Circuit Training: Body Weight Exercises

Hello, and welcome back my friends. This is the place, the day, and the time where we discuss outdoor circuit training as an alternative to heading to the gym. Just because we aren’t performing our training within the confines of a fitness club does not mean that we can’t continue to make progress. I would suggest that progress is allowed to continue because of this variation in our routine and strategy. It does both our body and mind a lot of good to experience change, and this change can serve to both stimulate and invigorate. When our mind is fresh, and our body is sharp, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

Today I’d like to take you back to my favorite non-gym training environment, the track. As those of you faithful readers know, I walk to a track at a school that is a few minutes walking distance from my Toronto home in the sky. Here at the track there is a soccer field that has very useful goal posts, some stairs, benches, and a few other things I use when I train. Today I’m taking nothing but a jump rope to the track. A jump rope, and myself is all I’ll need for this circuit, and by the time I’m finished, all my body will be able to handle.

That’s because everything I’m going to do in this training session is going to be body weight exercises. I’ll also use the track to run, and the jump rope to sprint. The combinations are endless, the only limit is your creativity in using what is available. I already mentioned the track and the jump rope, but I’ll also be utilizing both sets of goal posts, the stairs, and a bench. This circuit will be five exercises, followed by a run, followed by a sprint. Let’s get started.

To begin the first exercise I’ll be starting at the bottom of the stairs. It’s a reasonably high set of five steps. If you don’t have stairs available, then a bench or picnic table will work also. I will begin with explosive jumps up the stairs. The reason I like stairs is because I’m forced to jump both vertically, as well as horizontally. It’s like combining the standing long jump, with a box jump. I really like this exercise for the amount of hip power it uses.

I  begin by squatting down, and I literally explode up the steps. I always land with an exaggerated loud landing, making sure I don’t only clear the steps, but come down hard on the top one. I land with my knees bent, stand up, run down the steps, and repeat for 10 to 12 reps. You’ll see just how sore your legs are after just one set. There are still at least two more sets though, as well as four more exercises to go in the first circuit, not including the run and skip.

The next exercise will be at the goal post near where the steps and bench are located. It’s time to do a set of pull-ups. I jump up, grab the top with my hands wide, and do a set of 10 to 12 clean pull-ups. Doing these on a goal post cross-bar adds a new challenge-grip. My hands don’t go around to grip like they would on a chin-up bar. I’m literally holding on with my fingers. My hand is bent at 90 degrees at the first knuckle, and I grip with my fingers. I’ve done this a lot so I’m used to it, but the forearm work this applies is something you have to experience to understand.

The next exercise is something I call a plyometric plank. It’s a plank, up to a the starting position of a push-up, then I lower my body down just like a regular push-up, but I launch myself in to the air at the top. I then land, drop back into a plank on my forearms, and immediately go back to the starting position of the push-up. I do as many of these as I can do, which isn’t often more than 10 to 12, as it’s a lot harder than it sounds, and is the third exercise in without a rest.

Next it’s off to the bench to work my shoulders. I put my feet up as if I was doing an inverted push-up, but instead I make a V shape by pushing my hips back. Now I do a push-up, but because I’m in the V position I’m coming straight down on my head. This is how I shoulder press without any weights. It’s an entirely different movement as well, so I know I’m really working my shoulders. The more I turn my hands inward, the more the side and rear delt get worked. Give this a try to feel the difference that different hand positions make.

The last exercise involves the same set of goal posts. This time I’m going to do hanging leg raises. I jump up and grab the cross-bar again, like I did with the set of  pull-ups. My grip width varies depending on whether I feel like hanging, or holding myself up. The wider the grip the more stable I am able to hold my body, and the better I can isolate my abdominal muscles. I just hinge at the waist, and raise my legs while keeping them straight to a 90 degree bend with my upper body. When I get my legs to that point I pull them up to my chest for a full contraction. I do 10 to 12 of these as well, keeping the same rep range throughout the entire circuit.

As I drop to the ground I make my way to the track that encircles the soccer field, and slowly jog around the track. This is the rest portion, because when I get back to the starting point, I pick up my jump rope, and skip as fast as I can for 60 seconds. I then grab a drink, and begin round two. I usually do three to four of these, depending on what I have planned next.

This is an amazing full body circuit, like the others I have illustrated to you. I always start with the most difficult, and work my way down. This always means that I begin with the largest muscle groups, and end with the smallest. Sometimes, like this weekend for example, I do my outdoor training on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I’ve told you about my medicine ball, resistance bands, and kettlebell, circuits. I’ll chose a different one for each of the three days. When I’m back in the gym on Monday to train with my partner Ryan I’ll be a different kind of sore and tired, and will welcome the change of pace that our brand of weight training brings.

I’ve heard from a few of you that have done some of these circuits, and have had great success with them. I’m happy to hear that they work as well for you as they do for me. It will be a sad day when it gets too cold to continue training in this manner, but I bet I’ll have something else to tell you about when that happens. Join me here tomorrow to get the latest recipes from the Super Food Cookbook that features this weeks Super Food. I’ll see you then,

Happy Lifting!

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