9 Bodyweight Exercise Tips from the Pro’s

prisoner lungeIn the next few months as I travel to Miami, Vegas, and New York City, I know that I’ll be doing a lot of bodyweight workouts in hotels, on the beach, and even in parks.

So I better be prepared with lots of exercises and a variety of ways to train to keep getting results.

That got me thinking about the best bodyweight workout tips I had, and also reminded me to ask Adam Steer – the Bodyweight Coach – as well.

Here’s what I came up with…

Tip #1

One of my favorite bodyweight exercise tips came from my buddy Jay jay121
Ferruggia, who recommended that whenever possible, we choose a
bodyweight exercise over a free weight exercise for assistance lifts.

For example, if you are training to increase your squat, Jay would suggest using single leg bodyweight movements, Glute-Ham Raises and Back Extensions as follow up exercises.

Tip #2

One of the best – yet simplest – bodyweight exercise tips I can give you, is to
give up the treadmill warm-up and replace it with a circuit of 5-8
different bodyweight exercises that simultaneously prep and stretch
your muscles for exercise.

You will be much more prepared for your workout this way.

Tip #3 bulgarian-split-squat

Another bodyweight tip of mine is to use the “1 & 1/2 reps” method to make bodyweight exercises harder. I got this idea from John Romaniello.

For example, in the Bulgarian Split Squat, you’d lower yourself into the bottom position (see photo at right), then come halfway up, and then go back down and THEN all the way back up.

That’s one (painful) rep. Do 12-15.


And since so many of you were loving Adam Steer’s video from Monday, I asked him for 6 more bodyweight exercise tips…

1. For maximum metabolic effect, do this “Top Down” bodyweight circuit:

– 30 secs Push Ups
– 30 secs V-ups
– 30 secs Jump Squats without rest.

Do 3-5 of these circuits with 30 seconds rest between each circuit.

2. Use isometric (static) holds to build muscle with bodyweight exercise.

Grab the top of a push up position and lower half way to the bottom.
Hold that for at least 30 secs and up to 70 secs. Do 2-3 sets with
60 seconds rest.

3. Ditch the treadmill and use bodyweight training instead.

String 5-7 of your favorite bodyweight exercises together–1 rep each–and do that “Flow” over and over for as long as you would have spent on that boring treadmill.

4. Use bodyweight “drop sets” for a brutal workout. Try this:

Do 30-60 secs of a wall sit, then go straight into 10-12 reps of alternating rear lunges. The wall sit toast your quads, but the lunges add some help from the glutes and hams so you can keep going a bit longer.

5. Super heroes don’t ignore their lats–the big muscles in your back–and neither should you.

But what can you do if you have absolutely NO equipment? images14

The Superman.

Start in either a standard push up position or from the knees. Then walk your hands out overhead as far as you can go and hold. The lats have to do some serious work to maintain that position.

6. Have some fun with your bodyweight training.

Pick your 5 favorite exercises.

You’ll do one rep of each–that’s one round of your “Flow”–and then return to the start without rest. But don’t just throw the exercises together.

Spend some time playing with the transitions and reordering the exercises until you’ve got the smoothest “Flow” you can create.bodyweight exercises

Thanks to Adam and Jay.

Feel the flow with bodyweight exercises,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

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  • For the bulgarian split squat, does it matter how high or low your back leg is? I’m asking because I do a split squat similar to this but with a chair that’s higher than a bench.

  • I love this Craig,
    I use this method of training to break up my workouts about once a week.
    You’d think it’s easier than lifting weights, it turns out it’s not!
    Did this just last nite and my whole body is aching today. But I absolutely love it, especially the supermans, we call them superwalkouts here, and they do their super job I tell ya.


  • Thank you for the tips! I will sometimes use barbells, clubbells, and kettlebells but as I get older (52) I find that bodyweight exercises help me to maintain mobility, coordination, and athleticism.

  • Craig I just picked up TT Bootcamp workouts for my bootcamp. AWESOME! Nothing but body weight conditioning and my clients could feel it. Vigorous and easy to instruct. Thanks man. You’ve done it again with a killer product. JP

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks JP!

  • Craig-
    In my amateur opinion, don’t movements like supermans and ab wheel rollouts put a lot of stress on your shoulder joints? I can feel the benefits in my abs and lats, but I feel like the weak part is my shoulders. Do I just need more shoulder work before incorporating these movements?

  • Hey Craig,

    Re Tip #1 – picking BWE over a weighted movement if possible…

    Not sure if you remember these guys or not, but Leo Costa, Jr. and Dr. RL Horine wrote in their “Serious Growth” books (these were the series of bodybuilding books that were heavily promoted back in the ’90s – they were programs based supposedly on principles Leo had learned from Bulgarian Olympic lifting coaches) that they had learned – and subsequently recommended – any sort of BWE (esp weighted if possible) over a “traditional” exercise, as it supposedly had a higher NMA – Nuero-Muscular Activation. In other words, any exercise that made you move your body through space engaged the musculature more than a similar movement where the body stayed stationary and the weight moved.

    And it makes sense when you think about it – what are (arguably) the 2 most growth-producing exercises? Squats and deadlifts…both of which make you move your body through space. What is called by many the “upper body squat”? The dip….and right behind that, the chin/pullup.

    Great stuff!


  • RE: 3. Ditch the treadmill and use bodyweight training instead.

    Hi Craig!

    I have a question about tip #3:

    I tried this tip out today for the first time in a while. Normally I run a mile on the treadmill to get warmed up.

    The warm up definitely worked: jumping jacks, prisoner squats, down dog push ups, mountain climbers, shuffles – but I found myself EXHAUSTED when I still had about 15 minutes left to do in my workout routine. Normally I’m pumped the whole way through – I’m wondering if this shift is something you see typically with folks who change up how they warm up.

    Thanks for all the tips! I got your Boot Camp Training Manual a while back and it has helped so much!


    • Craig Ballantyne

      You can take a little extra rest between exercises so that you don’t get exhausted so fast.

  • Maria

    Hi Craig,

    I actually checked out Adam Steer and Ryan Murdock’s Bodyweight Blueprint for Fatloss on your recommendation a few months ago and found it to be an unbelievable workout program! It’s different than most workouts we’re used to and it’s FUN! It’s also very intense so you see results. It’s a workout that uses nothing but bodyweight; no gym or eqiupment required. My favorite part is that you never reach a plateau, you’re constantly evolving. I’ve said it before, bodyweight exercise is the best! If I do use any equipment, it’s going to be a kettlebell. And once I save up, I’ll be adding some Clubbells to my equipment list.

    Thanks for continuing to educate, support, and motivate all of us, Craig!


    • Craig Ballantyne

      Happy to help Maria

  • dg

    Thanks for the useful tips – I’ve taken a lot of ideas from your site and podcasts recently as I’ve injured my knee (running) and haven’t been able to do any cardio…

    I’m really enjoying the variations available doing bodyweight workouts and doubt I will go back to long haul cardio workouts as I’ve done in the past.

  • Goel

    Thanks a lot, Craig. The tip no. 5 was especially useful. As someone who often travels to places where there is no pull up bar in the vicinity and more often than not, on these occasions, even sturdy chairs are hard to come by to enable me to do bodyweight rows, I often spend time looking to train lats, which in my opinion is single most important bodypart to train, without depending on equipment. Having practiced these, i would vouch for their effectiveness.

  • What great tips when doing bodyweight workouts! All your tips are super valuable however I feel the one that is most often forgotten is Have Fun! Thanks again, Wendy