When it comes to bodyweight training, there are many ways you can approach it: you can hit circuits, you can hit straight sets, super sets, giant sets. Your options are endless. One of my favorite ways to utilize bodyweight training with myself, athletes, and clients is what I like to call, A Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit (TTBWC). I call it this because I use three different type of bodyweight movements within a single circuit that address three different types of training focuses.
A TTBWC is composed of three bodyweight movements that address the following training focuses: SPEED-POWER, SKILL, and STRENGTH-ENDURNACE. Before I go into some of the killer circuits I've put together in the past, I want to go over the specifics of each training focus used within a TTBWC.
For the SPEED-POWER movement, the main focus is exactly just that - pure speed and explosion. For this movement, I choose a plyometric type jump or pure speed movement. The rep range for this first movement will be very low as the main focus is to be as explosive and fast as humanly possible on each of the reps. I also have this movement as the first movement within the circuit to make sure you're the freshest to ensure further quality.
When you trian for speed and power, you want to make sure you're training at near 100%. If you're greatly fatigued, you won't be able to train at full speed and thus, you'll not get the desired results you'll looking for. Best way to emphasis this is to look at how Olympic Sprinters train for pure speed. When they do any type of max effort sprints, they keep the reps low but high quality. If they were to train in a fatigued state to which they could only run at 80% max speed, they would not be able to increase their speed overtime due to never training at max speed.
Examples of SPEED-POWER movements would include - max effort jumps, short 100% sprints, lower and upper body plyometrics, and burpee variations with an emphasis on max power and speed.
The next focus within the TTBWC is the SKILL movement.
With this movement, the focus is to work on a skilled bodyweight movement, one that requires great strength and well, you guessed it, skill.
This movement can be different for everyone depending on their fitness level. Some people are far more experienced and advanced then others so their skill movement may be more lot more difficult vs. someone who's more of a beginner where they may choose to do a simpler bodyweight movement.
To give you a feel of how this may look, using the pull up and it's variations as the example, the skilled movement you choose to do can range from a simple assisted pull up progression with a band all the way up to a single arm pull up.
If we were to talk legs, this soil movement may range from doing a pistol squat progression on a box all the way up to a normal pistol squat progression. It just depends on the skill and overall strength level of the person doing the circuit.
Bottom line, this movement should be something that's rather difficult for YOU to perform. It should be a movement that you need to focus on getting better at. That's what makes it unique and different for everyone.
The rep range for the SKILLED movement is kept low, usually around 3-5 reps, but never any more then 6. We want to keep the quality of this movement high, so the reps stay low.
The third focus is STRENGTH-ENDURANCE based and is used to get in more volume.
This is when we start to crank things up a bit more and have a little fun by increasing the rep range.
For the STRENGTH-ENDURANCE movement, you want to pick a movement that you've already gained a lot of progression on plus have a good amount of skill build up with already. Usually for most people, this movement will be one of your basic bodyweight movement variations such as a push up, a lunge, a squat, pull up or row. Just as with the skill movement, it can be pretty much anything depending on your overall strength and fitness level.
For this movement, the rep range is set above 10 reps and can go much higher. For some movements, such as your upper body push and pull variations, I choose to go with "submax" reps. When I do submax reps, it simply means to do as many reps as possible until you hit near failure. So, basically when you start to really grind reps out, you stop your set before you hit complete failure. This will help keep you fresh as well as help you keep from burning out overtime.
Now that we've gone over what a Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit is made up of, let's go over how to set up a TTBWC.
You would perform these TTBWC just like any other circuit. What you do is go from movement to movement with NO rest in between each and after you complete the third movement of the circuit, you would then rest for 90-120 secs and repeat for around 3-5 sets.
In terms of using these within a training program, you can choose to put one TTBWC into your workout blended in with other weighted and non-weighted modalities or you can choose to have 2-3 different TTBWC's within one workout itself.
Usually for me, I hit a heavy barbell lift or power based Olympic lift first, then go into a TTBWC second. Also, I typically only use one TTBWC within my workouts to keep the skill and power work within them more focused.
Here's the different ways I've put together these circuits for the best results:
Basic Set Up:
1A) POWER / SPEED Based Movement x 3-5 Reps OR 1 ALL Out Effort (Sprint)
2A) SKILL Movement x 2-6 reps - QUALITY - use a movement that requires a lot of skill on your part
3A) STRENGTH / ENDURANCE Movement x10-submax - bust out the reps here, do a movement that your good at
Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit A
1A) Max Effort Box Jump x 3
1B) Pistol Squat x 6 / Leg
1C) Handstand Push Up x Submax
Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit B
1A) Max Effort Broad Jump x 5
1B) Ring Handstand Push Up x 5
1C) Chest To Bar Pull Ups x submax
Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit C
1A) 50 yard Sprint
1B) Single Arm Push Up x 5 / arm
1C) Rope Climbs x submax
Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit D
1A) Single Leg Box Jump x 3 / leg
1B) Single Arm Pull Up Variation x 3-5 / arm
1C) Dips x submax
Triple Threat Bodyweight Circuit E
1A) Max Effort Lateral Hurdle Jump x 3
1B) Strict Muscle Up x 5
1C) Recline Ring Rows x submax
Bottom Line - These types of circuits will help you build up more strength, power, and overall bodyweight conditioning. They truly are a triple threat!
Travis Stoetzel is a certified strength and conditioning coach who owns and operates The Forged Athlete Gym in Omaha NE. He uses a blend of unconventional training methods via sandbags, kettlebells, and bodyweight mixed with in traditional barbel and dumbell training to help improve athletic performance and physique enhancement. His clientele range from crazy weekend warriors, high school athletes, mma fighters, military personnel, all the way up to Olympic caliber wrestlers. You can find out more info about Travis and his aggressive strength methods at TravisStoetzel.com. Find out more
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