Welcome to a quick fitness post where I’ll break down an at home bodyweight workout plan for beginners! This workout is made up of multiple great calisthenics exercises and bodyweight exercises for a complete total body training session. It works your lower body, upper body, core, gets your heart rate up, etc. I performed it last week and definitely felt the burn!
Also, I decided to try something new with this post. I filmed short videos of me performing the moves, and compiled them into GIF collages below to help demonstrate how to do an exercise. This was my first time ever trying to create something like this, so I hope it’s helpful! If you found them helpful, or just scrolled by without a glance, let me know! I’d like to know what kinds of formats are most useful for people when it comes to following a workout plan (images vs. GIF vs. video, etc.).
At Home Workout Plan Without Equipment
This is a bodyweight workout plan for beginners that can be done at home without equipment. I know that we’re all still social distancing and self-quarantining at the moment. So I wanted to make a bodyweight workout plan for beginners that can be done by anyone, anywhere.
Without further ado, here’s the main sheet you’ll need for following along! Click to see it larger.
You will need a few items for this workout, but any common household object will do (like a chair, or bag of rice, etc.).
The format for this home workout is simple. I broke this bodyweight workout down into 3 parts. Part 1 is the legs/lower body portion of the workout. Part 2 is the arms/upper body portion of the workout. Finally, Part 3 is a combined abs and cardio section.
In each section below, I’ll break down the details further!
Bodyweight Leg Exercises – 20 Minutes
Here are the following moves:
Movement 1 is a pistol squat that transitions into a backwards leg extension on your tippy-toe. I really like this combination of movement, because it works EVERY part of your lower body. You’ll feel this in your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It also requires balance, thus engaging your core, and mental focus to get the coordination right. So all in all, I think it’s a pretty killer compound move!
Pistol squats require a good amount of strength. So aim for 4-8 reps per leg. It’s totally OK if you need to have one hand on a wall or chair, too. As you can see in my GIF demonstration, I was using the wall to help with balance. Ideally, by incorporating moves like this one into your workouts over time you’ll get better at your balance and won’t need a wall. That’s my goal anyway!
Because this is a strength move, you’ll also want to rest for at least 60 seconds between sets. You’ll get tired fast. The key with this move is to make sure your movement is smooth and controlled. Try not to wobble or stumble. Focus to find your balance, and work on each unique part of the bodyweight exercise.
To make this move easier, use a wall or chair to help balance, and use your arms for assistance to get up/down.
Movement 2 is a deep squat that transitions into a side leg extension. Aim for 10-12 reps per leg. I did 10-12 on the same leg– then the other leg. Same with the pistol squat move.
If you want to try making this move more challenging, you could also get into the tippy-toe position as you do the side leg extension!
To make this move easier don’t squat as low, and don’t worry about how high your side kick is. Just do your best.
Movement 3 looks awkward, haha, but it’s killer for the glutes! Find some way to elevate your body into the bridge position. Then pulse your knees outwards, and inwards, in an abductor motion. Really squeeze your glute muscles when your legs come together. Aim for 15-20 reps total. I used a 5 gallon bucket to raise myself up, but a chair, couch, bed, or stairs would work too.
To make this move easier, don’t elevate yourself on a chair/bucket when you do this. Just keep your feet on the ground.
Movement 4 is a reverse lunge that transitions into a jumping knee-up. It’s hard to tell by my GIF demonstration, but the room I was in had low ceilings, so I couldn’t jump too high. If you don’t have this restriction though, really try to jump as high as you can! Aim for 10-12 reps per leg. Again, I like to do all reps on one leg, then switch to the other leg (as opposed to alternating on each rep). I feel a better burn this way.
To make this move easier, remove the jump at the end.
Also, sorry for that “Kapwing” logo in my GIF demonstration images, that kind of blocks the bottom right corner. It was a free tool I used to make these GIF collages, so the watermark is what it is!
Apology #2 for the choppy quality of the video in the top left corner above. I realized too late in the editing process that it became that way, and at that point I’d sunk a bunch of time into making these things and didn’t want to re-do the whole thing. Whoops! I hope you are still able to get a sense for how this calisthenics exercise works though!
Apology #3 for the potato-quality of the images throughout this whole post (lol). I threw this post together really fast because the inspiration for it struck quick and I wanted to act on it. Also, I have never made GIF collages before, and at first the file sizes were huge. I wanted this page to be able to load reasonably fast for people though, so I worked to compress the images as much as possible, while still having them somewhat legible. If I get feedback that these GIF things are helpful though, I’ll experiment with other methods to keep the file size down but the quality up!
Back To The Bodyweight Workout Plan For Beginners Explanation
For the leg portion of this bodyweight workout, set a timer for 20 minutes. Perform a set of movement 1, 2, 3, then 4– and repeat through it all again as many times as you can in the 20 minutes. It’s OK to rest as much as you need between sets.
After movement 1 (the strength move with pistol squats) I rested for about a minute before moving on to movement 2. Between movement 2, 3, and 4 though, I was able to only need about 30-40 seconds of rest before continuing. All in all, I was able to go through about 4 cycles in that 20 minutes time. So 4 sets total of all 4 movements– before going on to the arms portion of this full body workout.
Bodyweight Arm Exercises – 10 Minutes
This section is time-based just like the last section. Set a timer for 10 minutes. In that 10 minutes, complete as many sets of the following cycle as you can. In that time, I was able to complete about 3.
Movement 1 is a push up that transitions into a side-plank and you extend your arm upwards. This move takes strength, coordination, and balance. So it activates your core as well! Again, try to make this movement smooth and controlled. Do 6-8 reps per side.
To make this move easier, do the push-ups on your knees, instead of off your feet.
Movement 2 is called a Commando. You will continuously transition from being in a plank position on your forearms, to being in a plank position on your hands. Honesty time… I hate Commandos! I find them really hard to do, and they light my shoulder muscles on fire! You’ll really feel this movement in your abs/core as well. Do 10 reps per arm (20 reps total).
To make this move easier, hold the plank position on your knees, instead of off your feet.
Movement 3 is a simple dip. Once again, sorry about that “Kapwing” watermark in my GIF demonstration. But this move is pretty easy. Find some object that you can safely hold on to. Then lower and raise yourself using your arms. This move works your triceps mostly, but also your shoulders, chest and back. I was doing dips off a 5 gallon bucket, but a chair works just as well, a couch, stairs, etc. Do 15-20 reps total.
To make this move easier bend your knees more, instead of having them straight/extended.
Similar to the leg portion of this bodyweight workout, it’s OK to rest as much as you need to between sets.
After 10 minutes is up on a timer, and you’ve completed about 2-3 sets of the complete cycle, move on to the final portion of this full body workout– abs and cardio.
Bodyweight Abs & Cardio – 10 Minutes Non-Stop
This portion of the workout is different from the previous 2. You will be setting a timer, but this time there is NO REST between sets! Basically, until that 10 minute timer is up, move from set to set without resting. This is to get your heart rate up and to get a good burn to finish off the workout!
Movement 1 is called a Weighted Russian Twist. Balance your body in a “V” position with your legs elevated, and hold some kind of weight while twisting from side to side. I had a 20lb bag of rice in the pantry that was about half empty. So I estimate that I was using around ~10 lbs for this move. A bag of rice or flour will work– or anything else you can find in your home! Aim for 30-40 reps total.
To make this move easier, remove the weight.
Movement 2 is a great cardio exercise that you’ll feel in muscles throughout your whole body. I call this move “Quick Alternating Ballet Arm Circles.” In your lower body, you’ll be alternating your weight from one leg to another. Get a bend in your legs so that it’s almost like a squat position, and really push off one leg to the other to get a better cardio effect. Also, point the toe of the leg that your weight is not on. If you do this move right, you’ll feel this in your quads and calves!
For the upper body, you’ll be leaning from side to side and arcing your arm in big sweeping circle motions. Really stretch and lean your body to a side. You’ll feel this in your abs and obliques for sure! Finally, go fast! Stay coordinated and controlled, but try to go as fast as you can to get your heart rate up! Aim for 20-24 reps total.
To make this move easier, go slower.
Movement 3 is a raised leg sit-up with a twist. Find something to elevate your legs (this really helps you feel a special kind of burn). I was using a foam roller. Ideally, whatever you use will get your legs about a foot off the ground at least. Perform a sit-up and then twist your body to one side, reaching one arm towards your toes. When you go back down, and come up again, alternate so that you twist to the other side. Perform 10-12 reps per side.
To make this move easier, do not raise your legs on an object.
Movement 4 is a side to side snap jump. In a planking position on your hands, kick your feet out to the side of your mat, bring them together, and then jump your legs forward towards your hands, and back down the mat once more. Repeat this pattern for 20-30 reps.
Again, the goal with this section of the bodyweight workout is to work for 10 minutes non-stop. Really try to push yourself! Try your best to go from movement 1 through 4 without resting and then continue to repeat until you hear your timer beep.
To make this move easier only do the in-out part of the move, not the forward-back part of the move.
Bodyweight Workout Plan For Beginners Complete
And that’s it! If you follow this home workout as described, it will be at minimum a 40 minute workout (20 minutes of legs + 10 minutes of arms + 10 minutes of abs/cardio). But if you include all the rest times in between sets, it’s more likely that this will be about a 50 minute workout.
As I mentioned before, I did this bodyweight workout plan for beginners last week and definitely felt sore 2 days after! I think it was the raised glute bridge abductors that made me especially sore in my butt, haha.
Some of these bodyweight exercises are commonly known, like Russian Twists and Commandos. But others I kind of just made up! I really enjoy inventing new calisthenic moves, and trying to think of new ways to make my muscles sore.
Sometimes the idea for a new move will come to me and I’ll think, “oh yeah, this one is going to light my quads on fire, I just know it!” But then the day after I’m barely sore at all and it’s a big disappointment, haha. It may sound weird, but I actually like the feeling of DOMS and muscle soreness. To me it’s like proof that the workout “worked” or was effective! I fully know that this isn’t true, and really it’s just a psychological thing. But something about having sore muscles makes me think, “yeah, I really worked my muscles good!“
And then other times, the complete opposite happens. I play around with a new move but don’t really put much thought into it. Then the next day my body is lit up and I can barely walk!. That’s just how it goes with inventing workouts though, I guess. 🙂
Anyways, I hope you enjoy this bodyweight workout plan for beginners! I think it’s pretty accessible for all. There are multiple ways to make any move easier or harder. Also– no equipment! While we’re all staying home, and doing home workouts to stay sane, I hope that this is a fun one for you to try.
And if you do, I’d love to know in the comments what you thought. I’d also love to hear any feedback about the format of this post and the images/GIFs I provided to help demonstrate the moves. Were they helpful? Were they not? I look forward to your comments!
Thanks for reading, and have a good workout!