Try This Bodyweight Ladder Workout When You Don't Know What to Do In the Gym

This easy-to-follow bodyweight workout formula will come in handy whenever you don't have a home- or gym-workout plan.

Try This Bodyweight Ladder Workout When You Don't Know What to Do In the Gym

Oh, the endless world of workouts. Raise your hand if you get bored, discouraged, or consistently overwhelmed with the array of choices at the gym. Same. Sometimes you just want a quick, creative, and-most of all-easy and effective workout that doesn't take a lot of time, require any equipment, or force you to set a timer. (Bonus: It can even be done in the comfort of your own home when it's too cold to leave the house.)

Meet the best workout you've never tried: 10 Down.

This ladder workout format is just as it sounds. You perform 10 repetitions of an exercise, then nine, all the way down to one. (It's called a ladder workout because the number of reps goes down-mind blown, right?) You can use any exercise you want, but start with basic moves to get the hang of it. Performing exercises such as squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and even dips (aka calisthenics) will ensure getting a total body workout in a limited amount of time-which also means the biggest bang for your fitness buck.

"Because you understand the expectation ahead of time, you can push harder as the reps decrease," explains Lois Miller, regional group fitness director for Fitness Formula Clubs in Chicago. "Knowing that the rep range is going to lessen each round provides the opportunity to increase intensity, which translates to a better workout and a sense of accomplishment."

How it works: Start with some dynamic warm-up moves. Then select four exercises-one from each of the categories below-to target different muscle groups. (You can work your way up to as many as you want to create a full total-body circuit.) Perform 10 repetitions of each exercise in a row. Then start over and perform nine repetitions, then eight, all the way to one. Limit rest until you reach the end. (Want more ideas? Grab some from this 30-day workout challenge.)


Hollow-body knee-ins: Lie faceup on the floor in a hollow-body position with legs extended, shoulders lifted off the floor, arms extended by sides. Engage core and, holding this position, slowly drive knees into your chest, then extend.

Hollow-body rocks: Lie faceup on the floor in a hollow-body position with legs extended, slightly off the mat, and arms overhead, biceps by ears. Holding this position with core engaged, rock back and forth, maintaining a stiff, hollowed-out shape. Every rock forward marks 1 rep.

Hollow-body flutter kicks: Lie faceup on the floor in a hollow-body position. Do slow flutter kicks with legs, lifting one foot up a few inches, then the other. Back and forth on each leg equals 1 rep.


Plié drag: Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out. Squat down to a plié, keeping knees tracking over toes (don't let them collapse in). On the way up, drag left leg foot in to meet the right, squeezing inner thighs together. Step left foot back out and lower into a plié. On the way up, drag the right leg in to meet the left. Continue alternating. (P.S. This is one of the best inner-thigh exercises.)

Curtsy lunges: Stand with feet together. Step the right foot back and to the left at a diagonal and lower into a lunge. Step left foot back to meet right, then repeat on the opposite side.

Step-ups: Face a bench or box. Step onto the bench with your right foot. Drive your left foot high, as if you are kicking someone. Step back down with left foot, then right. Repeat move with left foot on box and right knee driving high.

Upper Body

Pull-ups: Face a high bar. Slowly perform wide-grip pull-ups (hands facing away) or chin-ups (hands facing you). Feel free to use a resistance band or a pull-up machine for assistance. Aim to pull the chest to the bar while squeezing shoulder blades together. (BTW, if you can't do 10 pull-ups, you're far from alone. Try these pull-up progressions.)

Hand release push-ups: Start in a high-plank position. Lower chest all the way to the ground, keeping the elbows close to ribs. At the bottom, lift hands off the ground for 1 count. Press palms into the ground, then smoothly lift body in a plank position back to the top of a plank.

Dips: Find a bench or box. Sit on the bench with hands on the edge, fingers pointing forward, and lift hips forward off the bench. Aiming elbows straight back, lower halfway. Engage triceps to drive up to the top.


Burpee: Squat to place hands on the floor in front of feet. Jump feet back to a high plank and lower all the way to the floor. Press up to plank, hop feet up to hands, and stand to jump at the top.

Broad jump: Find an open space. Squat slightly and swing arms back, then swing them to jump forward. Land softly, sinking into a squat. Continue jumping forward for all reps.

Ski hops: With feet together, push off left foot to hop laterally to the right. Land on right foot with knee bent and tap left foot behind. Drive off right foot and hop back to the left. Alternate left and right to equal 1 rep.

Jumping lunges: Start in a lunge position, upper body tall. Squeeze the legs at the bottom of the lunge and explode into the air, landing softly in a lunge with the opposite leg in front.

Pop squats: Start with feet together. Jump feet wide and land softly, lowering into a squat. Jump feet together to return to starting position.

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