Best bodyweight workout for beginners: 20-minute, NO gear workout anyone can do at home

This bodyweight workout for beginners at home will get your body ready for some serious muscle building

Best bodyweight workout for beginners
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Working out at home doesn't have to be difficult. To prove this, here is the best bodyweight workout for beginners, consisting of only five easy exercises anyone can do in their living room or spare room. Exercising at home has many benefits: no need to pay for a gym membership, you can familiarise yourself with the exercises before you hit the gyms, build up a base strength level, and, finally, it's super convenient.

What's more, we collected five basic exercises that can be done with little to no equipment at home, standing or lying on the floor. It doesn't get much easier than this, so this is the perfect bodyweight workout for beginners, one that gently immerses you into the world of fitness without having to make many commitments.

Although you won't need to get barbells or pull-up bars for any of the below exercises, we would like to recommend a decent fitness smartwatch. These devices can keep track of your efforts and usually have a real-time heart rate tracking function, so you can see how much effort it takes to do the exercises.

Best bodyweight workout for beginners at home

Before doing any exercises, ensure you're all warmed up. Do 5-10 minutes of cardio which can be running on the spot or a light jog around the house/block of flats, to get your heart rate up. Follow the below sequence and repeat the whole set three times. Try not to have any breaks between the different exercises. Rest for 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Squats: 60 seconds
  • Lunges: 60 seconds
  • Knee push-ups: 30 seconds
  • Knee planks: 30 seconds
  • Quadruped limb raises: 60 second

Important: if you are concerned or have any concerns about your workout, please consult a medical professional before you start exercising. Also, if you have difficulties with excess weight, you might want to lose weight (opens in new tab) first and then start working out with weights. Changing your diet is the best way to lose weight, whilst exercising can help you maintain weight loss and improve your cardiovascular system, too.

best bodyweight workout for beginners at home

Goblet squats are the next step up from bodyweight squats

(Image credit: Future)

1. Bodyweight squats

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, calves, hamstring, core, inner thighs

Good for: torching fat, building leg muscles and overall strength

Squats work – not surprisingly – your legs the most, especially your quads and glutes, and what's even better, there are a few different variations so you can keep your exercise sessions fresh. One you familiarised yourself with bodyweight squats, try squat holds or even Bulgarian split squats.

As you squat, keep your back straight and you can even extend your arms in front of you to help you keep balance easier. As you go down in a squat position, stick your bum out in order to keep your back straight.

There is no need to do a deep squat either, it you are new to exercising, that would apply too much pressure on your knees. Instead, try performing squats slower, that would extend the period of muscle activation, therefore making you burn more calories. Try lowering your body for three second, hold the lowermost position for one second, then back up in three seconds.

bodyweight workout for beginners at home

Weighted forward lunges can add extra resistance to your lower body exercises

(Image credit: Future)

2. Forward lunge

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, calves, hamstring, core, inner thighs

Good for: toning bum, stretching hamstrings, boosting calves

Another one for your legs, lunges also work your lower half more, but since you have a few very large muscles there, working your lower body well will burn loads of calories and will you more mobile, too. Lunges are also one the few exercises that really work your calves.

The actual exercise is pretty straight forward: as you are standing straight, take a big step forward and bend your knee so your rear knee almost touches the floor. Then kick yourself back up with your front leg and return to your original position. Do the same with the other leg. Once you did both legs, that's one rep.

bodyweight workout for beginners at home

Try knee push-ups first, then you can progress into doing standard push ups

(Image credit: Future)

3. Knee push up

Muscles worked: chest, arms, shoulders, core

Good for: toning arms, strengthening chest

One of best bodyweight compound exercises, the push up (or press up) works your arms and also your pecs (chest) toning and strengthening your upper body all in the same time. Compound exercises are also a great way to burn fat quicker because they work a multitude of muscles in the same time. for the same reason, they are also good to build overall strength.

You should start off doing knee push ups, when that will get arms used to the movement. Keep your back straight as you do the knee push ups, that will work your core, too, making this already excellent exercise even more powerful.

Also, tuck in the elbows a bit and try to focus on activating the back of the upper arms (triceps) and the chest muscles as you push yourself. 

bodyweight workout for beginners at home

Planks will work your core and abs like not many other exercises can

(Image credit: Future)

4. Knee plank

Muscles worked: abs, core, chest, upper back, shoulders

Good for: improving posture, six pack gains

Planks are not exciting to do, we agree. Planks are one of the most boring exercises out there, you literally have to do nothing else but to hold your body in a fixed position. In the same time, it is one of the most challenging exercises you can do and if you ever want to know just how long 60 seconds can be, just try holding the low-plank position for that long and you'll see.

Knee planks are not difficult to perform – at least to know what you are supposed to do – just hold your body straight whilst resting your body on your knees and elbows. For added comfort, you can lay down a yoga mat (opens in new tab) underneath you, especially if your abode has hard flooring.

5. Quadruped limb raise

Muscles worked: lower back, traps, glutes, thighs, abs/core

Good for: strengthening back, fat burning, toning bum

Lesser known but excellent exercise nevertheless, the quadruped limb raise works your back gently – more gently than doing pull ups, for sure. Quadruped limb raises work your glutes and lower back the most, but they also have an effect on your core, traps (the muscles on the side of the neck) and thighs.

To do a quadruped limb raise, go down on all four with your hands shoulder width apart. In the starting position, your back should be straight and vertical to the ground. Lift one arm and the opposite leg in the air simultaneously, hold the pose for a second or two, then lower it back to the ground. Do the same with the other two limbs.

Make sure you don't reach too high with either limb and try to be extra gentle with the leg raise. Lower backs are very prone to being sprained and you would like to mobilise them in a steady pace and not over work them straight away.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other content creators in the past, such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab). When he isn't working out, he loves roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment, including microphones, cameras and more.