England Rugby's Mike Tindall Shares the Full-body Circuit He Uses for Muscle-Gain at 42

Daniel Davies
·3-min read

When he played rugby for England, World Cup winner and Queen Elizabeth II's grandson-in-law Mike Tindall was known as a fierce outside centre who never shirked a challenge. That reputation was crystallised on the field, but it was built in the gym, where he focused on heavy lifting, weight training and shifting tin.

Ultimately though, the work that Tindall did – work that took him to the top of his sport – came at a cost. As he explains in the latest video for our How I Build My Body series, in retirement he avoids strenuous heavy lifting and instead trains to get "body strong," which is why the 42-year-old now bases his workouts around calisthenics and bodyweight exercises.

Below are seven exercises that Tindall uses as part of a typical whole-body circuit. Put together, they work your arms, back, chest, legs, abs and will certainly test your mettle. But you weren't expecting anything less from a former England rugby captain, were you?


Tindall says that his max reps for dips is around 20 reps, so when they're part of a circuit he'll perform 90% of his max reps (18 reps) for six or seven sets. His one coaching point: make sure you're "in control all the way down".


There are three reasons Tindall likes to perform rows using a TRX rather than a traditional barbell. One, you can do it at home. Two, you can change the level of it depending on you're ability, and three, because he likes it. Fair enough.

As Tindall says, this exercise can be scaled depending on where you position your feet, so if you're standing with your feet underneath you and only slightly leaning back, this won't be too challenging. However, if you want to make it harder, try performing it while your back is parallel with the floor.

Inside Out Squat

This is one exercise that Tindall will add some weight to, but, as he says, it can just as easily be performed as a bodyweight exercise. To do it with weight, grab whatever you're using, be it a dumbbell, kettlebell or a D-ball, and stand upright with your legs shoulder-width apart. Drop down to perform a traditional squat, but once you've returned to standing, bring your feet together before quickly returning them to the original position.

Tindall's Abs Burner

"It's always nice to finish on a little ab burner," says Tindall.

For his abs, Tindall uses three hanging exercises: flutter kicks, knee tucks and knees to elbows. As he says though, only attempt knees to elbows if you've got it in your locker.

Hanging Flutter Kicks x20

Start by assuming a dead hanging onto a pull-up bar. Raise your legs so they're parallel to the floor, then lift your legs up and down in a scissor motion.

Knee Tucks x10

Hanging onto a bar, bring your knees to you chest under control.

Knees to Elbows x5

This one is exactly what it sounds like, so hanging onto a bar, attempt to bring your knees to your elbows.

Bike Intervals

Tindall finishes his whole-body circuit with an interval session on a bike. He does 20 secs of flat-out cycling, followed by 40 secs of recovery for 10 minutes. "Take yourself to that dark place," says Tindall.

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