Brutal Body Weight Super-Sets – Home Workout

by Marianne  - February 15, 2011


Today I am still recovering from my big lifts the other day, so any pulling exercises are out for me :/ This is a great opportunity to do a killer body weight workout though, so I have spent a little time thinking how we can up our game today.

Normally I use interval training for a period of effort followed by a period of recovery, but today I am going to challenge us to one 2 minute and 40 second long period of activity before allowing recovery. By changing the design like this, we should be able to switch the focus to more endurance-based training.

Now, I have done a similar thing before, when I changed the interval to 1 minute, but today is different again. So that we are still changing pace and changing exercises (to prevent boredom), I have placed couplets of exercises together, and the goal is to alternate these 2 exercises continuously for the time period, switching every 20 seconds, without a rest.

For beginners and intermediates, you will have rest periods factored in, so don’t worry. Those who are now at a more advanced fitness level can attempt the continuous design and hate me forever LOL!

The other evil thing I have done is deliberately choose 2 exercises that will create a significant “burn effect” as the rounds go on, and I am sure there will be a few shoulders on fire by the end of it.

To break the workout up, I have placed a “bridging” exercise between each of the couplets, just to allow some well deserved recovery.

In addition to your Gymboss Interval Timer, you will need a mat, a stability ball and/ a rolled up towel, a bench or chair.

The first video below shows the workout as I did it. As usual I have provided alternative workout breakdowns and demonstrations for beginners and intermediates to follow on the second video. I appreciate any feedback on this new method, as I was unsure whether the previous demonstrations were enough. Can you let me know which method you prefer??

Advanced Workout Breakdown:

Set your timer for 4 cycles of 20/20. Each couplet will be performed 4 times, in a row! The “bridge” exercise between each couplet has set reps, so you won’t need to reset your timer.

Couplet 1 – Start timer and complete 4 continuous rounds.

  1. Mountain Climbers
  2. Dynamic Push Ups
  • Stability Ball Single Leg Curls x 12 – 15 reps (each leg)

Couplet 2 – Start timer and complete 4 continuous rounds.

  1. Side to Side Step Ups
  2. Bench Jump Overs
  • Stability Ball / Disc Crunches x 15 reps

Couplet 3 – Start timer and complete 4 continuous rounds.

  1. Plank Climbers
  2. Diagonal Knee Tucks
  • Single Glute Raises x 15 reps (each leg)

Couplet 4 – Sorry for this one :/ – Start timer and complete 4 continuous rounds.

  1. Burpees
  2. Light Sumo Squat Jumps


Given the continuous nature of each super-set there was no time to record my reps, but I cannot lie and pretend that my numbers were great, as I stopped and started quite a bit, especially in couplets 1 and 3, as my shoulders were on fire LOL. The whole thing took me about 30 minutes, I think, but I was doing camera duty too (that’s my excuse anyway).

Intermediate Workout Breakdown:

Set your timer for 8 cycles of 10 seconds rest and 20 seconds effort. You will still be completing 4 continuous rounds of each couplet, only you will have SOME recovery time. Because of the added rest, each couplet will last 4 minutes, and will be like Tabata Interval set up.Β  Again there are set reps for the “bridge” exercises.

Couplet 1

  1. Mountain Climbers
  2. 2 Stage – Dynamic Push Up
  • Stability Ball Double Leg Curls x 15 reps

Couplet 2

  1. Side to Side / Forward Facing Step Ups
  2. Bench / Floor Jump Overs
  • Stability Ball / Disc / Towel Crunches x 15 reps

Couplet 3

  1. Plank Climbers
  2. Diagonal Knee Tucks
  • Double Glute Raises x 15 reps

Couplet 4

  1. Burpees (Stage 2)
  2. Light Sumo Squat Jumps / Dynamic Squats


Beginner Workout Breakdown:

Set your timer for 8 cycles of 20 seconds rest and 20 seconds effort. Complete 4 rounds of each couplet before moving on.Β  Each “bridging” exercise has set reps.

Couplet 1

  1. Mountain Climbers
  2. Wide Squat Thrusts
  • Supine Bridge Raises, with feet on Stability Ball / Bench x 12 reps

Couplet 2

  1. Forward Step Ups on Chair or Bench
  2. Floor Jump Overs
  • Stability Ball / Towel Crunches x 12 reps

Couplet 3

  1. Plank Climbers
  2. Diagonal Knee Tucks
  • Double Glute Raises x 12 reps

Couplet 4

  1. Burpees (Stage 1)
  2. Body Weight Squats


Well, that’s it for today, hope you enjoy the workout and will let me know how you get on with it – Just because I’m nosey πŸ˜‰




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  1. Hello Marianne!

    It was my first workout with you and surely not last. I really enjoyed it and I like your proper form and style of presentation. Keep up the great work!

    Thank you,

  2. Hi Marianne,

    I just wanted your brutal bodyweight superset workout and seeing how hard it is for you, I don’t think I could do it. Very impressive!
    I was wondering if you could point me to some body-weight home workout routines (for beginning/intermediate) I’ve been away from the gym for quite some time, but getting married in 6 months so highly motivated to get some workout happening. I just found your site and very much hoping I can get some variety to keep me interested and motivated (I’ve always been able to afford a personal trainer in the past)

    Thanks so much, Marianne.

  3. Did this one today. This was almost a year ago and I can definitely see a big difference in your muscle since ( especially the glutes πŸ™‚ ).
    I started posting the workouts I do on a blog, I hope that’s alright with you, I use the link from here, so that anybody that would see it there would be directed here. I just want to keep track of which ones I do, I started 3 or 4 books by now and somehow I manage to lose them around the house. It’s about time I keep everything in one place.
    Great workout ! I really like how you mix the interval with sets and you call it a ” break” :)).

  4. Pingback: Boxing Day Brutal Body Weight Super Sets « KB Warrior
  5. Ohh Marianne I don’t know what I’ll do without your work-outs. Being the holidays, the gyms are closed too and I went into a state of panic because I didn’t want to be ‘idle’ for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

    Bless you! And I’m slowly going through your work-outs. I have fallen in love with KBs after training with my PT and seeing your YouTube vids.

    I’m hoping to do a complete pull-up just like you πŸ™‚

    You can see my progress in my blog

    Thanks again!

  6. Hi! Thanks for a GREAT workout!

    I did this today instead of going to the gym and since IΒ΄m a newbie I did the toughestWO but with 3 rounds instead of 4 and now IΒ΄m dripping of sweat haha! ;)This will be my “punishment” the days I donΒ΄t feel like lifting weights.
    Keep up the good work, IΒ΄m a big fan of this!

    // Johanna

  7. Hi Marianne!
    First of all I apoligize, but I have to ask this stupid equipment question?
    Is that a wolverson stability ball?
    I purchased one from them, I inflated it and had to use this little plastic thing(that sticks out) to keep it from deflating in front of me?is that normal?
    Maybe it’s just me being a little paranoid!
    Again sorry for the stupid question!
    Hope you had a great birthday

    1. Sara, I think that plastic plug should be pushed in more. My Ball is not from Wolverson. But are you talking about the plastic “spike” supplied? It shouldn’t stick out too much that it gets in your way.

      It’s not a stupid question at all πŸ™‚

  8. cranked this out in the garden this morning. Nearly died when I saw your comment, now do it all again! Thanks for the shock.


  9. KILL-ING ME!!!!! I LOVED this! The couplets were brutal especially those plank climbers (thought I was doing well since I can now do a bunch of regular push ups, but those were really, really hard!)! I am convinced – I’ll be visiting almost daily and getting my routines here!!! Hopefully can get my hands on a kettleball at some point! Have recently been doing my workouts at the gym so I can use their heavier wts and a pull up bar (prefer at-home workouts, but trying to get my 13 year old daughter to exercise a little and she WILL walk on treadmill for 30=40 mins so we joined one of those $10 a month gyms) – so thankfully I chose to stay home and do this workout – I sounded like I was dying and would have been very embarrassed!!! Thanks for your work and all your well researched information!

    1. No problem Michele, glad you liked it. That’s great your daughter is getting involved in the gym, it will set her up for a good outlook on life and exercise πŸ˜€

  10. Hi! I am very excited to have found your site. I have been following another site for the last year and have definitely changed my body, but was concerned about the dress of the instructor and the unspoken messages being sent (I have an 11 year old boy and a husband that I feel embarassed and want to protect them when I have this instructor on my computer) – I appreciate a degree of modesty which isn’t a high point with this instructor. I was afraid to not workout with the site, for fear I would never find as effective a site for free online workouts – ie. intense, short, interval/tabata bodyweight exercises…until now! I haven’t done any of your workouts yet, but plan to begin “checking you out”! Not that you aren’t beautiful, but from what I have seen so far, I would not be embarrassed to have you on my computer, or recommend you to others! Guess we will give it a whirl and hopefully you’ll have a new “client”! BTW I do not have a kettleball as of yet – will try to do with my dumbells until I get one! Thanks!

    1. Hi Michelle, I know what you mean, it starts to get a bit much after a while. Hopefully I won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth πŸ˜€

      I hope you can adapt the workouts ok with Dumbbells, it should be grand. Let me know how you find my workouts πŸ™‚

      Thanks for dropping by. Talk to you soon.


  11. Hi Marianne,

    Last weekend I attempted to do this workout. I chose β€œattempted” on purpose, because the first round only wiped me out… I tried to go for the second and managed the first couplet, but that was all I could do (even though I liked the workout πŸ™‚ ).

    I guess didn’t have enough β€œmomentum” for this workout in the morning. Plus I find that for me it is harder to perform endurance training when fasted.

    But I liked it and will be coming back to it in a while: I want to get both rounds of this workout done πŸ™‚

    PS: My PC is still in the repair, hopefully will get it back by the end of this week.

    My Best,

  12. HI Marianne

    Just a quick question, where on the interent would i get a timer from as i have been looking on ebay but not quite sure what to buy?

    Thank you


  13. Well, I don’t think I had much fun on that… it was HARD WORK!

    The first round was tough, as I don’t think my head with into it appropriately (maybe I was still thinking it would be easy, yeah, right…) and the single leg ball roll-out was hard! I also had mind lapses, almost forgetting what exercises I was supposed to do! I momentarily thought about quitting at the end of one cycle, but then I thought I couldn’t b/c I would destroy my reputation (such as it is)… so I slogged on. The second round almost seemed easier (maybe b/c I knew what I was in for) and I smoothly transitioned through all of it. I was at 15:50 on round 1, and 30:11 at the end of the second round. Tough, tough, tough.

    It was good, but it just felt like a lot of work. It was a good choice to get my blood pumping as I have a trade show to work this weekend and I have a feeling I won’t get any more workouts in until monday.

    ~ Gillian

    1. Thanks, feel like I was showing off a bit, but no-one would believe me otherwise LOL πŸ˜‰ Think we should all have pride in what we can do that we couldn’t do before. Personal Bests are a great way to motivate yourself.


      1. Showing your abilities is much different than showing off. You weren’t bragging, or putting anyone down, just doing your thing, and encouraging the rest of us.

        I did this workout this morning. I had to modify it a bit and I added a few things.
        I went outside since it is warmer.
        ran 5 mins. to the first tier of the Williamsburg bridge (NY) .

        first round was 20/20x 4 second was 10/20×4 counting was not even an option

        1. mountain climbers
        2. dynamic push ups

        Kick ups 15 each leg (high kicks)

        1.santana push ups
        2.crab dance

        100 skips high knees

        1.plank climbers
        2.squats extending arms and going low

        jump lunges 20

        2.sumo squat jump

        5 minute run back home

        I couldn’t do any of the lay on the ground exercises or bring any equipment other than the timer and skipping rope.
        The bridge is really filthy and it’s asphalt.
        This was a really great workout.
        total time with cool down and warm up 42:06

          1. Thank you Marianne.
            I am trying not to be upset at the chic downstairs and use the energy to be creative with my workouts.

  14. Thanks for sharing this, Marianne! πŸ™‚
    I am gonna do this tomorrow. Lately I kill myself with the workouts I do. My problem is that I can’t decide on which day I am gonna take it easy πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks a lot, Marianne!
      I like how brutal your bodyweight workouts are! πŸ™‚
      When I am dead after it, it means a lot for me πŸ™‚

  15. I did this one last night and agree with John and Sarah, I think it was the most brutal of all the workouts on your blog. Pure evil. Before I started I knew it is going to be hard but each part is only 2min 40 long so can do it, no problem. It turned out to be a one monster workout and I certainly didn’t expect that ! Don’t know how i managed to do it twice. The burpee and squat jump combo made my knees bend backward, well almost πŸ™‚
    I haven’t done any crunches in ages and today really feel them in my abs, other than that no soreness and I will be doing your 50/50 workout (those evil jumps :/

  16. Attempted this workout this morning, wow!! After the 1st round I reset my timer for the intermediate set up 8X 10/20. The short rest in between allowed me to continue for the 20s without stopping. Like others I found the first couplet to be the MOST difficult….it was all I could do to get through the dynamic pushups. The second couplet was my only saving grace as the 3rd and 4th were pure evil!! I am at work now and can still feel my shoulders screaming lol. I wanted soooo badly to give up after the first round but knowing that others did it gave me the strength and determination to push through. Thank you Marianne for pushing me out of my comfort zone and really showing me what im made of.
    When I have more time im going to post on the forum but wanted to say that I did my first REAL chinup this week:):) Its an amazing feeling when you set a goal and reach the goal!! Now onto the pull ups!!

    1. Well done! I actually think that chin ups are a better exercise than the pull up. Both have pros but the chin up activates into more of the lats and rear delts than the pull up, and my forearms hate the pull up LOL! I think that people think one is superior to the other, but both are great versions of the same thing – upper body strength! So BIG pat on the back!!

  17. I have been mostly running and doing burpees and squats outside, on the the bridge. and a lot of stretching.
    Unfortunately I have to readjust all your workout so as to not make noise in my flat, so no mountain climbers or burpees etc. anything that involves jumping, I also have to put the KBs down very gently.

    I am actually extremely frustrated, but I will continue to do what I can. It’s life in a big city I guess.
    I will try this workout today with modifications.


    1. Hi Mickela!
      Have you tried woolen socks? It sound funny but I use them whenever a workout includes jumping. I have to be careful not to make noise too. I have my exercise mat and a carpet under me to absorb some noise and the woolen socks absorbs the rest. I try to land quietly as well and I cannot go for my real maximum reps because I have to be careful with the landing. But I can still get some jumping exercise this way.


  18. I tried this today and share John’s pain. My excuse is that on Monday I revisited the 360 challenge from September (I think). During round 2 of the first couplet my shoulders started screaming obscenities at me! I got through to the last couplet, the one with burpees which are THE most evil of all, and bailed out. Not wanting to waste my elevated heart rate, I jumped on the treadmill and did a vigorous hill climb. I think I would try this one again when I am not fatigued from heavier lifting. Thanks as always, Marianne. This one is nasty for sure!

  19. Hi Marianne…
    Well, after feeling completely emasculated watching you TGU that cannonbal, mere days after almost dropping a 35 lb’er on my noggin I saw this workout…all right, maybe a little redemption…or not. I sucked at this. Badly. First round, not so bad..did my mountain climbers off a medicine ball because I can get my knees higher, but otherwise the same…
    Hit the wall mid way throuhgh the first couplet 2nd roound. My failure complete, I sulked for an hour or 2…then tried to convince myself that I was rested and would fare better this time. Not so much.
    This workout is now my white whale. Call me Ismael..I will rock this bad boy daily until I can do it with my two year old sitting on my back pulling my hair..which he does, in fact, find amusing.
    …to be continued…

  20. Hi Marianne,

    great workout. As for the format, I prefer the one that you have been using in the past weeks, where in the same video you show the first part for advanced level, the second part for the intermediate level and the third part for the beginners’ level.
    It’s clearer to actually see you do the workout.

    If you feel that beginners and intermediate levels need more explanations, you might add more explanations – little by little – in the tutorial section. Like a video for mountain climbers where you actually do a tutorial for all levels of fitness.

    But for each workout, in my opinion, it’s important to see the flow of the workout. And this can only be achieved with the format you have been using lately.


    1. Thanks, I think I agree. I just feel for the exercises that stay the same, it’s very repetitive, so I was trying this new way. The other way is quicker too as it turned out πŸ™‚

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