Imagine you are, for the first time in your life, being depended upon for your mental and physical strength, and you must be a pillar of support for those around you.
You also are in a position where you have ONLY your body to train with, and are very limited in any equipment you can use.
This is likely most of you reading this.
And Bodyweight Hoplite is the program I have written that you can follow.
Who or what were Hoplites?
The Hoplites were the citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states, and are well recognized today in modern times for wearing the well-known bronze armor, horse hair helmets, and long spears and round shields.
Hoplites were not a permanent army, but were recruited from the citizens who could afford the necessary armor and weapons.
Of the Ancient Greeks who served in this army, the majority were in fact land owning farmers and skilled artisans, men who were worked with their hands and bodys, and would today be considered “blue collar” strong or “farmer” strong.
How did the Hoplites train?
In regards to warfare, much is known: they’d be called to arms, they’d drill, and then they’d go FIGHT.
Hoplites always fought in formation, in the legendary Phalanx, the men standing side by side, protecting each other with their shields and using their spears to keep the enemy at distance.
If this sounds similar to Spartans, its because the Spartans were also “Hoplites” in the armor they used and how they fought.
Men that served as Hoplites were expected to be able to serve until they were SIXTY, and it was expected that the men would be “fighting fit” when they were called up.
How did they train to be fit? Realistically, the physical demands of their own daily lives was probably sufficient to ensure their physical fitness was up to par.
And it is known that the Ancient Greeks had Gymnasiums, and bodyweight training was well-established as a methodology. Free weights existed that were stones, but the vast majority of training was simply men moving their own bodys using the same exercises we would use today.
The Bodyweight Hoplite program then is a straightforward program of bodyweight exercises divided into two workouts, each to be done twice, for a total of four workouts weekly.
Bodyweight training done in an organized and purposeful fashion will create serious results in strength gain, muscle gain, and fat loss (assuming some reasonably health eating method is adhered to). This simple program will do that for you.
Hoplite Program Guidelines
- Perform each workout twice per week, alternating between the two
- Train 4 times each week
- Each Exercise is be done for 10-20 reps unless other wise specified
- If 10 is too many reps, then regress to however many reps necessary, sets of 2, sets of 3, sets of 4, etc etc
- Perform each exercise one after the other, resting at the END of each circuit/round of exercises
- If you wish to make the exercises harder, wear a backpack with 10-20lbs in it, or a weighted vest.
- Follow the order of the exercises as written. Exercises are numbered in the order they are to be performed in
- Perform each circuit 2-5 times, depending on your own level of strength and conditioning
- AMRAP = As Many Reps As Possible
- Judo Pushup (done in sets of 5-10)
- Bodyweight Skullcrusher
- Inverted Row
- Bodyweight Bicep Curl
- Jump Squat
- Reverse Lunge
- Single Leg Calf Raise
- Flutter Kick
- Bicycle Crunch
Training notes on some of the exercises listed:
Pushups: Are to be done with a standard moderate width grip, and feet together
Chinups: Are to be performed on a standard pullup bar. If you find these aggravating on the wrists or biceps tendon though, neutral grip pullups can be substituted.
Judo Pushups: Can be done for lower reps. Start with sets of 5 reps, up to 10 reps per set.
Bodyweight Skullcrusher: are to be done on a bench, chair, or in a squat rack. Even a table can work. These can be done two ways: by touching the forward to the bench, or dropping your head underneath the bar or bench. Use whatever version you can do for repeated reps. Be very precise doing these, using a controlled movement tempo. Depending on your arm length and height, you will need to adapt the exercise to your own leverages and find a position that is comfortable and does not aggravate the elbows.
Inverted Rows: Can be done with a bed sheet, tow straps, a TRX, a Jungle Gym XT, or any other kind of DIY suspension training system.
Bodyweight Bicep Curl: Can be done with your suspension training setup. This movement is an underrated bicep exercise and is quite effective in building integrated bicep muscle and tendon strength.
Jump Squats: Do not crash land these. Jumps squats are to be done as a continuous rhythmic movement.
Reverse Lunge: Balance is usually the most difficult aspect of these when first doing them. Be mindful of posture not to lean too far ward or clumsily place the back leg
Single Leg Calf Raise: Quarantine is not excuse not to train calves
Flutter Kick: Support the low back when doing these, keep the chin tucked, and use the rocking motion to increase lower abdominal engagement. Do not raise the legs too high that you cramp the hip flexors, or too low that your low back arches
Bicycle Crunch: People have a tendency to rush these and try to do them too fast, precision beats speed.
- Decline push-up
- Inverted row
- Close Grip Pushup
- Deficit Pushup
- Facepull (use your inverted row bedsheet strap setup)
- Broad jump
- Bulgarian split squat
- Forward Walking lunge
- Prone Superman (60 second isometric hold)
- Lying Leg Raises
- Bent Knee Situps
Decline Pushups: Are performed with your feet on elevated surface, like a chair, or a bench. The grip is the same as a normal pushup. Remember to keep your core tight and your body straight when doing these. These are equivalent to an incline press
Inverted row: Same as before. The lower you get to the floor, the harder the movement becomes. When that becomes easy, elevate your feet.
Close grip push-up: Same principles as a regular pushup, body in straight line, abs engaged, but hands are simply closer together. Keep the elbows tucked and do not cheat the movement in any way.
Deficit Pushup: Basically you put your hands on an elevated surface, and then do pushups with an increased range of motion. These are fancy, although they are more tiring than regular pushups because of the increased ROM
Facepull: I’ve put these into every program I’ve written for the last 5 years. Facepulls are the one upper back and posture exercise that EVERYONE needs to be doing.
Bulgarian split squat: The best and most hated of all leg exercises. Quality beats quantity on these. Once you get strong at them you can add weight in various ways, but in the beginning you must master the form. These build muscle, build strength, and build flexibility all at once.
Broad Jump: A rarely done movement yet one that is excellent for power, and relatively easy to perform. The jump is not what is difficult, but the landing. Start with a short distance before you try to jump for maximum distance. Landings should be soft and catlike.
Forward Walking lunge: If your legs are very weak lunges suck, but walking lunges are arguably the easiest of lunges because of the gait pattern. Keep hands on hips and make sure each step is symmetrical.
Prone Superman: Do this exercise on a mat or towel of some kind. The goal is glute and low back engagement. Depending on how flexible your low back is and how good your posture is, you may find this exercise fairly easy, or extremely difficult.
Lying Leg Raise: Support the low back when doing these, keep the chin tucked, and do not use momentum. Raise and lower the legs with abdominal strength.
Bent Knee Situps: A classical exercise. Make sure to do these on a padded surface, and sit all the way up, do not come up halfway.
Warrior Diet: Staying Lean and Mean on One Meal a Day
The Warrior Diet was popularized by Ori Hofmekler, and it a version of intermittent Fasting.
The breakdown is this:
- You fast for 20 horus daily
- You eat within a 4 hour window
- You typically eat either one huge meal at night, or two smaller meals over the course of the 4 hours
Typically I only recommend the warrior diet unless for very overweight people, but in a time of reduced physical activity and being inactive, its an ideal way to keep yourself from gaining bodyfat.
To follow a Warrior diet, you MUST be mindful of what you are eating, ie, you cannot eat poorly and expect to have energy and feel good. The rules of healthy eating still apply
- Your meals should be high protein, and your protein should comes from either animals (ie MEAT), and/or you can supplement with whey isolate or another quality protein source
- Most of your fat should come from the meat you eat, and cooking with healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, butter, or ghee
- Carbs are allowed, but they are secondary to protein. Protein intake is your number one priority
- As you only have four hours to eat, you can eat as much as you like within those four hours. Do not be concerned with limiting yourself, as you’ll find its nearly impossible to overeat.
- You MUST hydrate throughout the day. Black coffee is fine, as it any other zero calorie beverage
- If you feel low energy or lightheaded, supplement with electrolytes. That means SALT/Sodium. Use salt tablets of any kind, or zero calorie sports beverages
You will begin noticing the fat loss effects almost immediately, it’s not uncommon for people to notice 2-4lbs of weight within the first week. Followed consistently, you can expect to be much leaner within a few weeks time.
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