Best Full Body Bodyweight Exercises and Workouts For At Home or The Gym
What are bodyweight exercises?
As the name suggests, bodyweight training involves undertaking a series of strength training exercises using only your own body weight as resistance against gravity. This means there's no need for weights or machines, just your own body… and gravity of course!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT?
They're incredibly simple. As there's no kit involved, you can do them anywhere and at any time. Plus, you don’t need to spend time between exercises setting up the next piece of equipment, as there isn't any, which means you maximise your time spent working out.
Bodyweight exercises involve compound movements using many joints and muscles. As a result, the workout combines cardio and strength training, helping you build muscle and burn calories. Research has shown that your raised metabolism from working out lasts for hours, even after you stop exercising.
Bodyweight training is easy to adapt to any fitness level. Too hard? Do fewer reps. Too easy? Do more reps or adapt the exercise slightly to make it trickier. If it turns out a particular exercise isn't right for you, there are plenty more to choose from that will give you similar results.
Compound exercises also strengthen your core which can improve your posture and performance and help to protect against back problems.
As with any type of workout, you’ll see a greater level of success when pairing it with a healthy diet. After all, the old saying 'You can't out-train a bad diet' is a favourite for a reason. You can learn more about this over on our Nutrition & Diet pages.
Are bodyweight exercises good for building muscle?
If you’re looking to bulk up and increase your muscle mass, then bodyweight training can definitely help, but to really see improvements when building muscle, you need to consistently be pushing and challenging your body through exercise.
Usually, we’d recommend integrating increasingly heavy weights, like dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells, to overload your muscles. However, this is about bodyweight workouts - so what about if you don’t have access to free weights or workout equipment?
The challenge with bodyweight workouts is that you’re limited to your body weight, and this typically doesn’t increase at the rate you need to build muscle. Fortunately, this doesn’t need to hold you back from building muscle. If you’re keen to bulk with bodyweight exercises you can:
- Increase reps - keep extending the time or number of repetitions that you’re performing each movement for as it will make them more challenging for your muscles.
- Try different, more challenging variations - do you usually do regular push ups? Why not challenge yourself to one armed push ups to increase the amount of work your body needs to do to stabilise?
- Increase time under tension - by slowing down each movement, your body spends more time under strain which helps to promote muscle growth.
Can you do bodyweight exercises every day?
You may be wondering how often to do bodyweight exercises. Tthe good news is that you can do them as often as you’d like, although don’t forget to take rest days as they are crucial in preventing injuries and aiding recovery!
The wide range of different bodyweight movements you can try means you can alternate your focus on different areas (upper body, lower body, core etc.) on different days across the week, or if you’d prefer, you can tackle one full body bodyweight workout and focus the rest of your week on different training styles.
Try our 25 minute full body bodyweight workout at home or in the gym
Tempted to give bodyweight exercises a try? Then have a go at this simple full bodyweight workout we've pulled together. Don't forget to warm up with a gentle jog and stretches before you start so your body is ready to work out.
Make sure to complete 60 seconds of the following 8 exercises and repeat each exercise three times before moving to the next, or alternatively complete the circuit and repeat three times.
- Push ups: place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, with feet hip-width apart. Keep your body straight with your core engaged and then bend your elbows until your chest brushes the floor, before slowly returning to the start position. For an easier alternative, put your hands on a chair or the wall rather than the floor, or if you're feeling adventurous, try an elevated push up with your feet on a bench or chair.
- Wall sit: stand with your back against the wall then slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground and your knees are directly above your feet. Hold this position.
- Plank: start in a press up position, then drop to your elbows so you're supporting your body weight on your lower arms. Your body should be straight as you clasp your hands together, tuck in your tummy and hold that position for 60 seconds. Sounds easy? Give it a go!
- Bear crawl: You guessed it, this exercise involves walking like a bear, using your hands and feet simultaneously. Set off with the right foot and hand and crawl to the end of the room or a clear turning point before returning to the start point
- Squats: Stand with your feet roughly hip-width apart then slowly bend down using your knees and hips until your thighs are parallel with the ground. As you bend down bring your arms up in front of you so they are parallel with your shoulders. Make sure your heels remain flat on the ground
- Sprint: Pick a turning point about 50 feet in the distance and sprint towards it. Walk or jog back to the start, turn, and sprint off again
- Burpees: There's a reason these have a reputation for being tough! From a standing position, drop into a press up pose and perform one press up. Then pull your legs up to the squat position, spring up so both feet leave the ground, and clap your hands above your head. And that's just one rep!
- Glute bridge: Great for targeting your lower body, back and core, the glute bridge is particularly helpful for combatting sitting at a desk for most of the day. Lie on your back with your knees bent and lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from knees to shoulders. Hold for a couple of seconds before for returning to starting position.
At the end of your workout, make sure you cool down and stretch to prevent injuries and allow your muscles to recover.
If you've tried bodyweight workouts and want to explore this route further, check out our guide to calisthenics. Calisthenics is a practice that uses bodyweight movements to really challenge the mind and body.
For specific workout ideas, download the free PureGym app, and create a customised training plan for your fitness goals or get involved with our on-demand classes and workouts. Still not sure where to start? Our Starting at the Gym hub has plenty of ideas for workouts to try. Or, you could consider booking a session with a dedicated Personal Trainer at PureGym - they’re able to offer a wealth of advice and fitness plans.