How to Create a Bodyweight Workout Plan

How to Create a Bodyweight Workout Plan

Bodyweight training is a type of exercise in which the only resistance used is the weight of the person performing it. Bodyweight exercises are done in six movement patterns: bending, squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, and core.

As there is no external load to work with, this style of training focuses on motor control and muscle endurance. By focusing on these two characteristics, you can help your clients make improvements in movement efficiency and preserve muscle strength and mass.  

How to Set Up A Bodyweight Training Program

Create a list of available equipment for each of your clients. This could include a pull-up bar, bench, and resistance bands. Having access to just one of the items above will expand your arsenal of exercises. Next, you need to assess the capabilities of your client. An assessment will give you a starting point of initial exercises that your client is capable of performing. Learn more about the assessment process in this blog.

WRITING A BODYWEIGHT PROGRAM

Full body training sessions may consist of 10 exercises, with pre-determined sets and repetitions or a designated time domain of work. Start with a number of repetitions you know the client can complete, as determined by the assessment.

During every session, have the client track how many repetitions they can complete. Asking the client to track their results creates personal responsibility and gives you insight on how to progress each session. 

Full Body Training Example

A1) Hip Thrusts @2010, 12-15 Reps x 3 Sets; Rest 40 Seconds 

A2) Push-Up @3010, 6-9 Reps x 3 Sets;  Rest 40 Seconds 

A3) Air Squat @20X1, 12-15 Reps x 3 Sets; Rest 40 Seconds

A4) Towel Row @3010, 6-9 Reps x 3 Sets; Rest 40 Seconds 

A5) Bear Crawl, 20 Steps x 3 Sets; Rest 90 Seconds

B1) Hamstring Walkouts @2010, 12-15 Reps x 3 Sets; Rest 40 Seconds

B2) Pike Push-Up @3010, 6-9 Reps x 3 Sets;  Rest 40 Seconds 

B3) Split Squat @2010, 12-15 Reps/Leg x 3 Sets; Rest 40 Seconds

B4) Strict Pull-Up @2010, 6-9 Reps x 3 Sets; Rest 40 Seconds

B5) Side Plank, 30 Seconds/Side x 3 Sets; Rest 90 Seconds  

SIMPLE PROGRESSIONS

Progressing week to week does not have to be complicated. Simple changes to the program can create stimulus and adaptation. Here are four progression variations you can implement to advance training from week to week. 

Increase volume example: 

Week 1: 3 sets

Week 2: 4 sets

Week 3: 5 sets 

Decrease rest example: 

Week 1: rest 40 sec between exercises

Week 2: rest 30 sec between exercises

Week 3: rest 20 sec between exercises

Manipulate time under tension example:

Week 1: @20X0

Week 2: @30X0

Week 3: @40X0

Weekly Training Schedule

Most clients will benefit from alternating bodyweight training and aerobic training. On the first day of training, prescribe full-body training in the six-movement patterns. On an opposing day, prescribe sustainable aerobic training such as walking or riding a bike.

Weekly Split Variation 1:

Monday: Full body resistance training

Tuesday: Walk 

Wednesday: Full body resistance training

Thursday: Swim 

Friday: Full body resistance training 

Saturday: Hike 

Sunday: Off 

Weekly Split Variation 2:

Monday: Full body resistance training

Tuesday: Full body resistance training (variation in exercises)

Wednesday: Ride Bike

Thursday: Full body resistance training (same exercises as Monday)

Friday: Full body resistance training (same exercises as Tuesday)

Saturday: Run 

Sunday: Off

Create two or three more of these routines with the same template, change the exercises, and rotate through the training sessions weekly. This will create variations that can be implemented for multiple weeks as a training cycle. 

The key to avoiding plateaus is to keep bodyweight training within your client’s capabilities and to progress them gradually over time. With knowledge of a few fundamental program design principles, you can create long-term results with bodyweight-only training. We’re sharing those principles in our guide, Bodyweight-Only Program Design.

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