Bodyweight exercise is booming. No surprise: it’s free and you don’t have to mop up anyone else’s sweat. But the benefits aren’t just to your pocket.

Strain beneath a barbell and you learn to lift a barbell. However, hoist yourself around a park and you learn to lift your own body. Which isn’t just more useful, but also builds the kind of physique you normally see on a pommel horse.

With this circuit from bodyweight training expert David Jackson – a man whose abs have abs – anywhere there’s a chin-up bar is now your gym. The only hard thing is cancelling your gym membership.

The Workout

Perform the moves as a superset: one set of A, one set of B, then take 60 seconds rest before tackling the next pair.

Aim for eight to 12 reps on each – the stronger you get, the more you’ll be able to do. For maximum muscle growth, try to burn through the entire circuit at least three times.

1A) Press-Up To T-Plank

Why It Works:

“An advancement of the standard press-up, this builds rotational strength and acts as a stretching warm-up move too,” says Jackson.

How To Do It:

Do a press-up. When you reach the top position take one hand off the floor. Keeping your free arm straight and legs and torso rigid (try not to let your hips sag), rotate until you make a T-shape. Rotate back to the top position of the press-up and repeat on the other side.

Pro Tip:

“Fancy a bit of additional torture?” asks Jackson. Of course? “In the T position, raise your top leg to make a ‘star’ shape for some extra abs burn.”

1B) Pistol Squat

Why It Works:

“This probably the biggest strength, mobility and stability builder you can do,” says Jackson. If you can actually do it.

How To Do It:

Extend one leg out straight – or as close to straight as you can – in front of you. Squat down as low as you can, using your arms for balance. Rise back to the start position and swap legs.

Pro Tip:

“Start by standing on a box or chair,” says Jackson. “The extra clearance between you and the floor allows the non-standing leg to drop, letting you work on the hip mobility and hip flexor strength required to keep it extended.”

2A) Pike Press-Up

Why It Works:

“This easier alternative to handstand press-ups develops similar shoulder strength with zero chance of stacking it, and the added bonus of building hamstring flexibility,” says Jackson.

How To Do It:

From a standing position, place your hands on the floor in front of you to make a pike position (bum in the air, like a downward dog with hands and feet closer together). Lower your torso, bending your elbows towards your knees and pushing your shoulder blades together at the bottom of the movement. Press back up to the start position.

Pro Tip:

“Progress this exercise by elevating your legs on a box, step or chair to place more of your weight onto your arms and shoulders,” says Jackson. The closer you get to a full handstand, the bigger the burn. And the kudos.

2B) Walkouts

Why It Works:

“This is like a plank on steroids. It engages your core like nothing else,” says Jackson.

How To Do It:

In the top position of a press-up, tense your core and glutes and slowly walk your hands forward, edging them out as far as possible without letting your hips sag. Reverse the movement to return to the start.

Pro Tip:

“Really concentrate on keeping your glutes tensed,” says Jackson. “It’ll stop your lower back from arching down and taking the strain.”

3A) Pull-Ups

Why It Works:

“The best bodyweight move there is,” says Jackson. “The pull-up works your back, core, and shoulders all at once.”

How To Do It:

Take an overhand, shoulder-width grip on the bar. Squeeze your shoulders down like you’re trying to pinch a pound coin between your shoulder blades. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.

Pro Tip:

“To avoid shoulder injury, pull yourself up by driving your elbows down rather than trying to raise your head up,” says Jackson.

3B) Leg Lowers

Why It Works:

“This exercise that works the upper and lower abs, and is easy to adapt to make tougher,” says Jackson. Remember what they say about no pain?

How To Do It:

Lie down, keeping your lower back in contact with the ground. Slowly raise your legs up until they are vertical, then slowly lower them back to the start.

Pro Tip:

“Work your abs even harder by stopping just before your legs are fully vertical, and not letting them touch the ground after each rep,” says Jackson.