8 Week Muscle Building Bodyweight Workout

Build muscle without a gym! This 8-week bodyweight workout routine will help you progress from basic to advanced bodyweight exercises.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Full Body
Beginner
8 weeks
3
30-45 minutes
Bodyweight, Exercise Ball, Kettle Bells, Other
Male & Female
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Workout Description

Calisthenics, a form of working out the body with bodyweight alone, has a rich history in fitness.

The word “calisthenics” is derived from two ancient greek words:

  • Kallos: Aesthetic pleasure from the perfection of the human body.
  • Sthenos: Strength – not necessarily limited to physical strength.

And, as was prevalent in the art and literature of the time, a high priority was placed on aesthetics and strength in Ancient Greece (perhaps a practice modern-day society should fall back into – but that’s another article for another day).

The fact that bodyweight workouts had such a high priority in this part of history has helped the practice transcend time.

For example, bodyweight workouts are still staples of many gymnastic organization and martial art practices. School-aged children are taught various bodyweight exercises during their physical education classes. And many of the military physical fitness tests are centered on one’s ability to perform certain bodyweight exercises efficiently.

It’s even gained a somewhat cult following after various “street workouts” have gone viral on social media and YouTube.

That’s probably why you are here today.

Indeed, bodyweight workouts are fantastic. They can help you transform your body using nothing but your body. That means you can perform a workout virtually anywhere once you’re able to learn how to use your bodyweight to create enough stimulus to challenge the muscle.

What will follow is a list of the best bodyweight exercises you can do. After we discuss the best bodyweight exercises we’ll put them together into an 8 week bodyweight workout.

This bodyweight workout will get progressively harder during the 8 weeks and is perfect for any healthy beginner to take on as they try to learn how to use their bodyweight to build muscle and burn fat.

What’re The Best Bodyweight Exercises?

Before we rush into any sort of bodyweight workout routine – it’s important to understand what bodyweight exercises one should prioritize in their training.

There’s a lot of great exercises you can do with just your bodyweight.

However, the following are more traditional movement patterns that you should attempt to become proficient at over time. If you get good at these, you’ll develop an athletic physique and be considered strong when it comes to calisthenics.

All of the exercises mentioned could be considered advanced or beginner level depending on your individual ability to perform them. It’s important to keep in mind that while the exercises are considered the best ones to do – they’re simply training movement patterns.

And these movement patterns can be trained in the same manner through any number of progressions or regressions.

Bodyweight Exercise #1: Push Up

The push up accomplishes the pressing movement pattern. Specifically, it achieves the horizontal press. It also does so in a manner that promotes shoulder health unlike some of its traditionally weighted counterparts.

In addition to promoting shoulder health, the push up also stimulates all of the push muscles of the upper body along with the core. This includes the chest, shoulders, and triceps. For those who are able to control their body and know how to activate various other muscle groups during the position’s static plank – you may even be able to indirectly target the muscles of the legs, glutes and back.

There’s a reason why the push up was probably the first exercise you were ever taught. It’s a safe exercise to perform and can build a lot of muscles as you learn to activate them. You can even progress the exercise in a variety of ways to make it even more challenging.

Bodyweight Exercise #2: Inverted Row

The inverted row accomplishes the horizontal pulling movement pattern. It too will promote shoulder health. Due to its set up, however, it is much harder to cheat your way into accomplishing the movement unlike other weighted row variations.

Thus, the emphasis is placed on the muscles of the back, traps, and rear delts. You will also get a lot of core stimulation as you hold a stable spine throughout the movement. Along with all of this, the inverted row does an excellent job at training grip strength.

The inverted row might be one of the most humbling exercises you ever do. It looks easy, but performing it correctly is fairly difficult for most who aren’t seasoned in callisthenic training. You can make the exercise easier by placing the implement you are using to pull higher. You can also make it more difficult by making it lower or elevating your feet to position your body parallel.

Additionally, you can implement intensity techniques to prolong the time under tension of the exercise. An example of this would be performing 1.5 reps:

Bodyweight Exercise #3: Bodyweight Squat

The bodyweight squat trains the squat movement pattern – a movement pattern that is extremely crucial to maintain efficiency at throughout life.

The squat trains all of the muscles of the lower body. It also involves the core and back to maintain an upright positioning for the upper body throughout the movement pattern.

A lot of people struggle performing the squat efficiently. What’s even worse is they load the movement. If you lack the mobility to perform the bodyweight variation, odds are the only reason you’re accomplishing the depth weighted is because of the weight. That’s simply an injury waiting to happen over time.

The bodyweight squat can be performed in a variety of ways to shift focus to various parts of the lower body. Once you become proficient at the movement, the best way to progress it is to increase the training frequency and training session volume to maintain that level of efficiency.

Bodyweight Exercise #4: Bodyweight Lunge

The bodyweight lunge is a callisthenic exercise that trains the lunge movement pattern. The lunge movement pattern is another exercise that is important to develop and maintain efficiency with over time.

The bodyweight lunge builds the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the stride length you choose to take, you can overemphasize which of the three you want to develop most. If you perform the exercise properly, you will also train the core musculature while keeping the body in an upright stable position as you go through the range of motion.

From step-ups to rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squats, there’s a variety of ways you can regress and progress the lunge movement pattern using only your bodyweight.

Bodyweight Exercise #5: Pull Up

The final exercise in our list of top 5 bodyweight exercises is the pull-up. The pull up is another classic you were probably taught to do at a very young age. Not many people are capable of performing pull-ups, but it’s a critical movement pattern and one, if you get good at them, that can take you a long way in building muscle.

The pull up simply feels pretty badass to be able to perform. And performing them will build the muscles of the back, shoulders, and core.

There’s a variety of ways you can regress the pull up until you are able to perform them yourself. You can perform eccentric only pull-ups, concentric holds, and scapulae retractions. All of these, when programmed smartly, will get you to the point where you can perform complete bodyweight pull ups.

You can also utilize a variety of hand placements when performing the pull up to shift focus to various pulling muscles.

8 Week Bodyweight Workout

Bodyweight Workout Weeks 1 and 2 introduce you to the basic bodyweight exercises and progress your volume slightly each week. Perform the following routine three times per week on nonconsecutive days such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Rest 30 – 60 seconds between sets.

Bodyweight Workout Week 1

Exercise Sets Reps
Push-ups 3 15
Inverted Rows 3 10
Diamond (hands close) Push-ups 3 10
Deep Squats w/ a 3-second pause at the bottom 3 15
Single Leg Calf Raises 3 15
Stationary Lunges 3 10
Lying Leg Raises 3 10
Floor Crunches 3 10

Bodyweight Workout Week 2

Exercise Sets Reps
Push-ups 4 AMRAP*
Inverted Rows 4 AMRAP
Diamond (hands close) Push-ups 4 AMRAP
Deep Squats w/ a 3-second pause at the bottom 4 20
Single Leg Calf Raises 4 AMRAP
Stationary Lunges 4 20
Lying Leg Raises 4 15
Floor Crunches 4 15
*AMRAP = As Many Reps As Possible

Bodyweight Workout Weeks 3, 4 and 5 increase the intensity and difficulty. Since you will be performing more challenging moves, you will again build up your volume over time. Perform the following routine three times per week on nonconsecutive days such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Rest 30 – 60 seconds between sets.

Bodyweight Workout Week 3

Exercise Sets Reps
Medium-Width Grip Pull-ups 4 10
Feet Elevated Push-Ups 4 15
Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats 4 10
Feet Elevated Diamond Push-ups 4 10
Jump Squats 4 10
Walking Lunges 3 Lengths
Single Leg Calf Raises 4 AMRAP
Decline Board Crunches 4 10
Hanging Leg Raises 4 10

Bodyweight Workout Week 4

Exercise Sets Reps
Medium-Width Grip Pull-ups 4 15
Feet Elevated Push-Ups 4 20
Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats 4 15
Feet Elevated Diamond Push-ups 4 15
Jump Squats 4 15
Walking Lunges 3 Lengths
Single Leg Calf Raises 4 AMRAP
Decline Board Crunches 4 15
Hanging Leg Raises 4 15

Bodyweight Workout Week 5

Exercise Sets Reps
Medium-Width Grip Pull-ups 4 AMRAP
Feet Elevated Push-Ups 4 AMRAP
Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats 4 15
Feet Elevated Diamond Push-ups 4 AMRAP
Jump Squats 4 15
Walking Lunges 3 Lengths
Single Leg Calf Raises 4 AMRAP
Decline Board Crunches 4 15
Hanging Leg Raises 4 15

Bodyweight Workout Weeks 6, 7 and 8 increase the intensity and difficulty yet again, so building up your tolerance to volume will be the goal. Exercises labeled as 1A, 1B, for example, are performed back-to-back without rest. After the two sets are completed you can then rest for 30 seconds. Perform the following routine three times per week on nonconsecutive days such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Week 8 will utilize a few bodyweight assisted pieces of equipment.

Bodyweight Workout Week 6

Exercise Sets Reps
1A. Medium- or Wide-Grip Pull-ups 3 10
1B. Feet Elevated Push-Ups 3 15
2A. Reverse-Grip Chin-ups 3 10
2B. Parallel Bar or Bench Dips 3 15
3A. Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats 3 10
3B. Ball Leg Curls or Glute/Ham Raises 3 10
4A. Box Jumps 3 10
4B. Single Leg Calf Raises or Squat Calf Raises 3 15
5A. Bicycle Crunches 3 15
5B. Lying Leg Raises 3 15

Bodyweight Workout Week 7

Exercise Sets Reps
1A. Medium- or Wide-Grip Pull-ups 3 AMRAP
1B. Feet Elevated Push-Ups 3 AMRAP
2A. Reverse-Grip Chin-ups 3 AMRAP
2B. Parallel Bar or Bench Dips 3 AMRAP
3A. Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats 3 15-20
3B. Ball Leg Curls or Glute/Ham Raises 3 15
4A. Box Jumps 3 15
4B. Single Leg Calf Raises or Squat Calf Raises 3 20
5A. Bicycle Crunches 3 20
5B. Lying Leg Raises 3 20

Bodyweight Workout Week 8

Exercise Sets Reps
1A. Weighted Medium-Grip Pull-ups 3 AMRAP
1B. Feet Elevated Push-Ups with Bands 3 AMRAP
2A. TRX Triceps Extensions 3 AMRAP
2B. TRX Biceps Curls 3 AMRAP
3A. Jump Split Squats 3 20
3B. Weighted Rear Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats 3 15
4A. Weighted Single Leg Calf Raises 3 15
4B. Kettlebell Sumo Squats 3 20
5A. TRX Pikes 3 15
5B. TRX Leg Tucks 3 15

If you have any questions about bodyweight training or the bodyweight exercises and bodyweight workout listed above, please feel free to leave us a comment in the comments section below.

16 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 08/02/2019 - 07:21
Hunter

Routine looks great, why no direct shoulder work exercises?

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Posted Tue, 09/25/2018 - 10:04
Dean

I see in this program that there is no exercise for the shoulders such as pike push ups. Should I not worry about it? I am worried that it will result to lagging shoulder muscles.

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Posted Wed, 09/26/2018 - 16:59
JoshEngland

Hi Dean,

You're more than welcome to add them in if you feel the need to.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 08/31/2018 - 06:57
Joey Cardinos

Will this program help me gain the muscles without having to do as much work as a regular workout program? I have one concern. I want to build the muscles and lower the fats but I want the easy method, I want the method that allows me to eat what I want when I want and train my muscles when I want and get the result I want. I'd like to know if this program is the program for me? I'd like to use this program but only if it allows me to be flexible with the rep and set while still getting the muscles and losing the fats.

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Posted Mon, 08/28/2017 - 01:23
JT

I don't have a barbell at home, is there any other way I can do the inverted rows?oh & can I build muscle with this program? I'be been wanting to put on more size to my frame.

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Posted Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:50
JoshEngland

Hi JT,

Below is a link to a youtube video showing several different ways to perform inverted rows, a lot of which utilize a table at home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5a5pHN_xbY

Yes, you can use this program to build muscle.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 08/15/2015 - 10:33
Ben

Hey Brad, what could we do for a warm up?

BradBorland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/17/2015 - 22:59
BradBorland

You could do any combination of a few moves such as =:

2 or 3 rounds of 10 reps each of the following:

Burpees
Prisoner squats
Push-ups
Walking lunges

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Posted Mon, 07/27/2015 - 20:02
josh

what about dips can i just add them in? since i can only do about 2-5 dips at a time and if i dont incorporate the movement my fear is i will lose the little reps i can do. Can i replace diamond push ups with dips or maybe stationary lunges?

BradBorland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/28/2015 - 09:24
BradBorland

Oh yeah, dips are a great exercise.

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Posted Sat, 06/13/2015 - 02:37
Eden

I weighed 90 kilos had suffered from high cholesterol andhypertension. But all this behind, thanks to a method that I found on theInternet, this method made me lose 24 kilos in 8 weeks, now I weigh 56 kilosand I follow my goal are the 50 kilos, I have high cholesterol, I feel morehealthy and strong.

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Posted Sun, 05/31/2015 - 21:54
Brian

I like the way this work out as well as your 9 week one look but my only problem is i do not have the TRX equipment, and I do not know if the gym at my school has it either what would you recommend doing to replace them if the gym at school does not have the equipment.

BradBorland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/01/2015 - 22:43
BradBorland

Hi Brian. Do you have access to rings or a bar set low on a Smith machine or squat rack?

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Posted Sat, 05/16/2015 - 08:41
SUDARSHAN

hi Brad,can i replace inverted row with chinups,ie palms facing towards me?

BradBorland's picture
Posted Sun, 05/17/2015 - 22:28
BradBorland

Absolutely!

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Posted Tue, 05/19/2015 - 08:23
SUDARSHAN

Thanks Brad