Exercises for Beginners: 17 Bodyweight and Bodyweight Exercises

So, the new year is almost here. But the usual New Year's resolution to get fit may not be that easy this year, with gyms closed in some parts of the country, and so many of us still don't feel safe enough to restore our subscriptions, hence workouts. at home they are essential.

So, this goes out to anyone who wants to start their fitness journey in 2021, but aren't quite so sure they're ready to hit the gym yet. We have the information you need.

Using only your body weight or home furniture, there is something for everyone.

Bodyweight exercises | Training without equipment

No equipment, no problems. Using body weight alone is a great way to start reaching your goals. Always make sure to stretch well-trained and very tired muscles afterwards to minimize the dreaded muscle pain you feel the next day.

1. Bear Crawl

Series: 4 | Reps: 5-10 (4 steps forward and back equals 1 repetition)

This is one of my all time favorite bodyweight exercises. It will not leave any muscles untrained with special attention to the shoulders and abs.

  1. Start with your hands under your shoulders and your knees about 3 inches off the floor, directly below your hips
  2. Move your left hand and right foot forward together for a short distance and then repeat for the opposite side
  3. With each step forward or backward you should focus on fully engaging your abs to prevent your hips from twisting
  4. Remember to keep breathing during this movement

Regression: if you start wrestling, get on your knees for a moment before starting your next rep.


2. Squat Jump

Series: 4 | Reps: 15-20

An old favorite for conditioning those legs and increasing heart rate. You'll hit your quads and glutes with this one, but make sure you keep your heels down when squatting to prevent your calves from having fun.

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider (whichever feels most comfortable)
  2. Squat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor or until you can squat lower without bending in your lower back
  3. From the bottom of the squat stand up as hard as you can and lift your feet off the floor
  4. Lift your chest and keep your eyes pointed forward
  5. Upon landing, bend your knees to absorb the impact and immediately begin the next rep

Regression: remove the jump and do a bodyweight squat.


3. Press up

Series: 4 | Reps: maximum (with good technique)

Sometimes, there's really no need to reinvent the wheel. This is a staple of home workouts for beginners and advanced alike. Working mainly on the chest and triceps, with a little bite in those shoulders as you go through the reps.

  1. Hands just outside your shoulders with your abs engaged (make sure you don't arch your lower back and don't drop your hips)
  2. Lower your chest so that your shoulders are in line with your elbows or slightly lower (remember how low your chest is, not your nose)
  3. Return to the starting position by pushing through your palm and actively thinking about contracting your chest

Regression: get on your knees to make it easier and reduce your range of motion to match your strength.


4. Jump Lunges

Series: 4 | Reps: 10-20

Take your A game with this. It has the potential to let you bend over at your hip and bounce your chest off your thigh. When done correctly, you will once again increase your heart rate and really get your glutes working.

  1. Take a long step and bend your back knee until your front thigh is parallel to the floor
  2. Push your feet firmly to the floor and push your feet off the ground
  3. Keep your chest elevated and eyes facing forward
  4. Change your position in the air with speed and precision and bend your knees during landing
  5. Engage your abs and prevent your chest from dropping towards the thigh
  6. Follow steps 2 to 5 for each leg continuously until all repetitions are complete

Regression: remove the jump and do a lunge forward or backward instead (see the dumbbell version of this in the Dumbbell Exercises at Home section below)


5. Burpees

Series: 4 | Reps: 5-10

How can I include this exercise in a beginner workout, I hear you ask. In a nutshell, it is one of the most effective, caloric, and easily editable exercises you could do in your home.

  1. Bend your knees (not your back) and place your hands on the floor
  2. Jump or return your feet to a full plank position
  3. Drop your chest to the floor
  4. Press back to the full plank position and jump your feet inward
  5. Drive hard on the floor and jump as high as you can
  6. Bend your knees on landing and immediately begin the next rep

Regression - Step back and forth with your feet and keep your knees down during the press. If the jumps have made you reach the sick bucket, take point number 5 and work to your limits.


How to Exercise Using Your Surroundings | Training with furniture

Do you ever find yourself, nothing to do, looking around the sofa, dining room chairs and stairs wondering how to use them to achieve your goals? Each of these items can have a second purpose, it's called your home gym! We used a dining room bench for the following exercises, but it is all transferable to other furniture.

6. Step-up

Series: 3 per leg | Reps: 10-15 per leg

You'll be glad you started doing this exercise in the summer when you start filling in your swimsuit with some neatly sculpted curves. You'll feel it mostly in your glutes with some support from your quads. Important note: Don't let your calves take over by bouncing your back foot too much.

  1. Put one foot on the chair / bench
  2. Keep your hands in front of chest height to avoid swinging your arms and generating momentum
  3. Shift your body weight onto your front leg and stand up, lifting your chest and keeping your eyes facing forward
  4. Check your weight back and keep your foot on the chair
  5. Pause for a second before completing the next repetition to avoid bouncing off the back foot
  6. Complete all reps on one leg before switching

Regression - Lower the height of your step by using the first or second step of your stairs or by using your sofa. Remove the sofa cushions to further lower the height.


7. Bench diving

Series: 4 | Reps: 10-15

For the most part, doing pushups correctly might leave you with your face planting the mat, rather than looking like those athletes who can somehow levitate between reps while clapping their hands behind their backs. The bench dip is a great alternative to start strengthening your triceps, chest and shoulders.

  1. Place your hands just outside your hips on the bench / chair
  2. Feet forward with knees bent (the greater the curve, the easier it will be)
  3. Lower your hips until your upper arm is parallel to the floor (or as far away as possible)
  4. Keep your hips close to the bench
  5. Push the palm of your hand and extend your arms
  6. At the top think about holding for a second while really squeezing your triceps

Regression - Reducing the range of motion and bending your knees more will make this exercise more manageable.


8. Toe Taps

Series: 4 | Reps: 20-30

How can you add more precision and balance to just running on the spot? I pat you on the feet. By forcing you to lift your foot higher than when running in place, this will definitely increase your heart rate. By working virtually all lower body muscles with little abdominal involvement, this is a great addition to your home workout.

  1. Place the toes of one foot on the bench and keep the weight of the body on the leg on the floor
  2. A slight bounce on the rear foot just enough to lift off the ground
  3. With speed and precision, change your feet
  4. You're aiming not to rest between each rep, just like you would if you run in place
  5. Keep your chest elevated and remember to keep breathing

Regression - While you are trying to move your feet at the same time at speed, you may have to slow down a touch if you are new to this.


9. Split Squat with raised back leg (1 ½ repetitions)

Series: 3 per leg | Reps: 8-12 per leg

There is no doubt in my mind that this will test your leg strength, there is simply no way to cheat. This will work your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, where you feel it most will depend a lot on your position and body position.

  1. With your back to the bench, take a medium step forward and lift your back foot onto the bench
  2. You feel comfortable standing without hunching your lower back too much. If you feel this happening, straighten your back and lean forward slightly
  3. Bend your front leg and lower your back knee. Focus on pushing the heel of your front foot as you push up
  4. You should do a half rep between each full rep so that 1 full rep and 1 half is counted as 1 full rep
  5. Complete all reps on one leg before switching

Regression: if you feel awkward or too demanding, try with both feet on the floor first.


Dumbbell Exercises At Home | Training with weights

One of the staples of the home kit, that pair of dumbbells hidden in the closet that haven't seen the light of day since the day after you bought them. Well, it's time to dust them off and put them to use. Here are some simple and very effective exercises to try.

10. Goblet Squat

Series: 4 | Reps: 10-15

We all know squats are supposedly great for us, but do we know why? First, it is a fundamental movement that we should all be able to perform. Secondly, it's great for sculpting our legs and strengthening our core.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider and hold the dumbbell under your chin
  2. Bend your knees and sit back until your thigh is parallel to the floor or as low as possible without bending in the lower back
  3. Keeping your back straight, lifting your chest and looking forward will help you
  4. Push through the heels of your feet as you stand with your knees aligned over your big toe

Regression - Lose the dumbbell and go with bodyweight squats if the extra weight is too much.


11. Renegade Row

Series: 4 | Reps: 16-20

If you were short on time and only had to choose a couple of exercises, this would be one of them. Working most of the major muscles with not too heavy weight will be a great addition to HIIT and conditioning workouts alike.

  1. Position yourself on a full board with your hands on the dumbbells directly under your shoulders and your legs straight with your feet slightly wider than your hips
  2. Hold your abs tight and pull a dumbbell over your ribcage with minimal twisting of the hips and shoulders
    Don't rush the reps, it's much more beneficial to take your time if it means you can better engage your abs.

Regression - To lower the intensity, drop to your knees or go dumbbell-free and simply test your body weight.

12. Reverse alternating lunge

Series: 3 | Reps: 16-20

Light up your legs with this great variation of a traditional lunge. Reverse lunges allow for better control and more often than not work in the glutes.

  1. From standing, take a long step back while keeping a little more of your weight on the front leg
  2. Keep your chest raised to encourage a straight back
  3. The heel of your front foot should remain firmly planted throughout the movement
  4. It is important not to swing your arms to increase momentum as this will drastically reduce the effectiveness of this exercise

Regression - To make this exercise more manageable, just test your body weight until you feel strong enough to hold light dumbbells.


13. Dumbbell shoulder press

Series: 4 | Reps: 8-12

Performed standing or sitting, this is a fundamental exercise for improving shoulder strength. Working primarily in the center and front of the shoulders, the triceps will also play a supporting role towards the top of the press.

  1. Sitting or standing, start with the dumbbells just above your shoulders with your elbows directly below
  2. Press the dumbbells over your head until your arms are fully extended or closed according to your flexibility
  3. Return the dumbbells with control and without letting them rest on your shoulders
  4. It allows you to keep your back straight and resist the temptation to lean back

Regression: if possible, choose a lighter weight. If weight selection is limited and this isn't an option, focus your efforts on bent rows and pushups to build a more substantial base level of strength.


14. Dumbbell swing

Series: 4 | Reps: 15-20

Traditionally performed with a kettlebell but easily performed with a dumbbell if access to equipment is limited. A great way to get the hamstrings and glutes working on all cylinders with the added benefit of increasing your heart rate and increasing calorie consumption.

  1. Start with feet wider than hip width (wide enough to allow you to comfortably sing a dumbbell)
  2. Start with a couple of smaller reps to create a rhythm
  3. When the dumbbell swings back between your legs, keep your back straight and pivot your hip with only a small bend in the knee
  4. The movement comes from the hips instead of the back, so keep your back straight the entire time
  5. Your glutes will be the driving force of the swing, so squeeze your glutes at the bottom of the swing and guide the dumbbell at shoulder height
  6. Swings should be continuous and each rep should flow after the previous rep

Endurance exercises at home | Training with resistance bands

Band training has grown in popularity significantly in recent years and they are a great addition to most workouts. They're small, compact, and easy to carry, so band workouts are great at home, in hotel rooms, or as an au pair. Here I will show you some good exercises to get you started.

15. Banded suitcase squat

Series: 4 | Reps: 8-15

Even if you won't pick up your suitcase and stop for a short vacation, this exercise intensity can be easily adjusted by changing your grip, so it will be easier to grab a heavy suitcase next time. The Suitcase Squat will work the large hip extensors, quads and glutes, but will also require a lot of stabilization from the back, abs and shoulders.

  1. Stand on the band with your feet under your hips
  2. Hold the band in a place that offers adequate resistance at the top (hold higher to make it easier and lower to make it harder)
  3. Shrug your shoulders and lock your back straight
  4. Push your heels and stand up straight
  5. With each repetition, bend your knees in a squat-like fashion until your thighs are parallel to the floor or slightly higher
  6. You will notice that the resistance increases as you approach the standing position

Regression: hold the band higher to reduce the stretching of the band and thus reduce drag.


16. Row folded in bands

Series: 4 | Reps: 8-15

Many people dominate the chest and without the equipment it can be difficult to work the back. This exercise will help strengthen the major back muscles not to mention the back of the shoulder with some bicep action.


17. Single arm bandaged shoulder

Series: 4 | Reps: 8-15

A cheeky little variation to a traditional shoulder press for strength and sculpting those shoulders. I always like to use single arm and single leg exercises to make sure I work the same way on the non-dominant side. You will find more tension at the top of this than with a simple dumbbell due to the nature of the band increasing in tension as it is stretched.

  1. Start by kneeling one knee on the band and the other foot in front
  2. Keep the band on the same side as your knee with the band down
  3. Press your arms overhead with the band outward until your arm is fully extended
  4. When returning to the starting position, try not to lose all tension in the band
  5. It is important to engage the abs so that the hips and shoulders remain facing forward


Starting your fitness journey doesn't have to be as daunting as it sounds in your head.

Start with these simple bodyweight exercises before gaining confidence to practice different variations and create your own mini workouts. Start the new year right by getting your blood pumping.

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