For the last year or so, gym-goers have had their work cut out—even more so than usual! With all of the lockdowns across the globe, the vast majority of gyms have been shut down for many months now, and as a result of this, what little gym equipment there was currently on shelves sold out in the blink of an eye. Today, millions of people are struggling to stick to their old fitness goals because of a lack of workout gear. But it doesn’t need to be this way!
Bodyweight workouts are a fantastic form of exercise. Through careful poses and controlled, focused movements using only the weight of your body, you can grow your muscles, transform your image, and feel healthier than ever in no time.
Bodyweight exercises are safe, too—if there’s one thing your body is designed to do perfectly, it’s to support its own weight!
Combined with a healthy diet, there’s no limit to how far you can go with bodyweight workouts. Whether you’re training for your health, for your appearance, or for physical fitness, bodyweight workout regimes are where it’s at.
Here’s one of our favourite bodyweight workout plans.
Monday: Upper Body
Bridge: 3 reps, 30 seconds each
Beginning on your back, bend your knees so the soles of your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your arms by your sides with your palms facing down.
Gradually raise your hips, keeping your feet planted and your head still. Raise your hips until there’s a straight line from your knees to your hips to your head. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, keeping your stomach muscles tight.
High Plank: 3 reps, 1 minute each
Go down onto your hands and knees; your knees directly below your hips, your hands directly below your shoulders.
Shift your weight from your knees to your feet by lifting your knees up and stretching out your legs behind you. Your arms should be extended, supporting you, and your core should be tight—maintain a straight line from your shoulders through to your feet. Hold this pose for one minute.
Push-up: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Go into the plank move described above—supported on your arms, palms beneath your shoulders, back straight, legs outstretched behind. If you find it tricky, rest your weight on your knees for an alternative push-up.
In a slow, controlled movement, lower yourself towards the ground by bending your arms, keeping your elbows tucked into your sides. Your palms should be in line with your chest. When you are an inch or so from the ground, hold the pose for a second before returning to start by pushing yourself back up. Remember to keep your back straight!
Quadrupled Limb Raise: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Get onto your hands and knees, making sure your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. You want a straight line from your tailbone up to your neck.
Taking care to maintain your balance, gradually stretch out one arm in front of you while simultaneously extending your opposite leg out behind you as far as you can. A steady, slow movement is the key to finding balance here. Hold the pose for a second before returning back to your start position and switch to your opposite limbs.
The Superman: 3 reps, 30 seconds each
Lie on your stomach, spread-eagled. Your arms should be fully extended above your head, your legs out behind you.
At the same time, begin lifting your arms, head and legs off of the ground. You will feel the burn in your core muscles as your weight shifts to them. Hold this pose—like Superman flying—for 30 seconds before returning to start.
Bodyweight Tricep Dip: 3 sets, 8 reps each
First, find a surface that you could comfortably sit on with your feet on the ground—a chair, bench or sofa arm will work well. Hover over the bench as if about to sit down, but instead, place only your palms on the bench, supporting your weight, with your legs outstretched in front of you.
Focusing on your triceps, slowly lower yourself down until your bum is just off the floor and your arms are bent at a right angle. Then, concentrating on your shoulders and triceps and leaving your legs straight, raise yourself back up to your starting position.
Wednesday: Lower Body
Bodyweight Squat: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Stand up, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight.
Keeping that back straight and your head facing forward, slowly bend your knees, lowering your body onto your glutes into a crouch position. Make sure your knees stay facing forward too, and focus on your bum. When your thighs are parallel with the ground, hold the pose for a couple of seconds before using your glutes to push yourself back to the starting position.
Bodyweight Lunges: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a metre or so of space before you.
Keeping your right leg in place, take a large step forward with your left; large enough so your right leg is bent at the knee, and the knee is almost touching the floor. Hold this pose a moment, then return to start by pushing back up off your left leg. Then repeat by alternating legs.
Calf Raises: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Stand up, feet aligned with shoulders, back straight.
Slowly and deliberately lift your heels off the ground, eventually lifting yourself up onto your tiptoes. Hold it a moment, then lower yourself back down. You should feel it burn in your calves pretty quick! For a little extra, do this standing on a step or slightly raised surface, allowing for a greater range of movement.
Lying L Sit: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Beginning on your back, draw your feet up so your heels are close to your bum, knees facing straight up. Your arms should be by your sides.
Concentrating on your core muscles, raise your legs and extend them, soles-first, towards the sky. Try to keep them as straight as possible, and keep your core tight for balance. Hold this pose for ten seconds before lowering your legs back down into your start position.
Plank: 3 reps, 1 minute each
Go into the ‘High Plank’ position from Monday’s plan. Keep your legs and back straight!
Instead of supporting your weight on your palms, lower yourself onto your elbows instead. Hold this position for one minute at a time.
Bodyweight Sit-up: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Lying on your back, tuck your feet into your bum and point your knees skyward.
While touching each hand to its opposite shoulder, raise your head and torso up towards your knees using your stomach muscles. Get as high as you can, hold it a moment, then lower yourself back down and repeat.
Reverse Crunch: 3 sets, 8 reps each
Once again, lie on your back and extend your legs out fully. Then, keeping your arms by your sides for balance, raise your legs into the air, keeping them straight and together. Try to get them at a right-angle to your torso.
Slowly, simultaneously bring your knees into your chest, and raise your head and upper torso. Aim for your head and your knees to meet in the middle of your torso. Take it slow to avoid issues with balance. Hold the pose a moment, then return to start.
How long should my rests between sets take?
That’s down to you, however, we’d generally say not much longer than a minute.
How long should I use this routine for?
Consistency is key. Stick with it for a month and see how you feel after—it may be that after four weeks you’re ready for something more intense!
Why do I need rest days?
Your rest days are crucial for allowing your body to recover, heal and grow. Without them, you won’t get the results you want as fast!
Will I get ripped from doing bodyweight exercises?
Don’t worry, you’re not going to end up like Hulk Hogan with these exercises! If you reach a point where you’re finding the exercises too easy, you can always add weight using objects you find around the house, such as bottles of water or backpacks filled with heavy objects—just be sure to be safe when choosing objects!
Ultimately, bodyweight exercises are a brilliant way to stay in great shape and tone up, no matter what your budget is or the amount of space you have. What’s not to love?