There are so many benefits to working out at home – and our bodyweight exercises for beginners guide can help! You don’t have to go anywhere to get a sweat on, you save money in the long run and it’s really easy to fit a quick living room HIIT session around a busy work schedule.
If you’re going to get a sweat on at home though, it’s important to have a plan.
Not all exercises are created equal, and if you work at a desk and spend most of your day sat down, it’s a good idea to utilise effective moves that target multiple muscle groups and burn the most calories in the minimum amount of time.
Here are 10 easy-to-follow bodyweight exercises for beginners that can help you to keep toned and trim at home.
Bodyweight exercises for beginners
1. Air squats
If you’re looking to add mass to your lower body, air squats (also known as bodyweight squats) are your new best friend.
Squats are great compound movements because they target your thighs, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes in particular, helping you to build strength from the ground up. Adding an explosive jump at the end of each rep makes the move even more challenging too.
How to do air squats: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and squat down as though you’re sitting into a chair. Shift the weight into your heels, keep your knees externally rotated and make sure your back is straight. Straighten your legs and explode into a jump as you come up, before landing back into another squat.
There’s a reason why people hate burpees. Not only are they one of the most challenging bodyweight movements out there, but they’re also one of the most effective at burning calories.
A round of rapid chest-to-floor burpees works your arms, back, chest, core, glutes and legs in unison. When done correctly, they also spike your heart rate, making it a firm favourite for cardiovascular training.
How to do burpees: From a standing position, squat down and place your hands on the floor ahead of you. Jump both of your feet backwards to a plank position and lower your chest to the floor. To complete the move, explode back up to a plank position, spring your feet in and jump into the air.
3. Bear crawls
Bear crawls are great full-body bodyweight exercises for beginners that work all the major muscle groups in unison, building strength and power in the legs, core and arms.
How to do bear crawls: Start on all fours and lift your knees so they’re at a 90-degree angle and hovering an inch off the ground, then begin to crawl forwards. For an extra challenge, see if you can crawl backwards too.
4. Clap push-ups
The standard push-up might not sound particularly exciting, but what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for in the results department.
Push-ups sculpt the triceps, pectoral muscles and shoulders, and they can also strengthen the core too. To add an extra calorie burn to this movement, try and clap between each rep.
It’s a tough plyometric movement that requires explosive power and strength.
How to do clap push-ups: During a standard push-up, propel yourself off the ground high enough so that you can clap your hands together before you land back into the push-up. Repeat.
5. High knees
Running is one of the best forms of exercise for burning calories, but if you can’t get out into the fresh air, a round of high knees is one of the better bodyweight exercises for beginners.
As a vigorous cardio workout, jogging on the spot while lifting your knees towards the chest spikes the heart rate in short intervals. This type of HIIT training uses the body’s energy reserves and spikes your metabolism, causing the body to burn calories for hours after the workout.
It sounds too good to be true, but post-exercise oxygen consumption is a very real thing, meaning you’ll still reaping the benefits of your workout, even after you’ve showered and hit the sofa again.
6. Jumping lunges
If you’re looking for a leg burn, jumping lunges are a great way to build mass in your quadriceps. Thanks to the jumping element, it’s also a fantastic cardiovascular workout that delivers more oxygen throughout your body, which keeps your heart and lungs healthy.
How to do jumping lunges: Lunge forward with your left leg until your right knee is almost touching the ground. Jump into the air, bringing your right foot forward and the left foot back. Land in a lunge and repeat.
Anyone whose attempted the five-minute plank challenge will know that although this move looks easy, it’s one of the most difficult exercises out there. When executed correctly, planks whittle your core, tone your glutes and improve your balance.
How to do the plank: Place your elbows on the ground directly underneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart and hold this position, making sure your back is flat and your head is in a neutral position.
8. Frog squats
Squat variations can help you to get maximum lower body benefits. The frog squat, in particular, is a great low-impact move for targeting the quadriceps, hamstring and glutes, as well as the abductor muscles and the calves.
Just 45 seconds of this exercise is enough to feel a significant lower-body burn.
How to do frog squats: Stand with your legs in a wide stance and your arms out in front of you. Bend your knees and shift your hips back as you sit into a low squat, lowering until your fingers touch the floor. Lift back to a high squat and repeat.
9. Speed skater lunges
Want to hone the legs of a figure skater? Side lunges, also known as skater lunges, are great for strengthening the glutes, as well as the thighs and core.
There’s an emphasis is on the word ‘speed’ for this move. It’s important to jump explosively between lunges to reap the maximum benefits.
How to do speed skater lunges: Stand in a side lunge position with one leg bent parallel to the floor and the other extended in a straight line to the side. Jump explosively as you switch legs. Your straight leg should now be bent and the previously bent leg should be in a straight position.
10. Single-leg jump
Jumping is hard enough at the best of times, but eliminate one leg and you’ve got a seriously sweaty move on your hands. Try these bodyweight exercises for beginners if you’re feeling ready for a greater challenge!
Single-leg jumps not only improve your strength and power, but they’ll also challenge your balance and coordination as you try to land with control on one leg.
How to do the single-leg jump: Stand on one leg and squat slightly. Explode upwards, landing in a slight squat on the same leg. Keep jumping for 10 reps on one side, before switching to the other leg.