The Ladder Method : Taking a Crack at Bodyweight Exercises

“One of the most moral acts is to create a space in which life can move forward.”
― Robert Pirsig

Fact: When Chuck Norris first saw Dragon Ball Z he thought it was a series of easy workout videos.

Happy New Year! And since it is a “new” year comes in the resolutioners. Almost everyone is so crazy about losing weight, gaining a ton of muscles, look good naked and etc. The coming of a new year is always a good time for business for any gym, even now my Facebook wall is flooded with promises of weight loss, some fad new diet, some new and improved and revolutionary way to do the balancing on exercise ball dumbbell curls. But in my opinion, there is this one thing that everybody else kept on getting wrong; fitness is not a 30-day thing. It is a habit, a lifestyle if I must say. Fitness does not have to suck, it is not about calorie deprivation but about eating right, it is not about “no pain, no gain” but instead “how can I do these for many years to come”. Fitness, in my opinion, must be challenging enough to progress but enjoyable enough to make it a habit; if not then what is the point? Why the hell do you have to put yourself at risk of Rhabdomyolysis if you do not enjoy it?

So last night, I was reading a book regarding physical training; in search of some way to improve my overall fitness. Back then I used to run, I did barbell training, I did a bit of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai; a somehow active lifestyle to a now “I am just sedentary and gained a bit of tummy” lifestyle. I am out of shape and easily out of breath, so I decided to put a bit more effort into my fitness. I was looking for a cost efficient and mobile option for physical training and came across The Ladder Method.

The Ladder Method is an exercise scheme ideal for accumulating volume, the idea was to accumulate volume in a short period of time without overexertion. A bit of a disclaimer before you read further, I am in no way claiming to be an expert of anything; I am just writing about something that I happen to stumble upon in my search on how to live a manly life. I just happen to stumble to what seems to make sense to me, therefore, I write about it; if by any chance you think it is stupid, then do not do it; if by any chance you think this is dangerous for you, then do not do it. By the end of the day, I am just a guy who means you to be happy and well.

The Ladder Method

The idea was to start a set of ladders with 1 rep, then rest, then do 2 reps then rest again; repeat until near the point of form breaking down.

2 Ladders with 3 sets look like this:

  • Ladder 1
    • 1 set of 1 rep
    • 1 set of 2 reps
    • 1 set of 3 reps
  • Ladder 2
    • 1 set of 1 rep
    • 1 set of 2 reps
    • 1 set of 3 reps

As you can see, the last set of the ladder 1 (the one with the most repetition) is followed by a really lighter set (1 rep) from the next ladder, ensuring a greater chance of recovery.

The total number of ladders and sets depends entirely on the trainee’s level of exertion, making sure that the last set never goes into failure. So if you can perform max 10 reps with good form in the chin ups, it is safe to say that your last set should go as high as 7 or 8 reps.

The Workout

I am assuming that you know how to properly execute the exercise; however if not, YouTube has thousands of how- to videos on how to do the exercises properly.

Now, for the actual workout

Exercise A
  • Burpee Ladder
  • Push up / Dip Ladder
Exercise B
  • Burpee Ladder
  • Chin up Ladder

For may exercise selection, I have chosen the basic burpee as my priority since conditioning is my goal. I have added push ups and chin ups to my routine for upper body strength. Feel free to modify the exercise to cater your goals but keep the number of exercise to a minimum depending on your level of fitness.

Due to the low exertion and high window of recovery of the workout, the ladder method can be done for 7 days a week.

Day Week 1 Week 2
Monday Exercise A Exercise B
Tuesday Exercise B Exercise A
Wednesday Exercise A Exercise B
Thursday Exercise B Exercise A
Friday Exercise A Exercise B
Saturday Exercise B Exercise A
Sunday Exercise A Exercise B

As I said, the goal is to accumulate volume, not exertion. There is no need to make yourself sore the next day, you do not need to “feel the burn” in order to make progress. Just be diligent in doing your reps each day, and enjoy the process. My way of progressing is to keep on adding a ladder with a specific set each day until I reach 4 ladders. Then return to 1 ladder with an added set eg:

  • Day 1: 1 ladder of 3
  • Day 2: 2 ladder of 3
  • Day 3 : 3 ladder of 3
  • Day 4: 4 ladder of 3
  • Day 5: 1 ladder of 4

Again, it all depends on your level of fitness; this is just my suggestion of how I do my sets each day.


Now that you have been doing the ladder method for quite some time and became confident enough with your level of fitness and you might want to test yourself with these challenges:

  • 100 push-ups in two minutes
  • 100 burpees in five minutes

Like is said, I am no fitness expert but I really do think that there is no excuse not to prioritize your fitness. I just think that is it simply a must for any man, especially the young ones to be physical. I think even the ladies could benefit from this (there is really nothing wrong in wanting to look great naked), even Pancake is doing this. There is really no magic exercise, no miracle diet in fitness; there are only discipline and hard work. So now that I got that out, my only question right now is, what are you waiting for?

man in black crew neck shirt doing pull ups
Photo by Victor Freitas on


15 thoughts on “The Ladder Method : Taking a Crack at Bodyweight Exercises

Add yours

  1. I have been recently given a program using this method and I should say, for someone who has never followed an active lifestyle before, this is very ideal and practical. It does not demand much physical effort but allows me to push myself to the best I could for each activity. Four days into the program, and I am looking forward to the next number ladders I could complete each day. And this article sheds more light. Thank you, Mr. A!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmm, I may take on this challenge (psst in my head) no in real life…. i need my body to be a little bit something or other… yes, indeed.. so how many berpies is that? I did say I hate berpies, oh, no i didn’t, I said that silently, doh!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. At 50 I train every two days whole body, only compound exercises i.e chin ups, squats etc. I walk on average 2 hours 3 times a week. It’s working well for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good for you Scott!
      Heavy compound exercises are really the way to go. I just opted for bodyweight exercises because i dont have any access to any equipment right now. But knows, maybe soon.
      Cheers mate!

      Liked by 1 person

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