What Are 8 Count Bodybuilders?

In an effort to train soldiers as cheaply and as effectively as possible, the U.S, Navy devised the 8-count bodybuilder, a multi-part exercise that employs intense cardio with resistance training to promote weight loss, build lean muscle and improve overall fitness. The unique exercise combines a traditional pushup with squatting and a variation of a jumping jack to work the entire body.

A man is doing a push up. (Image: DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images)


As its name indicates, the 8-count bodybuilder features eight distinctive movements performed to a counting beat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. On count one, drop into a squatting position with your hands on the ground. Count two involves kicking your feet straight back in a plank position, assuming a standard pushup pose. Lower your chest towards the floor on count three, and then push up on count four. Once more in the elevated pushup position, kick your legs out to the sides on count five. Bring your legs back together in the plank position on count six. Pull your legs forward on count seven, returning to the same squatting position as count two. Finally, leap straight up on count eight, stretching your arms high above your head. Completing all eight movements is considered one full repetition.


The 8-count bodybuilder exercise uses your own bodyweight as resistance, meaning there's no need for expensive equipment or gym memberships. The pushup motion alone strengthens the arms, back, chest and shoulders, while the squatting and leaping borrows from plyometric training in which the muscles are first stretched and then contracted, to generate explosive power in the legs. More than just a test of physical strength and stamina, the 8-count bodybuilder also improves agility, enhances coordination and challenges mental toughness, requiring intense focus to fight through the inevitable fatigue of such a strenuous activity.


While Navy Seals routinely perform sets of 100 8-count bodybuilders as part of their standard fitness training, the average person should start slowly and gradually build to such lofty numbers. Try to see how many 8-count Bodybuilders you can comfortably do before becoming tired. Reduce that number by 25 percent to establish a suitable target. Perform that number of repetitions twice a day for two weeks. In week three, increase the number of reps, once again opting for 25 percent of your new maximum total. Continue to progress in such a manner until you reach your fitness goals.


The military uses 8-count bodybuilders to get recruits into shape quickly, so the exercise may prove too demanding if you're looking for an easy to moderate workout routine. You may also want to avoid the 8-count bodybuilder if you have a history of knee or ankle problems, as the involved squatting and leaping actions may prove too difficult on the lower-body joints.

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