Forget the gym and get ripped with bodyweight exercises

This week, two very different yet important studies came across my laptop screen, and they should change the way we exercise:

The first was the discovery that over a 12 year period, Harvard researchers analysed 10,500 men and determined the best way to burn belly fat is not running, swimming, or cycling. The conclusion is this – cardio training is trumped by weight training. And the optimal regime for slim-belly results? Combine cardio and weight training.

Secondly it was revealed that at the gym, dumbbells have 362 times more germs than a toilet seat. Treadmills and bikes have even more bacteria – 417 times more than a toilet seat.

From these two studies, my Boot Camp conclusion is simple – perform high intensity bodyweight movements for a slimmer gut and a cleaner life. My quest is to design the best bodyweight workout in the world to be strong, lean, and clean.

Here's more ammunition to try strength and cardio bodyweight training sessions.

It's efficient

At home, in the gym, or on the road, you can always find time and space to get in a high intensity workout.

It's varied

Hundreds of bodyweight exercises means you can create hundreds of thousands of workouts to spice up each session.

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It's cheap

Exercising in your back garden or the park is free.

It's excuse-proof

You'll never be able to say "I don't like the gym … it's too crowded" again.

It's outdoors

Breathing fresh air, getting Vitamin D from the sun is refreshing and healthy.

It's challenging

From beginners to the mega-fit, bodyweight workouts are as tough as you design them.

You can BYO

Bring your own … music. Your kind of music results in a better session.

It produces results

For weight loss, leaning/toning up, bodyweight sessions provide a clear path from a chubby-to-fit lifestyle transformation.

From a simple, starting circuit to all-out torture, here are the best bodyweight circuits you can do.

HI Func

Name: HIFunc Circuit (High Intensity and Functional)

Level: Intermediate

Total Time: 24 minutes

Circuit details: Perform as many repetitions of one exercise in 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving to the next movement. Rest for one minute before starting the next circuit. Each circuit is six minutes (5 min exercise, 1 min rest). Perform four circuits of:

1) Push-up – superb for the pectoral muscles (chest), triceps, and core;

2) Pull-up – king of the back movements;

3) Plank – great for core strength and back health;

4) Squat – fantastic for legs and butt toning; and

5) Sprint – healthy for the heart and an anaerobic movement to get you lean.

Scale this circuit down for safety as required – go to your knees for the push-ups, use a band for the pull ups, or play with the timing for your fitness level.

The next circuit is also full-body in nature, but the intensity and difficulty of the compound movements shift straight into fifth gear:

X Circuit

Name: X Circuit (Weight Repetitions Up, Cardio Down)

Level: Advanced

Total Time: 30 minutes or to completion

Circuit details: Skip 200 reps, then (without rest) perform the repetitions listed for each exercise. Within four rounds, the skipping will increase, and the exercise repetitions will decrease. There's no rest in between rounds of:

1) Skipping rope (200 reps, then 300, 400, and 500) – skipping rope is a cardio burning dream. Try double under's if possible;

2) Squat jump into a tuck (25 reps, then 20, 15, and 10) – squat into a jump with a knees-to-chest finish testing, legs and core;

3) Plyometric push-ups (25 reps, then 20, 15, and 10) - regular push-up with an explosive push off the ground;

4) Bicycle crunches (25 reps each side, then 20, 15, and 10) – superb core and obliques movement that also tests the legs;

5) Burpee into a pull-up (15 reps, then 12, 9, and 6) – rigorous full body movement, performing a burpee straight into a pull-up.

With these circuits, change your weight and alter your body shape while making weights and elliptical machines as useful as the Kerrigans' jousting sticks in The Castle, leaving more space in the pool room, and more money to spend at Bonnie Doon. And you'll love the serenity.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his 'Cut The BS' diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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