Good Bodyweight Exercises for Beginners: 5 Moves

good bodyweight exercises
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Good Bodyweight Exercises

I can’t exactly remember how and why I started doing calisthenics, but I stumbled upon the Bar Brothers workout routine and never looked back.  Although I moved on once I finished the program, to this day I good bodyweight exercisescannot recommend the Bar Brothers enough.  It is full of good bodyweight exercises for beginners, and I’m sure if I did the program again all these years later, I would still struggle with many of the exercises.


For beginners, it is important to know what the good bodyweight exercises are so that you can get your body into the shape you want it in.  Most important of all, in my opinion, is the need to keep things simple.  So with this post, I am going to explain why these five basic calisthenic exercises are all you need to get started – and will stick with you on your calisthenics journey forever.


All You Need Is a Bar

The most appealing aspect of calisthenics is that you barely need any equipment, since your body itself is the most important part of it.  That said, you will be missing out on a lot if you don’t invest in a pull up bar.  Check out some of my pull up bar posts to find one that works well for your home and budget.

Good Bodyweight Exercises: Pull Upgood bodyweight exercises

Let’s start with the honest-to-goodness HARDEST but also GREATEST (in my opinion) bodyweight exercise of them all.  Many of the bulkiest weightlifters can’t even do a pull up, so achieving this is an amazing feat.  The pull up targets:

  • Your back
  • Your biceps
  • Your core
  • Your shoulders

For beginners, you may not be able to do a single pull up at first.  Do not lose your motivation. Try these progressions if you can’t, and with practice you will achieve your first pull up:

Option A: Get on a raised platform and begin hanging with your chin already over the bar.  Slowly lower yourself down.  Repeat 5 times.

Option B: Get in the hanging position and simply pull yourself up as high as you can. Keep track of how high you go with every attempt.  Repeat 5 times.  You will slowly but surely be able to pull yourself higher and higher as time goes by.


Good Bodyweight Exercises: Push Upgood bodyweight exercises

You can’t go wrong with the tried and true push up.  It comes in many forms, but for beginners, it is best to just stick with the standard hands shoulder-width apart with legs outstretched behind you.  The push up targets:

  • Your chest
  • Your triceps
  • Your shoulders
  • Your core

Beginners may have a tough time getting many consecutive push ups without resting.  If you are going for numbers, you will need to practice your push ups on a regular basis.  If you have trouble hitting ten in a row, then I suggest trying these two progressions to build your strength up:

Option A: Incline push ups.  You can use a wall, a table, or anything that allows you to push yourself up with less resistance and range.  Go for ten in a row, and then try a lower platform.

Option B: Knee push ups.  Instead of extending your legs out behind you, kneel on your knees and do the push ups that way.  There is less bodyweight to raise and lower, making this an easier version of the full on push up.  Go for ten in a row and then move on to the real thing.


Good Bodyweight Exercises: Squatsgood bodyweight exercises

No matter your experience level, squats will be a mainstay of your workouts.  Bodyweight squats are good bodyweight exercises for your legs without adding any extra weight, and you can do many of them before needing to rest.  Eventually, you may want to add weights to your squats, because otherwise you’ll just have to add more and more reps.  It’ll get a little ridiculous when your getting into the triple-digits for just bodyweight squats.  So, even though this website is Bodyweight MAX, I suggest making exceptions for your squats.  Squats target your entire lower body.


Good Bodyweight Exercises: Knee Raisesgood bodyweight exercises

If you are looking for ripped abs, then knee raises will put you on the right track.  For beginners, hanging knee raises will be extremely tough, because you are still adapting to hanging to a bar as well as lifting your knees up at the same time.  It’s not easy!  If you have trouble with hanging knee raises, I suggest trying these progressions to improve yourself:

Option A:  Sitting Knee Raises on Raised Platform.  Sit on a step, a table, or something else sturdy and elevated.  Bend your legs and lift your knees.  This will get you used to the motion of knee raises without putting the stress on your arms and hands from hanging.

Option B:  Hanging Knee Raise Hold.  Instead of doing knee raise reps, simply hold your knees up in the raised position while hanging.  Do this until you can’t hold any longer.  This move is extremely tough in its own way, but still serves as a solid progression to the hanging knee raise (and hanging leg lift).

Option C:  Knee Raises on Forearm Cushions.  You are resting on the cushions and supporting your weight with your forearms, so all you’ll really need to focus on is lifting your knees.


Good Bodyweight Exercises: Dipsgood bodyweight exercises

Ideally, you have dip bars for this move, but not everybody does – and that is OK.  Dips are good bodyweight exercises for:

  • Your triceps
  • Your chest
  • Your shoulders

They focus on the arms in different ways than the push up, and will really give your triceps a fiery workout.  If you don’t have dip bars, then doing dips on the floor or a raised platform works great too:  just place your hands behind you, extend your legs, and push yourself up with your arms and shoulders.  Then lower yourself back down to complete the rep.


Keep it Simple!

It is never too late to start your calisthenics journey, and getting used to these five good bodyweight exercises is the perfect way to do so.  They are all you’ll need to get started, and once you’re more experienced you’ll adapt your workouts and include variations of all five of them.  Just remember to stretch!


Like I mentioned, the Bar Brothers routine is a perfect starting point for beginners, so I suggest checking it out.  How is your calisthenics journey coming along?  Let me know in the comments below!



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