OK ladies and gentlemen. I’ve got a VERY SPECIAL post for you today.

I caught up with my friend and fellow strength coach Travis Stoetzel yesterday and you won’t believe this…he’s going to lay down the gauntlet for you. The Bodyweight Gauntlet to be exact!

But before we get to this workout, let me give you some background on the original “Forged Athlete”.

Here’s the bio on this truly FREAK Athlete!

Travis played football in high school and at Hastings, an NAIA school in Nebraska. His size kept him from playing on bigger stages, but he did run a 4.37 40-yard dash AT THE NFL COMBINE. That’s an official time from the NFL combine – not some dude with a stopwatch and a sidewalk!

Travis owns his own gym, The Forged Athlete in Omaha, Nebraska and has run this facility for 3 years now. He specializes in training athletes, combat athletes like MMA fighters, military and police officers as well as some hardcore boot campers. He trains men and women to be real athletes!

Travis was kind enough to answer a few questions to help you become a better athlete instantly:
ME: Let’s say I’m an athlete looking to increase or improve my performance. Give me a few tips on how to do that.


  • #1 – Attack Weaknesses – don’t just do what you like
  • #2 – More Is Not Better – don’t think you have to do it ALL everyday – focus on recovery
  • #3 – Focus On Quality – Avoid failure, complete your reps explosively, use submaximal weights, and end your set when speed/form breakdown

Me: Wow, those are awesome tips! Those hold true for weightlifting, basketball skills, grooving your golf swing – anything. I hope my readers soak up those knowledge bombs. (Hint, Hint!) So how important is STRENGTH in all this?

Travis: Strength is the foundation on which your house is built. Without strength, an athlete’s conditioning and explosiveness will crumble. 

At The Forged Athlete, it all starts with bodyweight stuff. If an athlete can’t perform a basic squat movement with just their bodyweight, how can they expect to put a bar on their back? 

We build on levels. And you can’t skip levels

Me: I love it! Can you give us an example?

Travis: We just had a wide receiver working with us. He came to us squatting 450lbs. The whole he was with us, he NEVER put a bar on his back. He squatted – A LOT! We just used different loading techniques. Odd objects, kettlebells, sandbags to train mobility and explosiveness while emphasizing form. Think about sport in general. You’re almost never perfectly balanced, on two feet, etc. So this type of loading better replicates what he’ll face on the field. When he went back to school, he squatted 515! 

Me: So he gained 65lbs on his squat without putting a bar on his back?! That’s awesome, nice work all around! So you mentioned starting with BW stuff. Can we see this famous Bodyweight Gauntlet?

Travis: This is the measuring stick I use to see where my overall strength and endurance levels are with my own bodyweight.

The 4 essential movements I use for this gauntlet are:

1)Push Ups – any variation

2)Pull Ups – all grips and variations

3)Squats – ass to grass only!

4)Burpees  – chest to floor with a jump at the top

With these 4 movements, the way this gauntlet or “test” will work is you’ll get 3 mins at each station to complete as many reps as possible.You’ll get 60 secs between stations to rest and prepare for the next movement.

You can perform the gauntlet in any order of your choosing.I suggest you go with your biggest weakness first so you can attack that fresh.

Below, is a table I have created that has the different “standards” for scores.

This will give you a good look at where you fall in terms of your basic strength and strength-endurance levels with the main bodyweight movements…


If you’re MAN ENOUGH, take the Bodyweight Gauntlet Challenge. Post your comments and results below. Travis will be writing a guest post for us very soon…what do you want Travis to share?