Want to start working out but can’t afford a gym membership? Do you feel like you simply don’t have time to work out? Are you just starting out in bodyweight fitness and don’t know where to start? A good beginners bodyweight workout is a good place to start. A lot of time, when beginners are first getting into fitness of any sort, some over-complicate this so much that they spend so much time analyzing what they should do that they don’t go out and do it! It’s easy to see why; there are so many variations different exercises and so many different training methodologies that things can get convoluted really fast. Which way is the best way to go about it?
Well, instead of focusing on which may be the “best,” let’s go over a guideline of what we need in a good, well-rounded beginner bodyweight workout:
2. Compound (more than one muscle group) exercises revolving around what I refer to as The Big 3.
3. Cool-down involving stretching and/or foam rolling. Foam rolling is optional, but really awesome and it will help with recovery.
As you may have noticed, I’ve added stretches twice in the warm-up and cool-down. This is simply because a lot of the clients I’ve worked with in the past had desk jobs that made them so inflexible that they could not obtain correct form with exercises. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how important flexibility is to you.
With that said, I’m going to focus on #2 for now.
The Big 3
What are “The Big 3?” The Big 3 are as follows:
- Upper Body Push Movement — Wide Grip Push-ups, Diamond Push-ups, Dips, etc.
- Upper Body Pull Movement — Pull-ups, Inverted Row, etc.
- Lower Body Movement — Squats, Lunges, etc.
That’s basically it, that’s all you need for a beginners bodyweight workout. These 3 different types of movements will hit the entire body. If you are very new to weight training, this might seem like it is too easy and doesn’t involve enough exercises. Don’t be fooled. Yes, there are fewer exercises, but the exercises you are doing recruit more muscle motor units than isolation exercises because they involve more than one muscle group; thus making them more efficient exercises.
The following is a good bodyweight workout for that you can do at home or outside:
I like this bodyweight workout for beginners because it hits the big 3, it works every muscle group, it’s simple, and it can be done quickly if you are pressed for time. I don’t believe he specified a rep range so I am going to assume it’s until muscle failure (if it’s not then it should be). Here are some additional tips to make it easier if some of the exercises are too advanced:
- Widen the grip for push-ups.
- If female or really out of shape, start with push-ups on your knees.
- Use a resistance band to help with pull-ups.
- Do chin-ups instead of pull-ups. This means that your palms are going to be facing towards you rather than away from you. This takes a lot of the load off of the lats by using more of the biceps, thus making the movement easier.
Also, although okay for the absolute beginner, I would quickly replace his leg exercises with some good bodyweight squats and lunges.
Here’s one more video making good arguments for the big 3:
So, there you have it, the key to a good beginner bodyweight workout. Hopefully, you’ll find this to be an excellent starting place. You might find yourself amazed at how quickly these exercises will really jump-start your new training program.
Jatae Jeter is a fitness trainer located on the central coast of California. After dropping 120lbs, she specialized in training for fat loss for several years before making it a passion to pursue more holistic approaches to improving health and physical/mental performance.