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We're not that far removed from the 2012 Olympics that the images of gymnasts should be fully erased from memory. These athletic dynamos tend to boast some of the best physiques in all of sport, with cartoonishly-rounded off shoulders, thick, sinewy arms and powerful legs. The kicker here is that traditional weight training is such a small part of their routine -- most of their strength and conditioning is the result of bodyweight-only routines.

Does bodyweight training have a place in your own program? Definitely. While we'll never stray from the position that everyone should squat, bench and deadlift, there's no denying that learning to control all of your hard-earned muscle is great for muscle finish, athletic performance and body composition.

If you're interested in building some gymnast-like polish to your muscle bellies, try adding this superset-based routine to your weekly split. Ideally, this should be an off-day routine -- like a Saturday -- to allow for a better workout and complete recovery before your next round of heavy lifts.

Exercise

Sets/Reps

Total Reps

Wide-Grip Pull-Up x/To Failure 30
-superset with- Parallel Bar Dip x/To Failure 30
Jump Squat x/To Failure* 30
-superset with- Parallel Bar Dip x/To Failure 30
Jump Squat x/To Failure* 30
-superset with-Birdpicker x/To Failure 30
Underhand Pull-Up x/To Failure 30
-superset with-Plyo Push-Up x/To Failure* 30
* On plyometric exercises, failure should be defined by the moment when your rep speed starts to decrease.


With each superset, the first exercise is generally the most demanding. Perform reps of the first exercise with an explosive positive followed by a controlled negative. When you reach failure, make a mental mark of that number and aim to complete that many of the second exercise. So if you do 12 pull-ups, aim for 12 dips. Rest 30 seconds or less -- conditioning is key and research shows that shorter rest periods combined with training to failure triggers a greater release of exercise-induced testosterone. Complete as many supersets as necessary to reach 30 reps, then move to the next superset.

Each week, add five reps to your "total reps" target. When you hit 50 reps and you can complete all 50 in three sets or less, try adding resistance or increasing intensity. For dips and pull-ups, use a weight belt, weighted vest or a sturdy backpack to add 10 pounds or so. On jump squats, elevate your knees to waist level on each rep. On birdpickers, slow down the negative portion of the rep. For push-ups, alternate grips on each rep, moving from a narrow hand spacing to a wide hand spacing each time.

Birdpicker |Focus: Hamstrings, glutes
This move is akin to a single-leg Romanian deadlift, using only your bodyweight. Stand tall with your hands at your sides, feet flat on the floor about six inches apart. Keeping only a slight bend in your knees and a slight arch in your lower back, bend forward at the waist, reaching for the floor with both hands. At the same time, raise one leg behind you -- the goal should be to keep this leg in alignment with your back. Touch the floor gently and return to the starting position. Alternate legs for reps.

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