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The 3 Metabolic Keys to the Perfect Bodyweight Workout

pushups-woman-track copy
Written by Mike Whitfield

Hey, Mike Whitfield here, aka “Mr. Finisher”.

I talked about using bodyweight finishers in an earlier guest blog, but this time I’m going to show you how to put together an entire ultimate bodyweight workout using all 3 powerful and effective methods (…with a finisher of course).

Let’s get right to it!

As you already know, metabolic workouts burn more fat in less time. But the one question you have probably asked is, what’s the best way out of all 3 approaches?

… or better yet, what ARE all 3 approaches?

There’s a lot of online buzz about metabolic resistance training and metabolic conditioning. And metabolic finishers have made a big splash on the fitness scene too.

That’s a lot of metabolic talk. But they missed one crucial question.

Can you use any of these effective approaches with just your own bodyweight?

You bet you can!

Let’s break it down…

Metabolic Resistance Training

Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) uses big, compound movements in a non-competing superset or circuit fashion. You certainly won’t break any world records with lifting using this approach, but it’s the optimal range to set up an “afterburn”. And this afterburn forces your body to use more calories to recover… aka your belly fat.

The rep range for MRT is typically between 8-12 reps. But you already know that completing 8 reps of a pushup is not too challenging for some people.

So, how do you use metabolic resistance training with just bodyweight?

You make a bodyweight movement HARDER. There are little techniques that you can apply to make just about any bodyweight exercise more challenging.

Let’s take a look at the close-grip push up, for example.

When using the push up in the MRT part of your program, you can use the “triple stop” method. So instead of a basic close-grip pushup, you pause halfway down for a second, then pause for one second at the bottom position, and finally come back up.

This puts more tension on the muscles being worked. See the photo below:

Close-Grip Triple Stop Pushup

  • Keep abs braced and body in a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hands should be closer than shoulder width apart.
  • Lower into a push up position, but halfway down pause for one second.
  • Then continue to lower yourself until you are 2 inches off the ground. Pause for one second.
  • Return to the starting position. That’s one rep.

What about the legs?

The bodyweight split squat is a great lower body exercise. Try using the 1-1/2 rep method with it. So you would squat down, then come back only halfway up, then go down, and finally come all the way up. That’s one rep. Try it — it’s a killer.

Here’s how you’d put these into a workout. A bodyweight MRT Superset would look like this:

  • Bodyweight Split Squat (1-1/2 rep method) — 8 reps per side
  • Close-Grip Triple Stop Push up — 10 reps
  • Rest 1 minute and repeat this superset 2 more times.

Metabolic Conditioning

Metabolic Conditioning Training (aka MCT) is set up in circuit fashion with typically a higher rep range — usually 15 or more. This is far more effective than cardio because you work more muscle. Perform it using “easier” bodyweight exercises set up in a high intensity circuit.

Here’s an example of a metabolic conditioning circuit:

  • Bodyweight Squat x20
  • Push Ups x15
  • Skater Hops x10 / side

Skater Hops might be a new one for you. I photographed it in case you aren’t familiar with them:

Skater Hops

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Jump to one side on one foot, shifting all your weight to the leg you jumped out with, and bring your free leg behind.
  • Now jump to the other side with the other leg and repeat.

Skater Hops are one of my favorite conditioning exercises!

Metabolic Finisher

Finally, my favorite part is the metabolic finisher. This is your workout grand finale, added in so you can leave it all on the floor. This is where it can get really “fun” because a Finisher can be just one exercise, a superset or even a circuit. The rest periods are typically short.

Bodyweight finishers are easily a client favorite, even if the main program used weights. It’s really hard to explain them, so let’s just rock one out…

Do the following circuit as many times as possible in 3 minutes, resting only when needed. The clock will continue to tick. Once you hit 3 minutes, you’re done.

The Metabolic 3’s Bodyweight Finisher

  • Burpee x3
  • Swing Lunge x 3 / side
  • Decline Push Ups x3

The rep and set scheme is definitely different, and you’ll be able to rip through this circuit many times. But you’ll soon discover that it’s brutally effective at not only torching fat, but getting your shirt wet, too.

And of course, in case you’re wondering what the Swing Lunge is, I got you covered:

Swing Lunge

  • Do a reverse lunge for your left leg by stepping back with your right leg.
  • Then step forward with your right leg so you do a forward lunge working the right leg.
  • Continue for all reps, moving one leg. Then switch.

When putting together your own bodyweight workout, be sure to set it up like this:

  1. Metabolic Resistance Training (supersets or circuits)
  2. Metabolic Conditioning (circuit)
  3. Metabolic Finisher

Your belly fat won’t stand a chance if you’re hitting it with all 3 of these powerful metabolic weapons!

I’m human too, and like most of you I ended up eating a little more than I should have over the holidays. But I didn’t sweat it at all because I offset it by completing finishers on my “off” days. That’s also what I have my clients do to help them keep the weight off… and of course, to take it off even FASTER.

Want more?

You can get your 39 bodyweight finishers here. Next time, we’ll chat about using strength/finisher supersets.

Crazy? Maybe… but my clients love it!

To your success!

Mike Whitfield, CTT

Author, Bodyweight Finishers

Mike Whitfield, CTT, has lost 105 pounds, propelling his passion into the fitness industry. His effective approach of using unique metabolic workout finishers has helped thousands of people lose fat and improve their conditioning through his online and offline programs, and bringing a new addiction to working out. He is known across the fitness industry for his Finishers and his work has been seen in Men’s Health, Turbulence Training, the AJC and more.

About the author

Mike Whitfield


    • If you’ve already done a workout, I would just do the finisher. Those Bodyweight Burn workouts are awesome by the way!


  • Hey nice tips there

    Just wanted to know what nutrition phase i should consider while using these excercises to get maximum benefit? I am currently trying to lose weight and on low carb cheat will these help me to shed more fat? Or should i use them with a normal slightly low calorie diet to effectively lose weight?

    Also how will these fair when i am on a high cal diet for muslcle buliding?


    • Thanks – happy to help!

      The nutrition plan you should go with is one that you can stick to. If you’re seeing results with what you’re doing, then I would stick to it if you enjoy it. These will help you shed more fat. If my clients are losing weight with what they are doing wit their nutrition as is, then I tell them to continue while adding these finishers if they want to lose more fat.

      For muscle building – If you’re a hard-gainer, you would skip them. But if you put on fat while building muscle, you could implement these 3 times a week and that should keep the fat at bay :)


  • I am working out hard every day, but an not losing weight. Which diet do you suggest? I have been doing low carb and eating very clean. Should I make adjustments or just stick to it for longer? What diet seems to work best for the hard to lose body types? They call mine, mesomorph body type.

    • Hey Becky, sorry for the delay. It looks like my comment didn’t make it through because I had a link :)

      If you go to the search bar on this blog and put in “nutrition”, Adam has a great post about fat loss nutrition that will help you. Never give up!


  • Sounds like a great workout can’t wait to try it. One question how long to you rest between the sets of the metabolic conditioning circuits thanks in advance

    • Hey Michael, I would suggest 30 seconds to 1 minute at the most. Most of the time, I keep it simple and use 1 minute of rest.

      Keep rocking!

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