13 Incredible Benefits of Trail Running

Tired of running mindlessly on the treadmill at the gym? Or are you sick of running around the same concrete sidewalk? Well, there are lots of great reasons to move your runs outdoors. Checkout these great benefits of trail running.

When it comes to overall fitness, cardio training is essential.

But not all cardio training is equal.

Running, walking, elliptical, cycling, swimming, rowing, hiking, mountain running, climbing—each cardio activity trains your body in different ways.

Each will improve your overall fitness, but one form of cardio training provides more valuable cardio advantages than the rest:

Mountain Running.

The trails provide more than an elevated view of the world and higher perspective.

These 13 benefits of trail running will have you dashing off into the mountains!

13 Benefits of Trail Running

Interested in starting the sport? Here are 13 great reasons to take the plunge:

1. Improved Practical Endurance

While running on a treadmill keeps you working out on a flat, stable, consistent surface, trail running is variable. This is a great boost to your practical endurance and will work muscle groups you didn’t even know you had.

2. Increase Leg Strength

Trail running pushes your muscles in a variety of challenging ways.

Your muscles will grow and adapt to incline and decline running, and you’ll gain explosive speed from jumping up and off rocks and other natural obstacles.

3. Injury Prevention

The soft impact of the trails will decrease the pounding on your knees.

Although the trails can benefit runners seeking softer surfaces, you’ll need to avoid injuries caused by technical terrain.

4. High-Quality Air

Mountain running allows you to break free of the city pollution.

Your respiratory system will enjoy the fresh mountain air as opposed to the constant carbon monoxide emissions from every passing car.

5. Increase Speed

The increased resistance from incline training will help develop your running muscles.

After consistent incline training, you’ll find you run much faster on flatter surfaces.

Altitude benefits from mountain running will also improve your cardiovascular capabilities, allowing you to push yourself faster with less effort.

6. Increased Knowledge of Your Local Area

Mountain running gives you an excuse to go out into the wild and do some preliminary exploring. This is a great way to learn more about where you live, and enjoy everything it has to offer.

7. Burn More Calories

The increased effort from the elevation and altitude will help your body burn more calories.

If you want to lose weight quickly, you’ll burn fat much quicker doing high-intensity training on the mountain trails than flat-surfaced runs.

8. Improve Your Balance

Anyone can run straight without losing their balance, but mountain running isn’t quite as easy.

Learning to navigate rocks, roots, fallen trees, and all the other aspects of nature will provide you with real-world running skills.

9. Increased Focus

A lot of runners fight through their workouts in a stupor.

They turn on their audiobook, music playlist, or Netflix and zone out for the duration of their exercise.

Mountain running, on the other hand, trains you to keep your head up, eyes ahead, and mind active.

10. Break Free of Monotony

If you don’t enjoy the exercise you’re doing, you won’t stick with it!

If you hate running around the track or on the treadmill, you won’t be able to sustain a long-term workout plan.

Mountain running gives you an opportunity to try something new and experience the joys of trail running.

Find the right trails, and you can run them over and over and never get tired of them!

11. Take a Mental Break

Mountain running and walking has been shown to decrease worry, anxiety, and negative thoughts.

Connect with nature in a meaningful, relaxing way, forget your hectic life and responsibilities and hit the trails.

12. Enjoy a Stress-Free Workout

It’s not easy trying to reach a new PR when your dodging bikes, strollers, and avoiding red lights.

Out on the trails, you don’t have to stress about crowds or traffic.

Just you and the dirt path…and occasionally the wildlife.

13. Improve Running Technique

The uneven terrain of the trails will require you to take shorter strides.

Shorter strides will help you avoid landing on your heel, and you’ll develop a faster stride rate landing on your midfoot.


Whether you’re a new runner or an old veteran looking for a way to spice things up, trail running is an exciting practice with a lot to offer. Try it for yourself and see how it changes your fitness game!

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

The Definitive Guide to Fasted Weight Training

If You want to know how fasted weight training can help you burn fat and gain lean muscle, you'll want to read this.

Do you ever feel your stomach growling before you even get out of bed?

Most of us here have experienced the feeling.

We’re active people, which means many of us feel hungry all the time.

Chances are if you’ve ever heard of intermittent fasting, you think it sounds terrible.

“Not eat? For a set period? WHY?”

When you look at the research, though, you’ll see that fasted weight training can accelerate fat burn and promote lean muscle development. Who doesn’t want that?

Now, this article isn’t about intermittent fasting as a lifestyle or diet.

This article is specifically about fasted weight training benefits and how you can get the most out of fasted training.

So if you want to burn stubborn fat and reap some of the more elusive weight training benefits, then you’ll want to read on.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Fasting? (and What It's Not)

When you eat food, your body breaks it down into small molecules, and those molecules enter your blood.

Your body then releases insulin to transport nutrients for use or storage.

While your body is digesting food, you’re in a “fed” state. This can last 3-6 hours depending on your meal.

Once your body finishes processing the food, your insulin levels then drop to baseline levels. This is known as the “fasted” state.

Even if you are a bit hungry or you feel like your stomach is empty, you might not be in a fasted state.

For example, if you eat a large lunch around noon and then start getting hungry around 4 or 5 pm, that doesn’t mean you’re in a fasted state.

But if you have your last evening snack around 7 or 8 pm and then get up around 5 am to workout—you’re in a fasted state.

In the world of intermittent fasting, “Fasting” doesn’t refer to not eating for days. Instead, it refers to the practice of abstaining from meals for a set period. You might eat from 3 pm to 10 pm, for example, and stick to drinking water and tea during your non-eating hours.

In recent years, intermittent fasting has become popular among people like Tim Ferriss and Terry Crews.

The Benefits of Fasted Weight Training

Why would someone want to start their workout in a fasted state?

The answer, it turns out, is simple:

When your insulin levels are low (you’re in a fasted state), then your body uses body fat stores as the primary source of energy.

When you combine this with fasted weight training, then you can achieve some truly awesome benefits, including the following:

1. Burn More Fat Faster

Studies show that fasted exercise increases lipolysis and fat oxidation rates, allowing you to burn fat faster.

When you exercise, your body needs energy to perform. Naturally, it goes for glucose (from food, primarily carbohydrates) since it’s easier to convert to energy. When you’re in a fasted state, though, and glucose is unavailable, your body begins to convert fat into energy.

Research from Northumbria University found people can burn up to 20% more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach, rather than exercising after breakfast.

2. Increased Blood Flow to Your Abdominal Region

Studies show that fasted training increases blood flow to your abdominal region.

So what?

Well, the lower abdominal area is usually one of the most challenging areas to lose fat…and blood flow is one of the reasons for making it so difficult.

By increasing blood flow to your abdominal region, you’ll be able to burn more belly fat faster.

No, this isn’t targeted fat loss. Fasted exercise just helps your body naturally burn more fat from stubborn areas.

3. Increase Muscle Growth

Studies show fasted weight training results in greater anabolic response to a post-workout meal when compared to fed training.

This means fasted training can help your body respond better to post-workout nutrition and begin building and restoring muscle quicker.

This equals gains!

Another study found fasting increased growth hormones by 2,000% in men and 1,300% in women! Growth hormones work to protect lean muscle mass and restore metabolic balance.

4. Improve Peak Power and VO2 Max

Studies show that fasted training can improve peak power and VO2 max.

Translating that into weightlifting benefits, fasted weight training could help improve lifting output over the duration of a workout.

VO2 max is vital to endurance athletes, but it also has a place in the gym. In short, VO2 is essentially your body’s ability to use oxygen.

Regarding weight training, studies show that those who have a higher VO2 max burn more fat from exercise.

So it makes sense that fasted training can help you burn more fat by increasing your VO2 max.

5. Improved Insulin Sensitivity

The typical Western diet has most people consuming more calories than the body needs. Even those who are weight training (bulking) often eat more calories than needed to grow muscle.

After doing this for an extended period, the body becomes more resistant to insulin (the hormone responsible for delivering nutrients where they need to go).

Is there a solution to this problem? Yes!

Regular fasted training causes your body to release insulin less often, making your body adapt and become more sensitive to the limited amounts of insulin.

This increase in insulin sensitivity makes it easier for your body to convert energy, burn fat, and increase blood flow.

How to Properly Do Fasted Weight Lifting

Ready to incorporate fasted weight training into your routine? Here’s a simple guide to get you started:

  1. Start Fasted Weight Training in the Morning. If you train in the morning, this makes it super easy. Simply wake up and train before you eat breakfast. If You Chose Evening Workouts, Eat Dinner Afterwards. If you typically train in the evenings, eat dinner after your workout. This will also help your body absorb the nutrients from the meal and improve your anabolic response.
  2. Take BCAAs Before Exercising: We’ll get into more details in just a bit—but your body breaks muscle down while your exercising in the gym. BCAAs (primarily, Leucine) have been shown to suppress muscle breakdown, making it easier for you to burn fat and not muscle during your fasted workouts. Take 3-5 grams of BCAAs before your fasted workout to maximize lean muscle growth.
  3. Be Patient: Your body has to adapt to training in a fasted state. The benefits aren’t all instantaneous. That said, research shows that your body adapts to training in a fasted state and learns to use energy more efficiently. So in the first couple weeks, you might notice a slight decrease in lifting volume, but that’ll go away quickly. Stay at it.

Are There Negative Side Effects of Fasted Training?

Now, all is not perfect in the world of fasted weight training.

There are downsides and potential negative side effects of training while fasted.

First, science aside, weightlifting when hungry sucks! Doing anything while starving sucks! Just being plain hungry sucks.

That said, after a couple of weeks of fasted training, you’ll likely find you’re not hungry in the mornings anymore. If you do wake up ravenous, though, don’t deprive your body of what it needs. Eat something!

Now onto more logical side effects of fasted training.

  1. Initially, You’re Going to Feel Weaker: If your body is used to burning carbs for energy, then you’re going to feel a bit weaker doing fasted training—at first, at least. Once your body adapts, it’ll learn to use fuel more efficiently and will be better able to burn fat stores for energy. So don’t try a fasted workout for your next big weightlifting competition or anything. It’s something you’ll need to adapt too.
  2. Fasted Training Can Increase Muscle Breakdown Rates: Research shows that fasted training can increase muscle breakdown rates, making it harder for your body to repair and grow stronger—but there’s a caveat. Research also shows an increased post-workout anabolic response from fasting training, meaning your body will better absorb nutrients and heal faster. So do the two effects negate each other? Possibly. Plus, you can almost completely suppress muscle breakdown rates caused by fasted training by supplementing with BCAAs before your workout.

And some people just don’t like fasted training. If that’s you—don’t worry about it! This is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and you can get similar results through great nutrition and a well-rounded exercise plan.

The Bottom Line on Fasted Weight Training

If you’re looking to burn fat and build muscle, fasted weight training can be just the thing to help you do it.

If you’re considering fasted training, now is a great time to give it a try.

It can make a huge impact on your workouts, lifestyle, and overall fitness and physique.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Benefits of Hill Sprints – 9 Reasons You Need to Start Running Hills

Running hills is hard, that's why most people don't do it. But doing short hill sprints can have some serious benefits for athletic performance and overall endurance.

Whether you’re a long-distance runner or weightlifter, hill sprints can take your performance to the next level.

If you’ve ever run up a hill, though, you know enough that you’re probably dreading the idea of sprinting up another one.

Once you read these 9 benefits you might come to believe that the pain is worth the gain.  

If you want to tackle the beast and become a better athlete by incorporating hill repeats into your workout routine is essential.

Here’s why…

Top 9 Benefits of Hill Sprints

They might hurt, but here’s why they’re so, so worth it:

1. Strengthen Practical Running Muscles

Hill sprints are like weight training.

Take the squat for example – the bodyweight squat works all of your leg muscles. But you build much more muscle doing heavy barbell squats.

Running is the same way. Yes, you build running muscles while running, but you’ll build much more muscle doing resistance training (hill repeats).

Hill sprints will strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

That’s the key difference: running builds endurance – hill sprints build strength.

2. Reduce Injuries

By strengthening your running muscles, you’ll help prevent future injuries.

Sprints are known to offer huge athletic benefits, but flat-level sprints carry a high risk of injury.

That risk is nearly eliminated with hill sprints.

Hill sprints push your body to the extreme without allowing you to reach top speed, which is where injury typically occurs. In this way, hill sprints keep your muscles safer and can help cut down on many of the injuries runners tend to experience.

3. Improve Your Running Form

Hill repeats force your body to run as efficiently as possible. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Your knees pump high, just as they should.
  • You run on the forefoot to midfoot, avoiding the dangerous heel strike.
  • Your stride rate increases.
  • You learn to control your breathing.

By practicing proper form, you also reduce the risk of injury.

4. Build Mental Toughness

Hill sprints require a great deal of self-discipline.

Without a coach, you’ll need extreme mental fortitude to run up and down steep hills.

But you get out what you put in!

Because of this, hill repeats build confidence. When your 50K race winds up and down steep mountains, you don’t flinch. You’ve sprinted these hills – running a casual pace up them is no problem!

5. Increase Your Stride Power

When you practice hill repeats, each step becomes more purposeful.

As your stride power increases, each step propels you farther. Each step also requires less energy.

Because your stride rate and power increase, you become a more efficient runner.

You can run faster and further with less input!

6. Boost Your Stamina

By doing hill repeats, you train your body to endure difficult requirements.

If you can sprint up hills, then you can easily run on flat ground.

Hill sprints help you reach your maximum heart rate quickly, something that would take miles to do running at a comfortable pace.

Basically, hill repeats teach you to train at maximum output with less than maximum energy. This training is difficult to replicate.

You learn to recover faster and catch your breath quicker.

As you continue training, your rest intervals become shorter and shorter.

Soon, your hill sprint intervals will last longer than your rest intervals!

7. Improve Your Race Times

If you’re training for big races, such as a 50K or longer, you’re going to see courses that routinely include more than 7,000 ft. of elevation gain.

Because of this, doing hill sprints now is absolutely essential. Remember: practice makes perfect. If you want to race on the hills, you need to train on the hills.

8. Kickstart Your Metabolism

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage these days.

Luckily, hill repeats are a HIIT workout that’s great for burning fat!

In fact, hills sprints can burn up to twice as many calories as running on flat ground.

The intensity of the exercise boosts your metabolism for the rest of the day, helping you become a stronger, leaner athlete.

9. Improve Heart Efficiency

Intense training builds a stronger heart.

By doing hill repeats, you’ll train your heart to pump more blood with each stroke.

This increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles and organs and has a major, positive impact on your stamina.

As you train, your heart rate decreases, enabling you to push yourself harder and longer!


Hill repeats will turn you into an athletic animal! In addition to reducing your risk of injury, improving your form, and boosting your stamina, hill repeats make you stronger and better-rounded, in all capacities.

Although they have amazing benefits, you’ll need strict discipline to incorporate hill sprints into your training routine.

But that’s what separates the athletes from the rest.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and start your hill springs now!

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

The 30-Day Plank Challenge for Beginners!

Planks might be the most important exercise you can do for core strength. If you are new to planks, then try this 30-day challenge. If you commit to and finish this challenge, we guarantee you will have a stronger mind and a much stronger core at the end!

The 30-Day Plank Challenge! By the end of this challenge, you’ll have built an unyielding core able to endure 120 seconds (two full minutes!) of straight of planking agony.

Sounds like fun, right?

With this program, each day you’ll be building your core strength, consistently strengthening your abdominals to handle more and more planking time.

Below are all details along with techniques and tips you need to get through this challenge and master the plank.

The Challenge Outline

  • Day 1: 20 seconds
  • Day 2: 20 seconds
  • Day 3: 20 seconds
  • Day 4: 25 seconds
  • Day 5: 30 seconds
  • Day 6: 35 seconds
  • Day 7: REST DAY
  • Day 8: 40 seconds
  • Day 9: 45 seconds
  • Day 10: 50 seconds
  • Day 11: 55 seconds
  • Day 12: 60 seconds
  • Day 13: 60 seconds
  • Day 14:  REST DAY
  • Day 15: 65 seconds
  • Day 16: 70 seconds
  • Day 17: 75 seconds
  • Day 18: 80 seconds
  • Day 19: 85 seconds
  • Day 20: 90 seconds
  • Day 21: REST DAY
  • Day 22: 90 seconds
  • Day 23: 95 seconds
  • Day 24: 100 seconds
  • Day 25: 105 seconds
  • Day 26: 110 seconds
  • Day 27: 110 seconds
  • Day 28: REST DAY
  • Day 29: 115 seconds
  • Day 30: 120 seconds

How To Plank

  1. Get into a press-up position.
  2. Put your weight onto your forearms and straighten your body.
  3. Make your body into a straight line—from your shoulders to your ankles.
  4. Squeeze your core tight and keep it contracted throughout the entire exercise.

Tip: Squeezing your abs is the most important part of the exercise. This is how you keep your body straight and start building your core. Without engaging your core, you’re just slumping over on your forearms…which obviously is not the point of the exercise.

Benefits of Planking

So why might you want to put yourself through the pain of planking?

Well, I’ll let the benefits speak in defense.

  • Planks engage all of your major core muscles.
  • A stronger core will improve your ability to lift weights.
  • Planking burns more calories than traditional crunches.
  • Proper form will improve your posture and balance.

Enjoy and Embrace the Planking Challenge

Staring at the floor while your abs scream for mercy is boring and painful.

So why not spice it up a bit?

Remember that fun and hilarious “planking” trend. Bring it back with a little tweak!

To end your workout, find a clever new way to plank. Plank outside, plank on a bench, plank on a tree, plank on the roof—make a game out of it! Find all the cool and exciting locations you can to plank.

Planking is only as boring and monotonous as you make it!


This is just the beginning. Once you’ve completed The 30-Day Plank Challenge for Beginners you will have a very solid foundation of core strength. This will transfer directly to all other areas of your fitness training, and will allow you to start doing more advanced exercises with higher intensity. Have fun!

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

The Ultimate List of Compound Exercises: 50 Muscle-Building Exercises

If you want to put on muscle and build serious functional strength, the exercises on this list is all you will ever need. These compound exercises should be the foundation of any fitness routine. Get to work!

You want to build muscle—and you want to build it fast!

There are hundreds of different workouts for each muscle group you could spend your valuable time doing, but not all of these exercises are going to maximize your muscle growth.

This handy-dandy list of compound exercises contains the 50 best muscle-building exercises to efficiently work each muscle group.

If you spend your time doing these workouts, you’ll see results much quicker than if you waste your time doing fad exercises.

BONUS: Download a free printable exercise checklist [PDF]. The list includes 50 compound exercises and 50 isolation exercises, all organized by muscle group.

Let’s dive in.

The Complete List of Compound Exercises

Compound Chest Exercises

Compound Back Exercises

Compound Ab Exercises

Compound Shoulder Exercises

Compound Leg Exercises

Compound Bicep Exercises

Compound Tricep Exercises

Compound vs. Isolation Exercises

Exercises are categorized as either compound (involving more than one muscle group) or isolation (involving a single muscle group).

The difference is clear when you compare two exercises—take the squat and the calf raise, for example. When you do a squat, you’re engaging your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and even other small muscles. When you do a calf raise, you’re only engaging your calves.

This is why compound weight-lifting exercises are more efficient. Just 5-7 compound weight lifting exercises can stimulate all the major muscles in a single workout! With isolation exercises, you’d have to do 15-20 isolation exercises to stimulate the same muscles. So, if you have 3-4 hours to workout each day, by all means, do isolation exercises.

But isolation exercises aren’t all bad! They’re great for recovery, target toning, and correcting muscle imbalances. They have a rightful place in every workout!

Compound Exercises Definition | What Are Compound Exercises?

There’s a little more to “compound exercises” than involving multiple muscle groups. So what are compound exercises?

Compound Exercises Definition: An exercise engaging 2+ different joints to stimulate entire muscle groups and multiple muscles.

Besides giving you a more effective workout in less time, there are a ton of other benefits to compound exercises. Here are a few based on scientific research:

  • Produce greater increases in both testosterone and growth hormones (study)
  • Improve muscle strength and maximal oxygen consumption (study)
  • Increase fat burn (study)
  • Make more fat-free mass gains (study)
  • Allow you to lift more volume per muscle (study)

In addition, there are several more benefits you could assume based on reasonable logic:

  • Decrease in injury due to greater strength
  • Increase ability to perform functional movements
  • Improve coordination and balance

Why These Muscle Building Exercises?

If you only have 45-60 minutes in the gym, don’t you want to spend that time doing the best exercises?

Forget the machines and most isolation exercises—they focus too much on a narrow range of motion and impractical strength.

The best compound exercises incorporate free weights. Dumbbell and barbells workouts allow your body the full range of motion it needs to naturally grow.

This produces practical strength.

What is Practical Strength?

The strength to lift yourself up, strength to lift boxes and furniture, strength to sit up, strength to perform everyday activities with ease.

Practical strength comes from free movement exercises.

Take the squat, for example.

During the barbell squat, you have to practice balance by using your leg muscles, your core, and even your back.

Switch to a smith machine or leg extension machine and now you’re going straight up and down—denying your body the chance to strengthen balancing muscles, core muscles, and other subsidiary muscles.

Don’t waste your time doing ineffective workouts!

This list of compound exercises gives you plenty variety if you like to frequently change things up.

The Best Overall Compound Weight-Lifting Exercises:

Remember: it’s not all about sweat and pain. Train smarter, not harder.

Compound Exercises with Dumbbells

Here’s a separate list for those who only have access to dumbbells.

Even if you do have a gym with a variety of equipment, there are still plenty of reasons to focus on compound exercises with dumbbells:

  • Dumbbell exercises help to improve your balance and coordination. You have to activate more muscles (in different ways) to balance the separate weights.
  • Dumbbells can help correct any muscle imbalances you have. Take your barbell bench press for example—if you’re feeling weak on your left side, just add an additional 1-2 reps to your left arm during your dumbbell press. After a few weeks, your left side should catch up.
  • Safety first. You can go to failure on any set with dumbbells and just drop them when you’re finished—no getting stuck!
  • Dumbbells are way more affordable when building a home gym.
  • Even when the gym is crowded, you’ll likely still have access to dumbbells. The benches get taken pretty quickly, so you may have to do dumbbell floor press, but it’s better than nothing.

Compound Exercises with Dumbbells:

A Little Assistance

Going heavy on these compound exercises sometimes requires a little assistance.

A spotter, wrist wraps, belt – you name it!

New PBs require new levels of effort, so don’t be afraid to invest.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

42 Gym Slang Terms: The Cheat Sheet to Gym Lingo

Are you a newbie in the gym world? You've probably heard crazy terms about working out and you have no idea what they mean. We're here to help you out. Here is a long, fun, list of gym slang terms.

When you walk into the gym, you enter a new world. A new world with a different language and a strange culture.

“Mind if I work in?”

“Can you spot me real quick?”

“Go and grab the EZ Bar.”

“Do each superset until failure.”

And I’m just getting started…

This video illustrates GYM WILDLIFE pretty accurately.

Pretty scary, huh? But it doesn’t have to be!

That’s why we created this Gym Slang Cheat Sheet. Here, you’ll learn all the silly and nonsensical jargon you’ll need to survive in the gym.

Have fun studying this list and learning the basics of the gym language. Before you know it, these gym slang terms will find their way into your everyday life.

Now, let’s get swole on gym slang, bro!

The List of Gym Slang Terms

1. Newbie

For those familiar with this term in other settings, gym newbie is used similarly. Someone who is new or unfamiliar to the gym. Usually, someone who has no idea what they are doing. Someone who doesn’t understand what swole means. Pish-posh, as if, right? The only possible positive meaning of newbie could be used when talking about “newbie gains.” These are the exponential gains new weightlifters experience when they initially begin working out.

Sentence: “I’m thinking about hibernating this January. I can’t stand all the newbies at the gym!”

2. PB

Did someone forget the jelly? Acronym for “Personal Best.” This is similar to max, but it also can refer to PB repetitions as well.

3. Reps

Short for “repetitions.” Reps refers to the number of times you perform an exercise within a set.

4. Sets

A set is a cycle. You will perform a number of reps for each set, and you will perform a number of sets for each exercise. For example: You do 3 sets of 10 reps for squats. 3 sets x 10 reps = 30 squats.

5. Rest

This is less like a nap and more like a strategic break. In between each set, you rest for a short period of time. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, you might take 1-3 minutes of rest between each set.

6. Warm up

Warmup is the lighter lifting you do before starting an exercise. Before lifting heavier weights, you want to warm up with lighter weights. For example: If you want to bench 200 lbs., you will want to warm up with 100 – 150 lbs. first.

7. Max

Maybe someone’s unfortunate name in the gym, but usually the maximum amount of weight one is able to lift for at least 1 repetition of a specific exercise.

Sentence: “What’s your deadlift max?”


Not the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology … because I know that came to your mind first. It means High-Intensity Interval Training. This refers to exercises which alternate between high-intensity periods (everything you got) and low-intensity recovery periods (slow it down to 50 percent of your high-intensity speed or lower). For example: 1-minute sprint on the bike followed by 1-2 minutes at a normal pace—continue this cycle for 15 – 30 minutes.

9. Cardio

Running, biking, swimming, etc. In the gym, this refers to use of the treadmills, bicycles and ellipticals. Pretty much, the machines not involving weights. You’ll find a lot of weightlifters are cardio haters, but don’t take it personally.

10. Machines

Gym equipment designed to work your muscles by guiding you through a controlled exercise. These are the odd-looking contraptions that take up the majority of space in most gyms.

11. Barbell

The long steel bars. Plates are stacked on both ends. Used in a variety of workouts.

12. Dumbbell

The small, hand-size bar with weight on both ends. You’ll usually find these stacked on shelves in weights ranging from 5 – 100 lbs. in 5 lbs. increments.

13. EZ Bar

The short barbell with the two humps in it—for a more comfortable grip.

14. Free Weights

Dumbbells, barbells, plates. Used to describe the lifting equipment not attached to a machine. Hence, the weights are “free.”

15. Bench

Bench is frequently used as a verb referring to “bench press.”

Sentence: “It’s Monday, man. You know what that means? National Chest Day! Let’s go bench our faces off.”

16. Plates

The round weights you place on the end of bars. Common plates you’ll see are 2.5, 5, 10, 25, 35 and 45 lbs.

17. Incline

Any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is now in an inclined position. Sit up, chump!

18. Decline

Any workout you do in which the bench or equipment is placed in a manner where your upper body is now in a declined position. Lay back, lazy.

19. Plank

You’re probably thinking of the national trend “planking,” where people took pictures of themselves lying flat on different objects. Close. Very close. Planking is a core strengthening exercise (abs exercise).

20. Clamps

I’ve heard clamps, clips and even grips. These are the annoying little circles you snap, shove or twist onto the end of barbells to prevent plates from sliding off. Yeah, I hate clamps, even if they have saved my life on multiple occasions.

21. Cables

A pulley system attached to various machines and workout systems. Essentially, you attach whatever bar, rope, handle, etc. you want to the cable, set the weight you desire and use the resistance for strength training.

22. Pump

The warm, fuzzy feeling you get after exerting a lot of strength. Increased blood flow in your muscles causes them to contract full and tight.

Sentence: “Broski, quit talking so I can finish this last set while I’m pumped!”

23. Super Sets

When you do 2 or more exercises without rest periods in between them. For example: bench set—no rest—dumbbell curl set.

24. Form

The act of performing an exercise in the appropriate way. You always want to maintain your form and perform exercises correctly.

Sentence: “Woah, take some weight off. You’re killing your form—you look like a fish!”

25. Spot

A spot is when you go and aid someone in their workout. You usually stand behind them and closely watch the lifter to guarantee they complete the set. People usually request a spot if they are lifting heavy weight and aren’t confident they’ll be able to finish their set without help. Those who spot are referred to as “spotters.” Proper gym etiquette requires you spot those who ask. Honestly, it’s not really a question in the gym—asking for a spot is more like a demand.

Sentence: “Can you come spot me on my squats? I’m going for 6 reps, but it’s going to be tough.”

26. Gains

“Gains” can be used in multiple ways: to refer to an increase in muscle size or just being able to lift more weight (though the two usually go together). The result of hard work and dedication – gains deserve high-fives.

Sentence: “Derrell, I haven’t seen you in forever! Wow, have you been making gains?”

27. Cutting

For bodybuilders, cutting means reducing calories in order to lose body fat. Fear not, there’s no real slashing going on in the gym. Just a bunch of guys and girls trying to look good for summer time.

28. Bulking

The opposite of cutting. Bulking is where bodybuilders increase their calorie intake to help maximize muscle growth. A little fat gain is associated with bulking, but bodybuilders frequently alternate between cutting and bulking to balance out.

29. Negatives

Not pessimistic lifters, silly. Negatives are a variation to specific exercises. Most exercises you use explosive strength to lift the weight, then return the weight down in a casual, controlled manner. For negatives, you lift with the same strength, but you very slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

30. Pre-Workout

Pre-workout is a supplement taken before workouts to give you fiery strength and monstrous energy. Drink responsibly, my friends.

31. Full Range of Motion (ROM)

Often, lifters get excited and load up heavier weights than they can handle. They cheat themselves of contracting the entire muscle and only move the weight minimal distances. Full range of motion is when you extend the exercise to the furthest beneficial point. A classic example of not going the full range of motion might be the pushups we used to do in elementary school, those ones where you pretty much just bent your elbows—okay, that might be a little extreme, but hopefully you get the point.

32. Chalk

Maybe some gyms have chalkboards, but typically, this chalk is used a little different. Chalk is the white powder you find left on bars which inevitably get all of your clothing too. Heavy lifters use chalk powder on their hands to maintain a better grip on the bar, and boy do they slap that stuff everywhere.

33. Failure

Those who go to “failure” are not failures. It means giving the exercise all that you have. When you go to failure, you perform the exercise until you can no longer go on. Failure can be a good thing—only in the gym.

I guess you could say Thomas Edison went until failure, and look at the gains he made!

34. Isolation Exercises

Exercises that engage a single muscle. For example: bicep curl or calf raises.

35. Compound Exercises

Exercises that engage multiple muscles. For example: bench press, squat or deadlift.

36. Plateau

Plateaus in nature can be pretty, but plateaus in the gym are sad. Plateaus are extended periods of halted progression in the gym. If the lifter has been lifting the same exact weight for a couple months, he has probably plateaued.

37. Work In

When someone requests to use the same free weights or machine as you. During your rest period, the person will take his turn lifting, and vice versa.

Sentence: “Hey, do you mind if I work in?”

38. Ripped

Ripped, jacked, shredded. Pretty intense adjectives, don’t you think? But these actually carry a positive meaning! These descriptions are used to describe someone with massive muscles and low body fat.

Sentence: “Dang, that dude is ripped!”

39. Swole

Extremely muscular or buff.

Sentence: “You trying to go get swole later today?”

40. Load/Rack

Verb meaning to put additional plates on the bar. Unload or unrack the bar would mean to take all the plates off the bar.

41. Calisthenics

A form of bodybuilding that does not use traditional weights, instead focusing on bodyweight. Calisthenics involves pull-ups, crunches, air squats, pushups, dips, etc.

42. Macros

Short for macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Sentence: “Because of that Big Mac, my macros are all over the place.”

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

The Ultimate List of Calisthenics Exercises

If You want build functional strength you must practice calisthenics training. These exercises are essential, and can be a great foundation to your fitness training routines. Enjoy this long list of calisthenic movements!

Calisthenics training is all about mastering your body and developing strength, balance, control, mobility, and flexibility. To put this another way, it’s an ideal addition to any workout plan.

If you’ve ever wanted to start calisthenics training during your gym time, here’s your complete guide.

What is Calisthenics Training?

Calisthenics is a form of training where you use bodyweight exercises to build muscle. Think pullups, pushups, dips, pistol squats—those kinds of exercises.

No gym membership—no expensive weights. Just you and your body.

Calisthenics training is usually associated with lean and agile athletes, but there’s more to calisthenics then crazy pull-up tricks and tight abs.

The Pros of Calisthenics Training

  • It’s FREE. You don’t need a gym membership or anything. All you really need is your local playground or an at-home pull-up bar. The most expensive equipment you might need is gloves.
  • It’s a Full-body Workout. Almost all calisthenics exercises engage numerous muscles. When you do a pull-up, imagine the different muscles you’re using: back, arms, core, chest, and shoulders. Compared to any machine in the gym, you’re targeting 2-3 times as many muscles with calisthenics exercises.
  • The World is Your Gym. Calisthenics exercises can be performed anywhere: living room, backyard, playground, hotel room—anywhere with space enough to do a pushup. You don’t need to get up early to drive to the gym or leave work to drive half an hour away for a workout. While living in Africa, I’d do pull-ups on ladder rungs, roofs, pipes, and the back of staircases.
  • It Burns Fat. Calisthenics workout routines are perfect for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and AMRAP circuits, which are proven to accelerate fat loss. Don’t get me wrong—traditional weightlifting is great for burning fat too, but it’s just harder to incorporate HIIT training into heavy lifting.

The Cons of Calisthenics

  • Leg Training is Difficult. Although squats, lunges, and wall sits are great exercises for building up your quads and glutes, you just can’t get the same muscle development as you can with heavy squats. Calisthenics will increase your leg strength and balance, but it will never prepare you to lift massive amounts of weight with your legs.
  • Progress is Hard to Measure. In the gym, you can measure progress simply: are you adding more weight or doing more reps? Calisthenics can be a bit more challenging. Often, progression is determined by mastering one move and moving on to a more challenging one (from a chair dip to a dip or an assisted pull-up to a pull-up). When weightlifting, you don’t suddenly progress from bench pressing to incline bench pressing—you just start incline pressing at a lower weight. The same can’t be said when someone wants to do a handstand pushup or muscle-up…and those kinds of moves are essential for muscle progression.

Difficult to Build Massive Muscles. Calisthenics exercises won’t develop huge muscles, and bodyweight strength doesn’t necessarily translate to lifting strength. You might be able to do 100 pushups, but that doesn’t mean you can bench 200 lbs. Strong muscles come from lifting big weights. Bodyweight exercises tend to build strong lean muscles, instead.

Now that you understand a bit more about calisthenics we can move on to the calisthenics workout routine.

But first, you need to know the different calisthenics exercises.

BONUS: Download a free printable exercise checklist [PDF]. The list includes 50 compound exercises and 50 isolation exercises, all organized by muscle group.

The Complete List of Calisthenics Exercises

This list of calisthenic exercises is a great source of information if you’re looking to get started with basic progression.

Chest Calisthenics Exercises:

Back Calisthenics Exercises:

Shoulder Calisthenics Exercises:

Ab Calisthenics Exercises:

Arm Calisthenics Exercises:

Leg Calisthenics Exercises:

Expert Calisthenics Exercises:

With these exercises alone, you have a lot of variety to incorporate into your routine to truly make it your own!

But if you’re new to calisthenics, you can’t just dive into these different, awesome exercises. First, you need to know how to start calisthenics training.

How to Start Calisthenics Training

As with anything else, you have to start calisthenics training with the basic exercises. Before you start attempting muscle-ups and handstand pushups, you’ll need to develop your practical fitness through the fundamental exercises:

  • Pushups
  • Pull-ups
  • Dips
  • Squats
  • Leg Raises

All other exercises are just advanced variations and combinations of these basic exercises.

Go ahead and forget everything you’ve learned about pushups and pull-ups and start from scratch. Start with slow, high-quality repetitions so that you can completely master the form. It’s better you do 5 perfect pull-ups than 20 ugly pull-ups!

When starting your training, focus on progression:

  1. Each workout, aim to do more repetitions than the workout before (but don’t sacrifice form for reps). If the last workout you did 5 sets of 5 pull-ups, try to do 5 sets of 6 pull-ups. Then 5 sets of 7 pull-ups or 3 sets of 10 pull-ups.
  2. Once you feel confident with a basic exercise, progress to a more challenging exercise. Then progress in form and reps with the more difficult exercise. For example, you can do 25 bench dips, so you attempt to progress to the full bodyweight dip. You might only do 3-4 reps, but then next workout you do 5 dips. Then you do 7—and you continue your progression.

Examples of Calisthenics Exercise Progressions:

  • Incline Pushup –> Normal Pushup –> Decline Pushup
  • Chin-up –> Pull-up –> Wide-Grip Pull-up –> Muscle-up
  • Bench Dip –> Dip –> Chest Dip
  • Knee Raises –> Leg Raises –> Front Levers

When you develop more practical strength, you’ll be able to progress to more advanced and difficult exercises. And these more challenging exercises will help you continue building muscle.

Once you get comfortable with these exercises, you can easily develop your own calisthenics workout plan!

A Calisthenics Workout Plan for Beginners

This workout will help you master the basic calisthenics exercises. You’ll develop the strength and balance you need to move on to more advanced exercises.

For each circuit, perform each exercise until near failure. Rest for 1 minute between each exercise. Once you finish a circuit, rest for 3 minutes and then repeat. Do each circuit 3x.

Calisthenics for Beginners – Full-Body Circuit:

  • Pull-ups
  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • 30-Second Wall Sit
  • Chair/Bench Dips
  • Chin-ups
  • Hanging Knee Raises
  • Pike Pushups

Calisthenics for Beginners – Leg/Abs Circuit:

  • Squats
  • Hanging Knee Raises
  • 30-Second Wall Sit
  • Plank
  • Lunges
  • Bicycles
  • 30-Second Wall Sit

Month 1

  • Monday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Wednesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Friday – Full-Body Circuit

Month 2

  • Monday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Tuesday – Leg/Abs Circuit
  • Wednesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Friday – Full-Body Circuit

Once you finish Month 2, you should feel comfortable with the basic exercises and ready to advance your workout. If you need additional training, repeat Month 2 again.

Intermediate Calisthenics Workout Plan

Now that you’ve developed at least base levels of practical fitness, you’re ready to move on to the intermediate workout.

Follow the same instructions (above) for these circuits.

Calisthenics for Intermediates – Fly High Circuit:

  • Dips
  • Pull-ups
  • Decline Pushups
  • Chest-over-bar Chin-ups
  • Leg Raises
  • Dips
  • Pushups

Month 3 & 4

  • Monday – Fly High Circuit
  • Tuesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Thursday – Fly High Circuit
  • Friday – Legs/Abs Circuit

Expert Calisthenics Workout Plan

This workout routine incorporates some more difficult calisthenics exercises.

Follow the same instructions (above) for these circuits.

Calisthenics for Experts – Muscle-up Quest Circuit:

  • Wide-Hands Pull-ups
  • Clapping Pushups
  • Dips
  • Typewriter Pull-ups
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Handstand Pushups
  • Chest-over-bar Pull-ups
  • Dragon Flags

Month 5 & 6

  • Monday – Muscle-up Quest Circuit
  • Tuesday – Full-Body Circuit
  • Wednesday – Leg/Abs Circuit
  • Thursday – Muscle-up Quest Circuit
  • Friday – Fly High Circuit

Beyond Expert Calisthenics

Once you can perform the circuits above, you’ve achieved a high-level of practical fitness.

But there are still many advanced exercises you’ve yet to progress to. Continue bodyweight exercises and develop your muscles and strength to reach “beyond expert” calisthenics. This approach prevents injury and helps you reach your fitness goals.

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

A Classic 4 Day Weight Lifting Workout Split

Need help setting up a workout schedule? Or maybe your tired of your regular routine and want to switch it up. Check out this traditional weight lifting weekly schedule.

Get the ice and Ibuprofen ready because this 4 Day Workout Split will destroy you.

In the best way, of course.

To maximize your gains in the gym, you’ll need to focus on consistent heavy compound exercises combined with the right amount of rest.

Overload on the workout without the rest and you’ll just beat yourself up.

This 4 Day Workout Split mixes muscle-blasting workouts with optimized rest intervals to boost your muscle progression.

Here’s what the workout looks like.

4 Day Workout Split | Summary

  • Days Per Week – 4
  • Workout Duration – 60 Minutes
  • Sets Per Exercise – 3
  • Rep Range – 4-6
  • Rest Intervals – 2-3 Minutes

4 Day Workout Split | Weekly Schedule

  • Monday — Legs
  • Tuesday — Chest and Triceps
  • Wednesday — OFF
  • Thursday — Back and Biceps
  • Friday — Shoulders
  • Saturday — OFF
  • Sunday — OFF

Building Muscle

Since this 4-day split is mostly comprised of heavy compound exercises, you’ll need sufficient rest in between workouts to return to efficient training strength.

That’s why you have 3 days off each week.

This schedule guarantee you’ll show up at each workout fresh and ready to progressive overload train.

Endurance Training

Notice Leg Day is on Monday (National Chest Day).

“Blaspheme!” Before you burn me at the stake, hear me out.

By blasting legs on Monday, you’ll be recovered for endurance training on the weekends.

Most endurance athletes save their long efforts for the weekend. With this schedule, leg training won’t interfere with your long runs or bikes.

Since Saturday is free, you can focus all your time and energy on endurance training. And with Sunday off, you’ll have a full day of recovery before hitting the gym again on Monday.

4 Day Workout Split | Training Method

Each workout should last around 60 minutes. Most of my other workout routines last 45-60 minutes, but those are generally for 5-6 Day Split Workouts.

Since you’re only working out 4 days a week, you may need a little extra time with each workout to make sure you sufficiently train all muscle groups.

Training in the low rep range close to failure is fatiguing. That’s why I recommend 3 sets per exercise. Any further than 3 sets and I find your form suffers or you must decrease the amount of weight. That, or you need to add more weight to the exercise.

You’ll perform each exercise in the 4-6 rep range. This is important for a 4-Day Split primarily made up of compound exercises.

  • By keeping the rep range low, you’ll be better able to focus on your form.
    • This helps with progressive overload training. It’s easier to track gains from 4 to 5 reps as opposed to 15 to 16.
  • Studies show high-intensity exercise increase muscle growth more than high-volume exercises

Rest for 2-3 minutes between each set. A study found lifters made large strength gains with 2-minute rest intervals. But those who trained with 4-minute rest intervals experienced “little additional gains.” That’s why I recommend at least 2 minutes of rest between each set.

4 Day Workout Split | Exercises

Legs | Day 1

Primary Exercises (followed by their alternative exercises):

  • Barbell Back Squat (Barbell Front Squat, Leg Press, Dumbbell Back Squat)
  • Romanian Deadlift (Dumbbell Single-Leg Deadlift, Bulgarian Split Squat, Hamstring Curl)
  • Barbell Glute Bridge (Barbell Reverse Lunge, Dumbbell Lunge, Glute Pull-Through)
  • Seated Calf Raise (Standing Calf Raise, Donkey Calf Raise, Leg Press Calf Raise)

Chest and Triceps | Day 2

Primary Exercises (followed by their alternative exercises):

  • Barbell Bench Press (Dumbbell Bench Press, Chest Press Machine, Floor Press)
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press (Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, Landmine Press)
  • Dips (Weighted Dips, Bench Dip)
  • Close-Grip Tricep Bench Press (Dumbbell Tricep Press, Tricep Press Machine)
  • Reverse-Grip Barbell Skullcrusher (Barbell Skullsher, Dumbbell Skullcrusher)
  • Cable Rope Pulldown (Cable Straight Bar Pulldown, Diamond Pushup)

Back and Biceps | Day 4

Primary Exercises (followed by their alternative exercises):

  • Barbell Deadlift (Dumbbell Deadlift, Suitcase Deadlift)
  • Barbell Row (T-Bar Row, Dumbbell Row, Seated Cable Row)
  • Lat Pull-down (Straight Bar Cable Pull-down)
  • Pull-up (Weighted Pull-up)
  • EZ Bar Curl (Barbell Curl, Bicep Curl Machine)
  • Hammer Curl (Bicep Curl, Zottman Curl)
  • Straight Bar Cable Curl (Rope Cable Curl)

Shoulders | Day 5

Primary Exercises (followed by their alternative exercises):

  • Seated Military Press (Standing Barbell Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Arnold Press)
  • Reverse Dumbbell Fly (Reverse Flye Machine, Seated Reverse Dumbbell Flye, Face Pull)
  • Lateral Dumbbell Shoulder Raise (Lateral Cable Raise)
  • Front Dumbbell Shoulder Raise (Front Cable Raise)

“Where are the abs!?” you’re probably wondering. Hold tight.

Most of these compound exercises require a significant amount of core strength to execute with proper form. So your abs are getting a great workout each day!

But to maximize abdominal strength gains, add this simple ab circuit onto your “lighter” days (shoulders, legs, and feel free to throw it in and the end of your other workouts if you still have energy).

*Make sure you do any ab-specific exercises at the END of your workout. Throwing them in at the beginning or throughout will decrease your power for other compound lifts.

Here are two ab circuits I cycle through each week: one focuses more on the obliques and the other focuses on the rectus abdominus.

Perform 10-12 reps of the first weighted exercise. Then perform the two bodyweight exercises to failure. Then rest for 2-3 minutes before repeating the circuit. Repeat the circuit 3x.

Ab Circuit #1

  • Hanging Dumbbell Knee Raise
  • Ab Bicycle
  • Decline Crunch

Ab Circuit #2

  • Landmine 180
  • Captain’s Chair Straight Leg Raise
  • Mason Twist

And that’s it!

Again, this is a more traditional weight lifting schedule. Many would consider this a “bodybuilding” type routine. Depending on your goals, you can alternate weeks of weight training and cardio training to keep things fresh! Have fun!

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

The 10 Best Bodyweight Back Exercises: The Ultimate Back Workout

There are plenty of ways to get a great back workout outside of the gym with this long list of bodyweight back exercises. Try your best to work up to the most advanced exercises!

To build the best back from the comfort of your home, you need the best bodyweight back exercises.

Whether you don’t have a gym membership, can’t stand deadlifts, or just love calisthenics, this list of bodyweight back exercises is for you!

Below you’ll find all the bodyweight back exercises you need for a complete back workout that will keep you strong and functional..

10 Best Bodyweight Back Exercises

1. Wide-Grip Pullups

The ultimate lat attack! Wide-grip pull-ups target your lats but also work your middle back and core.

2. Bodyweight Rows (Inverted Rows or Horizontal Pull Ups)

Bodyweight rows target your upper back. The best part about bodyweight rows is that you can do them practically anywhere: use a broom between two chairs at home, use the smith-machine at the gym, or find an appropriate bar at your local playground.

3. Elbow Raise (Back Widow or Reverse Pushup)

Simple, easy-to-learn exercise that targets your upper back muscles.

4. Single-Leg Deadlift

Like the barbell deadlift, this exercise focuses primarily on your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes.

5. Supermans

Supermans strengthen your lower back and core muscles. Plus, you get to pretend you’re Superman, if only for a second. It’s a win-win.

6. Back Extensions

Watch the third exercise he does. This variation of the back extension can help you perform this exercise without a gym. Back extensions primarily target the lower back muscles.

7. Reverse Snow Angels

Reverse snow angels work your lower back and traps. And it’s good practice for when it snows…

8. Full Body Drag (Floor Pullover)

Excellent lat exercise you can do anywhere!

9. Rowing Machine

A great exercise that gives you a cardio workout and back training.

10. Back Lever

This is an advanced bodyweight back exercise. Once you build up your strength with some of the more basic exercises, you’ll get a killer workout with this!

The Complete List of Bodyweight Exercises for Back

Below, we’ve organized the best bodyweight exercises for each major muscle of the back. Each exercise is linked to a YouTube tutorial.

Upper-Back Bodyweight Exercises

Lower-Back Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight Lat Exercises

Bodyweight Back Exercises with No Equipment

Here is a list of the exercises that require no equipment – just you and your body.

  • Full-Body Drag
  • Reverse Snow Angel
  • Bridge Rotation
  • Bridge Push Up
  • Single-Leg Deadlift
  • Superman
  • Reverse Superman
  • Bak Widow
  • Back Extension
  • Plank
  • Bird Dog

The Ultimate Bodyweight Back Workout

To build a complete workout, you need to perform exercises that will target all of the major back muscles.

You can build your own ultimate bodyweight back workout by selecting 1-2 exercises from each of the muscle groups above: upper back, lower back, and lats.

Here’s an example:

  • 3 Sets – Bodyweight Rows
  • 2 Sets – Supermans
  • 3 Sets – Wide-Grip Pullups
  • 2 Sets – Back Extensions
  • 2 Sets – Elbow Raises
  • 1 Set – Archer Pull Ups
  • 2 Sets – Negative Pull Ups

By building your workout, you can give more focus to areas that need attention.

And you can also take the focus away from areas that don’t need extra training.

This helps you balance your workouts and avoid injury, both now and in the future.


Use these bodyweight back exercises to take your training to the next level. When you strengthen your back, you strengthen the rest of your body, so there’s no way these exercises won’t help your overall fitness!

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.

Captains Chair Exercise: Top 3 Variations to Transform Your Abs

The Captains Chair exercise can build some serious core strength. If you can master these three exercise variations you're guaranteed to get a rock-solid core. 

We know what you’re thinking:

“The captain’s chair exercise can transform my abs, huh? That’s a pretty bold claim.”

While it might sound too good to be true, it’s not.

According to a recent study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the captain’s chair exercise is one of the most effective exercise for strengthening the obliques, and the second most effective exercise for strengthening the abs.

How’s that for proof?

Whether you’re running, jumping, climbing, or lifting, stable, sturdy abs help you maintain great form and prevent injuries across the board.

If you haven’t added this compound ab exercise into your arsenal, you’re missing out! Fortunately, it’s never too late to get started…

How to Do the Captains Chair Exercise

First, if you want to start practicing this essential exercise at home, you’ll have to invest in a knee raise station. If you’re satisfied with just practicing this at the gym, work on these variations.

The three most effective captain’s chair exercises are as follows:

  • Leg Raise
  • Knee Raise
  • Weighted Leg/Knee Raise

Here’s how to do each:

1. Captain's Chair Leg Raise

  1. Step into the captain’s chair and place your back against the support. Rest your forearms on the pads and grip the handles firmly.
  2. When you’re in position, let your legs hang toward the floor. Keep your back against the support and contract your core to keep your upper body straight.
  3. Raise your legs in front of you with your knees slightly bent. Raise your legs until they’re parallel with the floor (90-degree angle). Hold at the peak for 1 second.
  4. Lower your legs slowly in a controlled motion. Don’t let your legs drop! Engage your abs while you lower them back to the starting position.

2. Captains Chair Knee Raise

Steps 1-2 are the same as the leg raise.

  1. Raise your knees upward towards your chest. Once they pass your hips, hold for a full second.
  2. Slowly lower your knees back to the starting position.

3. Captains Chair Weighted Leg/Knee Raise

In the video, Scott is doing a hanging dumbbell raise. This engages the core more, and is a great option if that’s what you’re looking for. Follow Scott’s same tips for performing this exercise, just use the captains chair to support your upper body while your engage your core:

  1. Get into the leg/knee raise position.
  2. Wrap your feet around a dumbbell on the floor.
  3. Lift in the same slow and controlled manner.
  4. Lower in the same slow and controlled manner.

Captains Chair Exercise Tips

  • Keep your core engaged throughout the entire exercise. Don’t go limp or hold your breath.
  • No swinging! Don’t swing your legs to build momentum to perform the leg raise. This defeats the effectiveness of the exercise because it doesn’t engage your core muscles.
  • Lift slowly and deliberately. It’s better that you do 10 leg raises with perfect form than 50 with sloppy form.

Progressive Plan | Captains Chair Workout

This progressive captains chair workout plan will help you build muscle and form as efficiently as possible.

We recommend starting with the knee raise first. Once you can do this comfortably, you can move on to leg raises.

If you’ve been doing leg raises for awhile, you may need high reps to “Feel the burn.”

When you reach the point where you’re doing about 20-30 reps, it’s time to begin weighted leg raises.

Follow a progressive overload workout routine to continue building your abdominals.

Begin with a 10 lb. dumbbell. Once you can easily do 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps at this weight, increase the weight to 15 lbs.

When you can do 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps at 15 lbs., increase the weight to 20 lbs. Continue this progressive captains chair workout to transform your entire core.

What Muscles Are Used With the Captain's Chair Exercise?

The variations of the captains chair exercise can target the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis), hip flexors, and external obliques.

If you don’t feel these muscles engaging, take a look at your form.

When you swing your legs instead of engaging your core, you’re just going through the motions without reaping the benefits. Take your time with each repetition and feel the contraction. It’s better that you do 5-10 high-quality reps than 25+ crappy reps!

Once you’ve mastered this exercise and have strengthened your core muscles, you can move on to hanging leg/knee raises. After that, you get to the granddaddy of them all—the hanging dumbbell knee raise (as demonstrated in the video above).

This exercise will strengthen your core rapidly, but it’s still essential to build up to it using the captain’s chair. If you want to avoid injury and overload, don’t rush into it!

TFT Team

Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. When you see “TFT Team” this is because the content was not written by a single author, but rather a team effort.