This No-BS Bodyweight Workout Will Challenge You


photography by Rick LoweGetty Images

Whatever your fitness level, this bodyweight workout from trainer Paul Sklar, C.S.C.S., will help you build total-body strength and muscle. That’s the elegance of using your bodyweight for resistance: Everyone, from beginners to the most seasoned gym rats, can give the movements a try. And as you make gains, the demand placed on your body increases, too.

Here, Sklar demos the routine. All you need is enough space to spread out and willingness to focus to get the most out of every single movement.

For the first exercise, bodyweight renegade rows, he sets up in a high plank position with his feet about shoulder-width apart. Prioritizing total-body tension and keeping his shoulders down and away from his ears, he performs a single pushup. At the top of the move, he transfers his upper body weight into one hand, rowing the other to his waist, then returning it to the ground. He then repeats on the other side.

Keeping your hips square and whole body engaged, as Sklar does in this video, is critical to truly benefitting from the exercise, while also making the move much more challenging. If you still feel like you could do more, position your feet closer together; a narrower base of support will require increased core recruitment.

Next up, Sklar cranks out single reps of squats, side lunges, and reverse lunges. Between each lunge, he does a squat. The exact order matters less than doing all three moves with solid form, which might be good news if you’re uncoordinated. Work to keep an engaged, neutral torso at all times, and staying lowering into each step with control. Sklar finishes the lower body series off with jump squats.

To finish off, Sklar performs forearm plank pushups. Set up on the floor in a low plank with your hands together. Once you’re owning the position, press through your hands and squeeze your triceps to extend your elbows, pause, then lower back down with control. At the bottom of the move, your upper arm and forearm should come together to form a 90-degree angle.

For a total-body workout, Sklar advises performing all the exercises consecutively, resting for one minute, and repeating for a total of five to 10 times, depending on your fitness level. What about reps? Here, he does 10 renegade rows, three rounds of squats and lunges, and 10 forearm plank pushups.

That’s a good general rec, but since fitness level varies, you should also keep tabs on how hard you feel you’re working. Make sure you’re focused enough on your form, and even the most experienced guy will feel the burn.



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