When you think about keeping fit, building muscle and toning up, you tend to think of lifting weights or pounding the treadmill at the gym. While this is one of the most popular ways of increasing strength and achieving your body goals, did you know that bodyweight exercises can be just as effective?
There are many reasons why not everyone can or wants to work out in a gym – whether that’s to save money, they have a lack of time, or they just don’t have the motivation at the end of a long day. Home workouts have been on the increase this year and bodyweight exercises are becoming a go-to substitute for those with limited equipment. And that’s the great part about bodyweight workouts – you need nothing more than a bit of space and your own body to build strength and tone up. In this article, we’ll be talking about everything you need to know about bodyweight exercises for beginners.
What Is Bodyweight Training?
Bodyweight training is really exactly that – using your body weight to exercise. Rather than using weights, you rely on your own body weight to build strength and endurance helping you to achieve a lean body while also sculpting and toning your muscles. It’s convenient, cost-efficient, builds your strength naturally, and you can burn a shed-load of calories too, plus you minimise the risk of injury that you would otherwise get from lifting heavy weights.
What Are The Benefits Of Bodyweight Training?
1. Cost-effective and time efficient
Gyms aren’t cheap and you generally have to pay a monthly fee to use their equipment. For well-equipped gyms you tend to pay a high subscription, whereas with cheaper gyms subscriptions although you’re saving a little on cost you’re often limited with the choice of equipment. Bodyweight training requires nothing but your own body weight so it not only saves you money, but you also get time back, and perhaps some motivation too from not having to head off to a gym!
2. Perfect for beginners
If you’re new to workouts, working out at a gym for the first time can often be overwhelming and may make some people nervous. It’s easy to feel like you don’t know where to begin at a gym and you can feel like everyone’s watching what you do and passing judgement. If you’re performing bodyweight exercises at home, not only are you away from other people and in familiar surroundings but you also side-step the issue of having to learn how all the equipment works or what the specific gym etiquette is. And it doesn’t matter what level of fitness you have, bodyweight exercises can be for everyone and offer a really effective way to increase your strength, stamina and fitness level over time and without judgement.
3. Reduced chances of injury
Since you aren’t surrounded by weights and pieces of equipment you aren’t familiar with yet, your chances of getting injured are lower. Of course, this isn’t to say that you’ll be completely immune – poor form for instance can still cause injury.
Some Beginner Bodyweight Training Exercises
If you’re new to bodyweight training, or any kind of training for that matter, these beginner exercises below are a great way to get you started. The moves are simple but they’ll get your muscles working and you’ll start to develop strength and stamina where you may be lacking currently.
If you want to put them together to make a routine, I recommend doing around 10 to 15 reps of each exercise with 30-60 seconds rest in between. For added challenge, do them as a circuit which you can then repeat once or twice more depending on your fitness level. As you gain strength, you can increase the amount of reps, decrease your rest time, or both!
A great ab exercise. Lie down on the floor, using a gym mat if needed to cushion your body, with your knees bent towards the sky. To start, begin by lifting your shoulders and head towards your bent knees. You should be feeling your abs contract gradually as you push yourself upwards. Hold and squeeze your abs at the top for a second and then release back down. Repeat for a total of 10 to 15 reps.
This exercise will work your chest, shoulders and arms, as well as your core. To start, go into a plank position with the palm of your hands flat on the floor. Keeping your core tight, back straight and head lifted, push down into the floor and raise your upper body through your arms and chest until your arms are fully extended before returning to your starting position. Hold here for a second before repeating the move. You should feel the burn in your chest, arms and shoulders in this exercise. Repeat for a total of 10 reps.
3. Side leg-raises
This will build strength in your legs and work your core and glutes. Lie down on your left side, with your right leg resting on top of your left leg. Your arms should be supporting your head for this exercise. Keeping your right leg straight, lift it up towards the sky, creating a scissor shape, pause at the top, and then release back down again. Repeat this for 10 reps before switching sides and performing with your left leg.
This is a really effective move to build your lower body and will target your leg muscles including your hamstrings and quadriceps, as well as the glutes. Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart. Now lower your body as if you’re about to sit on a chair and keep your knees aligned with your feet, forming a 90-degree angle with your legs. You should feel a burn in your legs and glutes. Hold here for a second before returning to the start position. Repeat this exercise for at least 10 to 15 reps.
5. Glute Bridge
For this exercise, you need to be lying down on your mat, with your knees bent towards the sky. Start by lifting your hips and glutes up to form a straight line from your chest to your legs and make sure to squeeze the glutes at the top of the move for a second or two before returning back down to the mat. Repeat for between 10 to 15 reps. Make sure that you maintain proper posture and you don’t over-arch your back to avoid injury.
6. Mountain climbers
This exercise acts as both a cardio and core exercise. Place yourself in the same initial position as you did with the push-up earlier and alternate bringing your knees in towards your chest. Do this as fast as you can to get your heart rate up and feel the burn in your abs. Perform this move for around 25 to 30 seconds and try to work up to more if you can over time, aiming for 60 seconds eventually.
Start by standing with feet hip width apart. Now take your right foot forward, with your knees bent and aligned with your feet, until you’re at a 90-degree angle. Push back to standing position again and repeat. Do this for 10 reps on one side before changing sides and repeating for a further 10 reps. Remember to keep your core consistently engaged the entire time and your back straight.
Give Them A Go!
A whistle-stop tour on bodyweight exercises for beginners, if you’re new to bodyweight training do try these out. When you’re comfortable with these and you want more of a challenge there are plenty of more advanced routines available online. Bodyweight exercises are a remarkable way to tone, sculpt, and build muscle to gain both strength and endurance at the same time so don’t underestimate how effective they can be as a substitute for lifting weights. Fancy giving these a go? If you do let me know how you get on in the comments below!