The Best Beginner Bodyweight Workout Plan in Only 30 Minutes!
Bodyweight strength training, also known as calisthenics, has always been popular. After all, people have been working out for centuries, but gyms and training equipment are both much more recent developments.
A lot of people mistakenly believe that bodyweight exercises are not all that effective, but the reality is quite different.
Whether you want to lose weight, get fit, increase your strength, or even build muscle, you can achieve your goals with bodyweight training and with a workout that takes about 30 minutes.
So, you can’t find a gym or don’t want to go to one? Or you don’t have enough time? Well, sorry, but, no excuses!
Beginner bodyweight workout
Before you start any workout, it’s important to prepare your muscles and joints for what you are about to do. That way, not only are you protected from injury, but you’ll also perform better.
Get things started with a couple of minutes of light cardio. Good options include jumping rope or going for a brisk walk or easy run. By the end, you should feel warm and slightly out of breath but not tired.
The next stage of your warm-up is a few dynamic stretches and joint mobility exercises. Do 10-15 reps of the following moves:
- Half squat with an overhead arm reach as you stand up
- Forward lunge with a waist twist over your leading leg
- Forward leg swings – like kicking a soccer ball
Finally, do a few reps of each of the exercises in the workout you are about to do. This not only completes your warm-up, but it also gives you a chance to practice each one.
Warm and ready for your workout? Then let’s GO!
Do 2-3 sets of each of the following eight exercises and then rest 60-seconds between sets. Do as many reps as possible – called AMRAP. Don’t be surprised if, as you get tired, your reps decrease from set to set. For example, you might do ten reps, eight reps, and then just six. That’s perfectly ok; just do as many as you can in good form.
Your bodyweight exercises are:
- Prisoner squats
- Step-through lunges
- Chair dips
- Twisting crunches
- Back extensions
Why AMRAP, and not a prescribed number of repetitions per exercise? Good question. The answer is that we don’t know how fit you are, and some people reading this will be more capable than others.
Ten reps could be too many for some people, while that same ten reps could be too few for others. The AMRAP method means you can self-regulate the workout to your needs and abilities. You decided how hard you work.
To get the most from any exercise, you must do it correctly. Done right, your chosen exercise will work your muscles without overstressing your joints. Done incorrectly, that same exercise won’t be as effective, and it could end up hurting you.
1. Prisoner squats
Squats are the cornerstone of any good bodyweight workout plan. They work all of your lower body and will also increase your heart and breathing rate, making them useful for cardio too. This variation is also good for improving your posture.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward. Clasp your hands behind your head and push your elbows back.
- Push your hips back, bend your legs, and squat down until your knees are bent to about 90 degrees. Do not allow your lower back to round. Your feet should remain flat on the floor; do not lift your heels.
- Stand back up and repeat. Continue until your thighs are burning!
This exercise works your upper back and biceps. It’s not easy, but it’s a very powerful exercise that can help you build muscle and strength. Can’t do chin-ups? Use a resistance band for assistance or try incline rows instead.
How to do it:
- Hold a sturdy overhead bar with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. Your arms shoulder be straight, and you’re clear of the floor. Pull your shoulders down and back, and lift your chest.
- Without kicking or swinging, bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar.
- Extend your arms and lower yourself back down under control; do not drop!
- Keep going until you are unable to complete another rep.
Arguably the most popular bodyweight exercise on the planet, no calisthenic workout is complete without at least a few sets of push-ups. Push-ups work your chest, shoulders, and triceps, as well as your core and legs, albeit indirectly.
How to do it:
- Squat down and place your hands flat on the floor, fingers pointing forward. Walk your feet back and out until your body is straight. Brace your abs to support your spine. Do not allow your hips to lift or drop out of alignment.
- Bend your arms and lower your chest down to the floor.
- Straighten your arms and push yourself back up. Keep going until you cannot do another rep with good form.
- If full push-ups are too challenging, bend your legs and rest on your knees. These are called three-quarter push-ups.
4. Prone-Iso Abs aka Planks
Planks work your core, which is the collective term for the muscles that make up your midsection. Planks are an isometric exercise, so they don’t involve any actual movement. Do not hold your breath when you plank, as doing so will increase your blood pressure.
How to do it:
- Lie on your front and rest on your elbows, so your forearms are extended out in front of you, hands either clasped together or flat on the floor.
- With your legs straight, lift your hips off the floor, so your body is straight, and your weight rests on your elbows and toes only.
- Maintain this position for as long as you can.
5. Step-through lunges
This leg exercise is a combination of forward and backward lunges. Like all types of lunges, it works your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes and is also useful for improving balance and coordination.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides. Take a big step forward, bend your rearmost knee, and lower it down to the floor.
- Next, push off your front leg and step straight back into a rearward lunge. Bend your back leg and lower it down to the floor.
- That’s one rep – keep going until your legs start to tire. Then, rest a moment and do your next set on the other leg.
6. Chair dips
This exercise works your triceps, which are the muscles on the back of your upper arm. It can be hard on your shoulders, so don’t bend your arms too far if this exercise causes any joint discomfort.
How to do it:
- Sit on a sturdy chair, legs bent, and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the seat, with your fingers pointing forward. Straighten your arms and lift your butt off the chair. Swing your hips forward, so your butt is just in front of the chair.
- Bend your arms and descend until your elbows are bent to around 90-degrees.
- Push yourself back up and repeat.
- Make this exercise harder by straightening your legs and moving your feet further out in front of you.
7. Twisting crunches
Twisting crunches work your abs and your obliques, which are basically your waist muscles. Lie on an exercise mat or a folded towel to protect your lower back. Take care not to pull on your head while you are doing this exercise, as doing so could hurt your neck.
How to do it:
- Lie on the floor with your legs bent, feet elevated. Your thighs should be vertical. Place your hands on your temples.
- Lift your head, shoulders, and upper back off the floor. Twist your upper body and touch your elbow to the opposite knee.
- Unwind and lie back down before doing another rep to the other side.
8. Back extensions
Your final exercise is for your lower back. This exercise is good for lower back strength and posture, both of which may reduce your risk of back pain.
How to do it:
- Lie on your front with your hands clasped behind your back. Look straight down at the floor and keep your feet on the floor too.
- Lift your head, shoulders, and chest a few inches off the floor, taking care not to hyperextend your spine.
- Lie back down and repeat.
Once you have completed your workout, spend a few minutes stretching the muscles you have just trained. This will help improve your flexibility and may also prevent post-workout muscle soreness.
The beauty of bodyweight training is that you don’t need much in the way of equipment to have a good workout. After all, your body is your gym! That said, there are a few items that could make your home workouts more effective or comfortable.
1. Doorway pull-up bar
- MULTIFUNCTIONAL – 12 comfortable grips & various handles allow you...
- UPPER BODY STRENGTH - Strengthen entire upper body and abs with...
- EASY TO ASSEMBLE & INSTALL – Slip-in design fits standard doorways...
You can do pull-ups and chin-ups from almost any overhead bar, such as a tree branch or roof joist. But, if you don’t have any of those things, you can also use a doorway pull-up bar. This model provides several grip options and can also be used for push-ups and dips.
2. TRX GO suspension trainer
- Our lightest most convenient travel trainer. TRX’s GO Suspension...
- Incredible results in just 20 minutes. TRX gives you the power to hit...
- Movement-based training at your own pace. is TRX's Training...
Suspension trainers make almost every bodyweight more effective. The handles move as you work out, increasing balance, core, and stability demands. You can also use a suspension trainer to replicate many of the exercises you can do in a gym – such as biceps curls and chest flyes. The TRX Go is light, strong, portable, and ideal for home use.
3. Workout mat
- THE YOGA CLOUD: There's nothing like life in the clouds! This...
- 4X THE THICKNESS: High density foam is 4 times thicker than a...
- NON-SLIP SURFACE: Includes no-slip ridges and a moisture-resistant...
There is no need to be uncomfortable when doing your bodyweight floor exercises. This non-slip mat will protect your back when you lie on the hard floor, leaving you free to concentrate 100% on your workout.
4. No Gym? No Problem! : The DIY Fitness Bible
- Dale, Patrick (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 200 Pages - 03/01/2014 (Publication Date) - Robert Hale (Publisher)
The workout outlined above is just the start of your bodyweight training career! This book, the DIY Fitness Bible by ex-British Royal Marine and fitness specialist Patrick Dale, is packed with home workout ideas, as well as for instructions for making your own exercise equipment. It also includes information on nutrition for health and weight management.
Beginner Bodyweight Workout – Final Thoughts
Working out at home is often a better choice than going to the gym. For a start, you can work out at any time, and there won’t be a line of people waiting to use the same equipment that you want. Also, you won’t have to waste time traveling to your gym, and you won’t have to share your post-workout shower with a bunch of strangers either!
Whether you rely entirely on bodyweight exercises, buy a few items of workout equipment, or build a state-of-the-art home or garage gym, working out at home is a viable way to get fit, build muscle, and get strong.
Eventually, you might want to increase your muscular endurance, hypertrophy (muscle growth), or strength after using an excellent beginner bodyweight workout. To that end, there are few better ways to achieve these fitness goals than conventional squats, bench press, and deadlifts.
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