Getting into the groove of exercise is a little like learning to drive. When you first start, even the basics are tough. You’ve gotta get your hand-eye coordination down pat, remember where your hands go, and try your hardest not to fart… What?

We spoke to personal trainer, Iona Bruce, about which exercises (that require nothing but bodyweight) she’d recommend for beginners. Because as we’re all well aware, the anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun.

On The Mat, Stat: A PT On The Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners

“So as a basic rule with any workout, you want to have a squat movement, lunge movement, push and pull movement and a core exercise.” Iona tells us.

“Always start with your leg exercises as they use the biggest muscles. And always end in core because you use your core in every exercise and you don’t want to tire it out until the very end.”

Don’t get too excited and go H.A.M on your first sesh though. Listen to your body, or you might conk yourself out for the rest of the week.

On The Mat, Stat: A PT On The Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners

1. Squats 

First things first, Iona suggests learning how to nail a squat. Squatting is a full-body exercise that primarily trains your butt, hips and thighs, as well as helping develop your core strength. 

“There are so many opportunities to vary it through feet positioning, turning it into a squat jump, doing pulses etc.” she says. 

  • On the way down, make sure your knees don’t track over your feet. This’ll put extra pressure on your knees.
  • Keep your head up, and back as straight as possible – hunching is a big no-no.
  • Make sure you’re squatting deep enough – past the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.

2. Lunges

Iona reckons working in a lateral lunge is super important. “If you want to get technical, you want to try and use all movement planes – frontal, sagittal and traverse,” which basically means you want to work every side of your body – and you can do this by lunging forward, backward as well as side to side.

  • The leg you’re lunging forward with should be at a 90 degree angle to the floor, and similarly to the squat, you wanna make sure your knees aren’t tracking over your foot.
  • Breathe in when you’re going down, and out when you’re coming back up.

3. Push-up with rotation

If you’re a beginner, push-ups on their own might be tough enough, but Iona suggests throwing in a rotation, too. “You can do it either on all fours, or on your knees” she says.

“Key here is to make sure you don’t use your neck when you’re doing the movement, and a good way to avoid this is to look forward. Then, when you rotate, make sure your eyes follow your hand all the way up.” 

4. Renegade Rows

A renegade row is a pull exercise, which involves keeping the body stable in the plank position while lifting on arm at a time up towards the body, like so:

On The Mat, Stat: A PT On The Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners

“If you have some dumbbells or even a couple of tins of beans, this can be used to do pull exercises like renegade rows with.” Or, you can do the movement sans-weights – it’ll still work your core, since you need to stay stable. “Make sure you keep your bum nice and low, and try to keep your body as still as possible so you work your arms properly.”

5. Hand walkout

You start standing up, and slowly make your way to the floor on your hands, until you reach plank position – then you work your way on up. Like so:

On The Mat, Stat: A PT On The Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners

“It’s a great core exercise that engages your whole body,” says Iona. 

And the best bit? They’re all free.

Photo: Anaconda / YouTube.