It’s not easy to strength train without weights. Once you’re able to do full pushups by the dozens, for example, they’re training your endurance more than building your strength. And while moves like pull-ups provide more of a challenge, they’re often impossible for beginners. But there’s a workout that covers the whole spectrum, and it’s one of Reddit’s best kept fitness secrets: the r/bodyweightfitness Recommended Routine.
An important note on equipment: while this routine doesn’t require weights, it does include moves that call for a pull-up bar or a set of dip bars. Some folks solve for this by doing the routine at a park; you can also buy or improvise the equipment at home for a lot less than investing in a full home gym setup.
Why this Reddit routine is the best no-weights workout
The routine has been a classic among redditors for a while, and now there’s a video that walks you through the beginner and intermediate options. You can also read an extensive, written guide to the recommended routine, which lays out the basics:
- The routine is intended to be done three days per week.
- It’s a full body workout.
- Instead of specific exercises, it includes categories of exercises. For each, you choose the exercise in that category that you can do for about 5 reps.
For example, the routine calls for a pull-up and a squat in its first pair of exercises (which are to be done as a superset). If you’re a beginner, your pull-up exercise might be scapular pulls, which involve hanging from the bar and contracting the muscles around your shoulder blades to raise your chest without bending your arms. As you advance, you’ll move on to exercises like negative pull-ups (in which you jump to the top of the bar and slowly lower yourself down) and regular pull-ups. Squats progress in a similar way: You can start by doing air squats with both legs, then progress to split squats, and eventually one-legged pistol squats, which are a lot more challenging.
Instead of adding weight as you get stronger, you’re changing the movement to make it more difficult. The end result for your body is similar to what you’d get from working out with heavy weights: you’ll get stronger, and your muscles can potentially get bigger and more defined (although that will also depend on your diet).
Here’s the video:
And here’s the basic structure of the workout:
- Warm-up movements
- Superset: pull-up and squat
- Superset: dip and hinge
- Superset: row and pushup
- Superset: anti-extension, anti-rotation, and extension core exercises
The whole routine should take less than an hour once you get the hang of it. If you’d like a cheat sheet to help you follow along as you do the exercises, there’s one here. Don’t forget to read the full description at Reddit for more on rest times, how you can supplement with weights if you have access to them, and more.