Build full-body strength with these eight exercises using just your bodyweight

Forget complex exercises, you can work on your strength efficiently in 20 minutes with this home workout

Man doing bodyweight push ups
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When we think about gaining ‘strength’, using weights, like a pair of dumbbells or an Olympic barbell, often comes to mind. But did you know you can build strength using just your bodyweight? This workout of the week from Arnold Schwarzenegger's Pump Club newsletter focuses on just that by working all the muscle groups in your body. As with most full-body workouts, it’s time efficient too and will only take you 20 minutes, so can squeeze it into your busy schedule. All you need to do is pop on your workout shoes.

 So, how do you increase your overall strength using just your bodyweight? The key to strength training is making sure your muscles are encountering enough resistance. “Resistance is required to break down muscle so it can repair bigger and stronger,” says the International Sports Science Association. “But you do not need weights to break down muscle tissue.” For a lot of people, their body weight will challenge their muscles enough to help them get stronger, so weights aren’t a necessity. However, the key is to continually challenge your muscles so, once bodyweight exercises become too easy, then you may need to look at introducing weights.

Man doing bodyweight squats

(Image credit: Getty)

This workout is a circuit, where you perform exercises back to back with little to no rest which, according to TRAINFitness puts your muscles under more stress, promoting growth. You’ve got eight bodyweight exercises to work through and you’ll do each one for eight to 12 reps, with no rest in between. Once you’ve completed all eight exercises, rest for three minutes, then repeat the whole workout again. Here’s your exercises: 

  • Push ups (do this from your knees if needed)
  • Inverted row
  • Lying leg raises
  • Superman 'W'
  • Bodyweight squat
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Plank
  • Reverse lunges

Once you feel this workout gets too easy you can make it more challenging by adding more resistance in the form of a dumbbell, a single kettlebell or weight plate. For example, you could squat, split squats or lunges using a weight. Ensuring your muscles are continuously challenged will ensure you get stronger. We've also got plenty of other full-body workouts that can help with this too, like this 15 minute dumbbell workout, short but challenging. If it's another workout using no equipment you'd prefer, then here's another full-body workout using just your bodyweight that'll, again, only take you 20 minutes.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.