Today, we’ll share with you an intermediate and an advanced fifteen-minute workout plan for which the only piece of equipment you’ll need is a set of gymnastic rings. Once again, we’ll be training at our favorite gym – the outdoors and we’ll be hanging our rings around a basketball hoop’s body. Some other alternatives besides pull-up bars for hanging your rings outdoors can be wooden gazebos, a thick tree branch and any other structure that is high and sturdy enough. Look around enough and I’m sure you’ll find solution.
Each workout is structured into a circuit. Circuits are the best way to get a good whole-body workout done in a short amount of time. With the right exercises, you can use them to build muscle, burn fat and improve your cardiovascular fitness. All these things make circuits a great solution for the advanced trainee who has limited time for exercise and wants to keep advancing.
During our intermediate and advanced circuits, you’ll be performing four exercises in a row. You only have ten seconds of rest between each exercise which gives you just enough time to transition from station to station (try to relax and get enough of oxygen during this time). Each exercise will last thirty seconds and after each round/circuit you’ll rest for two to three minutes. Ideally, you’ll need an interval timer which you can download for free on your phone. I’ll link my favorite ones in the description box and in the top comment below.
Our training plan consists of two different workouts – workout A and workout B. Each one consists of four exercises. These will be the same for the intermediate and the advanced plan. What differs between them though is training frequency. With the intermediate plan, you’ll be training four times per week while with the advanced plan you’ll be training six times per week. Therefore, the advanced plan has 50% more training volume per week. As we’ve talked about it in previous videos, increasing your weekly volume is important if you want to keep challenging the neuromuscular system to grow stronger over time and improve your body composition (muscle to fat ratio). Assuming of course that food quality and quantity are in check.
Make sure that you also take a deload week at least once every two months when you train at such high frequencies. A deload week for those not familiar with them simply means cutting down your volume or frequency (or both if you feel quite tired). I like to train two or three times max during deload weeks. As to volume, I go by feeling – meaning I train as much as I feel as my body is hungry for.
- Work time: 30 seconds
- Rest between exercises: 10 seconds
- Rest between sets: 2-3 minutes
You can perform workout A and workout B on consecutive days but ideally try to have a day off after training two days in row (from B to A). For example, you can train on Monday and Tuesday and take Wednesday off. Then, train again on Thursday and Friday and have the weekend off. If you feel like it, supplementing your off days of with a moderate cardiovascular-oriented workout is also ok (i.e. jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, etc.). Martial arts are another great way to stay active during the rest of the week.
You’ll be training six days in a row and you’ll have one day of the week off. For example, you can train from Monday till Saturday and take Sunday off. Since you only have one day off, some of you might want to add some cardio on the same day with your strength training. If that’s the case, do it ideally after your strength workout and keep it below forty minutes if gaining muscle mass is important for you.
NOTE ON PROTEIN: You should also make sure you’re getting adequate protein, especially when training so much. One and a half grams per kg (0,75 grams per bodyweight pound) is what a lot of recent research shows to be ideal for hypertrophy and it’s the minimum intake I recommend and make sure to get myself.
Our first station are pull-ups. If you can do consecutive reps for thirty seconds while feeling challenged during your last few reps that’s great. If you doing pull-ups for thirty consecutive seconds is not possible, you can rest of your feet on the ground between reps (after you get a few consecutive reps first). If on the contrary this feels too easy for you, clean up your form and focus more on mind-to-muscle technique. I recommend that you watch my video Three Mind-to-Muscle Pull-up tips.
Vertical Jumps (Box jumps)
Vertical jumps are one of the best bodyweight exercises to build strength and power in the legs. They develop explosive strength which can help with other movements like sprinting and sure do get your heart rate elevated. Leave your ego aside and select a height you can clear without having to bend your knees more than 90 degrees. Avoid extreme heights that have you overly flexing your hips and tucking your knees into the chest.
This unnecessarily increases the risk for injury and defeats the purpose of the box jump. After landing on the top, I recommend stepping down instead of jumping down since I don’t consider the impact from the jump worth the impact on the joints. Focus on the forward vertical jump and step back by alternating right to left leg from jump to jump.
Push-ups are the classic bodyweight exercise that never goes out of style. If you feel that they’re too easy for you, try applying the following tips to make them a bit more difficult. For starters lean a bit forward and place more weight on your arms and less on your feet. Normally you when doing a classic push-up, you lift 60% of your total bodyweight while the rest is supported by your feet. You can easily change that by leaning bringing your weight a forward and focusing on leaning as much as possible on your arms. Besides keeping your core and glutes braced, focus on squeezing your quadriceps as well. This helps stabilize the spine when in a plank position and allows you to focus placing as much weight possible on your arms.
Another tips is keeping your elbows packed – close to the ribs. Flared elbows can cause chronic injury to the shoulder anyway so make sure you never do push-ups that way. A forty-five degree angle is ok for beginners that are still working on their strength, but as an intermediate or advanced trainee you must focus on keeping your elbows close to the body. Shoulder should also be pulled back and down (scapular retraction and depression).
As I mentioned in the previous video, the hollow body is my favorite abdominal exercise. Before trying it’s advanced variation – the hollow-body crunch, make sure you first master thirty seconds of the basic hollow body. For more details on the hollow body, check out the previous vid. To perform this advanced variation, assume a hollow body position with your back flat against the floor. If your lower back is not pressing against the floor, don’t expect your abs to proper stimulation. Point your arms upwards and lift the thoracic portion of your spine as if you’re trying to touch the sky. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
There are two basic types of dips – straight dips and chest-dips. Straight dips focus more on your triceps and can be a bit harder on the shoulders, which is why I recommend you avoid them. A properly performed multi-joint exercise (such as dips) should always take advantage of the biggest and strongest muscles that are producing the movement. Sure, triceps will always play an important role in dips, but your chest should be your primary focus.
Chest-dips, in comparison with straight-up dips, are performed by leaning forward (instead of standing straight) while performing the exercise. Specifically, you want to tilt the torso at about forty-five degrees. Not only does this focus the exercise more on the chest, but it also puts you in a more shoulder-friendly position? To lean forward, instead of flexing and rounding the spine as a lot of people often do – try to simply hinge (while maintaining your shoulder blade-lock and your core activated to control the rest of the body and avoid swinging motions). To perform a perfect hinge, make sure you keep your elbows close to the body. If your elbows start pointing sideways your shoulders will start to shrug. Just as in push-ups, you want your shoulders back and down (retracted and depressed shoulder-blades). I also have new book coming up soon on maximizing chest hypertrophy with gymnastic ring dips so stay posted.
Lunge forward until your rear knee is almost touching the ground. Jump into the air, bringing your rear foot forward and the front foot back. Land in a lunge and repeat.Simple bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges can become a lot more challenging when you turn them into plyometric exercises. Adding a jump to your standard bodyweight lunge turns this exercise to an extremely challenging exercise that will give your whole lower body a great pump and burn. This creates a lot of metabolic stress and causes your body to recruit fast-twitch muscle-fibers resulting in muscular adaptations similar to those obtained from lifting weights. For more info on lower bodyweight train watch last years video which I’ll link above.
From a straight elbow plank (initial push-up position) drop down to an elbow plank. Lean on one elbow and turn towards the other direction, pointing and extending your finger towards the sky. If you still find this exercise too easy, try it on one foot! A good mind-to-muscle que here is to contract your abs as if you want to bring your toes towards your arms without though lifting your pelvis.
Kicking it up a notch…
As you get more experienced you can kick up a notch the working time in some stations that you feel you need more time. For example, I use forty seconds on my timer for pull-ups since thirty seconds don’t allow me to get enough reps. Not every timer does this but here are two that I know that do this for you:
Let’s get started
Press the start button on your interval timer and get set for pull-ups. Do thirty seconds of good-form reps and make sure that the level of difficulty you’re using in each exercise is challenging enough (this takes a bit of trial and error in the beginning, but you’ll figure it out). Once your working time is over, use your resting time to slowly walk to your next station and to get ready to perform the next exercise. After each circuit set, rest for 90 to 120 seconds and repeat it two more times.