Best Bodyweight Workout Routine For Men Over 55

Bodyweight workout routine
Bodyweight Workout Routine

A bodyweight workout routine performed as a circuit may be the best hormone boosting workout you can perform, either at home or in the gym. And for several reasons, bodyweight training may also be the best bodybuilding exercise for men over 50.

Bodyweight training can be performed frequently as short, intense workouts. In fact, it’s a type of training and exercise you can continue throughout life … and it stays interesting and fun.

Also, it’s transportable. By that, I mean you can perform these workout programs anywhere.  Because of this, it’s easier to stick with this kind of program for the long term.  And if you travel for work like I do, this has proven to be the only program that is practical – see Business Traveler Fitness Guide.

Testosterone Training Program

Since growth hormone and testosterone are optimized by brief, intense fitness programs, a bodyweight workout routine can provide this. Optimized hormone production should be your training goal, not just weight loss or muscle building. You’ll realize these goals by boosting your hormone levels.  Also,  you can optimize your hormone production naturally with the Renegade style of eating.

A testosterone training program means working out regularly and keeping your workouts under 1 hour, preferably 45 minutes or less. Growth hormone release and testosterone production slow down and taper off at around 1 hour after starting exercise.  Then cortisol production starts – see How To Reduce Cortisol.

Full Body Workout Routines for best for muscle growth

Top bodybuilders are genetically different than the majority of men and many competitors have used steroids to attain freakish results. It’s true, they can gain muscle size on virtually any workout program they use.  Even so, they are at or near their genetic limit for muscular growth.  Because of this, they need to train with high volume and extreme intensity to add even the smallest amount of additional growth.

In order to get this level of intensity and volume, bodybuilders split workouts and exercise individual body parts on specific days. Full body workouts and a bodyweight workout routine just won’t work.

However, for the other 99% of guys with average genetics and far from their genetic limits, full body training is definitely the way to perform resistance exercise.

Full body routines target all major muscle groups each workout and are best performed in a circuit fashion (rotate through each exercise and then repeat the rotation). The amount of work performed by each muscle group per workout is less compared to a bodybuilding workout.  However, if you include adequate recovery in your workout,  you can perform the full body workout 3 or 4 times per week.

Best Bodyweight Workout Routine

My full body exercise routine is a bodyweight workout plan.  It’s actually the result of necessity and the desire to simplify my fitness.  I include bodyweight resistance training and cardio fitness training.  When I travel, I will sometimes do a few exercises with weights in hotel gyms, but it’s by choice.  I do it to add variety to my workout.

I discovered that by working out with mostly gymnastic rings and bodyweight exercises, I’ve gotten much stronger and have added substantial muscle . . . and this comes after 36 years of working out!

After major rotator cuff surgery 9 years ago, my doctor said I would never again be able to lift weights.  Now I use a bodyweight workout routine with my body weight as resistance.  I enjoy the challenge and without any weight lifting my arms are the biggest they’ve ever been (consider how an Olympic gymnast’s biceps look).

I even travel with rings and straps that easily fit into my suitcase and provide me with a gym in my hotel room.

HFT2 Bodyweight Workout Plan

The basis of my workout is a bodyweight workout routine called HFT2 by Chad Waterbury.  HFT2 stands for High Frequency Training, 2nd Version.  I started with the original HFT plan over 4 years ago.  The program offers 2 distinct plans and a variety of exercises to choose from.

The premise is interesting with Waterbury’s research on muscle development of gymnasts performing muscle building feats with their bodyweight. He also draws on other athletes and points out the difference in muscle development between short distance sprinters and marathon runners.


Workouts are brief, only around 30 minutes for me and I perform 3-4 workouts a week with each one being different than the others during the week.   The exercises are compound movements, meaning they recruit a group of muscles at a time rather than isolating smaller muscles.  Limit your isolation lifts for better growth.  Also, the exercises change from week to week, providing extra work and a stimulus for growth.

The exercises are performed in a circuit. You do one set of each different exercise along with specified rest and then repeat the cycle until you have completed 5 rounds.

I like the fact that my arms and chest look powerful and very muscular without ever lifting weights.

Cardio Training Plus Bodyweight Workout Routine

I’ve determined over many years of exercising that I can only attain the body I want by combining the resistance training (bodyweight workout routine) with cardiovascular training (elevated heart rate from bicycling, running, swimming, walking, climbing stairs, etc.). I want the benefits of a strong heart and some calorie burning.  But I want to avoid the negative health risks and premature aging associated with too much cardio training.

So I keep the cardio in line with the bodyweight resistance training and perform “high intensity interval training” or “burst training” as Dr. Pompa refers to it.  Interval training consists of several short bursts of intense cardio exercise followed by intervals of rest.  An entire cardio session may last me 15 minutes, which includes 5 minutes of warm up, 8 minutes of exercise/rest intervals, and maybe another 2 minutes of low intensity, continuous movement, cool down.

The two easiest forms of intervals for me are sprints on a stationary bicycle and sprints on a treadmill. You can also jump rope or even just jump in place.  Since bicycle riding is a favorite activity of mine (and since I live in Tucson, Arizona with sunshine and clear roads all year long), I try to ride once a week outdoors for about 1 hour.

I do these intervals every other day, in the morning.  My version, which follows Dr. Pompa, consists of 30-60 seconds of intense activity (maybe at 80% of my maximum heart rate) followed by 2-3 minutes of rest or easy activity.

In these 2-3 minutes, my heart rate and breathing return to normal.  I repeat this cycle 3-4 times.  Then I cool down.  Theoretically, this activity burns stored sugar but for the next 36 hours, my body burns fat.  I do this every other day to maximize the fat burning.

Tabata Protocol

Another version of high intensity intervals can be called “20-10 intervals” and should not be confused with a true Tabata Protocol.  The 20-10 refers to a series of 20 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest.  When I perform this type of interval training, I repeat for 8-10 cycles.

Tabata Protocol is an extremely intense training regimen created for the Japanese speed skating team in the 1990s.  Versions that you see today in gyms are nothing close to real Tabata – see Tabata Training

Bodyweight Workout Routine and Bodybuilding Exercises by Chad Waterbury

Here are two bodyweight workout plans, perfect for optimizing your hormones.

Bodyweight Workout Routine #1: Full Body, 3 Lifts Per Day, 3 Days Per Week

A typical full body workout with one upper body pushing lift, one upper body pulling lift, and one lower body compound lift.  The 3 exercises are performed in a circuit. In other words, do one set of each different exercise along with specified rest and then repeat the cycle.

The exercises change each workout, even though you are hitting the same muscle group. You get a full day of rest between workouts and take 2days off after the third workout. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is just as an example.

Monday – 8 set of 3 reps each, rest 30 to 45 seconds between each set

Wide Grip Pull-Up

Judo Push-Up

Single Leg Squat

Wednesday – 5 sets of 5 reps each, rest 30 to 45 seconds between each set

Inverted Row


Reverse lunge

Friday – 4 sets of 10 reps each, rest 30 to 45 seconds between each set

Narrow Grip Pull-Up


Hip Thrusts

This workout routine changes loads in each workout and allows you to recover and grow.  Get plenty of sleep and make sure your nutrition is right – see Hormone Boosting Diet.

Bodyweight Workout Routine  #2: Full Body – 25 Total Reps, 3 Days Per Week

Waterbury has found that a volume of 25 total reps for each lift in a routine, with a load that you can only perform 6 times the first set, gets results. Perform the bodyweight workout routine as a circuit to get maximum rest between each lift of the same exercise.

Do as many reps as possible (AMAP) in each set without having a fixed target number of reps in each set. Your target is 25 total repetitions over all the sets. Workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and change exercises each day.


1.Upper body pull (chins, rows, pull-ups) for as many reps as possible (AMAP)

Rest 30 seconds

2.Upper body push (dips, push-ups, headstand push-ups) for AMAP

Rest 30 seconds

  1. Lower body (single-leg squat, lunge, hip thrust) for AMAP

Rest 30 seconds

4.Isolation exercise – abs, calves (side planks, calf raise, single-leg hops) for AMAP

Rest 30 seconds then repeat 1-4 in circuit fashion for enough sets to reach 25 total reps in each exercise


Check out Chad Waterbury’s archives for other great info and bodyweight workout routines.