We all know we should workout, but we all tend to make excuses NOT to do it. Especially when we are just starting out, a regular fitness routine can be challenging to start. Two of the biggest excuses I hear are, “I have no time.” and “I can’t afford a gym membership or fitness equipment.” Well, bodyweight training is the answer to both of these excuses. These are exercises you can easily do at home without the need for any equipment or a trip to the gym. I’ve selected some of my favorite exercises to create this bodyweight training for beginners plan.
Best Bodyweight Training for Beginners
Training using your own body weight can be just as effective weight training, especially at the beginner level. It’s perfect for strength training and to build muscle strength. What’s great about this plan is that these exercises can start in a beginner mode and build in difficulty as you get stronger. I really like the training videos provided by Howcast so I’ve embedded them under each exercise I describe. So, no more excuses. It’s time to get moving!
I recommend reps (or repetitions) for each exercise but always listen to your body. Start small and add more reps as you feel stronger. If you only have time for one set of exercises, that’s great. If you can, aim for running through these exercises at least 2 times. You’ll still be done in less than 30 minutes or less so it’s a great way to get you started.
Another variation is to do each exercise for a certain amount of time, say 30 seconds. This makes it so you don’t have to count reps and can set an interval timer on your smartphone. Here is a sample circuit workout, which is about 12 minutes for a full body workout:
Beginner Bodyweight Workout
- March in Place – 3 minutes
- Pushup – 30 seconds
- Glute bridge – 30 seconds
- Squats – 1 minute
- Lunges – 30 seconds per leg
- Sit-ups – 30 seconds
- Side plank – 30 seconds per side
- Tricep dips – 30 seconds
- Back extensions – 30 seconds
- Deadlift – 30 seconds
- Cool down – 3 minutes
March in place
It’s important to get your body warmed up before beginning to exercise. Marching in place is a great way to get your heart pumping. As you get stronger, you can raise your knees higher or even take some impact with a high knee jog. This video explains both of these options. March in place for about 3 minutes before you get started with the rest of the workout. If you are feeling up to it, you can also add a burst of 1-minute marching in between each of the bodyweight exercises.
The pushup is one of the best exercises to work practically your entire body, especially once you get to the “on your toes” version. Even at the beginner level, the pushup works your arms, shoulders, and chest. Great for women who want to avoid flabby arms and sagging chests. Drop and give me 20! LOL! Aim for 10 reps to start.
While you are still a beginner, you can’t beat this exercise for building a tighter bum. You are laying on the floor so this helps avoid any extra strain on your back or joints. This can be a good exercise to do before progressing to a full squat. Do 10 reps
Primarily for the lower body, the squat works you glutes, hamstrings and quads. These are the muscles that give you a great bum and strong thighs. 10 reps
Lunges are another exercise that work similar muscle groups to the squat. But since the legs are in different positions – one in front and one in back, each leg focuses on either for front or back of the leg muscles. Adding some direction to the lunge, meaning stepping forward and back taxes the muscles a bit more as you get stronger. 10 reps per side
Everyone should know how to do a proper sit up. Gone are the days of trying to pull your body up from lying down to sitting all the way up. That method is really not good for your back, especially if you are a beginner. In this video, the trainer puts her legs gently bent in the air, but if that is too much for you, you can rest them over the side of a couch or ottoman. Aim for 20 reps.
A sit-up only works the front of your abs. The side plank obviously works the sides, or oblique muscles. I like that this trainer demonstrates a version on your knees as well as the progression to your toes as you get stronger. Hold for up to 10-30 seconds per side.
Here is the primary bodyweight training exercise that works your triceps. The muscle in the back of the arm. This can help minimize the lose skin women get in this area, especially as they age. When I am super short on time, this is an exercise I still do I a few times a day. 10 reps.
Except for our buns, we tend to focus on the front of our body when working out. Back extensions are really important to help with posture, perfect for those of us who sit at a desk all day. A strong back helps minimize back strain and injuries as well. 5-10 reps
This is an exercise you often see people do with weights, but it’s still very effective even without weights. It works all of the muscles in the “posterior chain,” which encompasses much of the back of your body. It’s another one that’s good for posture. It also helps strengthen your back, bum and hamstrings. 10 reps
What’s great about bodyweight training is that you can “take them anywhere.” YOU are your own personal gym. If you have little kids, get them involved. They can do the exercises with you. Traveling? No problem, you can do all of these in your hotel room or even on the beach. At the office? Still no excuse to maybe do a few chair dips and lunges or maybe sneak in a wall sit. Ask fellow officemates to join you. Make it a team effort.
If you are completing a full workout, it’s a good idea to cool down and do some stretching. This video goes over some great options for various muscle groups.
Do you have other bodyweight training for beginner exercises to recommend? Let us know in a comment.
You might also like:
- Treadmill Workout for Beginners
- How to Stay in Shape While on Vacation
- Bodyboss 12-week Fitness Program
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