Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Home Workout for Building Leg Muscles

Today's bodyweight workout is focusing on the lower body. Of course, there is no way to leave your core out of the picture. Those muscles are involved in everything you do! This is good however, and this workout will encourange growth and endurance in the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, obliques and abdominal wall.

Start with a good warm-up, including joint rotations (click to review.)

A general warm-up of light cardio exercise can be done as well. Or you can skip it and work slowly on the first sets of your workout. That is one of the perks of doing bodyweight exercises!

This routine will be broken up into two segments. The first sets (2-5, depending on your fitness level,) you will do the exercises in isolation. Each set will use a 2 second up and 3 second down repetition cadence.

The second segment will be 2-3 rounds of 1:1 cadence for burnout repetitions, all exercises done as a circuit (one after the other no rest.)

Segment 1:

-Bodyweight Squats x 10-20 (remember, 2 sec. down, 2 sec. up each rep.)

-Skater's Lunge:  5-15 each side. (This is a side lunge-skate all the way to one side, lowering the hips to parallel, push off and 'skate' to the other side. As with squats/lunges, keep back straight, lower back arched, don't let the knee glide out over the toes.)

This movement can be done with or without the hop. The hop develops power, without it the muscle are under tension longer.
-Forward/Reverse Lunges: 5-15 each leg.  Lunge forward until the thigh is parallel to the ground, don't let your knee glide out over your toes. Now lunge backwards, that's one rep.

Segment 2:

Perform all three exercises as a circuit, using a quick 1:1 cadence. Do as many reps as possible of each exercise before switching to the next. Repeat for 1, 2 or 3 rounds depending on your fitness level.


Finish this routine with jumping jacks and/or split jumps. Then stretch for 5-10 minutes. Good luck!

Find more workout ideas and programs at:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cardio Circuits, Tabata Intervals and Muscular Endurance

Our last post was all about pushing strength and muscular endurance in the chest, shoulders, triceps and abdomen.  Today we are going to get the blood flowing and your heart pumping, especially since Thanksgiving is coming up this week. Plan on doing this today, on Thanksgiving morning and the day after your mighty feast!

Tabata intervals+ 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest for 8 rounds, or about 4 minutes. *(Hint: Use a gym timer if you have one.)

There will be three exercises you do this with. To get results as close as possible to what the Tabata team did in the lab, push yourself as fast as possible during that 20 seconds. Before beginning, do a thorough 5-10 minutes warm up of sun salutations, jogging, jumproping or similar. As always, go through a series of joint rotations as well.

Between Tabata intervals, rest 2-3 minutes.

1.) Bodyweight Squats.  It is always good to start with the biggest movement first. Be sure to squat to parallel on each repetition. Keep your back straight while pushing your hips back as you go down. Arms straight in front of you, or put your hands behind your head. You can also cross them over your chest.

2.) Springing Tripod Twists: Although speed is the key to a Tabata interval, don't sacrifice form to keep up, especially with this exercise. If you are new to it, a moderate pace will wear you out regardless.

Watch this stellar video by the master himself:

3.) Mountain Climbers: There are some who say you should bring the knee all the way up to one side and keep your head high and looking forward while doing these. However, for doing these Tabata style, speed is the key. This should be more like running off the starting block then crawling up a mountain. Find the 'stride' that allows you to move your feet fast. Try to get the knees to the lower chest area.

You could do this for more than one round, but here should be no reason to. Each Tabata interval is designed to exhaust your muscles and leave you gasping for air. Still, if you are in need of more, add another round of each. This is also a great workout to slip into a few minutes when you are pressed for time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pushup Variations, Planks and More!

By the end of this you might just have a pump in your chest, shoulders and triceps; not to mention your abdomen should be burning!

Do as many rounds as possible without stopping in between. For when you need to rest, keep it down to about 30 seconds. This isn't for speed, just keep moving. Beginners go for 2-3 rounds, intermediate and advanced aim for 4-6+

Warm-up: Joint rotations light walk, jog or jumprope. Get those shoulders warm for this one!

Rocking Pushups: x5-10

Start in a regular pushup position, rock forward and straight back, extending and flexing the ankles to get the right distance.

Immediately go into:

Downward Dog: x 5 seconds

Then go directly into:

Hindu Pushups (Divebombers if you can) x5-10

Drop directly into:

Inching Planks: x 10 seconds 

Start in a plank on the elbows with palms flat in front of you. 'Inch' them farther and farther out until you have reached your maximum extension. Hold there.

Roll over to:

Hip Bridge (Neck Bridge if you can) 3-5 x 5 seconds 

Bridge the body off the floor, leaving hands on the ground for support. If possible, bridge all the way up on the head. Use a padded surface!

Finish with:

Shoulder Stand Pushups: x 5-10

From the downward dog position, walk your feet towards your hands until you can lower your head through your hands and pushup. You will have the right position when the shoulders take most of the strain. Adjust your feet back to make it easier.

As with all routines, this is my personal, non-professional program. I performed this two days in a row and it was a solid routine. Scale the rounds and repetitions to your individual skill level. Push yourself but know your limits. Have fun!

Exercise pictures:

Hindu Pushups:


Neck Bridge: (from

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Body Weight Pistol Squats, Power Squats, and Core Work

Seeing how today is Saturday, a short intense workout seems in order. Notice I didn't say easy. I know you have better things to do today so let's get right to it.

Start off with a warm-up. As you know, I prefer joint rotations before anything else.

Start with the neck, look up and down ten times, then side to side, then circles if you like.

Now work rotate the arms at the shoulder, then at the elbow, and finally the wrists and fingers.
Now move down to hip rotations, leg swings to the front and side, and then extension and flexion of the leg at the knee.
 Finish by rotating the ankles in both directions and get ready for a warm-up.


For this workout, start with partial squats with arm swings. As you squat about halfway to parallel, swing the arms back and let them swing forward as you stand up. x25


Power Squats: Place your hands at your shoulders as though you are holding an imaginary bar. Keep them there throughout the set. Use a slightly wider stance than normal for this squat, and a fast cadence. In other words, drop down fast, pause to eliminate inertia and drive up fast. 4-5 x10, 20, or 30.

*If you need to increase the difficulty, do Box Squats with this wide stance. See an example here:

Pistol Squats or Modified One-Legged Squats: 3x5 or 5x3 (unless you can do more.)

If you can do an unassisted pistol squat, hats off to you. Performing this movement is a matter of balance, timing and strength and takes some practice. For those who are still working up to a full pistol, try these modifications:

-Hold onto something. Preferable a set of rings, a TRX suspension trainer, or a countertop. Emphasize control as you lower yourself, contracting the abdominals forcefully to maintain balance.

-Only go as far as you can. For some, a partial pistol will be an accomplishment. That's fine, go as low as you can, ( at least half the distance,) hold it for 3 seconds and stand up.

-Put the extended leg on a stool, chair or the edge of a bathtub. Now execute the pistol as low as you can go.

Sliding Rollouts or Elephant Walk:

If you are an advanced trainee and have a suspension trainer, you can do these at different heights and the instability adds a challenge.Otherwise use a towel or a sock on either hand.

Stand on a slippery surface such as smooth wooden floors, tile, or a finished garage floor.

Bend straight down, place your hands on the floor and slide out until the body is straight and your arms are extended in front of you; like Superman.

Now reverse the motion. Got it? Excellent. Do 3 sets x 6-12 (or whatever number you find challenging. For added resistance wear a weighted vest of backpack.)

If these are too difficult or you don't have a slippery surface. Perform the Elephant walk, which I describe at the end of this post:

Use the same set and repetition instructions. Don't stop until your arms are shaking and your abs are burning!

This concludes today's workout. Hope you enjoyed it. Now go take a shower.

a TRX suspension trainer

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pushup Variations and Partial Sit-Ups

The simple pushup and situp can be tweaked in so many ways it is ridiculous. But don't discount their effectiveness! Here is today's bodyweight workout, using only three simple exercises: The pushup, the sit-up and and the lunge. Of course, it isn't quite that simple! Read on, then get moving.


If you haven't done so, do joint rotations and some light jogging/fast running in place. Jumproping, shadow boxing and doing housework also count.

Then do three to five rounds of the following circuit. Use excellent form as always:

Flat Pushup x 25 (or 10 or 15. The last couple reps should be difficult.)

*Remember: The Pushup is most effective when the feet are elevated off the floor to make them level with your head. But if you don't do this, at least be sure the hands are below the shoulders, the body is straight and the gut is sucked in.


Partial Sit-Up: x25 (or your level of difficulty.)

I like partial sit-ups because they don't put as much strain on the lower back or force you to use your neck. If you can sit all the way up using only your core, do it. Otherwise, execute a sit-up to halfway, or the point when the tension is no longer on the abdominals.

Iron Cross Jumps: x 6-8

Mark off an imaginary cross in your exercise space. You do this by extending your leg as far as you can to the front, back, left and right. This is the distance you will be jumping from the center of your cross.

1 rep = jump forward & back to center, jump backwards and back to center, jump to one side and center, jump to the other side and center.  

Repeat this until you have 8 reps (more if you're legs aren't tired after that.)

Remember to work hard and smart. Push your limits but also, know them.

Have fun!

***If you're ready for an advanced bodyweight workout that also integrates clubs, kettlebells and rings, look no further. Put together by the guru of bodyweight conditioning, Steve Maxwell, check out
The Spartacus Workout.