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Is This A Tough Bodyweight Workout?

Written by shapeshifter

Planning a training program is equal parts of art and science. You map out its evolution over time using CST tools like Incremental Progression, Increasing Sophistication, the Training Hierarchy Pyramid and more (don’t worry-if you stick around you’ll start groking all those terms).

A big part of that planning process, especially on the scale of an individual session, is the use of Rate of Perceived Effort. This is an individual thing–a rating on a scale of one to ten–in which the trainee has to judge how much effort is being put into the session. To achieve the most efficient results over the long haul, without breakdown or injury, we have to wave through different levels of RPE according to a plan.

But sometimes best laid plans go askew. Most times, you get it right. But sometimes, a session turns out to be much tougher than planned. This can be due to a simple miscalculation of the match between the exercises and the trainees, or it can be related to factors such as the environment (weather, humidity, temperature, etc) and the overall state of the trainee (work stress, other physical activities, mental state, etc).

Recently, a session with one of my regular groups elicited much more grunting and groaning than I had expected. I even gave a few suggestions for dropping the level of exercise sophistication during the session (but egos being what they are, I didn’t have any takers…). So when I got done with the session, I filmed what we had done and turned it into another Bodyweight TV episode.

You try it out and tell us in the comments if it’s tough, or if my group was just having a bit of a “soft” day. 🙂

Here’s the basic rundown of the session:

  • 1 minute Lateral Ground Engagement
  • 1 minute Quad Squat
  • 1 minute Dog Burps
  • 1 minute CST Jump Squat
  • Rest 1 minute and repeat (4-6 rounds)

You’ll also find some suggestions in the video for dropping the Sophistication down if necessary.

So let us know how it goes. And I’ll take the results back to my gang… 😉

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  • Love this, but “dog burps”? I have three dogs, I would never want to be near a dog burp! =) Otherwise awesome video, will give this a try today and report back via Twitter!

  • Hey Adam,

    That looks great workout. I have to try it tomorrow… today I had clubbells day. 100 double swing (2 x 6 kg), 50 mil per arm (6 kg) and 100 to hands hammerswing (50 per direction) (9 kg)… It went great without break.

  • Ok, did 4 rounds, as this is my active rest day supposedly that was enough. Yup, that sucked at 100% intensity each round!

  • Hi Adam,

    Really awesome Bodyweight workout. Especially flowing them together really increases the “Oh Yeah! factor, and the fun factor…or maybe the heat got to me when I said that. 😉

    Overall it rocked my world with my park workout.

    Thanks and keep them going!!

  • Henri – Working on those TBF movements I see… 🙂

    PM – Sounds like you had “fun.”

    Bill – Nothin’ better than training in the park!

  • I like that lateral GE.
    I think 1 minute of quad squat & 1 Minute of jump squat is what makes that a killer.

    I may try it on my boot camp people but make each 30secs instead of 1 minute

  • Ok so I just did it. 6 rounds.
    Brutal? Well no not really,
    For me it was RPE 8 on muscular exertion (my quads are toasty) on CV is was maybe a 6
    RPT was 8
    RPD was 1.

    For beginners it would kill them

  • Maybe not the best day to to this session, but done is done – 4 rounds… I had with me 2 beginners – and loved to show them “easier ways” to managed exercises (good stuff on video). They like that this way of training is awesome.

    For me three first exercises go great – and then there is “killer on the road” – jump squat!! What a beautiful feeling when 1 minute is over…

    4th round was “easiest” – muscles are so exhausted that you really have to concentrate… and almost find a “flow”.

    Now is fantastic good feeling = so far absolutely one of the best for me so far… Thanks!

  • Henri – “4th round was “easiest” – muscles are so exhausted that you really have to concentrate… and almost find a “flow”.
    You’ve just discovered one of the secrets of CST… 😉

  • Today was supposed to be MetCon (BER General Athleticism), so I thought I would substitute this workout. I successfully resisted the temptation to re-order the exercises like they are in BER, and did the routine as written.

    The gr0und engagement variant was new to me, and needs more work. It did take me to round three to realize that the hands were a screw-press down on one side,and screw-press up on the other.

    The Quad Squats drove me to momentary muscular failure every round (my hip flexors give out…)

    Quick comparison to the BER MetCon, using my heart-rate monitor data as a standard of comparison.
    last BER MetCon
    Duration: 19:31
    Time in zone: 10:21
    Avg. HR: 151
    Max HR: 166

    First 4 rounds of this routine
    Duration: 19:00
    Time in zone: 3:30
    Avg. HR: 137
    Max HR: 162
    5th and 6th rounds
    Duration: 9:37
    Time in zone: 5:32
    Avg HR: 152
    Max HR: 166

    In general, though, I like the routine. It’s hard on muscular endurance, rather than aerobic endurance, in my opinion (based on all of 1 session with the routine, LOL)

  • Did the workout with one of my most fit clients, she does triathalons and is used to working through pain. By the end, she told me she hated me and never wanted to do that workout again. So yes, I would say it is a killer workout!

  • Scott – Cool. Thanks for the comparative analysis. Interesting.

    Dale – 🙂 Better you than me. I have enough people telling me that kind ‘a stuff already…

  • Dale – I laughed at your client’s comment…it made me think of the following quote from a kettlebell swing+squat routine I “like”,

    “You are going to alternate swings and Hindu Squat in descending and ascending ladders while periodically thinking of how to find me and beat me with a stick.”

  • Once again a very creative use of movement in the lateral ground engagement–i’ve used the other three and variations in classes and find that many “older” fit folks find them very challenging and appreciate ways to approach them successfully–we of course use chairs/blocks etc to decrease the weight they initially stack on their de-conditioned upper bodies–this is often how i started–just wanted to say thanks and that many people can benefit from this type of work, even when they (we) feel lost when looking at the original examples

  • Great little circuit, I’ve put just about every one of my clients and classes through it.. I’ve heard the words “hidious” from some of my toughest athletes.

    I tried an experiment tonight with a REALLY interesting outcome.
    After everyone in my elite class completed round one, I told them to count honest reps in rnds 2,3,4. I gave them the first round to get attuned to the demands of the circuit.
    What happened has me somewhat confused. Round 3 and 4 are where it gets interesting. For round 3, everyone beat their score for round 2. This is understandable since they now had a goal out there. That said, you might figure that this would be the best of the 4. knowing that, I set everyones goal for the midpoint between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Everyone beat the 3rd round by about %5 for monster 4th rounds.

    • Hey David,
      That’s pretty common actually. As the nervous system gets fired up and attuned to the movements, you can pour a lot more effort into the exercises and ramp up the performance from round to round. Eventually, it’ll dip back down as fatigue sets in after the peak…

    • Perhaps the body is being prepped in the first round, warming up to the action that is about to come at them again. Second sets always go better for me personally.

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