Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises for Interval Training

When many people think about Interval Training they think about running but there are other options.

Using bodyweight exercises is another way to elevate your heart rate and if done correctly you can get many other benefits too like:

  • Full Body Muscle Development and Activation
  • Injury Prevention through Core and Joint Stability
  • Limited Overuse Injury through Better Load Distribution
  • Improved Balance and Coordination
  • Optimal Mobility and Flexibility of Joints

In order to get the correct response from these intervals it is important to use Bodyweight Compound exercises, that means exercises that use as many joints and muscles as possible.

You will find all these exercises demanding so the idea is to work hard for a short period and then rest for a short time before repeating the exercise.

To get a better understanding of interval training and the philosophy behind this type of exercise please read my article ‘Complete Guide to Interval Training for Quicker Results

Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises for Interval Training

# 1 – Fast Mountain Climbers

A fast paced exercise that uses most muscles in the body. I particularly like this exercise because it works your core stability hard as you try to maintain alignment in the push up position. You will need good shoulder stability and the ability to hold a good push up position in order to get the most from this exercise. From a push up position you keep the core tight as you alternatively drive the knees up and between the arms.

Be aware that this exercise heavily utilises the hip flexors, the muscles that bring the knees to the chest. It is common for many people to have over-active hip flexors due to faulty core activation so you will want to work on stretching out your hip flexors with deep lunges and back bends to counteract this over time.

Greg’s Tip: Get yourself some Sliders (affiliate link) for this exercise or try it on a wooden floor wearing some old socks. Using sliders will eliminate the need for impact during each repetition so its a better option for beginners.

Tutorial on How to perform the Fast Mountain Climber Exercise:

3 Bodyweight Workouts:

  • Fast Mountain Climbers x 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds and repeat 4-8 times
  • Fast Mountain Climbers x 30 seconds
  • Front Plank x 30 seconds
  • Repeat 3-8 times
  • Fast Mountain Climbers x 30 seconds
  • Squats x 30 seconds
  • Rest 30 seconds and repeat 3-8 times


# 2 – High Knees

This is a standing exercise that will have your heart rate shoot up very quickly indeed. Like all these exercises it works most muscles in the body but this particular exercise works into the Core Rotational muscles as well as the legs.

The exercise is very simple just run on the spot lifting the knees as high as possible. Your optimum goal is to get the knees above waist height.

Be very careful with this exercises because it uses a lot of high impact through the calf muscles. Please ensure that the ankles and calf muscles are warmed up first and that you have no calf or Achilles issues. This exercise would not be recommend for beginners or those who carry too much excess weight as the impact would be too high. Fast Mountain Climbers with Sliders would be more appropriate for a beginner.

Greg’s Tip: place your hands at waist height and work hard to slap your hands with your knee for each repetition.

Tutorial on How to Perform the High Knees Exercise:

3 Bodyweight Workouts:

  • High Knees x 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds and repeat 3-8 times
  • High Knees x 100 reps
  • Rest 60 seconds and Repeat 3-8 times
  • Push Ups x 10, 9, 8 etc
  • High Knees x 30 seconds
  • Countdown, 10 Push Ups then High Knees, 9 Push Ups High Knees etc


# 3 – Squats or Jump Squats

Nothing is more practical than working on the Squat exercise and if done correctly and at a good pace they are very cardiovascular too. Squats use most muscles of the body but in particular the legs and buttocks.

For the beginner regular squats will raise the heart rate rapidly but for the more advanced you may need to up the tempo or add in a jump. Jump squats are definitely not for the beginner so if you are new to squats work on your regular squats first.

If you are not getting as much from your squats as you think you should you are probably not squatting low enough and/or driving your hips to full extension at the top of the movement.

Greg’s Tip: Get down deeper. For beginners squat down to a chair, stool or bench that puts your thighs at least to parallel with the floor.

Tutorial on How to Perform the Jump Squat Exercise:

3 Bodyweight Workouts:

  • Squat or Jump Squats – 20 seconds
  • Hold in bottom squat position – 10 seconds
  • Repeat 5-8 times
  • Squat or Jump Squat – 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 reps
  • Fast Mountain Climbers – 20 seconds
  • Countdown, Squat 20, Fast Mountain Climbers, Squat 18, Fast Mountain Climbers etc.
  • Squat or Jump Squat x 20 reps
  • High Knees x 20 reps
  • Repeat 5 times as quickly as possible


# 4 – Squat Thrusts

Similar to the Fast Mountain Climber more even more demanding and placing more emphasis on the leg muscles. Squat thrusts are a huge core exercise too!

Beginners should reduce the impact of the Squat thrust by limiting the length of the jump or my using Sliders (affiliate link) or socks on a wooden floor.

Try to keep your weight over the hands as much as possible as this takes the emphasis away from the legs slightly. Ensure that you extend the legs fully during each repetition.

Greg’s Tip: Use a line on the floor or use some tape to create one. Next ensure you jump your feet over the line each time. As you improve place the line closer and closer to the hands.

How to Perform the Squat Thrust Exercise:

3 Bodyweight Workouts

  • Squat Thrusts – 20 seconds
  • Rest 10 seconds and Repeat 3-8 times
  • Squat Thrusts – 30 seconds
  • Pull Ups x 1,2,3,4
  • Ladder, Squat Thrusts then 1 Pull Up, Squat Thrust, 2 Pull Ups, See how high you can go
  • Squat Thrusts – 50 reps
  • Rest 60 seconds
  • Repeat 40 reps, Rest, 30 reps, Rest, 20 reps, Rest 10 reps


# 5 – Burpees

The classic burpee just had to be included in this list. For the beginner just performing 5-10 good Burpees can be very cardiovascular. Like the exercises above the Burpee uses most muscles in the body. You can modify the exercise to eliminate the jumping aspect if you are new to the exercise and you can increase the demand by adding in a jump at the top of the exercise. Good core stability is essential for this exercise especially during the jumping back of the feet.

Greg’s Tip: Make you you don’t just fall to the floor, perform a good squat and then place the hands down. The downward phase is an important part of the exercise.

How to Perform the Burpee Exercise:

3 Burpee Workouts

  • Burpee x 10 reps
  • Rest 60 seconds and Repeat 3-8 times
  • Burpee with 2 Push Ups x 10 reps
  • High Knees x 50 reps
  • Repeat 3-8 times
  • Burpee x 30 seconds
  • High Knees x 30 second
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Squats or Jump Squats x 30 seconds
  • Fast Mountain Climber x 30 seconds
  • Rest 90 seconds and Repeat Full Circuit 2-3 times



Bodyweight Intervals when done correctly are highly effective and can be performed almost anywhere. Start off with only 1 or 2 circuits and add an extra circuit each week. Only perform this style of high intensity interval training 2 times per week because your body will need time to repair and recover between workouts.

Most of all enjoy these intervals and progress at your own speed safely.

Affiliate Links: Within this article I refer to Sliders for Fast Mountain Climbers and Squat Thrusts to help reduce the impact for beginners. The link I have included is an affiliate link which means that I will get a small commission if you purchase this item but it will be at no extra cost to you. I recommend this product not for my own financial gain but because I truely believe in this product and use them with my own clients. Just wanted to be totally transparent with you.

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