Tony Horton’s “No Excuses” Bodyweight Workout

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The idea of going shirtless on any occasion can send guys rushing to the gym to squeeze in as many last-minute workouts as possible. But that plan isn’t always the most efficient route to take. To get you in the best shape of your life, we picked the brain of Tony Horton, the mastermind behind P90X.

“The point that I like to stress with this workout is that you can do this anywhere,” says Horton. He adds you don’t need to go to the gym, use equipment, or get help from a trainer. “You need an imagination. If you don’t have an imagination — if you’re not a human, if you’re not near earth, and there is no gravity where you are — you cannot do that routine. But if any of those things are in play, you have no excuses.”

Horton prefers doing three to six rounds of the following exercises, never repeating the same move twice. Here, he walks us through his “Simple 4,” a.k.a. the “No Excuses Workout,” to help you get the body you want year-round.

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Tony Horton’s Simple 4

Three rounds is 12 exercises. It can happen in less than 20 minutes pretty easily. You go through all four, you take a short 30 second to 1-minute break, do the next four, and then you get that break, and then the next four. And then you do six rounds —  that thing will last you 50 minutes if you want to do it.

Move #1: Push-ups
Take a push-up that you can do. Do as many as you can with good form — wide, narrow, feet apart, feet together, with one arm, plyometric, spinning, I don’t care what it is. Just do something where you are on the deck and off your knees. Say you’ve got 100 pounds to lose and you’ve been doing push-ups on your knees forever: Get off your knees and get in a plank and hold the plank. Do little 1-inch push-ups or half-inch push-ups — just something where you are forced to engage your stomach and core. You can’t do that on your knees. You eliminate a critical part of the exercise. So anybody and everybody, regardless of their level, get down on the deck and do as many as you can until they get ugly.

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Move #2: Cardio
Your next move is something cardio in-place. You can do jumping jacks, you can run in place, you can march in place, you can throw punches and kicks. Whatever you want to do. Free-form it, change it up, I don’t care. Everybody knows what a jumping jack and running-in-place looks like. Everybody knows what simulated jump-roping looks like. And then you can throw punches or kicks and knees — if you’re a mixed martial arts background for instance. Do that for 60 seconds. If you have the option to create on the spot, as long as you’re working hard, that’s money. And that really opens it up to a lot of people as opposed to me telling you, “OK. You can do a military push-up. Go all the way down.” And a lot of people can’t do it, so you give them an option to do whatever they want to do.

Move #3: Legs
You’ve done your upper, cardio, and now you have to do your legs. You can do walking lunges, forward lunges, step-back lunges, skipping lunges, plyometric lunges, squats. You can do isometric chair against the wall. You can do a leg raise, wall squats, you can do side lunges. I don’t care, but whatever you do, the idea here with the leg exercise, which is different than the cardio exercise, is this is more muscle improvement. So with cardio, you’re not jumping up and you’re not going down. You’re up on your feet and you’re moving — it’s more heart and lung. Now you are going to get deeper into it with some leg movements. And you want your lunges to be deep, your squats to be deep, and you want to be somewhere between 20 and 40 repetitions depending on the individual.

Move #4: Abs/core
Your last move is your abs or core move. And you can do crunches, scissors, and isometric forearm planks, whatever. You can do a boat pose. You can do anything where you are either on your back, on your butt, or on your front side or belly. Typically, if you’re going to do an isometric on your forearm or plank-type movement, try to hang in there for 45 to 60 seconds. If you’re going to do something on your back or your butt where you’re doing crunches or you are doing sit-ups or crunches or scissors or flutter-kicks, you want to get somewhere between the 20- and 40-rep range. Everybody is different. Some people are going to burn out right at 20. Some are going to go all the way to 40.

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How Horton Does It:
Whenever I do this Simple 4, I never repeat the same exercise twice. The first time, I’ll do military, second time I’ll do wide push-ups, third time I’ll do side-to-side plyometrics. I usually like the third round the hardest. And the same thing: The first round, I’ll do standard jumping jacks, mellow. Then the second time around, I’ll sprint in place and get my heart rate up. And the third round, I’ll do jab-cross-downstrike sprawls, so I’ll get pretty heavy into the martial arts on the third round of cardio.

And on the leg stuff, I’ll start out with basic deep squats. And maybe the second round, I’ll go to plyometric lunges. On the third round, I’ll do full single-leg deep jump squats, and that’s really only on one leg, so it’s, like, 10 or 15 on one leg, 10 or 15 on the other leg. So I’m always turning up the volume with every one. And then once you do that for about three or four weeks, then you go to four rounds, then you go to five rounds, then go to six rounds. You do six rounds of that, and you’ll get the best workout of your life.

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