It’s been almost a year since gyms were regularly open, and for many of us, it’s starting to show. It doesn’t take more than a brief scroll through social media to see that many of your once-fit friends are starting to slack a little.
It’s totally understandable that we might lose sight of our body-transformation goals after endless months of lockdown with little access to proper equipment—but it doesn’t need to be this way!
Bodyweight exercises are fantastic for all-round fitness, and for developing a physique that is functional as well as healthy and attractive. When lifting only your own weight, you’re performing movements your body has been designed specifically for, and because of this, it’s generally harder to strain too much and injure yourself.
Plus, when the gym isn’t an option, bodyweight exercises take up very little space, feel great, and are completely free.
Below we’ve detailed our Ultimate Bodyweight Workout. Get stuck in!
Monday: Upper body
Bridge: Repeat x 3
Lie on your back, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent and your arms by your sides, palms down.
Raise your hips slowly, eventually coming to a point where your shoulders, hips and knees are aligned. Keep your stomach tensed, and take your time holding this position for several seconds.
High Plank: Repeat x 3
Go onto all fours, with your weight spread evenly between your palms and your knees.
Extend your legs fully, taking care to tense your core to take the strain. The only points of contact between you and the ground should be your palms and the balls of your feet. Maintain a nice straight back and straight legs in this position for one minute (or as close as you can get!).
Push-up: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Go into a plank, with your legs extended behind you, your arms propping yourself up, and your back straight.
Keeping your elbows tucked up in, slowly lower yourself with your arms—keeping your back and legs straight, and your core engaged—until your chest just barely touches the floor. Then reverse the movement to bring yourself back into a plank.
Quadruped Limb Raise: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
On all fours, form a 90-degree angle with your knees, keeping your back in a straight line from hips to head.
Carefully extend one arm out straight ahead, while at the same time extending the opposite leg backwards. Hold this position for several seconds, and release. Then switch arm/leg and repeat.
The Superman: Repeat x 3
Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs outstretched.
Gradually lift your head, legs and arms off of the floor—and your upper torso if you’re able. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then release.
Bodyweight Tricep Dip: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Find a bench (or other secure, knee-high surface). Face away from it, place your hands on the surface and extend your legs, until your feet are out in front of you and your weight is supported by your arms.
Bending your elbows slowly, lower yourself down until you’re almost seated on the floor and your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Hold it for a second, then push back up into your starting position.
Wednesday: Lower Body
Bodyweight Squat: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outwards.
Squat down gradually, concentrating on your glutes. Keep your back straight, holding your arms out in front for balance if you need to. When your thighs are parallel with the ground, push back upward into your starting pose, once again engaging your glutes.
Bodyweight Lunges: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Keeping one leg planted, take a large step forward. Allow your rear leg to bend, until your knee almost touches the floor. Then, to return to the start position, push backwards on your first leg. Repeat on alternating legs.
Calf Raises: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Stand up straight, with your feet close together and your arms at your sides.
Go onto the balls of your feet, and raise your heels off the ground until you are on your tiptoes. You should feel it in your calf muscles. Hold it for a second, then bring yourself back down in a controlled manner.
Lying L Sit: Repeat x 6 for 3 sets
Lie on your back, with your feet brought in close to your bum and your arms down at your sides, palms down.
In a controlled manner, extend your legs skyward. You’ll feel your weight shift to your torso, and your core will tense. You might feel it in your hamstrings, too. Hold this pose for 10 seconds, before returning to your starting position.
Day 3: Core
Plank: Repeat x 3
As with the ‘high plank’, lie on your front, legs extended.
Prop yourself up on your elbows, so your only points of contact with the floor are your palms and feet. Hold this pose with a straight posture for one minute.
Bodyweight Sit-up: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet planted.
Lightly touch your fingers to your temples, and without taking your feet off the ground, attempt to sit up, bringing your chin up to meet your knees. If this is too difficult, straighten your legs slightly. After you sit up, lay back again into your starting position, focusing on your core as you move.
Reverse Crunch: Repeat x 8 for 3 sets
Lying on your back with your legs straight out, hold your legs up straight in the air. Use your hands by your sides to press down and aid with balance.
Inhaling as you do so, draw in your knees towards your chin. Try to raise both your hips and your upper torso, with the bulk of the work being done solely by your core. How for a second, then return to your starting pose.
What’s the ideal rest time between sets?
About a minute should be plenty. As you progress, you can look to reduce this time.
How long should I stick with this routine?
Try it out for four weeks and see how you feel—you can always switch it up later, once you’re feeling fitter.
Why are rest days important?
They allow your body time to repair and rebuild. Your rest days are every bit as important as your workouts!
What can I do if my bodyweight isn’t enough?
Changing your diet is a sensible way to increase your bodyweight, however you can also try adding a weighted vest when performing various bodyweight exercises. Get creative with household items; from bottles filled with water to backpacks filled with heavy items, there are always ways to add extra weight!
Will I get ripped from bodyweight exercises?
Bodyweight exercises can help you build muscle, lose fat, build confidence and increase your overall health. There are a ton of gains to be made, and you can maximise these by taking time to properly perform each exercise, training to failure, and increasing your total time under tension.
Most exercises included above have more difficult versions too, so when you’re ready, you can take things to the next level!