I use ladder workouts with my clients to help them build muscular endurance and conditioning because they increase the overall training volume (number of reps) while maintaining proper form and technique. Typically ladder workouts have you take one exercise and perform reps in ascending (1, 2, 3) or descending (10, 9, 8) order. This workout changes that up by having you perform the routine in descending order.
The workout requires no equipment—just your own body weight. Which makes it pretty convenient to do at home, while traveling or on vacation. Total workout time is about 60 minutes if you make it all the way to 1 rep.
Take a few minutes to refresh yourself on how to do each exercise below before you start the workout. And be sure to spend a couple of minutes warming up. Then, complete all exercises listed for 10 reps. Rest for up to 1 minute. Then, repeat the circuit, reducing the number of reps by 1 until you get to the end.
Download a PDF of the workout.
How to Do the Exercises
Stand with your legs hip width apart. Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing each other. Bend your knees, hinge at your hips and push your butt back as if you are about to sit in a chair. Keep your back extended or straight. Make sure your knees are over your feet and don’t point inward. Press into your heels and come back up to standing.
Check out this post on how to do the perfect squat for form technique.
Start in a high plank position (not on your knees). Tuck your pelvis under slightly and engage your core, your legs and your glutes to support your lower back. Lower your chest toward the floor as far as you can while keeping your form. Push up back to high plank.
Alternating Front/Side Lunge
Hold your arms at chest level, feet shoulder-width apart. With your right leg, lunge forward. And come immediately back up and lunge to the side to complete 1 rep. Don’t hold your hands together because that can disengage your core from the movement. Keep your pace slow and steady. Dig your heels into the ground to help keep your balance.
Take the position of a normal sit-up, with legs bent at the knees and hands behind the head. Lift the legs off the ground, but keep them bent at the knees. Now slowly pull the left knee towards the head. Pull the head upward at the right shoulder, targeting the left knee, bringing the knee and elbow together. Then, return the leg to the starting point and switch legs. Repeat this move with the opposite knee and shoulder. Rotate back and forth at a slow speed. The motion will be similar to riding a bike, with left elbow going to the right knee and right elbow going to the left knee.
Kneel down, putting your hands on the ground. Jump both feet backward into a standard plank and then quickly jump both feet forward to stand up. Jump up, raising your hands overhead. Not up for the full burpee? Try the modified version. Kneel down, step one foot, then the other foot back. Then step them forward and stand up.
Sit with your legs extended straight in front of you, hands behind your hips, fingers pointing toward your butt. Squeezing your glutes and activating your core, push your hips up toward the ceiling, continuing to squeeze the glutes. Hold for 1-2 seconds, and lower butt back down to the ground. You may feel some stretching in the shoulders and upper chest, and that’s normal.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Do a regular squat, sitting back as deep as you can. Dig your heels into the ground for balance. Then, jump up explosively, landing softly on your feet to protect your knees, and lowering your body back into a squat position to complete one rep. Add intensity by increasing the height of your jump or the speed of your jumps.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms extended at sides. Bend forward from hips and place hands on floor in front of your feet. Walk hands forward until you’re in a plank position. Walk your hands back to your feet (it’s okay to bend your knees here), and stand back up.
Lie on your back, knees bent. Using your core, bring your knees up toward your chest, and thrust your feet toward the ceiling, raising your hips off the ground by a couple of inches. Come back to starting position and repeat.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Keep the abdominals engaged and lift your hips up off the floor with your other foot. Press your heel into the floor for added stability. Avoid pushing your hips too high, which can cause hyperextension (arching) in your low back. Keeping your abdominals strong helps to prevent excessive arching in the low back. Hold for 3 seconds, and then slowly lower yourself back to your starting position.
Take a couple of minutes and stretch your muscles to cool down after this workout.