The two biggest obstacles you face when trying to improve your fitness is finding enough time to get in a great workout and having the right equipment to feel like you're being challenged.

The first excuse (time) is greatly reduced if you realize you don't need to travel to a gym or spend an hour (or more) on every workout. In fact, you only need a small space in your home. Home workouts are a game-changer.

And, the second excuse (equipment limitations) can be overcome with the right bodyweight routine.

The problem is most people don’t know where to start when it comes to bodyweight training. That’s why we’ve designed an easy-to-use template, so you can plug-and-play your own home workouts, choose your own exercise, and understand how to make any plan easier or harder.

How to Create a Bodyweight Workout Routine

For any type of training (and especially bodyweight workouts), it helps to think of exercises as movements rather than focusing on specific muscles. That's because many exercises work multiple muscle groups, which can make creating workouts overly confusing.

To help you build your own bodyweight home workout routine, we’ve broken up exercises by major movement patterns, with a few exception when we make it clear that you'll be focusing on a muscle group like your core. 

By breaking up exercises by movement pattern, we can maximize the functionality of exercises while making sure you’re training as many muscles as possible. And, we’ve made a few adjustments to provide more variety into your training.

The Best Bodyweight Exercises

The Movement: Push

Primary Muscles Trained: Triceps, shoulders, and chest.

Secondary Muscles Trained: Core, lats, serratus anterior, traps

Push Exercises

  • Push up
  • Hands or feet elevated push up
  • Spiderman push up
  • One arm push up

The Movement: Squat

Primary Muscles Trained: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves.  

Secondary Muscles Trained: Adductors/abductors (thighs and exterior muscles of the hip/glutes)

Squat Exercises

  • Sumo squat
  • Narrow stance squat
  • Shoulder width stance squat
  • Squat to box

The Movement: Jump

While typically a “squat” or hinge pattern, we give jumps their own category with bodyweight training. These are a great way to build athleticism with low reps or muscular endurance (but be careful!) with higher reps.

Primary Muscles Trained: Glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings.

Secondary Muscles Trained: Lower back, core, adductors/abductors (thighs and exterior muscles of the hip/glutes)

Jump Exercises

  • Squat jumps
  • Box jumps
  • Broad jumps (long jumps)
  • Lateral jumps
  • Lunge jumps

The Movement: Hinge

Primary Muscles Trained: Glutes and hamstrings. 

Secondary Muscles Trained: Lower back, core, adductors/abductors (thighs and exterior muscles of the hip/glutes)

Hinge Exercises

  • Single leg Romanian deadlift
  • Reverse plank
  • Hip thrust
  • Single leg hip thrust

The Movement: Lunge

Lunge patterns can build more stability, prevent imbalances between sides of your body, and improve athleticism.

Primary Muscles Trained: Glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings.

Secondary Muscles Trained: Lower back, core, adductors/abductors (thighs and exterior muscles of the hip/glutes)

Lunge Exercises

  • Split squat
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Front foot elevated split squat
  • Front, back, or lateral lunge
  • Pistol Squat
  • Skater Squat
  • Cossack Squat

The Movement: Core

Primary Muscles Trained: Core, mainly your rectus abdominus, internal/ external obliques

Secondary Muscles Trained: triceps, shoulders, pectorals.

Core Exercises

  • Plank (front, reverse, side)
  • Hollow body hold
  • Crunch
  • Toe touch
  • Sprinter sit up

The Movement: Pull

If you have a mini-band, playground nearby, or a door frame chin-up bar your options increase drastically.

Primary Muscles Trained: lats, rhomboids, traps, biceps.

Secondary Muscles Trained: Forearms, core. 

Pull Exercises

  • Chin-up (palms toward you)
  • Pull up (palms away from you)
  • Neutral grip chin-up (palms facing each other)
  • Band Pull apart

Your Bodyweight Home Workout

Before you begin your workout, make sure you perform a quick warm-up (as shown below).

Then, you'll pick one exercise from each movement pattern to create your bodyweight workout routine.

We recommend 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise with 45-60 seconds rest in between.

Here are a few examples.

Bodyweight Home Workout #1

Warm-up: We recommend doing a short circuit of push-ups, split squats (stationary lunge), and jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. The goal here is to get warm and not fatigue your body before the actual workout.

  • Pushups: 2 sets x 10 reps
  • Split squats: 2 sets x 10 reps 
  • Jumping jacks: 2 sets x 25 reps 

Main Workout

  1. Squat Jump: 3x8, rest 45 seconds
  2. Pushup: 4x10, rest 45-60 seconds
  3. Narrow Stance Squat: 3x12, rest 45 seconds
  4. Reverse Lunge: 3x6/leg, rest 45 seconds
  5. Single-Leg Hip Thrust: 3x6/leg, rest 45 seconds
  6. Feet-elevated plank: 3x45 seconds, rest 45

BONUS: if you have access to a pull-up bar, add pull-ups for 3 sets of 8 reps after your complete pushups.

Bodyweight Home Workout #2

Warm-up

  • Pushups: 2 sets x 10 reps
  • Split squats: 2 sets x 10 reps 
  • Jumping jacks: 2 sets x 25 reps 

Main Workout

  1. Broad Jumps: 3x8, rest 45 seconds
  2. Squats to Box: 3x12, rest 45 seconds
  3. Feet elevated pushup: 4x12, rest 45 seconds
  4. Reverse Planks: 3x12, rest 45 seconds
  5. Bulgarian Split Squat: 3x8/leg, rest 45 seconds
  6. Pushup Plank: 3x45 seconds, rest 45

BONUS: if you have access to a pull-up bar, add 3 sets of 6-10 chin-ups after squats to box.

How to Make Bodyweight Workouts Easier (Or Harder)

Depending on your fitness level, these exercises can appear too hard or too easy. Thankfully, there are many ways to manipulate bodyweight workouts to adjust to your level of expertise. 

1. Manipulate the range of motion

If you want to make an exercise more difficult, increase the range of motion. This forces your muscles to work harder and increases the total time under tension, which is a variable that can help with fat loss and muscle gain. Moreover, working through a full range of motion may improve mobility and movement quality.

For example, if you want to make a push-up harder, you can put your hands on books to increase the range of motion. To make them easier, work on partial push-ups until you’re strong enough to perform full push-ups.

To make lunges harder, elevate your back foot, which turns them into a Bulgarian split squat.

2. Slow Your Reps and Maximize Control 

With the exception of jumps, slow down the speed of your reps. Pause at the bottom of reps (like the bottom of a push up) and squeeze your muscles. Think about taking 3-5 seconds to lower your body into the bottom position on all exercises. This increase leads to the burning feeling (also known as metabolic stress) in your muscles, and that can also help with muscle growth and fat loss.

3. Adjust Leverage

Making slight changes to how you typically perform an exercise can shift its difficulty.

If you want to make pushups easier, elevate your hands on a bench, countertop, or place them against the wall. By adjusting the leverage, you’re holding less of your own bodyweight.

Conversely, you can elevate your feet to make pushups more challenging. Similarly, you can elevate your feet when doing planks to adjust the leverage and make them tougher.

When doing leg raises, if you keep your knees tucked in close to your body, they’re easier. If you extend your legs out further, the exercise becomes more difficult

4. Manipulate Stability

By reducing your base of support, which makes you less stable, you'll increase the demands of an exercise.

For example, any time you do a single-leg exercise, you're removing stability and increasing difficulty. If you can't use your other leg for balance, such as with pistol squats, it becomes even harder. 

For upper body exercises, you can move from elevating your feet to attempting one-arm push-ups.

5. Add Resistance

Even if you don't have any barbells or dumbbells, there are ways to add resistance to make exercises harder. A weighted vest is a simple addition to upgrade your "home gym," or you can mimic the feeling by loading a backpack with books, or holding objects just as gallon jugs when doing any movement.

A productive at-home bodyweight workout can be incredibly effective. Better yet, it removes many of the limitations you may be facing when it comes to getting into and staying in shape.

Related: Try LeBron James' Core Workout