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
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
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
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:
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!