in: Featured, Fitness, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: July 10, 2023

A Bodyweight Workout for Busy Men

An officer and a gentleman taking the Marines Corps Fitness test.

“Get Yo Abs Right Mayo’nnaise!”

Editor’s note: If today’s challenge to take the Marines Corps Fitness test humbles you into wanting to get into better shape, starting out with a bodyweight workout is an excellent way to go. Here, Jim Smith from Diesel Crew lays out a great plan for one.

Many men don’t realize that serious muscle and strength can be built with just bodyweight exercises.  Not only that, bodyweight only workouts can be high intensity and done in quick training sessions throughout the week.

Many men don’t have time to spend hours in the gym because they have families, they work long hours or they are just too busy going out on dates. Yet they still want to stay in fighting shape. For them, a short, intense bodyweight workout is just what the doctor ordered.

So what are the ground rules when you are setting up your bodyweight training routines?

  • You should definitely include as many full body movements as you can to jack up the intensity and decrease the time of the workout
  • You can increase the intensity of the bodyweight movements by doing more reps, decreasing the rest time between exercises or by changing the angle of the movement
  • If you can’t do movements with your full bodyweight, you can change the angle or use elastic bands to deload the movement

Why is bodyweight training so effective?

The most basic form of all training is bodyweight training. Being able to move your own body in all 3 anatomical planes of motion; sagittal, frontal and transverse, or in real world situations, is the key to more fluid movements and injury prevention.  In fact, many trainers won’t allow their lifters to pick up any weights until they “master” bodyweight training.  This might be a little extreme, but the state of fitness in the US is very sad when many people, even kids, can’t efficiently move their own bodyweight.

At a fundamental level, bodyweight training improves:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Mobility
  • Reactiveness
  • Stability
  • Weaknesses

So you can see, as you improve your ability to control your body, it will become your strength foundation moving forward when you begin to engage progressively resisted strength training exercises.

There are some rules that should be followed for any training session or workout program.  Every session must be started with some dynamic movements to charge or excite the central nervous system, increase your core temperature and prepare you for the upcoming demands of the routine.

Here is a sample bodyweight workout:


1. Glute Bridges, 3×15

2. Tin Men’s, 1 min

3. Piriformis Stretch, 2×5 each leg


1A)  Beyond the Range Push-ups, 3×20

1B)  Bulgarian Split Squats, 3×10 each leg

2A)  Pull-ups, 3×8

2B)  Walk Walkouts, 2x 1 min (AMAP*, As Many As Possible)

The Warm-up

Warm-up Exercise #1:  Glute Bridges

This movement activates the glutes and hamstrings which are responsible for hip extension and hip abduction.  Make sure it is the contraction of the glutes and hamstrings that elevate the hips for each rep, not just driving the feet downward and hyperextending the lower back.  If done correctly, it is a short range movement.

Glute bridge body weight exercise.

A man doing exercise for hip extension and hip abduction.

Warm-up Exercise #2:  Tin Men

After we activate the glutes and hamstrings, we will work on some dynamic movements.  Walking back and forth, the lifter will swing their legs in an alternating fashion while making sure their torso and hips remain in neutral alignment.

A routine exercise man raising his leg.

A man rising his leg while exercising.

Warm-up Exercise #3:  Piriformis Stretch

This movement improves hip mobility and pelvic alignment.  This is a great movement to supplement with Tin Men’s because it further improves hip movement by stretching the hip abductors.

Piriformis Stretch workout fitness routine warm up.

Piriformis stretch workout.

The Workout

1A) Beyond the Range Push-ups

This movement is not only great for activating more muscle fibers and improving shoulder strength and stability, it also builds a big chest.  Beyond the range push-ups are done with the hands on an elevated surface like blocks or swings.  The swing variation adds much more difficulty to the movement because of the instability factor.

Beyond the range push ups in a playground workout.

Elevated push ups body weight workout.

1B)  Bulgarian Split Squats

Unilateral movements are often forgotten in the gym where deadlifts and squats rule.  But they are essential for maintaining a balance in the hip ad/abductors; they improve knee stability and have real world carryover to everyday life and movement.

Bulgarian split squat body weight workout exercise.

2A)  Pull-ups

One of the best, if not the best mass builder for the back.  Pull-ups have too many variations to list, but here are a few:

  • Shoulder width – conventional
  • Wide grip
  • Side to side
  • Chin-ups
  • Narrow grip
  • Towel pull-ups
  • L-sit pull-ups

Man doing pull up on Swingset playground workout.

If you have any elbow issues, a narrower grip on the end of a pull-up should be used:

Narrow grip pull up body weight workout routine.

2B)  Wall Walkouts

At this point we’ve improved our hip mobility, strengthened our upper and lower bodies, and now we will hit the core.  Wall walkouts seem very simple, a movement where you start in a handstand against the wall and then you walk out until you are parallel to the ground.  At that point, you walk your hands back to the starting position.  Well, it is not quite that simple.  This movement will kick your butt, quickly.  Not only will you be building a strong core (anti-extension) but you will develop serious shoulder strength and stability.

Wall walkout body weight fitness standing push up.

Wall walkout body weight exercise workout routine.

Wall walkout push up position body weight exercise.Man Legs on wall doing push ups in a gym.


Listen to our podcast on homemade muscle and bodyweight workouts:


Jim Smith, CSCS is a highly sought after lecturer, author, consultant and strength coach at  Jim is an expert writer for Men’s Fitness and a member of the Elite Fitness Q/A staff.  Jim’s just released his new killer product for building muscle, while losing fat – all with only 3 short muscle building workouts a week – click here.

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