Suns out, guns out for summer! Get your swole on pool-side with these 3 quick pump-up routines. Pump based, core-focused, or HIIT - the choice is yours!

Ah, summertime. With the sun blazing, mellow music blasting and the smell of a hot grill in the air, there is nothing better than wasting a day away in the backyard pool.

Sounds perfect, right?

Well if you are wired like me then you see one problem with this scenario. It’s hard enough for me to sit still while driving or getting work done on my laptop, let alone when I’m outside in nice weather.

I need action, and more important…I need a pump. There’s something to be said about how much more relaxing your “down time” can be if you have already trained.

Whether it’s the mental side of not feeling guilty for indulging in some beers and brats (the workout cancels them out, right?!?), the neurological effects of the serotonin spike post workout, or just the ego boost of having a massive pump while shirtless in public, I always feel better after training and can actually enjoy lounging around in the pool.

Today, I want to share with you three of my go-to poolside workout routines, perfect for whatever your mood calls for - conditioning, functional strength, or just a good old fashioned eye catching pump.

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Workout #1: The Quick Pump

Exercise Sets Reps
A1. Pull Ups 10 Rounds 5
A2. Push Ups - 10

The name says it all. This one is my number one choice for when I need to get a quick pump, raise my metabolism, and get that sense of wellbeing that comes from knowing you are not just being a lazy bum.

5 pull ups may not sound like a lot, but the key is taking zero rest (other than transition time) during the 10 consecutive sets. The whole routine will only take 5 minutes or so and the pump will come on quick. Since the numbers are low, concentrate on strict form. You will be surprised how difficult a full lockout on the push-ups will be by your ninth or tenth set.

If you want to stretch this one out time and volume wise, simply double the reps (10 pull ups, 20 pushups) and add a 45-60 second rest in between rounds.

Technique Keys:

Pull Ups: despite being one of the most basic upper body exercises, most people do sometime of movement fault, probably do to their difficulty. Besides the obvious mistakes - kipping, swinging, not going all the way up, etc. - most people have a tendency to pull at the wrong angle and not fully engaging their lats.

Think about your posture while doing lat pulldowns. You probably sit upright, back arched, and pull the bar down to your collar bone to really squeeze the lats. This is the same angle you should utilize on pull-ups, drawing your elbows down AND back as your chest rises towards the bar…or the pavilion in this case. Keeping your glutes engaged will maintain hip extension and help avoid unwanted swinging.

Remember - this workout only calls for 5 pull ups at a time, so make them as strict as possible.

Push Ups: Like I stated above, make sure to fully lock out each rep. Ten pushups isn’t a lot (even after 10 sets) so the key is quality over quantity. Form wise, you ideally want your arms at roughly 45 degrees relative to your torso, avoid flaring your elbows out.  Your abs should remain flexed and maintain a slight pelvic tilt thru out the set.

Gutcheck Guide to Bodyweight training

Workout #2: Enter The Dragon

Exercise Sets Reps
A1. Dragon Flags 5 Rounds 5
A2. Dips - 20
A3. L-Sit - 10 Sec Hold
A4. Swim - 3 Min

Where the first routine was rooted in simplicity, this killer bodyweight circuit is both complex and taxing. The pump you get from this circuit will probably draw less attention than the gymnastic elements of the workout itself, so be ready for a few poolside gawkers.

Start with 5 dragon flags, using the pool ladder as your anchor. You may want to fold up a towel and use for a pad beneath your upper back. Immediately perform 20 dips on the ladder, keeping a forward angle with your knees behind you to avoid hitting the concrete.

Go right into an L-Sit hold for 10 seconds, then dive in and swim at a light pace for 3 minutes of active recovery. Complete 5 total rounds.

Technique Keys:

The dragon flag is one of the pinnacles of core strength and bodyweight control.  Holding this position on a bench is tough, doing it on the cement is even more difficult.  In case you haven’t mastered the dragon flag yet, here are 3 positions to use as a substitute in this routine and to also help you build the necessary strength:

Step 1: Static Top Hold

In order to have a shot at eventually mastering the dragon flag, you’ve got to have a good starting position. Lay on the bench and reach behind your head.

Grab the bench and pull against it using your lats (this will feel similar to a DB pullover) and raise your body up until your feet are straight towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds, eventually working up to 3 sets of 20 second holds.

Step 2: Dragon Flag Negatives

Perhaps the hardest part of the dragon flag is not just keeping your body straight as you lower, but putting the brakes on and holding once you are parallel to the floor.

Your best bet is to perform the first half of the exercise and as you lower to the bench continue lowering until your hips are in contact. Once you have developed enough strength on the eccentric portion of the exercise it will make the bottom position much easier to hold.

Gutcheck Guide to Bodyweight Training

Step 3: Bent Leg Dragon Flags

This is actually an easier version of the traditional dragon flag, but don’t let that fact trick you into thinking that this will be a walk in the park. Start by laying on a bench and grabbing ahold overhead. Bring your legs and hips high into the air so only your upper shoulders, neck and head are making contact with the bench.

Curl your knees to your chest, and then keep an arch in your low back as you let your feet “fall over” until they make contact briefly with the bench. Keep your hips stationary as you curl your knees back to your chest. Shoot for sets of 5-10 perfect reps per set.

Workout #3: The Drowning Man

Exercise Sets Reps
A1. Face Pull Ups 5 Rounds 5 Each
A2. Single Arm Push Ups - 3 Each
A3. Push Ups - 20
A4. Tread Water (Legs Only) - 30 Secs

If the first routine was for the pump, the second was for core strength, then this workout is your poolside HIIT conditioning routine. The face pull ups and single arm pushups are difficult…but they will start to feel like rest compared to the 30 second treading water interval.

Don’t think treading water is tough? Take your arms out of the equation and it turns into a scissor kick sprint for your life. Climb out of the pool and rest 1 minute before starting the next round.

Technique Keys:

When performing “face pullups”, simply pull to one side and touch your nose to the back of your hand. If you can’t make it that far, get as close as possible and work over, or break the set of 10 into a few mini sets. During single arm pushups, it helps to have a wide base with your feet. It is imperative to keep your core tight and abs flexed.

Because of the imbalance of pushing with a single arm, the hardest part of this movement is the anti-rotational aspect. Push your hip (same side as pushing arm) towards the ground to keep them level.


You can substitute any type of pull ups for face pulls. If one arm pushups are out of the question, substitute with 5 diamond pushups, 5 narrow, 5 regular, 5 wide, and end with 5 more diamonds.


Well there you have it. Now you have no excuse to veg out by the pool without getting at least a quick pump in first.

I know you are going to have someone in your ear telling you to just relax and forget about training for the day, but trust me when I say your time in the sun is going to be much more enjoyable after training.

It never hurts to think outside the box and get some unique workouts in a different environment….plus you can feel like you really earned that Margarita. Enjoy!