There are many advantages to doing bodyweight workouts if you have a weight loss goal or want to strengthen and tone your muscles.
In this article, we describe some of those benefits, list our favourite ten bodyweight exercises and show you how to turn them into a muscle-building, fat-burning bodyweight workout that you can do anywhere, anytime.
What are bodyweight exercises?
Basically, bodyweight exercises are those exercises that rely solely on our own bodyweight to provide muscle resistance.
A good example of a bodyweight exercise is the pushup.
Advantages of bodyweight exercises
There are many advantages to doing bodyweight exercises, here are just a few:
They are the cheapest possible form of exercise because they require absolutely no equipment.
Some bodyweight exercises are great introductions to strength exercises generally and strength training.
The heavier our body is the more resistance is provided so the harder the exercises are and the more benefit they provide.
Bodyweight exercises can be done virtually anywhere and because there is no fitness equipment involved, and because the exercises provide so much resistance, bodyweight workouts can be performed very quickly.
Bodyweight exercises help build muscle and get the heart rate up.
Bodyweight exercises can easily be incorporated into a workout and combined with aerobic movements to provide a great total body workout that improves strength and cardiovascular fitness all at once.
Our Top Ten Favourite Bodyweight Exercises
Here are our favourite ten bodyweight exercises and a brief description of each:
- Chin ups.
- Step Ups.
- Wall Sit
- Abdominal Crunches
- Walking Lunge
For a full description of how to perform each of these exercises, read our bodyweight exercises article.
Bodyweight exercises are easy to incorporate into any workout but are great when performed together to form a complete workout.
Because there are bodyweight exercises that work almost all body parts, bodyweight exercise workouts make great full body workouts.
Because bodyweight workouts don’t require any fitness equipment at all, they can be performed cheaply and easily, anywhere at anytime.
Warm up and Stretching
Warm ups and stretching should be an integral part of any workout, but particular bodyweight workouts because we are using a lot of resistance.
Before you begin doing any bodyweight exercises, it is a good idea to do a general warm up exercise, like walking, stationery cycling, jogging on the spot or star jumps for 5 to 10 minutes, followed by a series of stretches that includes the muscles you are going to be exercising during your workout.
If you are planning to do full-versions of particular exercises, like push ups, dips, chin ups etc, where you will be lifting or supporting your whole bodyweight, it is also a good idea to perform the easier versions of these exercises first as a warm up.
Types of Bodyweight Workouts
Bodyweight exercises and workouts are so great partly because they are so flexible.
We’ll show you how some simple bodyweight exercises like those listed above can be incorporated into a range of different workout types so you can continue to challenge your mind as well as your body with these fantastic strength-building and fat-burning exercises.
Many bodyweight exercises, like step ups, wall sits, the plank, squats and sit ups can be performed for set periods of time, for example 1 minute.
One of the best ways to start doing bodyweight exercises is to simply see how many repetitions of a chosen exercise you can do in 1 minute or how long you can hold a particular position (like the plank for example) for.
As you get fitter and stronger, the length of time you can hold a position or the number of repetitions you can perform should increase considerably.
As you get fitter and stronger still, you can extend the time limits for performing repetitions or holding positions from 1 minute to 2 minutes and beyond.
Workouts Maximum effort workouts are a little bit like fitness tests in that you perform a particular exercise for as long as you can.
Again, as you get fitter and stronger, the length of time you can perform an exercise, be it doing repetitions or holding a particular position, should increase considerably.
Sets and Reps Workouts
Bodyweight exercises and workouts can be performed in sets and reps as well. For example, you can decide to do pushups for 3 sets of 10 repetitions (10 consecutive pushups followed by a short rest x 3).
The advantage of doing workouts like this is that you can chose to use fewer exercises in your workout and you can work different body parts on different days if you wish.
Circuit training is a very popular workout that can combine strength and aerobic exercises into a sequence that is performed two or three times.
For example, you could combine five of our favourite bodyweight exercise with five aerobic exercises that you perform for one minute each in a sequence that you repeat three times.
This circuit training might look something like this:
Exercise 1 – Skipping for one minute.
Exercise 2 – Bodyweight Squats for one minute.
Exercise 3 – Shadow boxing for one minute.
Exercise 4 – Bodyweight lunges for one minute.
Exercise 5 – Star jumps for one minute.
Exercise 6 – Wall sits for one minute.
Exercise 7 – Stationary Cycling for one minute.
Exercise 8 – Pushups for one minute.
Exercise 9 – Jogging on the spot for one minute.
Exercise 10 – Step ups for one minute.
After this ten minute circuit, you could rest for a few minutes and then repeat it one or two more times.
With a bit of imagination, there is nothing you can’t do with in a bodyweight exercise workout.
In the sections above, we’ve only made a couple of suggestions about how bodyweight exercises can be incorporated into a bodyweight workout, but the possibilities are endless. Just ask any of your local personal trainers, who are sure to be incorporating some, if not all of the exercises above in the workouts they plan for their clients.