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30 Days Without Weights for Ultimate Strength, Conditioning, and Fat Loss

By Matt Potak

Weight training over long periods of time can burn out athletes from all different sports. Whether he or she is a world class MMA fighter or your average Joe who wants to stay in shape, athletes can get bored with not only their current regimen but with lifting weights period. Most will just take some time off from the gym and come back ready to hit it hard again. However, others will take longer periods of time off and become lazy. They lose a good portion of their strength and size and lose sight of their overall goals.

The best thing that athletes can do when this type of situation happens is to change up the entire training regimen to make it more exciting. Just to let everyone know, I love weight training, but sometimes I get tired and banged up. Instead of taking a few weeks off and doing nothing, I have other options.

Back to the basics

When I started to grow tired and bored of weight lifting, I thought back to when I wrestled in high school. I remembered that my coaches were big believers in body weight training. I had old school coaches who would make us do countless push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and squat thrusts. I should note that I wrestled in 2002, not the 1980s. We had many different types of weight training equipment at my school, but our coaches insisted that all we needed was “running shoes and a pull-up bar.” I remember getting great results training with these types of body weight routines. My conditioning and strength levels went through the roof. My body fat percentage also went down. So I thought, “if it worked for me, it can work for anyone.”

You always see “in shape” military personnel who have never lifted weights in their life. Most of them are in great shape and live off of pull-ups, push-ups, and running. In the old days, boxers never touched weights, and look at the shape that they were in.


While coaching wrestling this past season, we had many strong wrestlers on the team. Many of them lifted all year long, and as the season approached, they got bigger and stronger through the off-season. As the season started, most of them were burned out on lifting weights. We had a two-day a week in-season program, but the wrestlers just didn’t seem to progress on it. Most of the guys were just going through the motions, and I felt that going in the weight room was becoming a waste of time. I preferred to just do more technique drilling. That’s when I decided to bring back the old days of body weight training. I wanted to see what kind of shape these kids could get into.

The program

I came up with this program to change things up for my athletes. I immediately had them and myself performing the workouts. The results speak for themselves. As a team, we increased our strength and endurance levels by performing this program for one month.

Here is the program:

Day 1: Body weight strength day

(Do 2–3 sessions per week.)

Station #1 (perform in a circuit mode)

  • Push-ups, 20 reps
  • Crunches 40 reps
  • Wide grip push-ups, 20 reps
  • Crunches, 40 reps
  • Knuckle push-ups, 20 reps
  • Crunches, 40 reps
  • Diamond push-ups, 20 reps
  • Crunches, 40 reps

Note: Eventually, you should add more reps after a few sessions. For example, do 25 push-ups, 45 crunches, and then a few sessions later, do 30 push-ups and 45 crunches. You can also change the exercises. Just keep it upper body specific.

Station # 2 (circuit mode)

  • Split squat jumps, 30 seconds timed
  • Mountain climbers, 30 seconds timed

Repeat three more times for a total of four sets.

Note: Eventually, after a few sessions, you should add more seconds per set. For example, go for 35 seconds instead of 30 seconds. You can also change the exercises. Just keep it lower body specific.

Station # 3 (circuit mode)

  • Pull-ups, 20 seconds timed (if you can’t keep pulling, just hold the bar but always strive for another rep)
  • Leg lifts, 20 seconds timed (holding the bar, lift legs up)

Repeat three more times for a total of four sets.

Note: After a few sessions, add more seconds per set.

Station # 4 (circuit mode as fast as possible)

  • 25 push-ups
  • 50 body weight squats
  • 5–10 pull-ups
  • 25 sit-ups

Start with 1–2 sets. As your fitness level goes up, do more sets. Try to work your way up to 6–8 sets.

Day 2: Body weight endurance day

(Do two sessions a week.)

  • Run at a fair pace. After every 100–300 meters (you decide), drop and perform 10 burpees. Keep doing this until you get 100 burpees. If your fitness level isn’t at that point yet, do five burpees and keep doing this until you get to 50 burpees.


This is a program designed for athletes and non-athletes. Remember, you can change the exercises and make it more suitable for you. Make sure that you add more reps, sets, and time as you progress. After completing this routine, you will see that body weight training can help you with all of your goals. If you’re bored with your current program, give body weight training a chance to see if it’s for you.

Matt Potak is a wrestling and football coach at the high school level. He is also a personal fitness trainer in the St Augustine, Florida area. For more info on Matt, email him at:


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