Body Like A God: A Complete Bodyweight Muscle Building Plan

Get back to basics and build muscle at home with this classic bodyweight training system. This is a flexible training system that focuses on the use of exercise complexes.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Beginner
4 weeks
4
30-60 minutes
Bodyweight
Male & Female

Workout Description

Brad Borland is a strength & conditioning specialist, cancer survivor and the founder of WorkoutLab.

With all of the latest marketed fitness gadgets, programs and miracle pills in full swing it’s easy to get a bit flustered when it comes to your own plans to get in shape or get into better shape. The six-pack this and the ultimate toner that all promise to get you results in as little time as possible without any regard to true, honest reasoning.

The athletes and military of the Ancient Greeks possessed some of the most athletic, muscular and functional bodies in recorded history without the “help” of these quick fixes. Sure, they also didn’t have the endless supply of processed food and Xbox, but they did display some of the most impressive bodies capable of incredible athletic feats of strength, stamina and endurance.

What was their secret? How did they build these mythic bodies on comparatively little food, no supplements and not to mention the absence of a single weight room?

Relying on your own body weight for training purposes isn’t anything new; it has just unfairly been relegated to middle school gym classes and for those who want to get “toned.”

Bodyweight training, when an effective plan is followed, can produce serious results in both muscularity and fat loss. It can build muscle, strip fat and transform you into a functional machine. Don’t think so? Think bodyweight training is too easy, light and subsequently ineffective? Give the program below a try during a trip, a break from the gym or simply to shake things up a bit and try a little something new.

Push Ups

Total Body Weight Blast

  • Perform each workout once or twice per week.
  • Perform each complex without rest between exercises. After each complex rest for one minute.
  • Try the entire program for at least four weeks or during times of travel or away from traditional equipment.
  • Complete a dynamic warm-up prior to each workout.
  • Optional: After each session complete either steady state or HIIT cardio of your choice.
  • Complexes are signified by numbers without rest. For example, perform 1A, 2A and 3A back-to-back-to-back without rest. After the complex is complete rest one minute.
  • Perform each complex for 2-5 rounds depending on training experience and fitness level. 
  • Go for 10-20 reps per move challenging yourself each workout.
  • AMRAP = As Many Reps As Possible
Workout 1:
Workout 2:
  • 1A: Feet-elevated push-up
  • 2A: Wide-grip inverted row
  • 3A: Rack triceps press or parallel bar dips
  • 4A: Shoulder-width reverse-grip pull-up
  • 5A: Floor crunch or planks
  • 1B: Box jump
  • 2B: Bulgarian split squat
  • 3B: Reverse lunge
  • 4B: Bench step-up
  • 5B: Short all-out sprint outdoors or on treadmill

Pull Ups

Training notes on some of the more unique moves listed:

Feet-elevated push-up: These can be performed with your feet elevated on a bench or chair while keeping your torso straight and your abs tight. Once you complete a set, you can immediately drop your feet to the floor and continue your set.

Wide-grip inverted row: These can be done while lying under a Smith machine or squat rack bar set about waist high. You can either set your feet on the ground (beginner) or on a bench (intermediate) while grasping the bar a little wider than shoulder width. Pull to your lower per region and keep your back and legs in line and your abs tight.

Jackknife push-up: What can be described as the beginner handstand push-up, the jackknife version has you plant your feet on the ground and get into a hip-only bent-over position with your hands on the ground and butt in the air (much like downward dog in yoga). Perform the move by bending your elbows and shoulder (like an upside-down shoulder press) without bending your knees or flexing your hips further.

Inverted rack curl: Getting in a similar position as the inverted row, only this time grab the bar with a reverse (palms facing you) shoulder-width grip. Keeping your body in line from your feet to your shoulders, “curl” yourself up to the bar. Adjust the height of the bar for difficulty level.

Rack triceps press: Adjust a Smith machine bar or a bar in a squat rack around waist height. Facing the bar grasp it with a shoulder-width overhand grip and step back from the bar until your body is in line and your arms are perpendicular to your body. Descend your body toward the bar until it is close to your forehead (much like a nosebreaker). Extend back to the straightened position.

Bulgarian split squat: Be sure to plant your foot far enough out in front of you so that your knee does not flow over your toe. Also, resist the urge for the trailing foot (the one on the bench) to help lift your body weight and never slam your knee to the floor. Utilize a pad or stop just an inch or two before your knee touches.

Box Jump: When performing box jumps never jump off the platform to the floor. Always step off to avoid too much knee stress. Also, if possible, be sure to you are using a padded or rubberized floor for joint safety.

Reverse lunge: Be sure that while lunging back take a long stride so that your front knee does not go past your foot. Also, if you are not accustomed to the reverse lunge take each rep slow and controlled and master the form and technique.

Short all-out sprint outdoors or on treadmill: The distance and duration with sprints can vary according to your fitness level and experience. If you are new to sprints, simply start with an intensity level, and time you can comfortably complete. Afterward, build from there and challenge yourself to increase speed and intensity.

24 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 03/12/2017 - 22:20
Timothy Kincaid

I haven't worked out in years. I'm 40 now so my question is would this be a good workout to start with. I weigh 250 and horrible cardio however my strength is still pretty good.

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Posted Sat, 12/13/2014 - 16:16
theo

how many sprints should you do?

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Posted Tue, 09/02/2014 - 20:24
R.H.

Yes, do the first complex (the A complex) rest a minute repeat 2- 5 times Then move to the B complex, and do the same to complete the routine. FYI. I sent an e-mail to the author asking the same question a few months ago when I started this routine.

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Posted Mon, 09/01/2014 - 10:20
Tim

Hey!
Think I'm gonna start doing this program, but I have one question. I dont understand how should i do the workouts. Do I do like A1,A2,A3,A4,A5, rest and repeat x times, and then do B1, B2, B3. B4, B5 x times. Or how do i do it ?
Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 08/06/2014 - 16:13
Trevor

Looks like one serious program. It says to perform each workout once or twice a week. How should you structure that? I.e which days would you do which workout?

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Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 14:12
R.H.

The author left that up to our own design based upon our level of fitness, and experience.
I have been doing this routine for most of the summer. Here are a few suggestions. But in the end you will have to experiment for a few weeks until you find that sweet spot.

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Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 14:54
R.H.

4-days
W-1-Monday-Thurs day
W-2-Tuesday-Friday

3-days
W-1-Mon
W-2-Wed
W-1-Fri
The 2nd week start with W-2 on Mon.

Another option is every other day weekends included
W-1-Sat
W-2-Mon
W-1-Wed
W-2-Fri
W-1-Sun, and so on.
Therefore you would train 4 days the first week and 3 the next. Then start the process over again on the 3rd week on Saturday.

Sorry about the double post
R.H.

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Posted Thu, 08/07/2014 - 14:27
R.H.

The author left that up to our own design based upon our level of fitness, and experience.
I have been doing this routine for most of the summer. Here are a few suggestions. But in the end you will have to experiment for a few weeks until you find that sweet spot.

4 days
Workout 1
Monday Thursday
workout 2
Tuesday-Friday

3 days
first week
workout- 1-Monday-
workout-2-Wednesday-
Workout -1-Friday
second week
Workout-2-Monday etc.
If you choose you can do every other day weekends included. Therefore you would train 4 days the first week starting on Saturday-Monday-Wednesday-Friday
Second week Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday
Then start the process over again on Saturday

Hope this helps
R.H.

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Posted Sat, 04/12/2014 - 13:04
R.H.

Do we complete both sets of complexes in succession with a rest in between or do we do complete the sets of the first complex before we move to the next

Thanks
R.H.

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Posted Thu, 04/03/2014 - 15:09
Beard Face Sean

Should I go at it like "1A, 2A, 3A, etc" or "1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc"?

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Posted Sun, 02/02/2014 - 21:47
Leebro

If I am not wrong, you do all the A's without rest and then rest and do all the B's...?

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 20:42
John

If you do all the work, which includes many variations of many exercizes, you'll get strong and muscular! 5 sets of any exercize, is more than enuff for "average' workouts! Beginning with 3 sets, gets you into the habit of doing a consistent workout. When you've hit a "plateau" after adding weights and reps and dropping reps to add heavier weights, etc., then you'll just start warming up with heavier weights, working with heavier weights, and doing more sets at higher reps! then you go up from there! Then, we'll be be watching YOUR videos on these sites, Bro! ha,ha! Any workout is a good workout, if it doesn't hurt you! Recovering from an injury is a real "setback" and you gotta start all over again, because you got weak again, recovering! "No such thing as a stupid question" (unless you're "Arnold" asking about how to set California back 100 years, which he's done! and, he found someone in L.A. who was sleazy enuff to tell him.) Just my way of telling the Truth, having nothing to do with these publishers.jb.

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Posted Mon, 01/20/2014 - 05:14
David

How's it going? I'm trying to rip my abs up and was wondering if you could give me a awesome routine please?

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 20:32
John

"The Abs Diet" (which will help you start thinking in the right direction ! And, "The Book of Muscle" (a Men's Health publication!) Until the books are delivered (?), put your legs over a bench, with a folded blanket under your spine and raise you chest while keeping your neck and head in line with your spine. Work up to 1000 reps without stopping. Then, get a 25 lb. weight plate, cross your arms over it and hold it to your chest and work you way up to 1000 reps, 50 reps at a time, using a swiss ball to sit on, with your toes against a wall-base. With Abs, it's all about getting the fat off your waistline, so DIET is what brings 'em out, the Crunches simply give you more spinal support for doing heavier work in other parts of your bod ! that's the whole secret, bro'! Have at it !

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Posted Sun, 01/19/2014 - 20:40
jennifer

How is this a bodyweight program when you have to use machines for some exercises?

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Posted Mon, 01/20/2014 - 17:46
Tony

All you need is a wall, something to jump on and something to hang from. No machines! :P

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 20:22
John

Use a low-hanging Tree Branch! Duh ! ha,ha,ha!

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Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 - 18:47
Tony

Excellent looking program! I got into the calisthenics craze last summer after reading Paul Wade and Al Kavadlo's books. I let go of the weights completely and spent a few months with a program that looked similar to this. Just like it advertises, I had immense fat loss and functional strength gain. The only draw back was shrinkage. Is there a way to supplement this program with weight training so muscle size is maintained?

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 20:13
John

Not an "expert", but pretty experienced---The recommended format for mixing routines, is begin with weightlifting, which requires more strength, so beginning with it helps to assure you'll have enuff power to finish a reasonable workout. Then, do a full-body routine of body-weight work, then maybe some cardio, ten minutes is plenty! You'll be stronger, bigger, more stamina, and amazed. Just remember, you'll also be "tempted" to stretch the envelope, due to the presence of Adrenaline. Don't. then, you'll be in hsape for your next workout. You might also try the "P-90-X" program! mix in some supplemental work with that every day (Swiss-ball crunches w/weight plates, cables, dumbells, homegym, just match the extra work to body parts you worked in the P-90 routine, so you're not stating with partially recovered muscles for the next workout! Then, begin the 2nd level of P-90 work. Etc. You'll stop worrying about doing enuff exercizes, believe me! ha,ha! Oh, and practice the "weider Pricipal" of Progressive Weights, and use steadily heavier weights and reps, then drop back to fewer reps for heavier weights, and go again! It works! (Chicks do it, too !)

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Posted Mon, 03/03/2014 - 13:21
ranjit

just eat big

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Posted Sat, 01/11/2014 - 08:45
Snir

So For Exaple , I should do on Day 1 Push ups and Single Leg calf raise back to back ?

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 20:20
John

Start building a Library of literature for Nutrition, Exercize, Supplements, and general knowledge (debates pro/con for Steroids, the importance of sleep, etc.) Play with your foods! play around with recipes, and take note of how your body reacts and functions and your comfort levels with various foods! You are what you eat, the happier you are with what YOU like, the better off your life will be, and the stuff you DO with it ! Weider has some good stuff , there are Doctors ,etc, who are bodybuilders and have really good knowledge of doing this stuff and staying healthy and safe! That's some good and surprising reading, too! Good Luck !

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Posted Fri, 01/10/2014 - 03:23
doc

my questin is how do we know that athlets of the ancient times looked great? Do we have a picture of them? Çause you know.....drawings are often hyperbolized and most tales are legends

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 20:01
John

Athletes were the "models" for ancient sculptures! Pretty honest renderings, basicly !