Nobody wants to fall over mid-Mountain Pose during yoga or crash 15 minutes into spin class. Ditch the doomsday scenarios (and complicated equipment) with this simple bodyweight workout for beginners.
These exercises are for everyone — even if you’ve never set foot in a gym. Follow this 20- to 30-minute workout 2 or 3 times a week.
“The goal of a warmup is to get the blood flowing and increase oxygen in the areas of your body you’ll be working out,” says personal trainer Amy Kiser Schemper.
For most people, Schemper says, a few minutes of exercise is enough to be ready to get moving. Here are a few potential ways to get your heart pumping:
- March in place.
- Move from side to side.
- Do jumping jacks.
- Jump rope.
- Try some butt kicks.
- Make some big arm circles.
Try a combo of these moves or any cardio routine that works for you. “Focus on getting the muscles working in all directions with multi-joint movements,” Schemper says. In other words,
Now that your breath’s quicker and your muscles are looser, you’re ready to get started.
Take it from Schemper: “If you showed up today, you are successful.”
Now, crank up some tunes and get your heart pumping!
Plan on repeating each exercise for 3–5 minutes. Between moves, do 2 minutes of cardio, just like when you warmed up. This will help you get a well-rounded workout and protect your muscles in the process.
Move #1: Chair squat
Time to drop it like a squat.
This move works your quads, hamstrings, calves, abs, lower back, and butt. You’ll need a sturdy chair or couch for this one.
Stand facing away from the chair, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and slowly lower yourself onto the chair. Press through your heels to bring yourself back up to standing.
Make it harder: When you’re up for a challenge, move the chair out of the way and make that booty work!
Move #2: Wall push-up
Let’s face it: Classic push-ups have been tough ever since elementary school gym class.
Wall push-ups can help people of all skill levels perfect their form and build muscle by targeting the chest, shoulders, arms, and back.
Stand about 2 feet from a wall. Bend your elbows and slowly bring your body to the wall, almost close enough to kiss it. Push yourself back to the starting position and take it from the top.
Make it harder: If you’re feeling strong, you can try modified push-ups by getting into push-up position on the floor but keeping your knees on the floor for support.
Move #3: Modified lunge
Lunges sound intense, but they don’t have to be. Modified lunges are great for working your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and obliques. They’ll also improve your balance (but if you need a little extra support, the chair’s got your back).
Start with one leg in front of the other, about a foot apart, and grab the back of a sturdy chair. Slightly bend both knees. Push back up through your heels.
Pro tip: Avoid leaning forward and just worry about the front leg bending. You might feel tempted to drop it low, but doing so before you’re ready can cause unnecessary strain on your knees.
Make it harder: Using the chair for balance and support can help you get started, but when you’re ready, challenge yourself and let it go, let it go! You can also widen your stance and go a little lower if you’re looking to turn your workout up a notch.
Move #4: Beginner triceps dip
The 69 Boyz said it best: Just dip, baby, dip.
This move is like a triceps dip but more approachable. And just like the real thing, it’ll give your triceps and abs a major workout.
Sit on your mat with knees slightly bent, palms on the floor, and torso at about a 45-degree angle. Push your butt off the mat until your arms straighten. Lower yourself down and repeat.
Pro tip: Keep the pressure off your wrists by squeezing your triceps and abs.
Make it harder: If you’re crushing this move and feel ready to elevate your workout, try doing your dips with your palms at the edge of a sturdy chair.
Move #5: Basic bridge
Time for the London — er, the basic — bridge to go down.
This move is pretty simple, but it packs a major punch. Your core, hamstrings, and glutes will all feel the burn once you’re done with this baby.
Lie faceup with knees bent about shoulder-width apart and arms straight down by your sides. Roll through your hips to bring butt off the mat. Slowly come back down and repeat.
Make it easier: Can hardly get off the floor? No prob! Just get your hips as high as feels comfy. This move is equal parts strength and flexibility, so not being able to go very high the first time is perfectly normal.
Schemper recommends doing Child’s Pose followed by some light calf stretches while seated in a comfy position.
New to Child’s Pose? Kneel on the floor with your toes touching and knees hip-width apart. Lower your body between your knees. Stretch palms out in front of you. Relax shoulders and, if possible, press forehead to the floor.
Do what works best for you here — the goal is to feel relaxed and restored.
Bodyweight training has been one of the top trends in the fitness world for the last few years, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Why are bodyweight workouts so bomb? In part, it’s because you don’t need a costly gym membership. “I love bodyweight workouts because you can do them anywhere,” Schemper says.
“They also are easy to adjust to fitness levels by increasing or decreasing range of motion, increasing or decreasing angles (such as in a push-up), or slowing down a motion.”
Basically, regardless of your fitness level or bank account, there’s a perfect bodyweight workout for you.
Luckily, there’s no way to drop a dumbbell on your chest when doing bodyweight workouts. Still, paying attention to proper form will help you avoid any risk of injury during your routine.
“When you are just starting out, make the goal to just move,” Schemper says. “No need to get every repetition or do a full workout. Aim for good form and doing exercises safely and effectively, but otherwise try not to worry about the specifics.”
Rather than perfecting every move, focus on showing up. If something feels painful or awkward, stop and take a breather. The goal is to feel the burn, not to get hurt.
Walking through the moves with a certified personal trainer can also help ensure you get things right. When you take it slow, you’ll get the best, safest results.