Muscle-building bodyweight exercise home workout plan

Follow this four-week muscle-building bodyweight exercise home workout plan to get stronger without so much as looking at a weight rack

Pack on lean muscle and burn fat with this simple four-week bodyweight workout plan devised by personal trainer Glenn Higgins. It’s easy to follow and is made up of simple moves anyone can do. 

The only equipment you need is a resistance band. Oh, and a table… trust us, all will becoem clear!

The workouts

Each workout is a circuit, focusing on a different area of your body so as to build full-body strength and prevent fatigue from overtraining. 

'While each workout is a circuit, the focus isn’t on speed,' says Higgins. 'Nothing is timed, so do each rep in a controlled way.' Not sure how to do a move, or want to modify an exercise to make it easier or more challenging? Scroll down past the plan to see form guides and beginner and expert modifications.

Monday: Upper-body

Round 1 10 press-ups, 10 table pull-ups, 10 walkouts, 90-sec rest Round 2 12 chair dips, 12 band bicep curls, 12 band shoulder raises, 90-sec rest Round 3 12 pike press-ups, 12 Superman punches, 30 seconds dynamic plank, 12 band upright rows

2-min rest, then repeat whole workout two more times

Wednesday: Lower-body/abs

Round 1 10 Bulgarian split squats, 20 air squats, 12 leg raises, 90-sec rest Round 2 20 reverse lunges (10 each leg), 12 butterfly glute bridges, 12 reach crunches, 90-sec rest Round 3 20 side step-ups (10 each leg), 40-sec wall sit, 12 butterfly crunches 2-min rest, then repeat whole workout two more times

Friday: Full-body

Round 1 10 side-to-side press-ups, 20 air squats, 40-sec bear crawls, 90-sec rest Round 2 10 band shoulder presses, 20 walking lunges (10 on each leg), 10 burpees, 90-sec rest  Round 3 20 alternating step-ups (10 on each leg), 10 table chin-ups, 12 explosive squats 2-min rest, then repeat the whole workout two more times

Exercise form guides

Here’s a step-by-step guide to each move. You’ll also learn what muscles the exercise is working, along with modifications to make some moves easier or harder. The exercises are listed in the order they appear in the workout plan.

Press-ups 

  1. Position your body with your arms straight out, abs tight, holding your body in a plank position.

  2. Your hands and arms should be positioned slightly below your shoulders, fingers pointed forwards. Shoulders are pushed down away from your ears.

  3. Lower your body until your chest is an inch or two above the floor, elbows pulling back at roughly a 45-degree angle.

  4. Push your torso away from the ground until your arms lock, then repeat.

Targets: Chest, triceps

Make it easier: Perform your press-up as normal but with your hands on a chair.  Make it harder: Raise your feet on a chair or sofa.

Table pull-ups 

  1. Lie under a table and grab the edge with an overhand grip, shoulder-width apart.

  2. Hang down from the table with your arms completely straight and heels on the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. 

  3. Contract your shoulder blades and pull your chest up to the table with your arms. Pause, then slowly lower yourself back down until your arms are straight.

Targets: Mid traps, lats, rhomboids, arms

Make it easier: Perform as normal but with your knees bent at 90 degrees.

Walkouts 

  1. Bend at the hips and plant your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, a couple of inches in front of your feet.

  2. Walk your hands forward until your body is in a press-up position.

  3. Now reverse the entire movement and return to standing. 

Targets: Core, upper-body (also improves flexibility, particularly in the shoulders).

Chair dips

  1. Place your hands behind you onto a chair, so that your fingers face forward.

  2. Extend your legs and start bending your elbows.

  3. Lower your body until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.

  4. Lift your body back up until your arms are straight.

Targets: Triceps

Make it easier: Perform as normal but with your knees bent at 90 degrees, the closer your feet are to you, the less weight you’ll have to lift. Make it harder: Perform with your legs straight.

Band bicep curls

  1. Stand with both your feet on a resistance band, holding the handles pulled up next to your sides with your palms facing forward.

  2. Slowly curl your hands up to your shoulders, squeezing your biceps and keeping your elbows next to your sides.

  3. Slowly release your arms back down to starting position.

Targets: Biceps

Make it harder: Perform with your legs slightly wider apart to add a little more resistance.

Band shoulder raises 

  1. Holding each end of a resistance band in your hands, step on the middle of the band with both feet. 

  2. Lift your hands straight up in front of you with an overhand grip.

  3. Pause at the top to feel the contraction, then slowly lower to the starting position, and then repeat but going out and up from your sides. Both movements count as one rep.

Targets: Deltoids

Make it harder: Perform with legs slightly wider apart to add a little more resistance.

Pike press-ups

  1. Assume a press-up position on the floor. Your arms should be straight, and your hands shoulder-width apart. 

  2. Lift your hips so your body forms an upside-down V. Your legs and arms should stay as straight as possible. Keep a neutral spine position with the top of your head pointing towards the ground.

  3. Bend your elbows and lower your upper body until the top of your head nearly touches the floor.

  4. Pause, and then push yourself back up until your arms are straight. 

Targets: Deltoids

Make it easier: Perform your pike press-up as normal but with your hands on a chair. Make it harder: Raise your feet on a chair or sofa.

Superman punches

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead by your ears.

  2. Lift your chest, arms, and legs off the ground and squeeze your butt.

  3. Keeping your arms and legs off the ground, pull your elbows in toward your sides, then punch overhead. Repeat this punching motion, hovering your arms and legs above the ground and engaging your glutes the entire time.

Targets: Back, shoulders and glutes 

Dynamic plank

  1. Form a high plank position, with your core engaged and hips level, then slowly lower onto your right forearm.

  2. Lower on to your left forearm, so that you’re resting on both forearms.

  3. Place your right hand on floor directly under your shoulders and extend, then your left hand, and push up to return to the starting position.

  4. Next, start by lowering onto left forearm first. Continue to alternate.

Targets: Core, chest, and triceps

Make it easier: Perform your press-up as normal but with your hands on a chair.  Make it harder: Raise your feet on a chair or sofa to put more emphasis through your chest.

Band upright rows

  1. Stand on a resistance band and hold the handles with your palms facing inwards resting on your thighs. 

  2. Keep your back straight and lift the band up towards your chin, keeping your elbows higher than your forearms. 

  3. Return to starting position and repeat. 

Targets: Back, shoulders

Make it harder: Perform with your legs slightly wider apart to add a little more resistance.

Bulgarian split squat

A fantastic leg builder testing your balance to the max – which will improve core strength.

  1. Find yourself a step, bench or anything about knee height you can rest a foot on.

  2. Get into a forward lunge position with your torso upright, core braced and hips square to your body, with your back foot elevated on the bench. Your leading leg should be half a metre or so in front of bench.

  3. Lower until your front thigh is almost horizontal, keeping your knee in line with your foot. Don’t let your front knee travel beyond your toes. 

  4. Drive up through your front heel back to the starting position, again keeping your movements measured.

Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, spinal erectors

Make it harder: Add a core control element by holding your arms out in front of you with your hands together, then twist your torso to one side as you lower into the squat. Alternate sides with each squat.

Air squats

  1. With your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down below the knee putting most of your body weight on to your heels. Make sure your back stays flat at the bottom and your knees track over your toes.

  2. Stand back up to the starting position by pressing through your heel and driving with your glutes.

Targets: Hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes

Leg raises

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and together.

  2. Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor.

  3. Slowly lower your legs back down until they're just above the floor. Hold for a moment.

  4. Raise your legs back up. Repeat

Targets: Lower abs

Make it easier: Allow your legs to bend

Reverse lunges

  1. Stand upright, with your hands at your hips.

  2. Take a large step backward with your left foot.

  3. Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted.

  4. Return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep.

Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, spinal erectors

Make it harder: Raise your hands above your head for an extra core stability challenge.

Butterfly glute bridge

  1. Lay on the ground on your back with the soles of your feet pressed together. Your heels should be about a foot from your butt. 

  2. Drive the sides of your feet into the ground and lift your hips towards the ceiling until your torso and thighs form a straight line. 

  3. Squeeze your glutes hard at the top.

Targets: Glutes

Reach crunch

  1. Lay on your back. Draw your legs in by bending your knees to 90 degrees. Reach up above your shoulders with your arms. 

  2. Draw your belly button down towards the floor to engage your core, then contract your abs to raise up to a crunch position and reach your arms up as high as possible. 

  3. Lower back down to the floor and repeat.

Targets: Abs

Side step-ups

  1. Start standing to the left side of a box, step or bench. 

  2. Step onto the box with your right foot. 

  3. Bring your left foot next to the right and step down to the floor with your right foot on the other side of the box. 

  4. Lower your left foot down to the floor and immediately place it back up onto the box to repeat the movement on the other side.

Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, spinal erectors

Make it easier: Use a lower step

Wall sits

  1. Stand with your back pressing against a wall.

  2. Slide downward into a squat position by moving your feet forward until your knees make a 90-degree angle and your hamstrings are parallel to the floor.

  3. Hold position.

Targets: Quads

Make it easier: Sit further up the wall

Butterfly crunch

  1. Start seated and drop out your knees wide open, keeping your feet as close together as possible. Bring your heels as close to your body as is comfortable.

  2. Lie flat on your back. As you lie down, put both your hands behind your head and relax out your elbows. Ensure that your chin and chest do not come into contact. 

  3. As you form the butterfly shape, crunch up. This means you press your lower back into the ground. Lift your shoulders off the ground as you maintain the distance between your chin and chest. Crunch up with your abdominal muscles contracted. 

Targets: Abs

Bear crawl

  1. Start on your hands and feet with your knees bent.

  2. Walk forward on your hands and feet, moving your right leg with your left arm and left leg with your right arm.

Targets: Full body

Band shoulder press

  1. Stand with both feet on the centre of the band, hip-width apart.

  2. Bring the handles of the band above your shoulders so your elbows are bent 90 degrees.

  3. Press your arms straight up, keeping your shoulders down. Slowly lower back above shoulders. 

  4. Repeat.

Make it harder: Perform with your legs slightly wider apart to add a little more resistance.

Walking lunges

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your hands can stay by the side of your body or on your hips.

  2. Step forward with your right leg, putting the weight into your heel.

  3. Bend your right knee, lowering down so it’s parallel to the floor in a lunge position. Pause for a beat.

  4. Without moving the right leg, move your left foot forward, repeating the same movement on the left leg. Pause as your left leg is parallel to the floor in a lunge position.

  5. Repeat this movement, walking forward as you lunge.

Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, spinal erectors, core

Make it harder: Raise your hands above your head for a little core stability challenge.

Burpees

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.

  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.

  3. Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto your hands.

  4. Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.

  5. Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.

  6. Reach your arms over head and explosively jump up into the air.

  7. Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.

Targets: Full body

Make it easier: Move into a plank position by stepping, rather than jumping, your feet behind you. Make it harder: Make sure your chest touches the floor on each rep.

Alternating step-ups

  1. Stand facing a chair with your arms by your sides. 

  2. Put the whole of your right foot on the chair, then drive up through your right leg and stand on the chair with both feet. Step back down and return to the starting position.

  3. Repeat, starting with the other foot.

Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, spinal erectors

Make it easier: Start by not having the chair or box too high. Make it harder: Add a little jump as you drive up through the leg.

Table pull-ups

  1. Lie under a table and grab the edge with an underhand grip that's shoulder-width apart.

  2. Hang down from the table with your arms completely straight and your heels on the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.

  3. Contract your shoulder blades and pull your chest up to the table with your arms. Pause, then slowly lower yourself back down. 

Targets: Mid traps, lats, rhomboids, biceps

Make it easier: Perform as normal but with your knees bent at 90 degrees.

Explosive Squats

Targets: hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width and knees slightly bent.

  2. Bend your knees and lower to a squat position.

  3. At the bottom of the squat, powerfully explode straight up bringing your knees toward your chest while in mid-air. At the top of the jump, your thighs should touch your torso.

  4. Release your legs, control your landing by going through your foot (toes, ball, arches, heel) and descend into the squat again for another explosive jump.

  5. Upon landing immediately repeat the next jump.

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