Disclaimer: I am not a certified anything in fitness, this is solely me documenting what I’m doing. Please check with your doctor before beginning any kind of exercise or nutrition program.
I don’t know about you but I hate going to the gym. Getting ready for it is a whole process: changing, getting my stuff packed, driving to the gym, getting parking, and then repeating that on my way home feels like a long process. In my article about micro-frictions, I talked about how having little annoyances can add up and make it hard to do something. For some, getting ready for the gym is a pre-workout ritual. For me, it’s a friction that slows down my desire to actually go. So I usually end up NOT.
But not going to the gym is a sad excuse for never working out, so I had to find something that way easy to get started and flexible enough that I couldn’t use “too lazy to go to the gym” as an excuse.
Enter: bodyweight workouts.
You’ve definitely done or seen them before: think workouts in gym class, or the cool people becoming human flags on a pole, and even gymnasts in the Olympics (oh heyy). Anything that uses your body + gravity is bodyweight exercise. And because it’s just those two, it’s a simple workout anyone can do anywhere.
That’s why I decided to focus my workouts on bodyweight exercises. Since the goal of this site is to show the actual daily efforts that go into fat loss, I also wanted to make it easy and accessible for anyone to follow along with or without a gym membership.
Besides being affordable, here are other benefits that drew me to bodyweight exercises:
- Everywhere is your gym since you just need your body and gravity (maybe not outer space)
- More control of your body: lifting is great, but you are moving your body in unnatural positions and usually in one direction, with bodyweights, you’re using your entire body to do exercises that provide natural resistance to how you function
- You can progress at all levels: core moves like pushups have a basic beginner version for those who can barely get into form all the way to advanced levels like handstand pushups… you’re always being challenged to get to the next level
- Flexibility: one of my few cons for weightlifting was how RIGID my body felt afterward, even with stretching the intensity of weights added pressure to my body and I felt it get less flexible over time. With body weight, you’ll actually improve it since you need the full range of your body’s motion to do the exercises
- For those that care: 100% sustainable since you’re not plugging in treadmills or other machines
- Long term consistency: my grandpa gave me the best advice saying “do things that you’ll still be doing when you’re 70”, unlike 90-day video programs or 130-pound deadlifts, bodyweight exercises are something will have access to in the long run
- Eventually, do cool stunts: imagine being able to do human flag pole!
As you can see bodyweight exercises are simple to do, you don’t need to get dressed or go anywhere, and they’re effective at working 3-4 muscles at once which saves you time. This is perfect for lazy people.
Building My Bodyweight Workout Program
All you need is your body (be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any program). You start easy until you get the foundation and form right, and you progress to harder versions of it. Learning new skills is about consistency and progression. The most important thing to focus on is also your form – that’s where real growth happens. Doing 10 shitty pushups is not the same as doing 5, really solid ones. Only the latter will get you the results you want.
When it comes to developing form, always focus on perfecting your form and starting easy. For example, if you can’t do pushups, focus on building upper body strength with knee pushups that only use half your weight, then continue working your way up. Also, it helps to work out in front of a mirror so you can see what you look like.
Another thing is that there are different ways to break down your workouts. With weightlifting, you break it up into isolated areas (think Arm Day, Leg Day, Back Day, Chest Day) but your body moves in a compound way so you can’t just isolate a body part. Pushups work your arms, chest, and triceps. Since everything works together as a movement, you can set it up based on:
- Full Body: working both your upper and lower body, but switching the exercises each day
- Pull Days and Push Days and Legs: one day work on exercises that have a pull motion, others that are a push motion, and then legs which are compound for both
Core Exercises of Any Bodyweight Program
Like I said, bodyweight is all about starting easy and progressing forward to the advanced level. There are a couple of core exercises that make the foundation of any calisthenics body program that you can mix and match to create your work out program. For best results, either do PUSH/PULL or Full Body with rotating exercises. If you find them hard, luckily there is an easier version of each that you can practice until you have the strength to move up. Don’t rush into the next level, it’s important to develop perfect form first!
- Chest dips (chest)
- Wide pushups (chest)
- Incline and decline pushups (chest)
- Handstand pushups (shoulders)
- Pike pushups (shoulders)
- Bench dips (triceps)
- Diamond pushups (triceps)
- Pullups (back)
- Australian pullups or inverted rows (back)
- Archery pullups (back)
- Bodyweight facepulls (shoulders)
- Straight bar dips (triceps)
- Skull crushers (triceps)
- Chin-ups (biceps)
- Everything uses your core – since calisthenics is compound exercises you use your body and your core gets integrated in all the movements
- V sit ups
- Leg raises
- Calf raises or walking on tippy toes
- Lunges on both sides
- Vertical jumps
- Archer squat
- Hover lunge
- Tiptoe walking
- Calf raises
- Glute bridges
- your body
- doorway pull up bar if you do pullups/etc.
There all are great exercises to build into your program, as well as the easy/hard variations of them. I’ll be doing full-body workouts each time, so it will be a mix of switching up the exercises each day. But before I start making my own, I will follow a series of YouTube videos to get an idea of how people combine workouts into a program. I’ll post those next in case you want a more structured form to get you started.