Muscle Beach Nutrition-sponsored athlete Andrew Hawkins, aka "The Muscle-Up King," drew quite the crowd with this workout at the famous Muscle Beach Venice in California. But don't let his nickname confuse you—this isn't CrossFit we'll be doing here.
Instead, you're about to challenge yourself with a combination of beginner calisthenics and weighted isolation moves. See, you can't just start doing muscle-ups and acrobatics like Hawkins without nailing down the basics first. Bodyweight moves like pull-ups, leg lifts, and dips will be the first steps in getting you there. If you haven't quite mastered these, you can still tackle them with simple modifications.
The road to Hawkins' level of training requires getting out of your comfort zone! At the end of the workout, Hawkins throws in some remarkable power-ups, hoisting himself up and into a handstand position on the pull-up bars.
"I know I make it look easy, but that's only because I've been practicing for such a long time," he says.
In other words, consistency and effort with workouts like this one is key.
As much as we'd all love to pump some iron at this historical landmark of bodybuilding, all you'll need is a gym with the right equipment—and a mindset to push yourself with the more difficult bodyweight portions of the workout. Don't let Hawkins' quickness and fluidity intimidate you. He assures us that it doesn't have to be rushed or done perfectly; just do the work.
"As long as you follow through, you're going to get a result," he explains.
Maybe once you're as jacked and talented as Hawkins, you'll be high-fiving and taking photos with fans before you train, too.
Your grip on pull-ups can be underhand or overhand, wide or narrow. Regardless, your tempo should be moderate; neither too fast or too slow. Go straight up and down: Imagine you're trying to pull your elbows into your back pockets. Minimize any swinging or extra movement by keeping your abs tight and staying under control. As Hawkins notes, pull-ups are going to help you with overall calisthenics and grip strength.
Leg lifts are best performed on an apparatus called the Roman chair. Keep your shoulders back, not rolled inward toward your chest. Engage your core and lift your legs up and out in front of you, as if you are pulling them solely with your lower abs. Your legs should remain straight as you bring them up to where your feet are even with your hips. This can be challenging, so a modified option would be with your knees bent and tucked into your chest. Either way, keep your lower back neutral the entire time.
This is another tough movement, but done correctly, it will leave your triceps sore for days! Begin with your hands gripping both sides of a dip bar, your arms straight, and your knees bent. Bend your elbows and keep them tucked as you descend. Once your elbows reach 90 degrees, use the strength of your triceps to push yourself back to the starting position. Your shoulder position here is key—rounding them will place unnecessary tension on your front delts.
A beginner version to work your way up to full-on dips would be bench dips.
Standing Cable Crunch
You've probably done these, or at least seen them performed, from a kneeling position. Hawkins says he likes to remain standing to keep himself from being dizzy. See which way works best for you! Set yourself up facing away from the weight stack, knees slightly bent with your tailbone against the tower. Round your back slightly and think about pulling with your abdominals, not with your arms.
A pretty standard movement that you probably performed on your first-ever leg day and have incorporated ever since. Bring your legs up and contract your quads hard at the top on every single rep. Don't use momentum to move the weight—if you're doing that, you're probably going too heavy. Hawkins advises to "rep it out and keep it light." This is where the burn and the pump happen!
Again, slow and controlled is the way to go. Lying face down, use your hamstrings to pull the weight, rather than flailing your legs in a crazy-fast manner. Bring your feet up as far as you can, heels to bum. Many people will do half-reps for the sake of using more weight, but don't be that person! The full range of motion will produce fuller, stronger hammies.
Machine Chest Press
Hawkins says you don't even have to do the straight machine chest press like he is—throw in whatever chest exercise you want! This could mean push-ups, incline or decline presses, or even a barbell bench press. Pin back your shoulder blades into the pad to place emphasis on the pec muscles and not the front delts. Your elbows should stay slightly tucked, not flared out and up. Your arms should be fully straight before returning to start.
Get that back! This muscle group can be one of the most fun to train with lots of variations, so take advantage of the T-bar row if your gym has one! If not, set up a loaded barbell in a landmine and use a handle attachment. Maintain a tight core and lower back with your shoulder blades pulled down and back toward your back pockets (yes, even with a T-bar). Pull the weight straight up and squeeze those mid-back muscles hard. As you return to the starting position, keep the downward motion in control and maintain the tightness in your upper back.
Would it be a complete workout without biceps for big arms? You'll want to take a neutral grip here with your hands just outside your body in the bottom position. Your elbows should "stick" to your ribs as you bring the bar all the way up and focus on feeling that contraction in your biceps. It's important to keep from swinging your body as your arms move, as it will take the emphasis away from the biceps doing the work. As with almost every exercise, engage your abs.
Give those triceps one last push! As with the biceps curl, your elbows should be stationary during this exercise. Start with them bent just above 90 degrees. Push the bar down toward your thighs until your arms are fully extended and your triceps contracted. Hawkins will switch between an overhand and an underhand grip to hit different parts of the muscle. You can also vary this movement by using different handles. Here Hawkins uses the straight bar, but try doing them with a rope or V-bar to isolate this muscle group in a new way.