Bodyweight workouts are a great way to get in some exercise anytime, anywhere with minimal equipment. When done properly they offer a range of benefits from increase physical and mental well-being to fat loss and muscle growth.
Bodyweight exercises are any exercise that trains your muscles or cardiovascular system using only your body weight instead of weighted equipment. This includes things like press-ups, squats, pull-ups and plank holds.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the benefits of bodyweight training before covering 4 different bodyweight workouts you can do from home.
Bodyweight workouts are not only great for build strength and losing fat, but they also offer several other benefits that lifting weights in a gym does not.
It’s also important to remember that nutrition makes up a big part of your progress and whilst you can use bodyweight training to lose fat or build muscle, you’ll also need to make sure your diet is in check for the best results.
This means creating and sustaining either a small calorie surplus for muscle gain or a moderate calorie deficit for fat loss.
What follows are 4 effective home workouts you can do anytime, anywhere to build muscle, lose fat, gain strength and get fitter. Each workout focuses on a different goal or aspect of fitness so choose the one that aligns with your aims.
Remember it’s important to warm up before each workout and this should include 5 mins or so of pulse-raising exercises like jogging on the spot, star jumps, etc the aim is to get your whole body moving.
After that, you want to do a few mobility exercises or dynamic stretching to fully prepare yourself for exercise before moving into the workout. I wrote an article about how to warm up, read it here.
Tabata is a type of high-intensity interval training developed by Dr Izumi Tabata, a Japanese professor who wanted to know if short bursts of intense exercise were more effective for improving cardiovascular fitness than steady-state exercise.
Spoiler alert, it is. Learn more about that and get 7 additional workouts here.
Tabata is performed in 4 minutes sets. Each 4-minute set consists of 8 x 30-second rounds. Each of these rounds is made up of 20 seconds of max-effort work followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Traditionally Tabata would be done for a total of 4 minutes. However, more exercises can be added to create a longer workout. This is what we are going to do with our bodyweight Tabata workout.
This workout is perfect for when you want to do a home workout with no equipment or cannot get into a gym when travelling.
Perform each exercise for 4 total minutes, doing 8 total rounds of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest.
Of all the workouts in this list, this is the one you want to be doing if your goal is to build muscle and strength.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with the other workouts it’s just that this one has been designed in a way that you can apply progressive overload and get stronger over time. This is key to building muscle.
Some of the exercises in this workout are advanced but don’t worry as you can find a full list of alternative exercises here and a guide on how to regress or progress an exercise here.
You can add either knee or leg raises or planks to train the abs if you want to, but the above exercises make up the bulk of the workout.
You want to do 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps of each exercise with 2 – 3 minutes of rest between sets. Do all sets of an exercise before moving to the next.
This bodyweight circuit is going to test your strength and endurance to the max and is a great way to burn calories without the intense cardio factor of some of the other workouts in this list.
It’s a rep-based challenge which means you’ll be working for a set number of reps instead of for time. The idea is to complete a given number of reps for each exercise, reducing this number in each cycle through.
Don’t be fooled by the small number of exercises in this circuit.
You will start by doing 10 reps of each exercise, then 9, then 8, etc until you’ve gone all the way down to 1. At this point, you can stop or if you fancy an extra challenge you can work your way back up to 10.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and generally is done in a circuit format with work periods of 30 seconds to 3 minutes and is a fantastic, time-effective way to improve fitness and burn fat.
In fact, HIIT training has a few huge benefits for those looking to efficiently improve their fitness and change how they look. It can help you:
Learn more about the benefits of HIIT and get 3 additional workouts here.
The following HIIT workout is designed to get your heart pumping and your body working. It’s been put together with fitness and fat loss in mind, so if that’s your goal then give it a go.
Rest 1 – 2 minutes as need then repeat 3 – 5 times as appropriate
The above are just a few examples of the types of workouts you can do using only your bodyweight.
However, if you want to make long-term progress, you’ll want to think about getting a few bits of equipment to help increase the number of exercises you can do, as well as improve your ability to apply progressive overload.