Call me crazy, but I love lifting weights. With that said, I’m constantly surprised (and thrilled!) by the variety and quality of bodyweight workouts that can be created with some research and a bit of creativity.
This workout – which requires zero equipment – can be great complement to your weight training or a solid stand-alone program. Emphasizing both strength and coordination, it’s inspired by natural human movements like pushing, squatting and crawling. Each circuit includes a lower body, upper body, core, and cardio exercise. (A full description of each exercise can be found at the bottom of the page.)
Bodyweight Circuit Workout
Warm up for 4-5 minutes with a combination of arm circles, running in place, jumping jacks, side lunges, and a 1-minute plank hold. Then complete each circuit once, trying to minimize rest between exercises. Move at your own pace for the time prescribed, focusing on proper form and finding depth in each movement.
- Deep Squats: 1 minute, then hold the last rep for 15 seconds
- Push-Ups: 1 minute, then hold the last rep for 15 seconds
- Spider Plank: 1 minute
- Bear Crawl: 1 minute
- Plié Squats: 1 minute, then hold the last rep for 15 seconds
- Up-Downs: 1 minute, then hold the last rep for 15 seconds
- Opposite Toe Touches: 1 minute
- Crab Walk: 1 minute
- Walking Lunges: 1 minute, then hold the last rep for 15 seconds (on each leg)
- Diamond Push-Ups: 1 minute, then hold the last rep for 15 seconds
- Hollow Hold: 1 minute
- Single-Leg Hops: 1 minute (30 seconds on each leg)
- Single-Leg Bridges: 1 minute on each leg, then 15-second hold on each leg
- 3-Legged Dog Push-Ups: 1 minute, then 15-second hold
- Bicycles: 1 minute
- Inchworms: 1 minute
End your workout with 5-10 minutes of stretching.
Bodyweight Circuit Workout – Full Description
Deep Squats: Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, turn your toes out slightly and perform slow squats as low as you can go. Keep your knees in line with your middle toes (don’t let them fall inwards), and sit back so your knees don’t move farther forwards than your toes. Press through your heels to return to standing. After 1 minute, squat once more and hold for 15 seconds.
Push-Ups: Start in a plank position on your knees or toes with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, fingers spread wide, and your bellybutton pulling in towards your spine. Bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the floor, then push back up. Repeat for 1 minute. Lower down once more and hold for 15 seconds.
Spider Plank: From a plank position, bring your right knee towards your right elbow. Return to a plank position and continue alternating legs for 1 minute. Keep your hips as still as possible, your shoulders engaged (not sinking into the shoulder sockets) and your bellybutton pulling in towards your spine.
Bear Crawl: Come to your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift your hips slightly to bring your knees off the ground, and crawl forwards for 1 minute (doing circles around the room, going back and forth…whatever works with your space). Keep your back flat and your stomach firm as you crawl, and avoid sinking into your shoulder sockets.
Plié Squats: Step your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your toes out about 45°. Keeping length in your spine (reaching up from the top of your head and straight down to the floor with your tailbone), bend your knees and lower your glutes towards the floor. Squeeze your glutes as you straighten your legs. Throughout the motion, focus on keeping your knees in line with your middle toes (not rocking in), and your chest tall and open. After 1 minute, drop down one final time and hold for 15 seconds.
Up-Downs: From a plank position (on your knees or toes) with your hands aligned under your shoulders, drop down onto your right forearm, then your left so you’re in a forearm plank. Press the right palm back into the floor to push back up into a full plank. Continue going down, down, up, up, alternating arms for 1 minute. Focus on keeping your hips and torso as still as possible throughout the movement (avoid rocking back and forth).
Opposite Toe Touches: Lay on your back with your legs extended and arms out by your sides or over your head. Bring your left leg and right arm towards each other (lifting the right shoulder blade off the floor), touching your foot with your hand if possible. Lower back down to the floor. Alternate sides for 1 minute.
Crab Walk: Come to a seated position with your feet flat on the floor and your hands under your shoulders. Engage your core to lift your hips off the floor, and walk forward on your hands and feet. Travel in circles or walk a few paces forwards then backwards for 1 minute (whatever works with your space).
Walking Lunges: With your feet together, your bellybutton pulling into your spine, and your chest broad, step forward with your right foot. Lower down to create a 90° angle with the right leg, shifting your weight into the heel of the front foot. Step the left foot forward to meet the right foot, and continue lunging forward – alternating legs – for 1 minute. Then complete one more lunge with each leg, holding for 15 seconds at the bottom of the movement.
Diamond Push-Ups: Start in a plank position on your knees or toes. Bring your thumbs and forefingers to touch on the floor below your chest, creating a diamond shape. Bend your elbows to the sides and lower your chest towards the floor, then push back up. Keep pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine for the entire motion. Continue doing push-ups for 1 minute, then go back to the bottom of the motion and hold for 15 seconds.
Hollow Hold: Lay on your back with your legs extended and arms overhead. Engage your core to bring your chest and legs slightly off the floor. Hold for 1 minute, pressing your lower back into the floor. To make the movement easier, bring your legs farther up off the floor.
Single-Leg Hops: Stand on your right leg with your left foot off the floor. Hop forwards, backwards, then to the right and to the left on your right foot. Continue hopping in that pattern for 30 seconds, then switch to your left leg for 30 seconds.
Single-Leg Bridges: Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and a few inches away from your glutes. Make sure the inside edges of your feet are parallel. Extend your left leg straight up towards the ceiling. Keeping your stomach firm, press your right heel into the floor and engage your quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips up as high as they’ll go. Keeping your hips off the ground, pulse at the top of the motion for 1 minute, then hold at the top for 15 more seconds. Lower and switch legs.
3-Legged Dog Push-Ups: Come to a downward facing dog position with your feet hip-width apart and hands shoulder-width apart. Relax your neck and reach your hips back and up towards the ceiling while simultaneously reaching down through your heels. Keep this feeling as you lift your right leg up towards the ceiling. From this position, bend your elbows to lower your head towards the floor, then push back to straight arms. Continue doing push-ups for 30 seconds, then switch legs and continue for 30 more seconds. After 1 minute, do 1 more push-up on each side, holding at the bottom of the movement for 15 seconds.
Bicycles: Lay on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees into your chest. Extend your left leg and twist your torso towards your right leg, bringing your left shoulder towards your right knee. Switch sides, extending the right leg and bringing the right shoulder towards the left knee. Continue alternating for 1 minute.
Inchworms: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend forward, bringing your hands to the floor under your shoulders. Walk your hands out to a plank position, pulling your bellybutton in towards your spine the entire time. Walk your hands back towards your feet and stand back up with a flat back and tight core. Continue walking out to a plank and coming back up to standing for 1 minute.
Always consult your physician before trying an exercise program.