Mark Lauren’s style of functional bodyweight training has amassed 1.7 million book sales and continues with his latest offering: “Strong and Lean.” In this new series of workouts, Lauren offers up a fresh set from his 9 minutes bodyweight workout that can be undertaken with barely any equipment. M&F talked to the military man recently, to find out why bodyweight training is so useful, and he gave us his Gonzo workout to get things started.

The video proved so popular that we leaned on the fitness guru for another session, and he obliged us with this super “Hero” routine.

Former bodybuilding competitor, Mark Lauren has become one of the most respected trainers in the area of bodyweight training having served in the Air Force and later with the Special Operations community. During his service, Lauren adapted many of the physically demanding workouts that he had undertaken in his early days, and adapted them so that they could be utilized by individuals at any stage of their fitness journey. He would go on to coach SEALs, Rangers, Green Berets, Force Recon, and Air Force Commando’s before bringing his highly effective style of training to the masses. Think your too tough for a workout that doesn’t involve weighted plates? Think again!

Lauren’s teachings can be followed by regular gym goers and newbies alike, offering all athletes the chance to build on their coordination skills and become less injury prone by strengthening their joints and furthering their flexibility. “People are definitely surprised by the challenge, but I think they’re even more surprised by the reward,” says Lauren. “They don’t just get strong and lean with a tiny sacrifice of time, they also learn to move properly, pain free. Sure, I’m proud of my programs, but I’m mostly just grateful that I’m able to create real value in people’s lives. I’m happy to be useful!”

Bodyweight training works even for those with limited free time

There’s no excuse not to find time for the “Strong and Lean” program because it can be completed in just 9 minutes. “Life is a progression,” says the coach. “Young people have the energy needed to solve problems wastefully but as we age, you must learn to solve problems with greater efficiency. Simply put, Strong and Lean gets you more for less.”

As discussed in the explanation of the Gonzo workout, the principles of “Posture”, “Tight Core”, and “Slow and Controlled” are essential reoccurring themes for effective bodyweight training:

  • Posture: In gaining proper alignment of your spine, bodyweight training improves performance and individual stress tolerance.
  • Tight core: Brace your midsection for further protection of spine alignment, allowing you to find better, more effective positions; promoting core stability.
  • Slow and Controlled: Perform movements of gradual increased difficulty movements in order to focus and move with awareness. “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast,” says Lauren.

Mark Lauren’s 9 Minutes Bodyweight Workout

As a former military man, Lauren named workouts such as GONZO, BEAKER, and of course, HERO, as a nod to the call-signs that he used as an Airforce Combat Controller. “HERO develops full-body strength and stamina,” he says. “HERO is strength training with pushing, pulling, and hip hinging. There are three exercises, repeated for three rounds, to make nine minutes.” Try his 9 minutes bodyweight workout for yourself by following the video. We break down the exercises, below.

HERO x 3 Rounds

Rest for 15 seconds between each exercise.

  • Equipment required: Pull up bar.

Drop Thrust: 50 seconds
Drop down into the bottom of a push up position, and then pop back up. This is a full body exercise that involves an explosive pushing movement to develop your chest, shoulders, triceps, core, and pretty much everything else.

  • Modification: To make this exercise easier, only drop to the starting position of a push up.

Negative Pull Up: 50 seconds
Get your chin over the pull up bar and then slowly lower yourself over a 5 second count. Geta good stretch at the bottom and then repeat. You can use something to push off, or use an assisted machine to return yourself with chin above bar. This pulling exercise develops your lats, upper back, biceps, and forearms, while challenging you to maintain a long straight body position with slow negatives.

  • Modification: You could also add resistance bands to make lowering easier.
  • Substitution: If you have no equipment to perform a pull up, or do not feel ready, substitute this exercise for “Fast Swimmers” where you lie on your front and raise your arms and the diagonally opposite leg, and switch quickly in repetition.

Cossack Squat: 50 seconds
Take a large step to the left as if performing a side lunge, and sink your hips down, you’re your chest up. Turn the toes of the extended leg up to the sky. Switch back and forth while staying as low as you can. Your legs, hips, core, and spinal erectors are strengthened and mobilized by challenging you to move laterally in and out of a deep squatting position.

  • Modification: To make this exercise more difficult: Try holding a weight such as a kettle bell or dumbbell. while performing this move.
  • Substitution: If you feel unable to complete a Cossack squat, perform a side-to-side lunge with your arms in the “T” position.

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