What the heck is a Burning Ladder?

No, this has nothing to do with fire-fighting. A Burning Ladder is a training technique that Your Gym Trainer co-founder, Steve, and I often use, especially with our bodyweight / calisthenics workouts. It’s also one of the training methods we will be introducing in our upcoming ebook, Bodyweight Beasts. It is a high-intensity, high-volume super-set workout that will build muscle, increase muscular endurance, and burn fat. It’s a simple but challenging form of MRT (metabolic resistance training) that you can apply to almost any exercises.


Basically you choose two exercises, typically one pushing movement and one pulling movement (antagonist muscle groups), OR a lower body exercise paired up with an upper body exercise, and you super-set these two exercises, moving back and forth between them with minimal rest. But here’ where the ‘ladder’ technique makes it interesting: you begin with only ONE repetition on one exercise and gradually increase reps on every set, while you start with a high number of reps on the other exercise and gradually decrease reps on each set. One exercise moves up the ladder and the other one moves down.

Here’s an example… let’s start with 1 to 10 repetitions, which should be suitable for most beginners:

I’m going to superset chin ups and dips, although if these are too challenging you could use inverted rows and pushups.


Machine (29)

I suggest starting with the higher number (ie: 10 reps) on the more challenging exercise, so that as you fatigue you will have fewer reps to perform. For me, chinups are harder than dips, so I would start with 10 chinups, then immediately perform 1 dip. Then back to only 9 chinups and 2 dips. Then 8 chinups, and 3 dips, and so on. So the progression would look like this…


ChinUps / Dips

10   /   1

9  /   2

8   /  3

7  /  4

6  /  5

5  /  6

4  /  7

3  /  8

2  /  9

1  /  10 

That adds up to 10 sets and a total of 55 total repetitions for each exercise! That’s a lot of volume with minimal rest intervals, which is why it is great for not only building muscle but also for metabolic conditioning. We do suggest you keep a note pad or training journal beside you while doing this workout to keep track of your sets and reps, as it is easy to lose count as you fatigue. Just consider it a workout for your brain AND your body!

Give this workout a try yourself this week and after you do post a comment below to let us know how you like it. If you want a more advanced challenge, try a Burning Ladder with 1 to 12 reps, or even 1 to 15 reps!

Enjoy the BURN!

Josh & Steve

Your Gym Trainers