The 'All You' Bodyweight Workout

STACK Expert Jim Carpentier prescribes a total-body workout you can perform in 20 minutes with just your bodyweight.

When you need to schedule a total-body conditioning workout between practices and games, bodyweight movements are ideal. They're quick—no need to transfer plates to bars or waste precious minutes between sets finding the next available dumbbell, med ball or cable. And you can do them practically anywhere.

This challenging, fast-paced 20-minute "all you" workout uses just your bodyweight and gravity.

Note that bodyweight exercises such as Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Wall Squats and Planks can be made more challenging and creative just by mixing the five training methods:

  1. Perform them unilaterally (e.g., Single-Leg Squats, One-Arm Push-Ups, Prone Planks with one foot off the floor)
  2. Do them in an elevated position (e.g., Push-Ups or Prone Planks with your feet placed atop a bench or chair)
  3. Alternate your rep tempo each set (e.g., perform eccentric negatives, slow-speed concentric and eccentric reps, and fast-speed and explosive concentric reps)
  4. Combine upper- and lower-body movements (e.g., Wall Squats with Arm Circles, Push-Ups with Squat Thrusts)
  5. Do supersets (e.g., Push-Ups immediately followed by Pull-Ups with no rest between them)

Guidelines

  • Do an upper- and lower-body dynamic warm-up (e.g., Lunges, Arm Circles).
  • Finish with upper- and lower-body cool-down static stretches to enhance range of motion and flexibility.
  • Hydrate before, during and after each workout.
  • Sets/Reps: 2x5-10.
  • Rest: 30-45 seconds between sets and 30 seconds before proceeding to a different exercise combo.

Equipment

  • Chair or bench
  • Exercise mat or large towel
  • Pull-Up bar (doorknobs can substitute)
  • Water bottle
  • Timer (optional)
  • Wall

Workout

Explosive Push-Up/Squat Thrust Combo

This is an excellent combination to develop lower- and upper-body size and power.

  • Assume a push-up position and perform 10 explosive Push-Ups (hands leaving floor between reps).
  • After the 10th rep, immediately do 10 Squat Thrusts (from the push-up position, thrust your feet toward your arms and back). 
  • Hydrate and repeat combo after resting for 30-45 seconds.

Negative Pull-Ups/Negative Elevated Push-Ups

This upper-body combo performed in superset fashion not only boosts upper-body size but also improves endurance, since both exercises are done in succession without rest. If no pull-up bar is available, do Pull-Ups with your hands on doorknobs (place your feet between the door frame and lean back) or do Inverted Rows with your hands around a barbell set on a squat rack.

  • Start from the top position of a Pull-Up and slowly lower to bottom position inch by inch, counting to 10. 
  • Pull up in one second and repeat 10-second lowering phase. 
  • After 5-10 reps, immediately assume a push-up position with your arms straight and your feet atop a bench or chair.
  • Slowly lower your upper body for 10 seconds (keeping your back straight—no sagging).
  • Push up in one second and repeat 10-second lowering phase.
  • Aim for 5-10 reps. 
  • Rest and repeat combo. 
  • Hydrate before next exercise combo.

Step-Ups/Wall Squats and Arm Circle Combo

Great leg/hip/shoulder-strengthening and size-building combo.

  • Place your right foot on a chair or bench. 
  • Press off your right foot and quickly raise your left foot off the floor (keep your right foot on bench throughout set) while simultaneously pressing your arms overhead. 
  • After 10 reps, switch without rest and repeat with your left foot on the bench, raising your right foot off the floor and pressing your arms overhead for 10 reps. 
  • Without rest, immediately place your back against a wall and descend to a Squat with your thighs parallel to the floor and your arms extended at shoulder level. 
  • Perform Arm Circles while holding squat position for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Rest and repeat combo.

Single-Leg Hops/Single-Leg Squat/Single-Foot Elevated Prone Plank Combo

This combo improves both balance and core strength for better sports performance.

  • Perform 10 Single-Leg Hops with one foot off the floor. On the 10th rep, hold a single-leg squat position for 30 seconds. 
  • Without rest, repeat on the other leg. 
  • Without rest, assume the prone plank position, resting on your forearms set shoulder-width apart, placing your right foot atop a chair or bench and holding your left foot in the air. 
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Rest and repeat Hops/Plank combo (for second Plank set, place your left foot atop bench and raise your right foot).  
  • Hydrate and finish with cool-down static stretches.

Check out more bodyweight workouts:


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES | WORKOUTS | EXERCISE | BENCH | PRESS