When was the last time you counted to a thousand?

This is the rhetorical question asked by former U.S. Marine Aaron Marks in introducing his latest workout — a full-body circuit consisting of 1,000 total reps. This routine is for anyone who lacks gym equipment but desires better conditioning, fat loss, and overall grit.

You know who the workout is not for? The faint of heart.

Featured trainer: Aaron Marks is a Marine Corps veteran who served four years as a machine gunner with 2nd BN, 8th Marines in Camp Lejeune, NC. Now living in Portland, OR, he’s also a programming adviser and athlete for Hard to Kill Fitness and a full-time member of the Bravo Sierra team.

Equipment needed: “NBB” (nothing but bodyweight)

Time commitment: Block off an hour (give or take) for this workout, depending on your fitness level.

Workout overview: Marks’ circuit is pretty straight-forward — a collection of seven exercises that will work you head to toe, four rounds of 225 reps combined, and 1,000 total reps by the end of the workout.

Break up the reps however you want (or need) to. In each round, you can either do all reps for an exercise before moving onto the next, or go back and forth between exercises. For example, you may want to break up the 40 reps of burpees with some Supermans or lying leg raises mixed in.

“This workout can be as fun as it is difficult. Whether you’re training with a friend or in a group, or aiming to beat your best time, anything goes with a workout like this. Can you add equipment? Absolutely, but do so at your own risk. For example, I performed the air squats with a 60-pound Go Ruck Sandbag, and Round 2 was a lot harder than I expected.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

Aaron Marks’ ‘Hard to Kill’ 1,000-Rep, Total-Body Circuit

Marine Corp Vet Aaron Marks Wearing Military Fatigues In the Jungle
Courtesy of Bravo Sierra

Warmup: Do five to 10 minutes of light cardio, followed by full-body dynamic stretching, before completing the below routine.

“One thing I like to do before a workout is to warm up with a very light jog to get my blood flowing and body warmed up,” says Marks. “I’ll usually run to 1-2 songs, so roughly 4-6 minutes. So, pick two songs to get your mind right, and start jogging. Another great alternative is shadow boxing (for all you fighters out there).

“Warming up properly is extremely important for your workout. In addition to preventing sudden injuries, a good warmup will really help you activate your muscles to get the most out of your workout. A solid 5-10-minute warmup changes everything.”

The workout: Complete 4 rounds of the following exercises

  • Diamond Pushup – 25 reps
  • Air Squat – 40 reps
  • Mountain Climber – 60 reps
  • Superman – 35 reps
  • Burpee – 40 reps
  • Cannonball Situps – 30 reps
  • Lying Leg Raise – 20 reps

Rest periods: “While this workout is not for time (though it can be), only rest as long as you need to between rounds,” says Marks. Most people will also need to take rest during rounds and exercises, especially on moves like burpees and diamond push-ups. Rest as needed to complete all reps.

Disclaimer: As the number 1,000 suggests, this is a high-volume, highly challenging workout. Don’t attempt it as written unless you’re in fairly good shape. If you’re unsure, do 1-2 rounds of the circuit instead of four. You’ll fall well short of 1,000 reps doing this, but it will still provide a sufficient workout.

Exercise Notes

  • Diamond pushup – This is a triceps-focused pushup with your index fingers and thumbs touching to form a diamond shape.
  • Air squats – Perform these quickly if you like, but make sure your thighs are reaching parallel with the ground on every rep.
  • Mountain climber – Feel free to make these “one-count” mountain climbers, where every “right-left” is two reps. Get through these as quickly as possible.
  • Superman – Slow this movement down a bit, making sure you feel the glutes contracting on every rep. Use Supermans as a short break for your lungs – you’ll need it for the next exercise…
  • Burpee – Touch your chest to the ground and jump at the top of every rep. Forty reps per round will be tough; rest as needed and just get them done.
  • Cannonball Situp – This exercise is similar to a V-up (lying faceup, starting with your legs extended and arms overhead), except instead of touching your hands and toes together, raise your legs and torso off the ground so they meet in the middle with your knees bent. The top of each rep should look like a “cannonball” you’d do at a swimming pool.
  • Lying Leg Raise – Lying faceup on the floor with your legs extended and arms on the floor at your sides for stability, raise your legs (keeping them straight throughout) to perpendicular with the floor, then lower back down.
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