A Brighton & Hove PT’s guide to the total bodyweight workout

Bodyweight exercises

So here we are in the midst of a pandemic, with much of the world including the UK on lockdown. It’s important to try and keep fit and active not least to help support your mental wellbeing during this unsettling time. 

With all the gyms across Brighton and Hove closed because of the Covid-19 lockdown just like everywhere else in the UK, and if you find yourself without any gym equipment to hand at home, fear not! There are plenty of exercises where you need only one piece of kit – your own body! 

Here then is Gav O’Brien from 3Fs Personal Training in Hove guide to the total bodyweight workout:      

FULL BODY EXERCISES

3Fs Guide to Burpees 

  • Start by standing with your feet about shoulder width apart with your weight through both your heels and both your arms by your sides
  • Next push your hips back and bend both your knees then lower your body into a squat position
  • Place both your hands directly on the floor in front of and just inside both your feet, then shift your weight onto your hands
  • Jump both your feet back to softly land on the balls in a plank position. Note that your body should form a straight line from your head down to your heels 
  • Then jump both your feet back so that they land outside of both of your hands
  • Reach both your arms up over head and powerfully leap right up into the air, land carefully and immediately drop back to a squat position ready for your next repetition (rep)

3Fs Guide to Plank

  • Start by placing both hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width as though you’re about to do a push-up
  • Next ground toes firmly into the floor and clench your glutes to stabilise your body 
  • Keep your neck and spine neutral by looking at a spot on the floor about 10 inches in front of your hands. Note that your head should be in line with your back
  • Hold for at least 20 seconds. As you progress with the exercise hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising your form
Mountain climbers exercise

3Fs Guide to Mountain Climbers

  • Start by getting into a plank position, making sure that you spread weight evenly between your hands and your toes
  • Next check your form, your hands should be shoulder width apart, keep your back flat with your abs engaged with your head aligned 
  • Pull your right knee into your chest as far as you can, then switch, pulling that knee out and bringing your left knee in
  • Keeping your hips down run your knees in and out as far and as quickly as you can. Alternate breathing in and breathing out with each change of leg

3Fs Guide to Prone Walkout

  • Start with your feet hip width apart, bending from your hips, reach down for the ground, placing both palms on the floor in front of both feet
  • Next slowly move your body weight to your hands and begin walking your hands forward until you’re in a straight line from your head to heels
  • Keep walking until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels while bracing your core and ensuring that your hands are placed directly under your shoulders

Gav’s pick: Burpees as these are hard to beat probably because they are really quite hard to do!  


LEG EXERCISES

3Fs Guide to Wall Sits

  • Start with your back flat against a wall keeping feet about a shoulder width apart and about eighteen inches to two feet out
  • Next engage your abs and slowly glide your back down the wall until your quads/hamstrings are parallel to the floor
  • Adjust your feet so that your knees are right above your ankles
  • Simply keep your back flat against the wall and hold the position for 20 to 60 seconds
  • To end slide slowly back up the wall to a standing position, rest 20 seconds and repeat three times 
Lunges

3Fs Guide to Lunges

  • Start by standing with your right foot forward and your left foot back around 3 feet apart
  • Next bend the knees to lower the body towards the floor, keep the front knee behind your toes and be sure to lower straight down rather than forward
  • Keeping your upper body straight with your abs engaged as you push through the front heel and back to starting position
  • Ensure that you do not lock your knees at the top of the movement.

3Fs Guide to Side Lunges

  • Start by standing with both feet together and hands clasped in front of your chest
  • Next make a large step out to your right, immediately lowering into a lunge position, moving your hips back and bending your right knee to track directly in line with your right foot. Keep your left leg straight but not locked at the knee with both feet pointing to the front
  • Push off from your right foot to straighten your right leg then step your right foot to left, and return to starting side lunge position
  • To finish repeat exercise movement on the other leg

3Fs Guide to Squats

  • Start by standing with feet slightly wider than hip width apart with your toes facing to the front
  • Next move your hips backwards while bending at your knees and ankles and pressing your knees slightly open as you sit down into a squat position while still keeping your heels and toes firmly on the floor, chest up with your shoulders back
  • Aim to eventually reach parallel, so that your knees are bent to a 90-degree angle
  • Press into your heels and straighten legs to return to an upright standing position

3Fs Guide to Calf Raises

  • Start by standing up straight then pushing through the balls of your feet and raising your heels until you are standing on your toes 
  • To finish lower back down to your feet flat on the floor and repeat

Gav’s pick: Squats are guaranteed to build strong legs


CHEST & BACK EXERCISES

Push up

3Fs Guide to Standard Push-ups

  • Start with your chest and stomach resting on the floor, your legs should be kept straight-out behind you. Palms placed at chest level with your arms bent out at around 45 degrees
  • Next exhale as you push up from your hands and heels by bringing your torso, chest and legs off of the floor
  • Pause momentarily in the plank position, keeping your abs fully engaged, inhale as you slowly lower back to your starting push-up position

3Fs Guide to Push-ups on Knees

  • Start in a hands and knees position on the floor, placing your hands on the floor on either side of your shoulders with knees at a comfortable distance apart
  • Next breathy in as you slowly lower your elbows to bring your chest toward the floor, ensuring you keep your abs contracted
  • Pause momentarily in the lowered position, your chin may touch the floor lightly
  • Breath out as you push-up from the floor to return to the starting push-up position

3Fs Guide to Push-ups against Wall

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart, standing at around an arm’s length away from the vertical wall
  • Next place both your palms on the wall as you lean forward into a standing plank position. Keep both your arms at shoulder height and shoulder width apart
  • Then breath in inhale as you bend your elbows and gradually move your torso toward the wall while keeping both your feet flat on the floor, holding this position momentarily 
  • Breath out and use both your arms to push your body gradually back to the starting push-up position

3Fs Guide to Superman

  • Start by lying face down on the floor with both your arms stretched above your head rather like Superman in the movies
  • Next raise your right arm and left leg together about 6 inches off the ground  or as far as you comfortably can if you’re new to this type of exercise, hold for about 3 seconds and then relax your body
  • Finish by repeating with your left arm and right leg

Gav’s pick: Standard Push-up the ultimate pec building bodyweight exercise


SHOULDERS & ARM EXERCISES

3Fs Guide to Triceps Dips

  • Start by bringing out a chair and sit on it near the front edge
  • Next place both palms behind you, ensuring that you have a full grasp of the edge of the chair
  • Extend your legs straight out in front, then steadily suspend your body using your hands and slowly dip your body down in front of the chair
Arm circles

3Fs Guide to Arm Circles

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart, your arms fully extended straight out to sides at shoulder height
  • Next keeping your shoulders down, do 20 small backward circles
  • To finish change  direction and do 20 forward circles

3Fs Guide to Shoulder Press

  • Start from a push-up position, your glutes pushing upwards and by walking your feet in so that you form a downward-dog pose. Note that from the side the shape of your body should look like a triangle
  • Next lower your shoulders towards the ground by bending your elbows, allowing your forehead to lightly make contact with the floor before pushing upwards and away back to the starting position

Gav’s pick: Triceps dips if you want your arms to look big don’t neglect your triceps!


CORE EXERCISES

3Fs Guide to Flutter Kicks

  • Start by lying down with your back flat on the floor on a mat
  • Next make a fist and keep them in between your glutes and lower back for a slight lift off the floor
  • Then raise your legs at  around 6 inches off of the floor and keep them out firmly straight
  • While keeping your legs straight, raise a leg higher while lowering the other simultaneously 

3Fs Guide to Side Plank

  • Start by lying on your left side with legs extended and stacked from hip to feet. Ensure the elbow of your left arm is directly beneath your shoulder. Ensure that your head is directly in line with your spine. Your left arm can be aligned along the right side of your body if you wish
  • Engage your abs by drawing in your bellybutton to your spine
  • While breathing out lift your hips and knees from the floor. Keep your torso straight in line with no bending and hold the position
  • After a few breaths, breath in again and return to the starting position
  • Repeat on the right side

3Fs Guide to Russian Twists

  • Start by being seated with your knees bent and feet on the floor, holding both hands together right out in front of your chest. Ensure that you keep your spine long and your abs tight
  • Next lean back slightly and lift both feet about 6 inches off of the floor this will engage your abs during the movement
  • Slowly twist the torso to the left and bring both your hands to the side of your left hip
  • Return to centre and then slowly twist to the right and this time bring both your hands to the side of your right hip to complete one rep
  • You can tell if your abs are fully engaged as your feet will paddle
Core exercises

3Fs Guide to Crunches

  • Start by lying down with your back flat on the floor. Place both your feet on the floor about hip width apart 
  • Next bend both your knees and place both your arms across your chest, contracting your abs while breathing in
  • Breath out and lift your torso, keeping your head and neck neutral during the movement
  • To finish breath out and return your body to the starting position

Gav’s pick: Side Plank is a great place to start building a solid core


So there you have it, a Brighton and Hove based PT’s twenty favourite bodyweight exercises. No equipment! No drama! No excuse during lockdown! 

10 reasons why you should choose a bodyweight workout!

  1. Bodyweight workout easily combines both cardio and strength training
  2. For any fitness level a bodyweight workout is challenging
  3. Bodyweight workout can burn fat fast in a HIIT format
  4. You’ll gain core strength with a bodyweight workout
  5. Bodyweight workout will increase your flexibility
  6. Get better balance using a bodyweight workout
  7. You won’t ever get bored with bodyweight exercises
  8. Mixing your bodyweight workout up is simple
  9. It’s free and easy to do at home during lockdown
  10. A bodyweight workout will improve your mood

For the perfect bodyweight workout simply add HIIT

So you’ve perfected your technique for these bodyweight exercises. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds or simply want to boost your cardio endurance, try picking 8 to 12 of the above and do them in a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) format.

Start with 20 seconds of work for each exercise, with 15 seconds rest between each exercise. Aim for 3 to 5 circuits, allowing 30 seconds rest at the end of each circuit. 

As with any exercise, make sure that you start with a good warm-up and given that we’ and end with a good stretch out routine. You can download HIIT apps. I use Tabata Pro: https://www.tabatatimer.com/

Got any questions for Gav?

I’m now at home doing remote PT sessions via Whatsapp and Skype instead of being a busy Personal Trainer out and about Brighton and Hove training my many clients. If you have any questions about this bodyweight workout, please email gav@3fspt.co.uk or call / Whatapp me on 07730 038830. 

Need help with motivation?Hey I understand this is a really tough time! I’m supporting many of my Brighton and Hove based clients by running remote PT Sessions using Whatsapp and Skype. If you need some help starting a bodyweight exercise programme, please call me on 07730 038830 or email gav@3fspt.co.uk let’s chat about what you want to achieve, and then I’ll work out a bespoke routine that we can start working out remotely!  Keep active during lockdown and stay safe!

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