Whether you are looking to improve your physique or improve your conditioning, doing bodyweight workouts is a great alternative to going to the gym.
This article has been requested by a few readers so I wanted to make a routine that would be easy to follow and would give great results. Depending on the intensity you choose, this routine will improve your conditioning, burn fat, and build strength and muscle.
This routine is best done as a circuit. Measure your progress by how long it takes you to do each circuit, and how many circuits you can do in a set amount of time.
|Full Body Bodyweight Routine|
If you want to mix things up a bit, try these alternative exercises for each exercise.
Push Ups – Wide Grip Push Ups, Close Grip Push Ups, Feet Elevated Push Ups, Handstand Push Ups
Pull Ups – Wide Grip Pull Ups, Close Grip Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Muscle Ups
Planks – Side Planks, Sit Ups, Crunches, Throw Downs, Oblique Crunches
Adding weight is a great way to progressively overload, which will make your stronger and build more muscle. If you would like to add weight to these workouts, check out these two pieces of equipment I recommend.
Investing in a weight vest is great once these bodyweight exercises become too easy. Wearing a weight vest is easy and adds weight to every exercise easily. Since there are a lot of weight vests out there, do your research and find one that has great reviews and offers the ability to increase and decrease the amount of weight on the vest.
A weighted dip belt is an alternative to buying a weight vest. The only downside to a dip belt is you can only use it to do weighted dips and pull ups. A weighted dip belt will allow you to add more weight overall to your dips and pull ups, so you can really develop some great strength and muscle with one.
Can’t Do the Exercises?
Not everyone can do the workouts listed here; Don’t let that keep you from doing this routine and getting the results you want.
Push Ups – A lot of people cannot do a push up. The good news is there are many things you can do to make a push up easier and give you the opportunity to build up the strength and muscle to do a real push up. The first variation you should try is to get in the push up position and use your knees instead of your toes. This shortens the leverage you have to work against and makes push ups easier.
If you are struggling too much with push ups on your knees, the next step is to stand up straight and use a table, counter, couch, or chair to lean on and do a push up this way. You could also lean against a wall and to them this way. This technique will give anyone the ability to start building up your push up strength.
Always start your push ups with your hands about shoulder width or a little bit wider apart. Try different widths if this is uncomfortable; always do what works for you.
Pull Ups – Pull ups are a great exercise to build a massive back and strong arms. The problem with pull ups is they are hard and not many people can do them. Doing an assisted pull up at home is harder than at a gym that has a machine that you can use, but it is not impossible.
For an assisted pull up, set a chair up near your pull up bar and then grab your pull up bar and put your legs on the chair. You will have to play with the positioning of the chair and your legs, but you will be able to rest a bit of weight on your chair which will give you the ability to do assisted pull ups.
Using bands is also a great because they have different amounts of elasticity which will give you assistance to do a pull up.
Dips – Dips are another exercise that is hard to do assisted without being in a gym, but is still possible.
If you have a dip bar, using bands would be an easy way to add assistance. Stand or put your knees on the band and use the assistance of the band to help you complete your dips. If you don’t have a dip bar or you don’t want to buy some bands, the next best thing would to use the technique I mention in the pull ups section. Use a chair or put your feet out in front of you on the floor and do dips this way. This keeps you from having to dip your full bodyweight and you will be able to build up your pressing strength here.
Squats – Bodyweight squats may sound pretty easy to some people, but there are many people who simply don’t move in this fashion and will find this to be challenging. If you need help doing squats, the best way to start out is to find some place sturdy that won’t slide around like a counter or table and use it to help. If you have a pole in your garage to hold onto, this works too! The thing with squats is you work your whole body and it is going to be difficult.
Play around with how wide you keep your feet, I’m not very flexible and if I were to try to keep my feet narrow, I can’t hardly do a good full bodyweight squat. Make sure you get parallel or lower on these squats; even though there is no weight on your back, doing partial squats puts pressure on your knees and you will feel sore after a while from doing partial squats.
Planks – If you don’t know what planks are, it is staying in the push up position, using your elbows to keep the position instead of your hands. You hold the push up position for 30 seconds or as long as you can (depending on how you set up your particular routine). In order to make planks easier, read the push ups section and use those tips.
Get the Results You Want
Whether you need to lose weight, tone up and build muscle, improve your conditioning, or improve your ability to do these exercises, you need to understand what you have to do to achieve your goals.
Losing Weight – If your goal is to lose weight, do these exercises and circuits in such a manner your heart rate is elevated, but you are still able to carry on a conversation with some heavy breathing in between your sentences. This is the best way to gauge how hard you are working, since not everyone’s body reacts the same to a certain heart rate. This makes this routine more of a cardio and fat burning routine, which is a bit more exciting than walking on a treadmill or elliptical. The bonus to this is you will build and retain lean mass so when you do lose body fat, you will start seeing your muscles better.
Be consistent with your eating and lower your calories starting at 200 calories. Lowering your calories by a modest 200 calories will ensure a slow and safe drop in weight to start, which won’t crash your metabolism. Check out these articles to give you a better idea of what to do while doing this routine.
Tone Up and Build Muscle – Toning up and building muscle go hand in hand. Toning up is losing body fat while gaining lean muscle mass. The since your goal is to lose some weight and build muscle, you need to eat at a calorie deficit. Follow the tips on losing weight above and then be sure to eat extra protein. Eating meat or supplementing your protein with whey is fine, just be sure to eat enough so you don’t burn your muscle for energy. Along with following the tips above, be sure to work on improving your ability to doing these exercises. Your body will get stronger and build muscle to deal with the increased stress you’re putting on your body.
Improve Conditioning – If you want to improve your conditioning, this is going to involve keeping your heart rate moderately high and breathing heavy. This is going to force your body to use oxygen more efficient and workout your heart to be more efficient per beat. This routine is good for improving your conditioning at home because each exercise is very challenging and you use your whole body to do them all.
In order to keep your heart rate moderately fast and breathing heavy, limit your rest periods between exercises and limit the time in between each circuit. No need to go all out on your first time doing this routine; be sure to push yourself harder than you normally would and record everything including the rest times, how many reps, and how many circuits you completed. The goal now is to lower your rest times between exercises, between the circuits, increasing the amount of circuits completed, or all of the above. I would recommend choosing 1 and sticking with that for a while.
Improve Your Ability to do the Exercises – Improving your ability to do the exercises is going to involve you building strength, muscle, and technical ability to completing these exercises. In order for you to do this, you do not need to worry so much about the rest times in between your exercises or circuits. The main thing here is you want to work on increasing the amount of reps you do, how well you do the exercises, and adding weight to the exercises.
Strive for progression and you will make marked progress.
At the end of the day, all of the tips I invite you to try is simply that, tips. It’s up to you to use this knowledge to reach your goals. This routine is written for anyone, regardless of their goals.
Take the routine and run with it. Challenge your friends and make a game out of it. Who can do the most push ups? Who can do the most circuits in a 30 minute time frame? Getting fit and in shape is supposed to be fun, so make it fun and help your friends and family get in shape too.
If you’ve found this information helpful or you have any comments, questions, or requests leave them below. Be sure to share the article and like us on Facebook.
12 thoughts on “Full Body Home Bodyweight Exercise Routine”
Thanks Cutty!Great article ….Now lets get to work!!
I’m going to use this as some cardio and GPP :)
Wicked program you have going.
Thank you for the setup
Thanks, it is a tough program but can give great results if you stick with it.
How often should I do this? 3x a week? Every day?
Start out with 3 times a week and see how you feel. If the routine starts getting easy, either add weights to the exercises or bump it up to 4 times a week!
Let me know how you like it!
Cutty, I tweaked my back a while ago and have been doing some research on weight belts and the pros and cons of using one. What are your thoughts on using a belt for squats and deadlifts. I know injuries come from bad form/technique, but will a belt offer a boost in stability, or will it cause weakness in the long run?
Weight belts are good if used properly. So far I’ve never used a belt and I have decent numbers, but using a belt can increase your lifts and give you more stability. I would not recommend wearing a belt every set, but on your heavy working sets I think it would be a good investment to have one. I’ll be purchasing one here in the next 6 months or so.
The weakness can come from using the belt so much you don’t have to use your stabilizer muscles so you actually become weaker without it. Just use it for working sets and you will be fine.
I would suggest finding a good leather belt, there are some that have the single or double clasp that works like a regular belt works and then there are some that have an automatic clasp that seem to work well for a lot of people. The original type belts can be a pain to get on and off and the clasp belts you can’t get quite as tight as you would a regular belt, so weigh the pros and cons and do your homework and find one you like. A 10mm is fine for the regular gym goer and powerlifter… the 13mm seem to be better suited for the guys handling the 900+ lbs on squat in gear, etc.
Be sure to ask any more questions!
Thanks so much for getting back to me. One other thing I am struggling with is choosing a post-work out protein powder. There are so many out there, I have no idea which to choose. All the salesmen strike me as, well, salesmen. I want to build lean muscle and stay away from any unnecessary bulk. My ultimate goal is to get stronger, not necessarily bigger and burn fat along the way. Any suggestions?
Believe it or not there is no right or wrong thing to take or even a time to take it. The trick is to eating 200-300 calories above your BMR so you have some extra food that goes to building your muscles and recovery. I usually eat post workout and I train fasted. Everyone I talk to (elite lifters and people like me) know that meal timing and supplementation isn’t a necessity to build muscle.
Working hard, adding weight and/or reps to the bar and eating good healthy foods are what will build muscle. Whether you eat a McDonalds hamburger or have 2 scoops of the best whey protein you can get, it’s going to help you build muscle. If you want to use protein shakes post workout, buy something in your budget. I have a few product reviews you can check out, I like Optimum Nutrition and there are other good protein companies.
Just lift heavy and eat right and you’ll build muscle.
You’re a good man for taking the time to answer these questions. I lift by myself, but its always nice to have a coach of sorts in your corner. I read your posts and follow on twitter and because of what I’ve read, and the results I’ve seen, I value your opinion. Let me know the next time you’re in Chicagoland, I’d like to shake your hand someday.
Thanks man, it means a lot to know the time and effort I put into the work is helping people. I’m down in Indianapolis so that’s not too far away.