If you’re reading this, then you have probably been searching the net about bodyweight training and came across a variety of movements which seem absolutely great, but quite challenging to perform as a beginner.
A proper introduction to bodyweight training (calisthenics) is to start out with the really basic exercises. With the proper workout program, you will be able to enjoy the full benefits of bodyweight training to get to your goal of an all-round well-developed physique.
While weight training targets each muscle individually, bodyweight training puts emphasis on the body as a whole. With that said, below are some basic bodyweight training routines that can get you started.
Pushups are a classic bodyweight training routine and a favorite workout for many. When done with the right technique, push-ups strengthen the chest, elbows, shoulders, legs, and even the glutes. It is indeed a full-body exercise that helps maintain a solid body structure.
If you just started bodyweight training, chances that you are doing your pushups with an unsafe technique, or that you cannot even do a single push-up are high enough.
Some of the likely reasons why you are experiencing difficulties with this routine include; weak shoulder girdle, weak legs, limited mobility in the shoulders, and a weak core. Remember, doing pushups with the wrong technique is unsafe for the joints. And that is exactly why some people say that their lower back, shoulders, or elbows hurt when doing pushups.
If you cannot do a full push-up, don’t give up. Find something elevated such as a bench to put your hands on. And as you progress, find lower surfaces for resting your hands until you are eventually on the ground.
To learn how to do pushups right, see our Pushups guide.
Pull-ups are an essential exercise in calisthenics. Hanging from a bar and pulling your body up might seem simple, but for someone who is just commencing their bodyweight training journey, pull-ups might feel impossible to achieve.
As a beginner, you might find this exercise difficult due to things like; poor grip strength, core instability, weak shoulder girdle and poor shoulder mobility. These factors might prevent you from enjoying all the benefits of pull-ups.
Aim to do 10 pull-ups during your early days. And to make things a little bit easier, you could position a chair under one foot and then use your leg to give you a boost.
To learn how to do pull-ups right, see our Pull-ups guide for right technique.
Lunges are an incredible way of strengthening the legs, both posteriorly and anteriorly. There are not too many workout routines that can do that at once.
Lunges work the body using one leg at a time by simply stepping forward with one of your legs and lowering down the body to work your lower body muscles.
Most people jump right into doing lunges only to find out that they are hurting their knees. Just like push-ups, the problem is not with the lunge itself, but the individual’s form.
If you do not have enough body strength, you risk tweaking your back or knees. Poor spine mobility, tight hip flexors, poor body strength and weak quads, hamstrings and glutes are some of the things that might make it difficult for you to do proper lunges.
When doing lunges, your upper body should always be straight. Also, your head should be upright and your chest out with the abs engaged so as to protect your lower back.
To learn how to do lunges right, see our Lunges guide for right technique.
Dips provide excellent upper body workout and should be a staple in your bodyweight training program. They mainly work the triceps, the chest and the back muscles. Dips done with the elbows spreading to the side put more emphasis on the chest while those done with the elbows in put emphasis on the triceps.
Many people see them as an easy exercise only to find out that they are quite challenging. Jumping right in without the right preparation could result in an injury of the shoulders. Dips place a lot of stress on the shoulders and to minimize this stress, always maintain your elbows very close to your sides. And if you experience any shoulder pain, don’t lower yourself further than parallel.
Form is everything when performing dips. Your head should be looking forward (not up) and in line with your upper body. Also, your core should always be engaged.
To learn how to do dips right, see our Dips guide for right technique.
Planks are an effective exercise for strengthening the abdominals. Even though they are simple to perform, they are hard work on the abs. And unlike most other bodyweight routines such as pull-ups that involve movement, planks are performed in a still and stationary position.
Being a compound exercise, it targets more than one muscle in the body. It mostly works on the abdominals (stomach) but also works on other areas such as the thighs, glutes and back. As a beginner, your aim should be a minute of perfect form.
To learn how to do Plank right, see our Plank guide for right technique.
The” ass-to-grass” squat is what most bodyweight trainers go for. It involves squatting deep enough that your ass is literally touching the grass. But remember again that with squats, right form is everything to get the benefits.
To learn how to do Squats right, see our Squats guide for right technique.
Progress is key in bodyweight training. Once you feel comfortable completing your workout with the proper form and the recommended number of reps, you should consider adding more difficulty to your routine.
Simply put, do not allow your body to get used to whatever you are doing.
And how can you add more difficulty to your training program?
More reps: This is the easiest way of increasing the difficulty of any workout routine. If your aim is to build muscle, staying within the 6 to 12 rep range will be most beneficial.
Include variation: Make the exercise more difficult by adding some sort of variation. For instance, incorporating claps to your push-ups are a nice way of upgrading from the usual pushups. You could also try jumping squats.
Consider using supplements: The use of natural supplements for bodybuilding can give you strength, stamina and endurance to achieve more within a short period of time.
We hope that this article is helpful and gets you all fired up to embark on your bodyweight training journey as a beginner.