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5 Muscle-Building Bodyweight Circuits

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Muscle-Building Bodyweight Circuits

I’m a guy that loves the gym. I love to lift weights. Heavy weights. I’m not a huge fan of bodyweight training simply because it isn’t optimal in my mind. We can’t build IDEAL muscle simply with bodyweight training. Or at least that’s what I’ve thought for a long time…

So why then am I writing an article about bodyweight training?

Well, I can’t always get to the gym, and I’m guessing you’re the same. But I’m also a guy who doesn’t want o sacrifice ANY gains simply because I can’t lift weights, or I don’t have access to them.

I also LOVE summer. I love being outside with the fresh air, the sun, the view (as you’ll see in the video below), and everything else that’s great about summer. If I could build muscle outside doing bodyweight training I would.

So, I figured I’d send you a view sets that have helped me do exactly this. Plus I’ll tell you about a couple of guys I look to for bodyweight training tips and advice…

… But more on them later. For now:

5 Bodyweight Circuits To Do Outside

1. Arms Circuit (Video)

Equipment needed:
- chin-up bar

Training arms outside?! How can we isolate these relatively small muscles without any barbell or dumbbell curling, any pressing, or any cable’d machines?

Getting creative has something to do with it. Have a look at the video below. I show you a 4-exercise circuit you can do at any jungle gym. When you watch the video, make sure you click the “thumbs up” on the lower left part of the player.

Set-up

A1. Muscle ups to failure
A2. Chin-up curl (8-10 reps or failure).
A3. 30/30 chin-up
A4. Bodyweight skull crusher 25 reps
Rest: 60 seconds
Repeat this circuit 4 times.

Tips: If you can’t do muscle ups, do dips.

2. Back Circuit.

Our back muscles are vitally important to us building our ideal physique. They’re a massive part of the V Shape that we all want, and a jungle gym or a park is actually an awesome place to train back.

If you have a rope, bring it. It’s a great tool to have for back training, but also for grip strength training. If you don’t, use the chains on a swing set, or simply climb a ladder using only your upper body.

Equipment needed:
- rope
- chin-up bar
- monkey bars

Setup

A1. Wide grip pull-up – 12 reps or failure
A2. Rope climb – 3 reps or failure
A3. Sternum pull-up – 8 reps or failure
A4. Inverted Row – 25 reps or failure

Tips: To make exercises more difficult, change the cadence. Go slower on the way down of a pull-up, but always perform the pulling motion as fast as possible. For the sternum pull-up, pause at the top of the exercise for a 2 second count (it’s a regular pull-up, but you’re bringing your sternum to parallel with the ceiling/roof/sky).

3. Pushes Set.

Equipment needed:
- Monkey bars
- Stairs

Setup

A1. Dips
A2. Clap Push-ups
A3. Close grip feet elevated push-up
A4. Alternating med-ball push-ups

Tips: Perform each of these exercises as fast as possible. Feel free to slow the eccentric cadence down, but always explode with each push or press. You can perform your dips on the monkey bars, or on a chin-up bar like we did with muscle-ups. Your choice.

4. Abs set.

Equipment needed:
- Swing set
- Pull-up bar or monkey bars

Setup

A1. Ab roll-outs using a swing.
A2. Hanging leg raise
A3. Plank
A4. Walk-outs

Tips: Roll outs with a swing set? Grab a hold of the swing seat, or the chains on either side of the seat in a plan position with a flat back. Make sure your feet are secure. Extend out as if you would with a conventional roll out. Extend as far as you can. The goal is to have your entire body straight from finger to toe.

Walk outs: In a push-up position, walk your hands out until you can barely support yourself. The goal is to be as close to parallel to the ground as possible.

5. Sprints.

Sprinting is one of the best activities we can do to burn fat and build muscle. Below is a sprints routine you can follow at your local park.

The goal with sprinting is to spike our heart rate (with the sprint), then bring it back down with a rest. We don’t want to keep our heart rate elevated the entire set. This can create a catabolic (muscle-burning) atmosphere in our body. While an all-out sprint followed by a rest raises GH levels.

Perform the following cadence on a set of stairs, a hill (ideally), or an a flat surface.

Sprint 8 seconds ; rest 52 seconds x 6
Sprint 10 seconds ; rest 50 seconds x 6

Tips: Simple enough right? It is tough though. Make sure you wear a watch so you can time your rest periods and sprints. Ideally, bring someone along to time you, but we can’t always do this, so just do your best with what you have.

We can’t always get to the gym to workout. I know this. It’s even happened to me lately. If you can’t always get to the gym but don’t want to sacrifice any gains, check out the “BodyWeight Exercise Revolution” Solution that my two good friends, Adam & Ryan, were kind enough to create and release. These guys are the two leading minds in bodyweight training worldwide.

They’ll take the stuff I’ve shared with you in this article to completely new heights. So I’m more than happy to let you know about their program. Especially when it’s filling a void in my knowledge. Being a “weight room guy”, I focus on weight training. But the Bodyweight Exercise Revolution is all about bodyweight training… So check it out!

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  • Nick

    Great workouts chad,

    Now that it is almost summer time I been doing 3 day full body splits and will definitely give these workouts a shot. My favorite bodyweigt workout is DEATH by Burpees : 100 burpees for time. Every muscle in the body will be asking what the hell just happened!?

    • http://www.chadhowsefitness.com/blog/ Chad Howse

      burpees are a killer! Try that walk-out, I'll get a video up of it soon, but it's an awesome abs exercise.

      • Chuck

        We used to do burpees as part of gym class back in elementary school. They're killer, man. Chad's right about the walk outs too. I've been doing them as part of the Travel Trainer and they have me drenched in sweat after the first sixty seconds every single time.

        Which reminds me… Chad, you did an entire article on bodyweight exercises and not a single plug for the Travel Trainer? What's up with that?

      • http://www.chadhowsefitness.com/blog/ Chad Howse

        haha good point! Decided to give some variation in programs. They take the Travel Trainer a step further with this one. Two good friends of mine. Worth checking out if you're into bodyweight training.