The Ultimate Bodyweight Circuit for Fat Burning

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
July 23, 2014

You’re about to discover the simplest, most effective way to create a bodyweight circuit. It will stimulate your fat burning machine twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, so that you’ll be burning fat even while you sleep.

The secret is simple, and it comes from Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazine fitness expert, Craig Ballantyne.

push up

Craig has been creating bodyweight workouts and fat burning programs for the biggest fitness magazines for almost fifteen years. He knows hundreds of bodyweight moves. He’s logged countless hours of training with men and women, young and old, beginners and advanced athletes, all using his unique style of bodyweight training. He calls it, “The Home Workout Revolution.”

Now, over to Craig for today’s Ultimate Bodyweight Circuit for Fat Burning.


This guest post was written by Craig Ballantyne, creator of the 6 -Minute Miracle System.

No matter what your exact goal, whether it’s to a bit shed fat or completely transform your body, bodyweight workouts are far superior to long, slow, boring cardio. Canadian researchers recently found that doing as little as four minutes of bodyweight exercises was more effective than thirty minutes of traditional cardio.

But most bodyweight programs have it all wrong. Even the Army has it backwards. You’ll be told to do some push-ups, some sit-ups, and maybe some jumping jacks. But that’s just not going to cut it for maximum fat burning.

You need to expand your horizons. You need to use a specific series of movement. You need to be challenged by “20-10” protocols, 1-minute challenges, bodyweight gauntlets, and even “Punisher Holds”

It’s with these unique techniques that you can create the Ultimate Bodyweight Circuit for Fat Burning.

Knee Health Score 2

It all starts with the Big 5. This is where you’ll start if you’re new to this type of training. The Big 5 Bodyweight Circuit for Fat Burning has been used by thousands of my online clients, along with dozens of my personal training clients here in Toronto. From obese men to little old ladies, to average folks just wanting to get back into shape, I’ve put all levels of ability through the Big 5.

bodyweight circuit pull upThe Big 5 exercises consist of a squat, a pull movement, a push movement, a single-leg movement, and a total-body ab exercise. The ultimate bodyweight circuits are to be completed in that specific order.

For example, a beginner workout would look something like this:

  1. Lying hip extension
  2. Stick-up or bodyweight inverted row
  3. Modified push-up
  4. One-leg lying hip extension
  5. Plank or side plank

Each exercise can be done for time (i.e. 20-30 seconds each), with a short rest break of around 10-15 seconds between each exercise. One minute rest is included at the end of the circuit, before repeating the whole thing one more time. That’s a great circuit for a beginner.

An advanced version of the Big 5 looks like this, and incorporates as many “double muscle” moves as possible. For example, the chin-up with knee-up allows you to hit two major muscle groups at once.

  1. Prisoner squat
  2. Chin-up with knee-up (bring your knees to your chest as you lift yourself up)
  3. Spiderman push-up
  4. Prisoner Bulgarian split squat
  5. Cross-body mountain climber

Challenge yourself to a certain number of repetitions (one rep short of failure for chin-ups, pull-ups and split squats) and timed sets (45 of squats and mountain climbers). Do not rest between exercises. Allow one minute of recovery at the end of the circuit, and work up to doing the circuit a total of four times.

There’s still one elite level beyond the Big 5. It’s called the Big 7 Fat Burning Circuit.

In addition to the Big 5, we add a Power Exercise at the start of the circuit, and a Finisher Exercise at the end. For example, and intermediate circuit would look something like this:

  • Power Exercise (jumping jacks, jump rope, or total-body extension)
  • Big 5 Bodyweight Circuit
  • Finisher Exercise (wall squat hold, or narrow-stance bodyweight squats)

The Power Exercise is done for 20 seconds, and the Finisher Exercise can be done for up to 45 seconds, depending on the intensity of the move and the fitness of the client.

An even more advanced version of the Big 7  uses more powerful moves and tougher challenges:

  • Power Exercise (low box jump, burpees, or prisoner squat jumps)
  • Big 5 Bodyweight Circuit
  • Finisher Exercise (punisher squats, total-body extensions, or mountain climbers)

box jumpThe Power Exercise is done for 20 seconds, and the Finisher Exercise can be done for up to 60 seconds, or even a full eight rounds using the “20-10” protocol outline below.

These workouts prove that you don’t need treadmill sprints or other methods of advanced interval training to lose your belly fat, get a flat stomach, or even cut your way down to a serious set of six-pack abs.

If you want to make your bodyweight circuit even more incredible, you can use the following advanced training methods:

  • Punisher Holds
  • Bodyweight Gauntlets
  • 6-minute Ab Circuits

Punisher Holds are excellent for accelerating fat loss, and can be added to your squats, rows and push-up. To do them, simply hold your body in the position of highest tension, as in the bottom of a squat or the top of a bodyweight row. This increases the metabolic demand and total calorie-burn of these exercises.

It’s most effective to use the “20-10” system for Punisher Holds. This is where you do the exercise for 20 seconds, then hold the bottom position for 10 seconds. That’s one Punisher. Intermediates do four Punishers in a row, while advanced trainees take the full challenge and go for eight back-to-back Punishers. These will leave your quads sucking up calories all day long, and put your fat-burning into “Afterburn” mode for 48 hours.

Bodyweight Gauntlets are the best way to target a trouble spot, or build muscular endurance in the push-up your find most challenging. When you build your Big 5 Bodyweight Circuit, simply add one more exercise to the mix. For example, if you wanted to add a push-up gauntlet, your circuit would look something like this:

  1. Squat
  2. Pulling movement
  3. Challenging push-up
  4. Single-leg movement
  5. Challenging push-up
  6. Total-body ab exercise

medium_7646016898By adding the second round of challenging push-ups, you get another chance to increase your endurance, after allowing your chest, shoulders and triceps to recover during the single-leg movement. It’s a sneaky little trick for adding more Turbulence to your workout, and more fat burning to your recovery period. That’s how you sculpt the lean, sexy body that you desire and deserve.

You can get VERY far using only these workouts. They’re great!

But some of my clients have asked for a complete program that fits into their busy lives. So I took my 15+ years of research into fat loss and body transformations, and created what I believe is my most exciting system yet.

It takes just 6 minutes each morning, but FORCES your body to burn 400% more fat each and every day. It’s a unique “food and movement” system that works miracles in just 6 minutes!

Knee health score 3

This is really cool stuff.

Click here for the amazing 6-Minute Miracle System!

Craig Ballantyne is the creator of the 6-Minute Miracle System. Craig is a Certified Strength and Conditioning coach, whose training and nutrition tips feature regularly in magazines such as Men’s Fitness.

Start burning 400% more fat now!


Credit: photo, photo, photo

Show/Hide Comments (5 comments)
  1. Chuck

    Great article – it reinforces some of the things I’m already doing but gives me food for thought for some tweaks down the road.

    I use a suspension trainer for my bodyweight movements but there’s a lot of crossover nonetheless….

    What quad exercises do you find productive for folks coming off knee surgery who can’t do full squats?

  2. Terence Flynn

    do you have any suggestions for fixing lower back pain that affects the groin and hip. I have had this pain on and off your 8 months do to over training with heavy objects. For the last three months I only do bodyweight exercises. I feel good but the pain is taking a long time to go away. Thanks correction “god” to “good”.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      Hi Terence, Its super difficult for me to know what’s going on just from this comment. Where does it hurt, when, etc.? The more info you can give the better. Of course, visiting your Dr. would be your best bet.

      • Terence Flynn

        For over two years i was doing unconventional training like carrying odd objects, cross fit type workouts every other day twice a day. So early this year i was doing my workout in the evening and I felt something like a tear or pop around my groin/ hip area. I ignored it and the pain went down my leg to my lower back. I eased off a little but that wasn’t enough. Finally around three months ago i stop doing the heavy lifting and stuck to just bodyweight exercises. But I guess that was not enough. I think I need time off. I haven’t done anything for two days and the pain is less. What do you think, how much time should I take off or should I do something light for a while. It’s not severe pain but its annoying. People that I know who are in the medical field say I shouldn’t do anything. What do you think.

        • Todd Kuslikis

          Hi Terence,

          I definitely would listen to medical advice. Since I don’t know how bad it is its super hard for me to give advice. For smaller problems I rarely tell people to do nothing. Movement in most cases is healing when you do it right. Even doing light mobility work might be helpful in your situation but I hesitate to recommend anything against medical advice that you have already sought.

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