You work over 40 hours a week. You have two kids. You have errands to run and you have social plans this weekend. There’s just no time. All of these things are a part of life - but they’re also great excuses not to workout, right? Wrong. These are all things that are important but so is taking care of your body and health.
A training program and working out doesn’t have to be time-consuming or take up hours of your day. Driving to the gym, changing, exercising, showering, then driving back home or to work again can take hours of your time - but an effective and strength-building workout doesn’t have to. In fact, all you really need is 20 minutes. That’s less time than it takes to watch a sitcom. So, basically - all of those excuses mentioned earlier should be thrown in the trash and out of your mentality forever.
According to Schwarzenegger.com, “Outside of being used in the training of the world’s greatest warriors, bodyweight exercises continue to be used in the athletic training world, and are a key component of many of the best fat loss and muscle gain workouts available, anywhere.”
Here are 10 military-style workouts that can be done in your home, using only your bodyweight, and they all take less than half an hour to complete.
1. The 1% Workout
This insanely effective bodyweight workout can be done 3-4 times a week and will efficiently burn fat and build muscle - not to mention, it really only takes up 1% of your day. If you have an injury or feel that any of these exercises are too difficult, feel free to modify the best way you see fit. The exercises are as follows:
- Bodyweight squats: 8-10 reps
- Push-ups: 5-8 reps
- Plank: hold 15 seconds
- Jumping jacks: 15 reps
- Bodyweight reverse lunges: 6 reps each leg
- Lying hip raise (choose double or single leg): 10 reps
- Beginners: Perform the exercises in order while resting 30 seconds in between each of them. After performing all six exercises, this is one circuit. Perform a total of 4 circuits with 90 seconds rest after each. Total workout time: 15 minutes.
- Intermediate: Add an additional 10 seconds to your plank. Rest only 20 seconds between each exercise and perform a total of 5 circuits - resting 75-90 seconds after each circuit. Total workout time: 18 minutes.
- Advanced: Add 20 seconds to your plank. Perform a total of 6 circuits - resting 75 seconds between each. Total workout time: 22 minutes.
- Elite: Add 3-5 reps to each exercise and an additional 30 seconds to your plank. Rest only 10 seconds between each exercise. Perform a total of 6 circuits and rest 45 seconds between each. Total workout time: 18 minutes.
2. The ‘Prison’ Workout
Thankfully, most of us will never end up behind bars; however, prisoners from across the globe have created extremely effective strength-building workouts that can be done with minimal space, using only their bodyweight. By increasing the the tempo and limiting rest between the exercises below, this bodyweight program can also turn into a cardio workout as well.
- Push-ups: 10 reps in any variation (narrow/wide hand placement, on your knees, one-arm, or tricep)
- Pull-ups: 5-10 reps depending on your strength level. This exercise will require a thick door frame or a bar you can install for around $30.
- Squats: 10 reps in any variation (regular, pistol, sumo, or squat jumps)
- Dips: 10 reps. Use a chair or table with your feet either on the floor or propped up on a bed or couch.
- Hanging leg raises: Using the door frame or installed bar - 10 reps in any variation (straight leg, bent leg, windshield wiper)
- Burpees: 10 reps in any variation (basic, with push-up)
Follow the exercises in order, resting 15 seconds between each exercise. Complete all 6 exercises to finish one circuit - rest for 45 seconds. Repeat for a total of 6 circuits. Total workout time: 30 minutes.
3. Abdominal Cycle
For a quick workout that is guaranteed to set your abs on fire - look no further. This ab cycle is killer and extremely effective. Incorporate this cycle into your routine 4-5 days a week. Note: back-to-back days are acceptable.
- Regular crunches: 25 reps
- Reverse crunches: 25 reps
- Double crunches: 25 reps
- Left side crunches: 25 reps
- Right side crunches: 25 reps
- Bicycle crunches: 25 reps
- Plank: 1 minute
Rest 20 seconds between each exercise completing each of the 7 exercises - this is one circuit. Rest for 45 seconds and repeat for a total of 5 circuits. Total workout time: 30 minutes or less.
4. ‘No Excuses’ Navy SEAL Workout
Brad McLeod is a former Navy SEAL who is now a personal trainer and author. He went through hell week not once - but twice. McLeod spent a year on a ship with no access to a gym but was able to create an effective training program using only his body weight. "It was all body weight," he says in his book. "I didn't touch a weight that entire year."
This workout involves a lot of exercises but, in total, only takes 20 minutes of your entire day. Perform the exercises below in order with little to no rest in between each.
- Wrist stretch: 10 times each way, each wrist
- Wrist rotation: 10 times each way, each wrist
- Arm circles: 10 times each way, each arm
- Press, Press, Fling: 10 reps
- Up, Back, Overs: 10 reps
- Shoulder Pass-Throughs: 10 reps
- Hip swivel kicks (forward): 15 reps each leg
- Hip swivel kicks (side): 15 reps each leg
- Jumping jacks: 25 reps
- Hip mobility drill: 3 laps
- Mountain climbers: 50 reps (25 each side)
- Push-ups: 20 reps
- Swimmer’s chest stretch: 10 times
- Alternate Hand Forward Hand Back Push-Ups: 15 reps
- High Jack High Jill: 10 reps each arm
- Cherry pickers: 10 reps
- Airborne Heismans: 20 reps
- Standing pause air squat: 30 seconds
- Dive bomber push-ups: 10 reps
- Standing lunge: 20 reps (10 each leg)
- Squat: 50 reps
- Push-ups with sideways walk: 10 reps
- Frog jump: 10 reps
- 8-count bodybuilders: 20 reps
- Split jumps: 15 reps each side
- Burpees: 20 reps
- Crunches: 25 reps
- Wide push-ups: 15 reps
- Sit-ups: 50 reps
- Push-ups with sideways walk: 20 reps
- Thai plank: 10 each side
- Leg levers: 25 reps
- Reverse crunches: 20 reps
- Sitting calf stretch: 15 seconds each leg
- Hold plank for 3 minutes
5. The 2-Minute Workout
Everyone has two minutes. Everyone. Here’s a quick workout that has zero room for excuses. It will get your blood pumping, burn calories, increase your energy, and help build muscle. Perform each of the four exercises below, in order, for 30 seconds each.
- Sky kicks: sit on the floor and point your hands toward your feet. Push yourself up until your arms are straight and your body is lifted off the floor - this is your starting position. Now, alternately lift and lower each leg.
- Quad hop: Video tutorial here.
- Chest taps: Get into regular push-up position. Lower yourself down until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. Explode upward, tap your chest, then place your arms back on the floor. Repeat.
- Switch backs: Place your hands and one foot on the ground aligned with each other. Put the other leg back and bend your knees. Keep your hands on the ground, then jump and switch legs. Each jump equals one rep. Video tutorial here.
6. Push-up/Crunch Superset
This simple workout can literally be done anywhere and requires only 20 minutes of your time. Your abs and arms will be burning by the end - in the best way possible. Repeat 10 cycles of the 6 exercises below. No rest in between (the crunches basically serve as your ‘resting’ period). If you complete all ten cycles, that’s 300 push-ups and 400 crunches. How many people can say they did that with 20 minutes of their day?
- 10 regular push-ups
- 10 crunches
- 10 wide push-ups
- 10 crunches
- 10 tricep push-ups
- 10 push-ups
- 10 left side crunches
- 10 right side crunches
7. Leg/Ab Superset
This is a great 20-minute workout that can be paired with the superset above, alternating each one every other day. Repeat 5 cycles of the exercises listed below.
- 20 squats
- 20 crunches
- 10 lunges each leg
- 10 crunches
- 20 calf raises
- 20 crunches
8. Spartan Run
If running is something you’d like to incorporate into your bodyweight training, the Spartan Run workout is a great way to combine cardio and strength training into one extremely effective session.
- Sprint 200m
- 100 push-ups in as few sets as possible
- 100 crunches
- Sprint 200m
- 75 push-ups in as few sets as possible
- 75 crunches
- Sprint 200m
- 50 push-ups in as few sets as possible
- 50 crunches
9. 20-Minute Bodyweight Circuit
This bodyweight circuit is a full-body challenge incorporating nearly all of your muscle groups. Perform each of the following exercises below for one minute. Rest for 30 seconds in between each one. After performing each exercise, in order - this is one circuit. Rest for one minute then repeat once more for the full workout.
- Pass-through lunge: Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Step your right foot behind and lower to a lunge. Lift your right leg up and ‘float’ it in front of you at 90-degrees, keeping your balance on your left leg. Repeat for 30 seconds with the right leg, followed by 30 seconds with the left leg.
- Globe hops: Stand with your feet just a few inches apart and your arms at guard/boxing position. Jump forward, back, right, and left - in a north, south, east, west manner. Jump in NSEW rotation for 30 seconds then NSWE for 30 seconds.
- Shoulder tap push-up: Begin in plank position. Lower your chest to the floor to perform a normal push-up. Once you lengthen your arms again and push yourself back up, tap your right shoulder with your left and your left shoulder with your right hand. Repeat the entire process for one minute.
- Burpees: Perform any variation of burpee you’d like for 1 minute.
- Side squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend into squat position. Keeping this stance, step to one side. Maintain your squat and come back to center. Alternate to the other side. Repeat this process for 1 minute.
- Army crawl plank/commandos: Begin in plank position. Bend your left arm, followed by your right, to assume a forearm plank position. Lift with your left arm, followed by your right pushing back up to plank position. Repeat the process, this time with your right arm first. Alternate between arms for 1 minute.
10. The ‘Big 5’ Workout
The British Army developed a full-body workout program called the ‘Big 5’ which can be done anywhere and in 20 minutes or less. The exercises were specifically chosen to improve core stability, enhance health, and increase performance in their troops. This workout does require some weights, however, you can use items around your house as a substitute (milk jugs, paint cans, books, etc.).Perform each exercise below, in order, for 10 reps each. Once all exercises are complete - this is one set. Rest for 1 minute then repeat for a total of 3 sets.
- Push-ups with a 1:1:1 tempo: Perform a normal push-up, taking 1 second to go down, 1 second at the bottom, then 1 second to return to starting position.
- Kettlebell deadlifts: Using a heavy household item, perform a deadlift using a 2:1:2 tempo. Two seconds up, 1-second pause, then two seconds to return down to starting position.
- Plank for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Reverse lunge with 2:1:1 tempo: Two seconds down, 1-second pause, and one second to return to starting position.
- Squat with 2:1:2 tempo: Two seconds down, 1-second pause, two seconds to return to starting position.