Using Your Bodyweight for Metabolic Resistance Training

I am traveling to Vegas this week and one of the first things I typically do is check out the gym of wherever I’m staying at.  I can know within seconds my workout plans.  But before I even decide on how I want to dominate the evils of the Whitfield genes (in other words, us Whitfields have genes that literally enjoy belly fat), I like to jack with the people at the gym’s front desk.

You see, I still have my old driver’s license from when I was 300 lbs.  So when they ask for my ID, I hand it to them and wait for a response.   If I get a second look, I’m in.  The games will ensue.  Sometimes, I’ll just say something like, “Yep.  Boom.”, or if I’m in a playful mood, I’ll just tell them, “I ate a lot of salt yesterday.”  Ohhhh man, it’s good times.

Anyway, back to the workout decision.  If I go through the doors and see a few machines and no free weights or at least a chin-up or pull-up bar, I know that my exercise plans will be bodyweight workouts.  If there is a bar but no free weights, I can hang around the gym and incorporate chin-ups, pull-ups and body squats, among other good-time moves.  It will still be a bodyweight workout, but I like the chin-up and pull-up options.  It will also allow me to perform a metabolic resistance training program.

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Is Bodyweight MRT Possible?

Here’s the thing though – how do you incorporate metabolic resistance training using just bodyweight, and can you have a solid MRT workout using just your own body?  The cool, hip answer is “yeah mang”.  Don’t think I added a “g” at the end by mistake.  That’s slang for “yeah man”.  It’s a new trend I’m trying.  Anyway…

There is a lot of debate of what exactly is MRT, but by now you know that it incorporates non-competing supersets or circuits with short rest periods.  That’s the overall theme.  A MRT program can involve:

  • Non-competing strength training (chin-ups supersetted with Bulgarian squats for example)
  • Metabolic conditioning exercises (mountain climbers, jumping  jacks, Spiderman climbs)
  • Shorter rest periods  (like 20 secs)
  • Longer rest periods (but still challenging enough to not allow full recovery – like 1 minute)

So do you take all of these components, toss them in a blender and then get to work?  No, mang.  Ha-ha, who started that slang?  I like it.  Anyway, of course you wouldn’t just throw these things together and hope for a solid MRT workout.  When I put together a bodyweight MRT workout program, I do like to use everything above, but there’s typically a template I put together and it looks like this:


2-3 Supersets of strength exercises using 1 minute of rest between supersets

1 Metabolic conditioning circuit using 3-5 conditioning exercises using 30 seconds to 1 minute of rest (depending on my mood)

Metabolic Workout Finisher (this really varies, but the principles remain the same – high intensity and short rest periods

A basic bodyweight program is great – for example, a circuit of pull-ups, squats and planks.  But I also think that protein shakes are great.  But if you incorporate strength exercises, metabolic conditioning and a metabolic finisher, then it’s fantastic… like a protein shake blended with peanut butter, almond milk and cinnamon.  Analogies are fun.

The art behind the program design is important.  You should perform the strength exercises at the beginning of the program when you are fresh and your muscles haven’t been fatigued.  That way, you will give each strength exercise your best effort, allowing you the maximum benefits… like smoking belly fat.  Then, you follow that with metabolic conditioning and/or a metabolic finisher.

Putting a Bodyweight MRT Workout Together


Alright, let’s do this.



Do the following circuit twice, resting for 30 seconds between circuits:

  • Jumping Jacks (15)
  • Arm Crosses (15)
  • Prisoner Squats (15)
  • Pushups (10)
  • Plank (30 secs)
  • Leg Swings (15 ea)
  • Close Grip Pushups (8)

Superset 1

1A) Pull-ups or Wide Overhand Grip Inverted Rows (1 rep short of failure)

1B) Split Squat or Bulgarian Squat (1-1/2 rep style) (8 ea) (1-1/2 rep style is done when you go down, come halfway back up, back down and finally all the way up (that’s one rep)

Rest 1 minute and repeat 2 more times

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Superset 2

2A) 1-Legged Deadlift (12 ea leg)

2B) Decline Pushups (1 rep short of failure)

Rest 1 minute and repeat 2 more times

Metabolic Conditioning Circuit

Do the following circuit 3 times, resting for 45 seconds between circuits

3A) Jump Squats (5)

3B) Cross-Body Mountain Climbers (8 ea)

3C) Total Body Extensions (15)

3D) Spiderman Climb (10 ea)



Do the following circuit resting only when needed.  In the first circuit, you will perform 6 reps of each exercise.  In the next circuit, you will perform 5 reps.  Continue in this fashion until you complete 1 rep of each exercise.  Time yourself.  The next time you perform this finisher, see if you can beat your previous time.  Remember, form takes precedence.

4A) Burpees (6, 5, etc., down to 1)

4B) Lunge Jumps (6 ea leg, 5 ea leg, etc. down to 1 ea leg)

4C) Spiderman Pushups (6 ea side, 5 ea side, etc. down to 1 ea side)

Now that’s a tasty bodyweight metabolic resistance training smoothie.  Yeah, mang?

Now for the first superset, you may not have access to a pull-up bar or a way to do inverted rows.  While there is no perfect bodyweight move to replace that, you can certainly do the split squat “prisoner style”, by keeping your hands behind your head and squeezing your shoulder blades together during the movement.  That will work your upper back while you work your legs.  You can also incorporate this style with the jump squats.  They are brilliantly called “Prisoner Jump Squats”.

With this type of program, you get the best of all the worlds – you incorporate metabolic resistance training, metabolic conditioning and with the finisher, even an interval element.  Yeah mang, I said “element”.  I can be hip or sophisticated.

So can metabolic resistance training involve just bodyweight exercises?  Yeeeaaaahhhh, mang.  Ha-ha, so fun.

Finish strong,

Mike Whitfield, Master CTT

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