Get Strong – Fun Techniques

As much as I LOVE bodyweight training and I frequently use bodyweight training as a staple, I’m a gym rat at heart and I have a special relationship with iron. This post may not resonate with everyone at first, but I highly recommend you read it and apply some of the principles. These can be adapted to bodyweight training as well, so open your mind to some new ideas.

The M2A Challenge Fat Loss principle of mixing up strength and HIIT is fantastic for fat loss and strength building. Sometimes I like to totally shake things up. I’ll do a slower, strength-building workout (with no HIIT), like the ones I describe here, and then I’ll do a ‘Power Endurance Builder’ or a ‘Challenge Finisher’ at the end of my workout. The key to progression (and to avoid workout boredom) is to constantly shake up your workout schedule.

Here are a few of my favorite training methods that I’ve used to spice up my training, increase strength and keep things fresh:

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Pre-Fatigue Training

The BEST and safest way to train is to do COMPOUND exercises first and then single joint exercises second. In fact, I rarely do single joint exercises (like bicep curls).

On occasion though, when training legs in particular, I’ll do things like stiff legged dead lifts that will target the hamstrings BEFORE doing squats. The purpose of this is because the hamstrings will likely fail and the quads will have to really work hard.

In each example below, you’ll push the prime mover for the exercise to failure sooner and the secondary movers for the exercise will be forced to step up as the prime mover starts to fail.

Examples of this kind of training may include things like the following supersets:

  • Leg extensions first to barbell squats (to burn out the quads so hams need to step up)
  • Pull ups (not a single joint movement, but less compound than the deadlift) to heavy BB dead lifts
  • Cable or DB pull overs to pull ups (or assisted pull ups)

*Attention to form is IMPERATIVE for the second set and you’ll need to lighten up your weights (compared to what you can usually do) on the compound movement.

Get Complex

I love complexes. I loathe traditional ‘cardio’. Complexes get your heart rate up and build strength all at once. Short sweaty workouts with usually one piece of equipment. Win – win. Remember the purpose of a complex is to increase load not speed. Form needs to be impeccable. Here’s a workout:

8 reps of each exercise, rest as little as possible:

  • snatch
  • front squat push press
  • RDL
  • one arm pull up (4 per side) OR do a pull up or assisted pull up
  • burpee
  • hanging leg raise

If you want to increase the challenge, have a one eyed dog attack you when you’re doing  burpees or bite your feet when you do the hanging leg raises 😉

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 Check out more Challenge Complexes here.

5×1 Training

Take your 3-4 rep max weight and repeat it in sets of 1 rep with a rest in between for a total of 5 reps.

Repeat up to three times. If you can do three sets, you’ll have just done your 3-4 rep max weight for 15 reps.

Weighted Example (choose a weight that you can do 3-4 reps with)

  • Bench press: 155 lbs x 1 rep
  • rest up 5-10 seconds
  • Repeat 4 more times (total of 5 reps)
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 5×1 set one to two more times


Bodyweight Example

  • 1 pull up
  • rest up 5-10 seconds
  • Repeat 4 more times (total of 5 reps)
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 5×1 set one to two more times (do assisted pull ups if necessary)

5×5 Training

Take your 10 rep max weight and repeat sets of 5 with a rest in between for a total of 25 reps.

Repeat for a total of two 5×5 sets. If you can do this, you’ll just done your 10 rep max weight and done 50 reps.


Weighted Example (choose a weight that you can do 10 reps with)

  • Barbell squats: 155 lbs x 5 reps
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Repeat the above 4 more times (total of 25 reps)
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 5×5 set one to two more times


Bodyweight Example (use for more difficult bodyweight moves or HIIT moves like a box jump burpee pull up)

  • 5 decline close grip push ups
  • rest up to 30 seconds
  • Repeat the above 4 more times (total of 25 reps)
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Repeat 5×5 set one to two more times


A key to increasing intensity for this type of training, especially if you’re doing bodyweight training, is to do these sets LAST. If you’ve already completed a full workout with push ups, planks, get ups, squats and HIIT thrown in, this last strength building 5×5 set will be SO much more difficult in your fatigued condition.


1+2+3+4+5+4+3+2+1 Training

This set would look like this:

  • 1 rep/rest 5-10 sec
  • 2 reps/rest 5-10 sec
  • 3 reps/rest 5-10 sec
  • 4 reps/rest 5-10 sec
  • 5 reps/rest up to 30 sec if needed
  • 4 reps/rest 5-10 sec
  • 3 reps/rest 5-10 sec
  • 2 reps/rest 5-10 sec
  • 1 rep

Repeat entire set

*Caution: the start of this set is quite easy, but you’ll soon get lactic acid build up and get close to failure.

This is a fun technique to use with tough moves like burpee pull ups or one legged burpees. If you’re doing a strength move, make sure you choose a weight that you can get at least 8 consecutive reps with good form, you’ll be doing 15 reps per set.


Down the Rack Training

I’ve mentioned this type of training before. You’ll choose 3 weights for a single move like a squat, bench press, or even things like a bicep curl or a DB lateral raises.

You’ll do 5 reps with each weight. Your first weight should be chosen based on your 5 rep max. Do 5 reps and then your second weight should be about a 20% drop, do 5 reps, drop 20% of the weight and finish with another 5 reps. You’ll only rest long enough to strip some weight off the bar or change DB’s.

Rest 1-2 minutes and repeat. Aim to get 5 reps with your first weight again, but it’s likely that you’ll only be able to get 3-4 reps per set on the second time around.

Eccentric Training

Take ANY movement and do a 1-4 tempo. Lift the weight (or your bodyweight with a one count) and lower the weight (or bodyweight) to a count of four. I often do this for pull ups (you can do this assisted too), but it’s a killer with squats or any other movement. Be prepared for muscle soreness and use this method sparingly. It’s best done with the last set of a movement, not on every single set in a workout.

Variety is the spice of life and it’s no different with training. I love to take any and all of these methods and throw them into a workout.

What are some of YOUR favorite techniques? Comment below (I don’t want to feel like I’m talking to myself!)

PS If you want to improve your pull up strength, you can check ways to do that HERE.

PPS. Check out all my Challenge Workout programs here.

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