Kickstart your body into shape with this 21-day bodyweight challenge!
So, you’ve decided to take control of your health by living a Paleo lifestyle. There’s much to learn about the Paleo lifestyle, and I’m sure you’re already on the road to eating healthier and feeling better. However, a large part of “living primal” is making sure you are also staying active and getting your heart rate up.
Here at PaleoHacks, there are tons of workouts to help you stay fit, but we’ve put together a 3-Week Bodyweight Program to help get you started and guide you to your best self.
These three bodyweight workouts can be easily modified and progressed for every fitness level. The workouts in this series are geared toward starting your fitness routine. Each workout trains your entire body, including your lower body, upper body, abdominals and core.
The exercises here only require bodyweight to begin, so if you don’t have any fitness equipment or a gym membership, you will still be able to get a great workout in. Each bodyweight workout also has some type of cardiovascular exercise in it to help bring your heart rate up.
As you progress into your fitness routines, add in more bodyweight workouts from our fitness archives and increase the intensity by adding in resistance or weights to the exercises.
For the next three weeks, complete these bodyweight exercises with one rest day in between each structured workout. For example, on Mondays complete Workout 1, Wednesdays complete Workout 2, and Fridays complete Workout 3. The day following each workout (so for example, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) try to perform some light exercise, like a long walk or easy jog. Perhaps even some light stretching if your muscles are sore. Make sure that you have at least one full day of recovery each week (this could be Sunday).
After these three weeks of these bodyweight exercises, we’re sure you will feel stronger and more confident to take your training to the next level.
Bodyweight Workout 1
Complete this bodyweight workout as a circuit, moving from one exercise to the next. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise, depending on your ability.
Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and knees and shoulder very slightly turned out to the side. Lower down into a squat keeping your weight in your heels. With power, drive through your heels to propel yourself up into a jump straight up. Land softly, rolling from the toes down to the heels and sink down into your squat to repeat. Perform 15 jumps and as you get stronger, progress to 20, then 25.
Narrow Push Ups
Come down to your mat in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs engaged and lower down into a push-up, keeping your elbows in by your waistline.
Press through your palms to push up, making sure to keep your abs engaged and don’t let your back arch or hips sink down. Perform 10-20 push-ups, depending in your strength. To modify this exercise, you can drop to your knees, but be sure to keep a plank position and your abs tight.
Single Leg Deadlift
Stand with feet together and holding dumbbells by your sides. Shift your weight into your RIGHT foot, making sure to keep most of the weight in the heel. Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight and lift your LEFT leg so that your torso and leg are parallel to the floor.
You should feel a stretch in your RIGHT hamstring and the crown of your head should be reaching forward. Pressing through the heel and engaging the hamstring, straighten back up to standing. Repeat all repetitions on one side, then switch legs.
Start in a plank position on your hands. Keeping your abs engaged and your shoulders directly over your hands, drive your RIGHT knee in towards your chest, using your abs to pull it in. Quickly reach that leg back and drive your LEFT knee in towards your chest. Go as quickly as you can while maintaining abdominal strength. Complete for 30 seconds to a minute.
Sit on the edge of the chair or table and place your hands on the edge so that your fingers are hanging off, facing towards you. Lift your hips of just in front of the chair, with your shoulders over your wrists. Bend your elbows and lower down, making sure to keep your elbows pressing back and your chest lifted (don’t “sink” into your shoulders). Press back up using the backs of your arms. Complete 15 repetitions.
Find an open, flat wall and stand next to it with your back flat against it. Walk your feet forwards about 2 feet or so (about your own thigh-length away from the wall) and lower down into a squat position with a 90 degree bend in your knees.
Make sure to keep your knees in line with your toes, press your tailbone into the wall, and keep your shoulders back. To make this more advanced, you can hold a dumbbell in each hand or on your thighs. Hold for 30 seconds to start, and progress to 60 seconds as you become stronger.
Bodyweight Workout 2
Complete this workout as a circuit moving from one exercise to the next. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise depending on your ability.
Start standing with feet together, lower into a deep squat position to bring your hands down to the floor. Jump your legs backwards into a full plank position on your hands. Jump your feet back into your low squat position and jump up reaching your hands overhead. (For a modification, take out the jump and just stand up.) Complete 10-15 burpees.
Start by standing with feet together and your weight in your RIGHT leg. Step your LEFT foot back, keeping the weight in your front heel. Your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees, and be sure to keep your torso upright. Powering through your front heel, use the glutes and hamstrings to press up to standing. As you progress, you can add dumbbells in each hand for an extra challenge. Complete 15-20 repetitions on each leg.
Start by standing at the end of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend forward to reach your hands to the mat in a forward fold, reaching your hands flat on the mat (your knees may bend slightly). Walk your hands out about a foot at a time all the way out into a full plank position. Hold in the plank for a second or two and walk your hands all the way back into the forward fold, and repeat. Complete 10-15 repetitions.
Wide Push Ups
Come into a full plank position on your hands, but position your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower down into a push-up and at the bottom of the push-up, you should have a 90-degree bend in your elbows. Press back up to the plank and repeat 15-20 times. This can be modified by lowering down to the knees if needed.
Prisoner Squats with Calf Raises
Bring feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and knees and toes slightly turned out. Place your hands behind your head and retract your shoulders together to open the chest. Squat down, sitting back as if sitting into a chair, keeping the weight in the heels and the chest open. Power through the heels to come back up to standing and then lift the heels off the ground, squeezing the glutes at the top. Repeat 15-20 times.
Laying on your stomach on your mat, extend your arms over your head with your palms facing down. Reach the crown of your head forward and let your nose hover an inch off the ground. Draw your shoulder blades down your back as you lift your arms and legs a few inches off the ground. Think about squeezing your glutes and pulling your shoulders together to engage your entire back. Lower your arms and legs, and repeat 15 times.
Staying on your stomach on the mat, tuck your toes under, placing the weight in the balls of your feet. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders, keeping your forearms parallel to each other. Brace through your abdominals and lift your hips up so that you’re in a straight line from the crown of your head to your feet. Be sure not to let your lower back arch and keep your abs tight the entire time. Hold for 30 seconds for beginners and work your way up to 60 seconds.
Bodyweight Workout 3
Complete this workout as a circuit moving from one exercise to the next. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise, depending on your ability.
Making sure you have enough space (about a 15-foot hallway is enough), start with your feet together and hands on your hips or by your sides. Step your RIGHT foot forward far enough so that when you lunge down, your RIGHT thigh is parallel to the floor. You should feel a stretch through the front of your LEFT hip, in the hip flexor. Press though your RIGHT heel and power up to bring your feet together and stand up. Repeat, stepping the LEFT foot forward. Complete 10-15, then turn around and lunge back to your starting point.
Starting in a full plank position on your hands, rotate so that your weight shifts to your RIGHT hand as you lift your LEFT arm up in the air above your shoulder. Lower back down and place the LEFT hand back on the floor and rotate to the other side, lifting the RIGHT arm up. Make sure to keep your shoulders steady, and don’t lift your hips too high.
Figure 4 Squats
Start by standing, and slightly shift your weight into your RIGHT leg. Raise your LEFT leg and cross your ankle over your RIGHT thigh, making a “figure 4”. Carefully bend your RIGHT knee and lower into a single leg squat, keeping your hips back and weight in your heels.
You should feel a stretch in your LEFT hip and work to keep the knee open and out to the side. If you feel unsure about this exercise, you can always place a chair behind you for support. Complete 10-15 repetition on each leg, and as you progress, you can hold dumbbells in each hand for an extra challenge.
Military or Dynamic Plank
Starting in a basic plank position on your elbows, you will be pressing yourself up to a full plank. Place your RIGHT hand directly where your RIGHT elbow was to lift up, and as you do so place the LEFT hand where the LEFT elbow was. You should now be in a full plank. To lower back down, bend the RIGHT elbow and place it on the floor where the RIGHT hand was, and repeat with the LEFT. Aim to complete 10 repetitions with the RIGHT arm leading the movement, then repeat starting with the LEFT arm leading.
Single Leg Bridge
Lay on your back on a mat and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. Bring your feet parallel and hip-distance apart. With your heels, close in towards your glutes. Extend your LEFT leg up to the ceiling. Using the RIGHT leg, press into the heel to lift the hips up, creating a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. Be sure to keep the hips parallel to the floor and squeeze the glutes. Lower the hips back down and repeat. Switch to complete all repetitions on the other side.
Dolphin Push Ups
Come down onto your mat, place your elbows on the mat, and have your weight in the balls of your feet. Lift your hips high to come into a downward dog position, only on your elbows. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Try to get your back as flat as possible. Shift your weight forward to bring your chest over your hands, almost getting your back in a flat line. Using your abs and your shoulders, lift your hips back up to your dolphin pose. Complete 15-20 repetitions.
Lay on your back on the mat and place your hands behind your head. Bring your knees up in a 90-degree bend, with your knees directly over your hips. Using your abs, lift your chest and your head off the mat a few inches and rotate to the RIGHT, reaching your LEFT elbow to your RIGHT knee, and simultaneously reaching your LEFT leg out straight to hover off the mat. Come back into the center with your knees over your hips and repeat on the other side. Complete 20 repetitions total.
(You’re Next Workout: 21-Day HIIT Challenge)