assult courses for fun, most recently the Strongman run in Germany April 2011 and i thought i was fit but trust me if you have just read this give body weight training a go its an entirely different challenge!

    Im glad you got published in South Africa as im now in the UK spreading the Global boby weight word and cant wait to improve to behind the back clap push ups and hand stand push ups!!

    let the practice begin….

  4. Daniel says:

    Great article. I’m a little behind and catching up when I found this. I am really glad I did. This will be my new program coming up. I change my workouts every three months or so, and it is about time. Thanks for the advise.

  5. bgl says:

    Do you do the upper and lower body work outs one the same day?

  6. Rob says:

    Do you do the upper and lower body work outs on the same day?
    or should i do it like,
    Monday: Upper
    Tuseday:rest
    Wednesday: Lower
    Thursday: Rest
    etc.etc?

    And how about adding bodyweight dips to upper body and situps / hanging leg raise on lower body? good idea or?

    • Mike Fitch says:

      Hey Rob, everything depends on your split. If you’re on an every other day split, I usually recommend doing full body circuits. So you may have a Push movement (Push up), a Pull (Pull Up), a leg (squat jumps) and an active rest (Beast walks).

      Dips and leg raises are GREAT exercises!

      • Rob says:

        Okay! so i should do both the Upper body and Lower body parts in the same circuit?

        Like this:
        Upper body exercises – 60sec rest – Lower body – rest – upper body – rest, etc etc until i made all the upper body exercises 3 times and all the lower body exercises 3 times?

        and take walks on the “Rest” days? :)

        Or would you recommend another split?

        • Mike Fitch says:

          Hey Rob, in a circuit format we would perform the entire circuit, then rest before repeating. In this article we are showing progressions of the same 4 patterns for upper and 4 for lower.
          Example of circuit 1:
          Push Up
          Squat
          Jump Chin
          Lunge

          Example of a second circuit (which could also be performed in the same workout or on another day)
          Row
          Step Up
          V-shoulder Press (pike push up)
          Dead lift

  7. Simon joseph says:

    Hi mike,

    I have resumed my training after years of bad lifestyle. Have already started with weights and it has been a month. I want to shift full time to bodyweight workouts only. The problem is there are so many exercises and workouts and you just get confused with the structure. My goal is to do all that you can do. Simple and short. Can you please guide.

    Thanks
    Simon

    • Mike Fitch says:

      Hey Simon, congratulations on your workout regimen. I know it can definitely be confusing to find a program that will effectively help you get started. Eventually we will offer the full GBT program that takes the member from very beginning exercises, all the way to more advanced skills. In the meantime, we recommend the Bodyweight Bodybuilding Secrets http://globalbodyweighttraining.com/recommended/ZacEvenEsh
      Zach Even-Esh is a wealth of information, and this program is a killer place to start. Let me know how it goes.

  8. Tom says:

    Hi. Great programs. I however don’t have access to anywhere that I can perform pullups or inverted rows at all at the moment. I was thinking that I could substitute these exercises with rows and lat-pulldowns but still keep the circuit format of the original program. But in order to do so I was thinking that I would need to emulate the two movements by knowing the exact resistance that they would provide and using weights on a barbell. My logic is that my muscles would work as hard as they would for chins+inverted rows and I could work on getting the full reps and circuits and progress as this program does. Anyway these are just thoughts and I am clearly not an expert or anything so here I am asking if this could work. If so do you know the resistance that each lift gives?

  9. Felix says:

    Hi Mike..Excelent Work.
    Im 53 Yers old and I though could not make this routines but I was Wrong. Is wonderfull to make this out the GYM. I write From Venezuela. Its gona be wonderful if you translate your tutorials to Spanish. Hope you do it.
    Best Regards

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