As many of you know I am a huge fan of body weight calisthenics. The feeling of accomplishment that you gain after learning a high-flying acrobatic move like a Front Lever is amazing. If I could JUST do body weight exercises for the rest of my life and still make gains I would but…. the fact of the matter is that it is good for the body to get different types of stimulation in order for it to make continuous gains. That’s why I created this 3 Week Workout Routine that includes calisthenics, dumbbells, a weight vest and exercise bands. I don’t normally use equipment but occasionally I will mix it up and dust off the old dumb bells and weight vest.
For the last month or so I have been playing around on my PVC gym that I created (more information on how to create one to come…). My front levers, human flag and planches have all improved from it. Though I felt like I just needed to change it up. Here’s a tip: if you are working your butt off and not seeing results you might need to try a new technique or routine. Now, I am NOT advocating routine hopping. There are so many people out there that just bop from plan to plan and never achieve anything. It takes several weeks to see changes from a plan. I’ve been at this fitness thing long enough to know my body and what it needs. Change is what it needs now and this routine below is what I am working through.
What’s the Benefit?
This 3 Week Workout Routine is designed with two primary purposes in mind:
1. Increased Muscle Growth– In order to gain muscle mass you have to stay at a low rep range (6-8 or 8-12) and give your body enough time to recover. I designed this plan with the intention for it to help with increasing muscle size or hypertrophy.
2. Improved Balance & Strength For Calisthenics – As you’ll see below, the plan is divided up into 3 days for muscle growth and 3 days where you work on calisthenics (balance/strength).
Overall Structure of The Workout Plan:
So here’s the basic structure of the workout routine.
Day 1: Whole body workout including legs, core, chest, back and arms
Day 2: Calisthenic training used to improve balance and strength
Day 3: Whole body workout including legs, core, chest, back and arms
Day 4: Calisthenic training used to improve balance and strength
Day 5: Whole body workout including legs, core, chest, back and arms
Day 6: Calisthenic training used to improve balance and strength
Weeks 2 and 3: Same as above (try to increase reps)
Workout Download Sheet (click on image):
What Equipment Do I Need:
Now, as I stated above I am not much of an equipment guy. Essentially the human body is all you really need to develop a great physique and be healthy. BUT… mixing it up is important too so that’s why incorporating the below equipment into my 3 week workout routine.
1. A Weight Vest – I use WeightVest.com. It has served me faithfully for quite a long time. I have even let friends use it and it is just as in tact as the day I got it.
2. Dumbbell – You’ll need at least one dumbbell. I use a 50lb and it seems to work well.
3. Exercise band – You’ll use the exercise band for the lateral shoulder raises and bicep curls.
Tell Me The Plan & Let Me Get Started!:
Below I have linked to all the exercises that you will be doing in the 3 Week Workout Routine. You will get 1 min of rest time in between each exercise and be doing 2 sets of almost all of them. Remember that the goal with this program is to gain muscle growth so you need to choose enough weight to fatigue within the 8-12 rep range. Here’s the structure of the program:
Workout 1 (Day 1):
Dumbbell Squats – 4 sets – I use my 100lb weight vest and put a 50lb dumbbell between my legs.
Single Leg Calf Raises – 2 sets – Make sure you have enough weight to make this really hard. You can use your weight vest and weights or just weight vest.
Diamond Push Ups – 2 sets – These are Hannibal’s favorite chest exercise. They really work the inner portion of the chest very well. Keep your weight vest on for this exercise.
Pull Ups – 2 sets – One of the greatest exercises for upper back strength. Use your weight vest if you can! 🙂
Dips – 2 sets – I’ve been using the PVC rings on my PVC Home Gym for this but you can use two chairs.
Front Levers – 2 sets – If you can’t do a full front lever than I recommend starting off with one of these progressions and working your way up to a front lever.
Handstand Push Ups – 2 sets – Plop your feet against a wall for balance and do as many handstand push ups as you can. They will be especially difficult after all the exercises you just did. If you can’t do a full up-and-down rep than do partial reps. If you can’t do partial reps just hold yourself in the handstand position.
Lat Raises with band – 2 sets – This is where you will need an exercise band. Just a band that will force you to fatigue in the 8-12 rep range.
Bicep Curls with band – 2 sets – Same thing here. Choose a band where 8-12 reps is your max.
Half Plank Tiger Bends – 2 sets – This is one of my favorite triceps exercises. You start off in a normal push up position. Lower yourself down by hinging only at your elbows and keeping them tucked in by your side. Go down until your elbows touch the ground. Then using your triceps muscle push back up. The further you keep your hands in front of you the easier it is. The more you put it behind you… the harder it is.
Sit Ups (I do PVC Sit Ups)- 2 sets – Yep, we will be doing sit ups in this workout routine. Go to full fatigue with these. I do mine on my PVC Gym which makes them much more difficult than ordinary sit ups.
Workout 2 (Day 2):
10 Min Handstand – Set a timer and stay in the handstand position for 10 minutes total. If you fall out of it and need a rest, stop the timer. When you are rested go back into it. For this workout it is ok to rest as long as you need to. You are not working on strength gains directly so let your body rest enough to practice the handstand well.
Front Levers – 2 sets -Yep, more front levers! Gotta love these!
Hanging Ab Crunches – 2 sets -Set up two chairs so the seats are facing each other. Place your hands on both chairs as if you were about to do a dip. Press up to the highest position and hold it. Begin to tuck your knees up as high as you can into your chest. Lower them back down to the starting position (you will not be touching the floor). This is one rep. Do as many reps as you can.
*You will then alternate Workouts 1 and 2 for 6 days of the week (so you will do Workout 1 three times and Workout 2 three times total)
Why Are You Telling Us To Use Weights In The 3 Week Workout Routine?
I must stress that it is ok to use weights. I know I have preached the benefit of body weight exercises for so long that it my seem contradictory that I am now saying to use weights. Again, I occasionally (a few times a year) will get the weights to keep the principle of adaption and muscle confusion in my workouts. This 3 week workout routine is a great plan to follow to help throw your muscles off in the midst of your body weight only routines. You will feel tremendous soreness and witness nice gains with this workout plan if you stay in a low rep range and give it your all.
Let me know your thoughts!
again nice workout mate,just finished your extreme overload feeling great thinking what else to do and this pops up nice timing mate
Great Gaz! I’m glad. It is tough but effective. 🙂
Please do something about the “Share” tab that scrolls along the left hand edge. It makes it extremely difficult to read your articles, especially if you are reading it on your phone. Other than that, keep up the good work! Your articles are some of my favorite fitness must reads. You’re knowledgeable and informative. Thank you!
Thanks Chris! I will definitely do something about the share bar. I thought I had that taken care of on all the browsers but I guess it is still giving problems on the smart phones.
I just moved the share bar. Let me know if this is better.
Another great exercise program Todd. definitely be trying this one. I don’t have a vest but a backpack that I put sandbags in.Is this a good alternative?
For sure John! Pretty much the same thing though a vest hugs the body better. If you don’t have the $$ for a vest than definitely a back pack is the way to go!
at least you didn’t type ‘bedroom moves’ – that would be a different kind of calisthenics altogether!
Nice workouts, Todd. I’m definitely up for working on my planche and front lever.
Awesome Marc! Yep, I have a long way to go on my planche but have my front lever done pretty well. 🙂
should say Barbell lifts, not bathroom moves… Android Phones and the auto correct
Bathroom moves? I’m confused.
Nice routine. Not sure if you are an advocate of Kettlebells and chain. Try mixing some kettlebell complexes into that routine. I find they are great for conditioning and building explosiveness. The chain is nice if use it to make your bathroom moves feel unstable. Attacks all those little stabilizer muscles that you might otherwise get of a swiss ball with pushups. Chain also has put my big three through the roof. Just an overall great workout. Good combination of bodyweight and weights in general.
Awesome idea Justin! You know, I have never done a kettlebell workout so will have to invest in some equipment and try it. Thanks!