I’ve posted lots of pyramid workouts on the blog—some where the number of reps declines as you go, some where the length of interval time declines as you go, but never one where you move less as you go. It’s been my favorite workout structure recently, so I had to debut the movement pyramid on the blog. Say hello to my at-home winter workout go-to!
If reducing motion sounds relaxing, you’ve got another thing coming. What I love about this workout is you get the benefits of both explosive movements and isometric holds: two different, but equally beneficial, burns.
30-Minute Bodyweight Movement Pyramid
I don’t want you guys to feel robbed—this workout technically takes only 29 minutes and 20 seconds, but 20-Minute-and-20-Second Bodyweight Movement Pyramid Workout didn’t have a great ring to it. Forgive me…
I recommend glancing over the pictorial of the this workout below before reading the next couple sentences so that everything makes sense—it’s not a complicated structure, but explaining it with words is harder than showing you.
This workout is made up of five exercises that you’ll circuit through four times. You spend 60-80 seconds on each exercise (you’ll see below why it differs for a couple moves). During that time, you’re reducing your range of motion every 20 seconds. For example, jump squat 20 seconds, stationary squat 20 seconds, squat hold 20 seconds. First you take out the air time, then you take out the movement altogether. I think of the progression as explosiveà stable movementà isometric.
After each exercise progression, you’ll rest for 20 seconds before moving onto the next exercise. The 20-second rest will feel like a long time at first, but by the end you’ll really appreciate it (trust me). I set my interval timer for 44 rounds of 20 sec work and 20 seconds of rest. This basically just meant that my timer was beeping every 20 seconds to signal me onto the next progression or exercise.
SQUATS | Spend 20 seconds on each of the following variations…
- Jump Squat: Feet about shoulder-width apart, squat down, sending your hips and butt back and down (not the knees forward!). Bring your hands in front of you as you sink down. From there, explosively jump straight up, swinging your arms back behind you as you do. Land softly and sink right back into a squat, hands swinging forward.
- Power Squat: Just take out the jump! Feet about hips-width apart, squat down, sending your hips and butt back and down (not the knees forward!). Keep your chest open, shoulders back—it’s natural to lean forward slightly as you lower down, but we don’t want to hunch Bring your hands in front of you as you sink down to your lowest point, bodyweight staying in your heels. From there, powerfully stand back up, straightening your legs and thrusting your hips forward (squeeze your bum at the top!).
- Squat Hold: Sink down to your lowest squat and hold. Weight should be in your heels, knees not sticking out farther than your toes.
PUSH UPS | Spend 20 seconds on each of the following variations…
This was by far the hardest exercise for me. I did all of the variations in a modified push up position (from my knees).
- Hopping Push Ups: Start in a push up position (feet) or modified push up position (knees) with hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart. From here, you lower down like a normal push up and then explosively push yourself up, lifting your hands a couple inches off the ground at the top and then landing back into push up position. If you’re more advanced, you can do clapping push ups here instead (they require a little more air time so are harder).
- Push Ups: Take out the air time! Hands stay on the ground the whole time. You know the drill.
- Push Up Hold: Lower down in your push up so that elbows are bent to about 90 degrees. Hold there.
AB LIFTS | Spend 20 seconds on each of the following variations…
- V-Ups: Start on your back with arms stretched overhead and legs hovering just slightly above the ground. Pull your abs in tight and press your low back to the ground. You’ll then crunch up, bringing your hands towards your toes (keeping legs and arms straight). When done correctly, your body will make a “v” shape as you crunch; this means you’re not just reaching your arms up, your chest needs to move towards your knees. Lower back down to starting position. If possible, your feet should never touch the ground between reps.
- Leg Lifts: Take out the movement of your upper half. Lay on your back with hands under your butt for support or by your sides. Lift legs straight up, perpendicular to the ground and then lower until they are just a couple inches off the ground. Legs should stay straight the whole time, and should never come to rest on the ground in between reps. As you do these, pull your abs in tight and press your low back to the ground. If you feel your low back lifting off the floor and straining in anyway, add a bend to your knees as you do these.
- Leg Hover Hold: Still in leg lift position, lower your legs down so that they’re hovering about a foot off the ground. Hold them there, keeping them as straight as possible (again, if your low back feels strained while doing these, add a bend to the knees).
LUNGES | Spend 20 seconds on each of the following variations…
- Jump Lunges: Start in a split-stance lunge: right foot in front, ball of left foot planted on the floor behind you. Both knees should be bent to 90 degrees, front knee aligned over ankle, back knee hovering just a couple inches off the floor. From here, push off your feet to jump up in the air, switching feet in mid-air and landing back in a lunge with left foot forward and right foot planted behind. Continue, alternating feet with each jump.
- Alternating Forward Lunges: Just take out the jump! Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Step your right foot forward, bending both knees to 90-degree angles—really get low on these! At your lowest point, the back knee should be hovering just a few inches off the ground. Push off the front right foot to return to standing and then repeat, lunging the left foot forward this time.
- Hold Lunge Right Foot Forward: Step into a lunge (a la the previous exercise description) with right foot forward and hold down at the bottom.
- Hold Lunge Left Foot Forward: Same as above, just switch your lead leg.
CROSSBODY PLANKS | Spend 20 seconds on each of the following variations…
- Crossbody Mountain Climbers: These are just like traditional mountain climbers except you drive your knees across your body at an angle instead of straight forward to engage the obliques. Start in a plank, hands stacked underneath shoulders, core squeezing in tight (don’t let your low back sag or your butt stick up in the air). From this position, drive one knee at a time up towards the opposite elbow, like running horizontally (with a twist). The pace on these should be quick.
- Crossbody Knee Tucks: Essentially just the previous exercise, but slower and more controlled. From your plank position, pull your left knee across your body towards your right elbow, making physical contact if you can. That means you really need to crunch everything together. Step the left foot back into plank position and then repeat with the right.
- Hold Right Knee to Left Elbow: Pretty self-explanatory, but you’re going to hold that crossbody crunched position. Challenge yourself! For how many of those 20 seconds can you keep your knee physically touching the opposite elbow? It’s going to want to quickly start drifting away—don’t let it!
- Hold Left Knee to Right Elbow
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Target® C9 through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Target® C9, all opinions are my own.