A bodyweight workout refers to a combination of strength-training exercises that use your own weight to provide resistance against gravity. Incorporating bodyweight exercises into your workout routine can offer many benefits such as improving your strength, power, endurance, speed, flexibility, coordination and balance.

Needing minimal equipment, this kind of training is perfect for when you can’t get to the gym but don’t want to skip a workout. A great alternative to weight lifting, bodyweight training offers many of the same benefits, though is easier on the joints, putting less long term strain on the body.

Want to give bodyweight training a go? Here are a few simple moves to get started with. Mix and match the moves depending on which part of the body you’re targeting, for a great full body workout or a specific muscle training session.

Remember that technique is key, so take your time to perfect the moves to get the most out of your workout.

Lower Body Exercises

Works: quads, glutes, and core
How to do it:

  • Stand with feet either hip width apart.
  • Drive the hips back as if you’re going to sit down on a seat behind you.
  • As the hips drive back, allow the knees to bend until you reach your desired depth.
  • Keep the shins vertical at the bottom of the squat to keep the knees from passing the toes.
  • When your knees begin to shift forward, that is your end range.

Jump Squat
Works: quads, glutes, and core
How to do it:

  • Drive the hips back as you would for the squat.
  • Add an explosive jump straight up, landing softly and quietly.
  • Your landing position should look exactly like your starting position.

Works: glutes, quads, and hamstrings
How to do it:

  • From a standing position, step one leg backwards and bend both knees to a 90° angle.
  • Your shin on your front leg should be vertical, and the knee should not pass the toe.
  • Ensure your torso is tall and vertical, avoid leaning forward.
  • To switch legs, drive the heel of the front foot down into the the ground and stand up to your original position.

Jump Lunge
Works: glutes, quads, and hamstrings
How to do it:

  • Begin just like you did in the standard lunge.
  • Once you reach the bottom of the lunge, jump up in the air as you switch your legs and land with the opposite leg in front.
  • Try to land as soft and quiet as possible.

Side Lunge
Works: Glutes, quads and hips
How to do it:

  • From a standing position, step one leg out to the side and imagine sitting into a squat on this leg, while the stationary leg straightens into full extension at the bottom of your lunge.
  • Return to your original position and switch sides.

Step Up
Works: Glutes and quads
How to do it:

  • Place one foot on an elevated platform and push your leading foot down as you stand straight up.
  • Avoid leaning forward or hinging at the hip.

Works: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves
How to do it:

  • Stand with knees slightly bent.
  • Quickly hop left foot to the right, landing on your right foot with left leg slightly bent and hovering behind you.
  • Use your arms for momentum.
  • Hold here briefly, then bound off your right foot to jump laterally to the left, landing on your left foot and hovering the right leg behind you.
  • Continue alternating.

Glute Bridge
Works: Glutes, hamstrings, and lower back
How to do it:

  • Lying down on the floor on your back with a bent knee position, and your feet flat on the ground about shoulder-width apart.
  • Push your heels down into the ground while raising the hips off the ground.
  • At the top, squeeze the glutes and keep the abdominals tight to prevent arching in the lower back.
  • Ensure the shins are vertical, then lower your hips back down to their original position.

Single Leg Glute Bridge
Works: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back and core
How to do it:

  • Lie on your back on the floor and place the heel of your right foot firmly on the ground, extending your left leg.
  • Engage your abs, then contract your glutes to hike your hips up into a bridge position while you simultaneously lift your left leg into the air.
  • Your hips should be level.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top, then lower back down, keeping your extended leg off the ground for all reps, then switch legs.

Upper Body Exercises

Press up

Works: Core, shoulders, chest, and triceps.
How to do it:

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Drop to your knees if needed.
  • Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms.

Plank Tap
Works: Triceps, glutes, and core.
How to do it:

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder while engaging your core and glutes to keep your hips as still as possible.
  • Do the same thing with your left hand to right shoulder.
  • Continue, alternating sides laterally.

Plank Walk
Works- shoulders, chest triceps, glutes, and core.
How to do it:

  • Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Step right, leading with your right hand and right foot, maintaining a plank as you move.
  • Do your reps in one direction, and then repeat in the opposite direction.

Tricep Dip
Works: triceps, chest
How to do it:

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat and your back against a box or step.
  • Place your hands on the box, and then walk your heels out so you can comfortably lower your body in front of the box without hitting it.
  • Straighten your arms to lift your glutes, then bend your elbows to lower yourself without sitting down completely.
  • Keep your heels on the floor and your elbows pointed directly behind your body (not flared out to the side).

Towel Bicep Curl
Works: Biceps
How to do it:

  • You don’t need any complicated equipment to do this move — just an everyday bath towel and a chair.
  • Twist the towel a few times until it forms a long, noodle-like shape. Sitting in the chair with your feet on the floor, place the center of the towel under one foot.
  • Holding one end of the towel in each hand, slowly bring it toward your face. Use your foot as resistance. Hold for as long as you can. Repeat.

Russion Twist
Works: Core
How to do it:

  • Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet together, lifted a few inches off the floor.
  • With your back at a 45-degree angle to the floor, move your arms from side to side in a twisting motion.
  • The slower the twist, the deeper the burn.
  • If you want to give bodyweight training a go but don’t feel confident enough to create your own routine, why not join in with a Village Live class or follow an On Demand video.

Benefits of Bodyweight Training

Here are 7 benefits of bodyweight training. You never know… you might just be converted!

Quick and easy
Bodyweight training leaves no room for making excuses! With no equipment required you can fit a quick workout in whenever you have spare time. Whether you’re stuck at home, fancy a session outdoors or you’re travelling with no access to a gym, with only minimal space required there’s nothing stopping you from getting your sweat on. As well as this a good Bodyweight workout combines elements of both cardio and strength training, so it’s a highly efficient way to fit both into your routine.

Less risk of injury
Bodyweight training is a great way to hone technique and form whilst having a lower impact on your joints than weight training. This means you’re less likely to cause yourself an injury that could hinder your long term training. So while weight training might get you ‘bigger gains’ at a faster rate, bodyweight training is better in the long run on your body and for your mobility, which becomes more important as you age.

Works the full body
Bodyweight movements work a number of different muscle groups at the same time, helping you tone and strengthen your whole body from head to toe. While you might think of a push-up as an upper-body exercise or a squat as a lower-body exercise, both of these help to improve core strength, which is essential to good posture, proper movement patterns, and injury prevention.

Builds balance and flexibility
Your body must stabilize itself while performing bodyweight movements, which strengthens the muscles and stretches the ligaments and tendons that help you stay balanced while walking, running, performing household chores, or taking part in any other physical activity. Body control is essential to warding off injury, especially as we age, which makes this one of the most important benefits of bodyweight training.

Accessible to everyone
Bodyweight exercises can be modified to suit any fitness level. Variations of moves mean you can start off easy to build your technique and then progress to more challenging moves once you’ve built up some strength. When you’re ready to turn up the difficulty level a notch there’s always modifications you can make to push yourself further.

Can be just as effective in building muscle
Performing exercises through their full range of motion is all it takes to achieve muscle hypertrophy, or to you and I, muscle tone and definition. It’s important to remember, however, that the better your technique, the more effective the move so mastering this is key to progressing and seeing the desired results!

There’s no doubt that lifting weights and sweating it out on cutting-edge cardio equipment, will help you get in great shape. But mixing in a bodyweight training routine can help you maintain a well-rounded fitness regime that never gets dull and is a perfect alternative for when you can’t get into the gym!

Although you won't need any weights or fancy equipment, for floor based bodyweight moves having a mat will help you maximise each of the benefits of bodyweight training.


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