Bodyweight training is a great way to build strength, endurance, and flexibility without needing equipment or a gym membership. But is it compelling enough for beginners to get in shape? In this ultimate guide to bodyweight training for beginners, we will explore the benefits of bodyweight training, the best bodyweight exercises for beginners, and a beginner-friendly bodyweight workout routine that you can do at home or anywhere.
What is Bodyweight Training?
Bodyweight training, also known as calisthenics, is a form of exercise that uses an individual’s body weight as resistance to build strength, endurance, and flexibility. It involves various activities, such as push-ups, squats, lunges, dips, and planks, without using weights or machines.
Bodyweight training has been around for centuries. It is believed to have originated in ancient Greece, where athletes would use their body weight to train for various sports and competitions. Over time, bodyweight training has evolved and become famous in multiple cultures and regions worldwide.
Benefits of bodyweight training
- Improves functional movement: Bodyweight exercises mimic everyday activities, making them functional and practical. This can improve overall strength, flexibility, and mobility, leading to better posture, balance, and coordination.
- Increases strength and endurance: Bodyweight training can increase muscle strength and endurance by challenging your body to move and work against resistance. It can target multiple muscle groups at once and can be easily modified to increase or decrease difficulty.
- Improves flexibility: Bodyweight exercises can help improve flexibility by stretching the muscles and increasing the range of motion. This can reduce the risk of injury and improve overall performance.
- Convenient and affordable: Bodyweight training is convenient and affordable because it requires little to no equipment and can be done almost anywhere, making it an excellent option for people with limited time or access to a gym.
Bodyweight training is a versatile and practical exercise that can benefit individuals of all fitness levels and abilities. Its ability to improve functional movement, increase strength and endurance, improve flexibility, and be convenient and affordable makes it a popular choice for many people looking to improve their health and fitness.
Can You Get in Shape with Just Bodyweight Exercises?
Being “in shape” means that you are physically healthy and have a certain fitness level. This can mean different things for different people, depending on their goals, age, gender, and overall health. Generally, being in shape implies having a healthy body composition, which involves having a low body fat percentage and a high muscle mass. It also means having good cardiovascular health, which involves having a strong heart and lungs and performing physical activities without getting exhausted or out of breath too quickly.
Importance of nutrition and lifestyle habits
- Proper nutrition is essential for fueling your body during exercise and aiding in recovery afterward.
- A balanced diet with various whole foods, including lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, can help you meet your fitness goals.
- Drinking enough water is also crucial for staying hydrated during workouts and supporting bodily functions.
- Lifestyle habits such as getting enough sleep, managing stress, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can all impact your overall health and fitness.
- Prioritizing recovery activities such as stretching, foam rolling, and taking rest days can also help prevent injury and support muscle growth and repair.
Evidence-based benefits of bodyweight exercises
Bodyweight exercises have been shown to provide numerous benefits for weight loss, muscle gain, and overall fitness. They are an excellent option for individuals who do not have access to a gym or prefer to exercise at home. Here are some evidence-based benefits of bodyweight exercises:
- Weight loss: Bodyweight exercises can be a highly effective way to burn calories and promote weight loss. Research has shown that high-intensity bodyweight training can increase metabolism and help burn fat for up to 48 hours after a workout. Additionally, bodyweight exercises can be combined into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines, which are more effective for weight loss than traditional steady-state cardio.
- Muscle gain: Bodyweight exercises can also effectively build muscle and improve overall body composition. Using your body weight as resistance, you can challenge your muscles and stimulate muscle growth. Research has shown that bodyweight exercises can be just as practical for building muscle as traditional weightlifting exercises.
- Overall fitness: Bodyweight exercises can improve fitness by increasing strength, endurance, and flexibility. Many bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and lunges, require multiple muscle groups to work together, which can improve overall strength and coordination. Additionally, bodyweight exercises can be modified to challenge different fitness levels, making them a versatile option for people of all fitness levels.
Bodyweight exercises can be a highly effective way to improve weight loss, muscle gain, and overall fitness. They can be an excellent option for individuals who prefer to exercise at home or cannot access a gym.
Comparison of bodyweight training and gym workouts
While bodyweight exercises can effectively get you in shape, they are not necessarily better or worse than gym workouts. Both exercise types have pros and cons; the choice between them will depend on your personal preferences, goals, and resources. Gym workouts typically require more equipment and space, but they offer a wider variety of exercises and can allow you to lift heavier weights. Bodyweight exercises are more convenient and can be done anywhere, but they may not offer as much resistance or variety. Ultimately, the best approach is to find a workout routine that you enjoy, and that fits into your lifestyle, whether that involves bodyweight exercises, gym workouts, or a combination of both.
Bodyweight training and gym workouts are popular ways to exercise and improve fitness levels. Here are some comparisons between the two:
- Cost: Bodyweight exercises are free, whereas gym memberships can be expensive.
- Convenience: Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, without equipment. Gyms require travel and specific equipment.
- Customization: Bodyweight exercises can be easily modified to fit individual fitness levels and goals. Gyms offer a variety of equipment and classes to suit different needs.
- Strength training: Bodyweight exercises can be practical for building strength, especially for beginners. Gyms offer access to heavier weights and specialized equipment for advanced lifters.
- Cardiovascular fitness: Both bodyweight exercises and gym workouts can improve cardiovascular fitness, although gym workouts may offer more variety in equipment and exercises.
- Socialization: Gyms offer the opportunity to exercise in a social environment and meet new people. Bodyweight exercises can be done alone or with a workout partner.
Overall, both bodyweight training and gym workouts have their advantages and disadvantages. It ultimately comes down to individual preferences, goals, and lifestyle factors.
Advantages and disadvantages of bodyweight training for beginners:
- Bodyweight exercises are usually simple and easy to learn.
- They can be performed anywhere without requiring any equipment or gym membership.
- Bodyweight exercises are low-impact, making them suitable for people with joint or mobility issues.
- Beginners can start with more accessible variations of exercises and progress to more challenging ones as they get stronger.
- Beginners may find bodyweight exercises challenging if they lack essential strength and mobility.
- Bodyweight exercises may not be suitable for people with injuries or medical conditions that limit their movement.
- Unlike gym equipment, bodyweight exercises may not provide sufficient resistance for advanced lifters.
How to determine if bodyweight training is proper for you:
- Consider your fitness goals and preferences. Bodyweight training may be a good fit if you enjoy exercising at home or outdoors and want to improve your fitness.
- Assess your current fitness level. If you are a complete beginner or have limited mobility or joint issues, you may benefit from starting with bodyweight exercises that are easier on your body.
- Consult with a fitness professional or medical practitioner if you have concerns about your ability to perform bodyweight exercises safely.
Safety tips and precautions for beginners:
- Warm up properly before starting your workout. A good warm-up should include dynamic stretching and movements that prepare your body for the upcoming exercises.
- Focus on proper form and technique. Learning the correct form of each exercise is essential to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
- Start with more accessible variations of exercises and progress gradually. Don’t try advanced exercises if you’re not ready for them yet.
- Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard. It’s better to take breaks or modify exercises than to risk injury.
- If you have any medical conditions or injuries, consult your doctor or physical therapist before starting a new exercise program.
List of 12 best bodyweight exercises for beginners
- Knee Push-Up: Get down on your hands and knees, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and lower your body until your chest touches the ground. Push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Elevated Push-Up: Place your hands on an elevated surface, such as a bench or step, with your feet on the ground. Perform a regular push-up by lowering your body until your chest touches the elevated surface and then pushing yourself back up to the starting position.
- Regular Push-Up: Start in a plank position, with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and lower your body until your chest touches the ground. Push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Assisted Bodyweight Squat: Stand facing a chair or a wall and hold onto it for support. Lower your body as far as possible by bending your knees while keeping your back straight. Then, push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Bodyweight Squat: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward. Lower your body as far as possible by bending your knees while keeping your back straight. Then, push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Supported Lunges: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and step one foot back, placing the ball of your foot on the ground. Lower your body until your back knee almost touches the ground, then push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Regular Lunges: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and step one foot forward. Lower your body until your back knee almost touches the ground, then push yourself back to the starting position.
- One-Arm Row: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding onto a chair or a wall for support with one hand. With your other hand, pull your elbow back, keeping your hand close to your body. Release and repeat on the other side.
- Plank: Start in a push-up position and hold your body in a straight line from head to heels for as long as you can.
- Side Plank: Start in a plank position and turn your body to the side, resting on one elbow and the side of your foot. Hold this position for as long as po, possible and then switch to the other side.
- Walking Jacks: Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet out to the sides while raising your arms overhead. Then, jump your feet back together while lowering your arms to the starting position.
- Jumping Jacks: Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet out to the sides while raising your arms overhead. Then, jump your feet back together while lowering your arms to the starting position.
Beginner-Friendly Bodyweight Workout Routine
A 20-minute full-body workout routine with three circuits is an excellent way to start a bodyweight training program. This workout is ideal for beginners as it targets all major muscle groups and improves cardiovascular fitness. The movement includes warm-up exercises to prepare your body for the workout, detailed instructions and images for each activity, and tips for modifying the workout routine to fit your fitness level.
The workout routine consists of three circuits, each consisting of four exercises. You will perform each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest between each exercise. After completing one course, rest for 60 seconds before moving on to the following circuit. The activities included in this workout are squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks, which are all great beginner bodyweight exercises.
The warm-up exercises are crucial to prepare your body for the workout, reduce the risk of injury, and improve your overall performance. The warm-up includes jogging in place, arm circles, hip circles, leg swings, and jumping jacks.
Can You Build Muscle Mass with Bodyweight Exercises?
Building muscle mass with bodyweight exercises is possible but requires a progressive overload and volume approach. Progressive overload is the gradual increase of resistance during exercise, while volume refers to the total number of sets and reps performed in a workout. To build muscle mass, you need to progressively increase the resistance or volume of your workouts.
Evidence-based research shows bodyweight exercises can increase muscle mass, especially for untrained or beginners. Bodyweight exercises can also provide similar muscle hypertrophy gains to traditional resistance training exercises.
To design a bodyweight workout program for muscle gain, you should include exercises that target all major muscle groups, such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and pull-ups. Increasing the resistance can be done by adding weight, such as a weighted vest, or modifying the exercise to make it more challenging, such as using a single-leg squat or a one-arm push-up.
After the Beginner Bodyweight Workout: Next Steps!
After completing the beginner bodyweight workout routine, you may wonder what your next steps should be. Here are some tips for progressing beyond the beginner workout and reaching your fitness goals:
- Increase the difficulty: As you become more robust and more comfortable with the exercises in the beginner workout, you can start to increase the problem. This can be done by adding reps, increasing the tempo of the exercise, or trying more challenging variations of the activities.
- Add resistance: While bodyweight exercises can be practical for building muscle mass, adding resistance can further increase difficulty and stimulate muscle growth. This can be done using resistance bands, dumbbells, or other equipment.
- Incorporate cardio and flexibility training: While bodyweight exercises can help improve your cardiovascular fitness and flexibility, it can also be beneficial to incorporate specific cardio and flexibility training into your routine. This can include activities like running, cycling, yoga, or Pilates.
- Track your progress and set new goals: To stay motivated and continue to make progress, it is essential to track and set new goals. This can include measuring your strength and endurance, following your body measurements, or developing specific performance goals, like being able to complete a certain number of push-ups or pull-ups.
Remember, consistency is vital when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. Stick with your workout routine and make adjustments as needed to continue to challenge yourself and make progress.
Bodyweight training is an effective and convenient way for beginners to improve their fitness and health goals. Following the tips and guidelines in this ultimate guide, you can design a safe and effective bodyweight workout program that fits your fitness level and lifestyle. So what are you waiting for? Start your bodyweight training journey today and see excellent results for yourself!
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