The Strong and Lean Bodyweight Workout


Mark Lauren’s professional career and personal development has amounted to a life-changing series of teachings that has garnered more than 1.7 million book sales and continues with the release of the highly anticipated “Strong and Lean;” offering up valuable training sessions that can be undertaken in just nine minutes with no equipment necessary.

M&F talked to the military veteran to find out why bodyweight training is so useful. He also shared one of his premium workouts so that you can try it out for yourself.

Lauren is respected internationally as a bodyweight training expert. While serving in the Air Force and later with the Special Operations community, he adapted many of the brutal workouts that he had been subjected to while serving his country, in order to make them accessible for individuals at any stage of their fitness journey. Lauren furthered his career as a physical trainer and thanks to his efficient, results driven approach, he found himself in charge of about a thousand SEALs, Rangers, Green Berets, Force Recon, and Air Force Commandos. For this trainer, a program based purely on bodyweight was shown to be as good as any gym (and having competed as a bodybuilder, he would know).

There are no excuses not to train with your bodyweight in Mark Lauren’s book The “Strong and Lean” program takes away any excuses not to train because you only need 9 minutes and a desire to build muscle and burn fat. “The benefits include increased mobility, coordination, and strength,” says Lauren. “Injury resistance and fundamental athletic ability are developed. Your joint alignment is also improved by training your posture, joint functions, helping you to control weight shifting.” Indeed, aside from getting in shape, bodyweight training really is great for mobility, especially as we age. “You need mobility to get into the right positions, and you need strength of stability to stay there,” says Lauren. “That skillset is either getting better or it’s getting worse.”

So, no matter your fitness level, bodyweight training is a great way to improve your physical prowess at any age, but why? For Lauren, the principles of “Posture”, “Tight Core,” and “Slow and Controlled” are reoccurring themes that form the basis of the most effective bodyweight sessions, as he explains:

  • Posture: “Posture refers mainly to the alignment of your spine. ‘Strong and Lean’ improves performance and stress tolerance by getting you into a ‘neutral’ joint alignment, so you can absorb force safely and efficiently. In other words, I make you strong while also making you long and straight!”
  • Tight core: “Bracing your midsection protects the alignment of your spine, getting you into better, more effective positions, and then challenging your ability to stay there, which requires core stability.”
  • Slow and Controlled: “Real athletic ability comes from being able to position properly. Your task is to perform increasingly difficult movements with better and better joint alignment. You have to focus and move with awareness. Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”

Mark Lauren’s ‘Strong and Lean’ 9 Minutes Bodyweight Workout

“I have hundreds of unique workouts at Mark Lauren on Demand,” says the fitness guru. “For the nine-minute workouts, I like to use the military call signs that I used as an Air Force Combat Controller. I use light-hearted names like ‘Gonzo,’ ‘Beaker,’ and ‘Pickle’ for the easier workouts designed to build the user’s athletic foundation. Give GONZO a try. It’s a floor space only workout that uses one exercise from each of the following movement categories: Floor Exercises, Mobility Exercises, and Standing Exercises.”

  • Gonzo (3 rounds): Perform each move for 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds between each exercise.
  • Bent-leg Bridge: 2 reps on each leg, then switch. Exhale as you raise your hips. Keep your hips up, as you switch sides. This Floor Exercise improves posture by strengthening your core, while improving shoulder mobility and control of hip rotation.
  • Starfish Drop:  From the starting position of a pushup, roll your heels left then stretch your right arm to the sky, then return to a pushup position by rotating your hips. Perform a pushup and switch sides. This Mobility Exercise strengthens the entire upper body and core, while improving rotation around the spine as well as lateral flexion and extension of the spine.
  • Bottom Squat Kneeling: With your arms out into a “T,” step forward with the left leg and then the right leg. Now, step back with the left leg and then the right leg. Reset while kneeling and reverse the order. This Standing Exercises strengthens the hips, legs, and spinal erectors, while improving mobility and control of weight shifting. Keep your hips low and your chest up.

Modification to make the Bottom Squat exercise easier: Hold your arms out to the front, instead of the “T” position to add more weight to your front.

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