The Ultimate 4-Week Bodyweight Challenge For Total-Body Toning

Caitlin Carlson, Lauren Kanski, CPT
·8 min read
Photo credit: SrdjanPav - Getty Images
Photo credit: SrdjanPav - Getty Images

From Women's Health

If we were to guess, your fitness routine in recent months probably involved a lot of the same old exercises in your living room. Over and over and over again. Maybe you tuned in to some streaming workouts or even hit up a Zoom session or five, but did you make any progress on your fitness goals? Scratch that—did you even set any goals? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. And it’s okay.

Thing is, to get results, you have to switch things up to continue pushing yourself week after week. Otherwise, everrrything just stays the same. Increasing resistance is a no-brainer, but these days, dumbbells can be hard to come by.

Don’t fret! You can surprise your muscles-—in the best of ways—with your own body weight. Sure, you could just add more reps or sets as you get stronger, but eventually, you’ll hit a dead end. (And who wants to do 37 glute bridges anyway?) That’s why, in this workout challenge, you’ll progress in skill.

You’re guaranteed to feel like even more of a badass (it’s possible, trust) when you can do perfect burpees and supermans in week four, confirmed, but that’s not all. “There’s a huge mental component to movement,” says WH advisory board member Lauren Kanski, CPT, founder of the K Method and creator of this exclusive plan for WH. “You can have the strongest muscles in the world, but they cannot function without sensory input from the brain.” That’s why establishing a rock-solid mind-body connection pays off in the long run. “And when we focus on components of the skill itself, the brain has to adapt in a good way,” Kanski says.

What’s more, the stability and explosive elements (like the single-side exercises and jumps) are designed to get your entire system operating better as a team—crucial to becoming fitter and preventing injury.

Think of this sweat test as a total-body training program in disguise. “It hits almost all of our biggest movement patterns and incorporates balance, strength, and power,” says Kanski. Nothing gets left out!

WH Stronger members, you get exclusive access to free PDFs of all of our fitness challenges! Find your Bodyweight Challenge PDF here and head to WomensHealthMag.com/Challenges for more!

Time: 15 to 20 minutes each

Equipment: none

Good for: total body

Instructions: Do each week's workout three times, ideally on nonconsecutive days. Perform three sets of each exercise (either the prescribed number of reps or for time), with 30 seconds of rest between moves. Then continue on to the next.

Download this Challenge as a PDF

Pro tip: Also aim to add three or four days a week of low- or moderate-intensity, low-impact cardio, like walking at an incline, spinning, or rowing, to let your joints and muscles recover while improving cardiovascular health.

Photo credit: Grace Martinez
Photo credit: Grace Martinez

High Plank

How to: Start at the top of a pushup with wrists under shoulders and feet together—you can separate them to make the move easier. Keep core engaged and tailbone tucked under. Hold for 30 seconds. That’s 1 set.

Superman With Legs Down

How to: Lie facedown with arms bent 90 degrees, elbows in line with shoulders, all four limbs, and forehead on floor. That's your start position. Contract core and lift head, chest, and arms a few inches off floor. Keep neck neutral by gazing just past nose, and extend arms straight forward. Reverse motion to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Bilateral Glute Bridge

How to: Lie faceup with legs bent, feet hip-width apart and flat on floor about a foot from butt, ankles under knees. Contract core and lift hips. Pause, then lower back down. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Frog Hop

How to: Start in a high plank with hands directly under shoulders and body forming a straight line from head to heels. Jump feet forward to just outside hands, coming into a low squat position. Jump back to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Split Squat

How to: Stand with legs staggered, right leg forward and left back, left heel high. Bring hands together in front of chest and lower body until both knees are bent 90 degrees, then return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12, then repeat on opposite side.

Incline Pushup

How to: Start in a plank with hands elevated on a chair, bench, or step. Bend arms to lower chest toward chair, elbows pointing 45 degrees away from sides, body in a straight line. Press back up to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Superman With Legs Up


How to: Lie facedown with arms bent 90 degrees, elbows in line with shoulders, all four limbs and forehead on floor. Contract core and squeeze glutes to lift head, chest, arms, and legs a few inches off floor. Gaze just past nose and straighten arms. Reverse motion to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Glute Bridge Holds

How to: Lie faceup with legs bent, feet flat on floor hip-distance apart, ankles under knees, and arms on floor at 45-degree angles away from body. Contract core and lift hips up. Hold for 30 seconds. That’s 1 set.

Squat Thrust

How to: Start in a high plank, then quickly jump feet forward into a low squat, lifting hands and torso up into the air at the top. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Forward Lunge


How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Then, take a big step forward with right foot and lower down into a lunge, stopping when both legs form 90-degree angles. Press through right foot to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 per side.

Pushup

How to: From a high plank, engage core and bend elbows at 45-degree angles from sides to lower body, keeping a straight line from head to heels. Pause at lowest point, then press back up to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 . (Full pushups too hard? No prob—perform with knees on floor.)

Superman Hold

How to: Lie facedown with arms bent at 90 degrees and elbows in line with shoulders, all four limbs and forehead on floor. Contract core, squeeze glutes, and lift head, chest, arms, and legs a few inches off floor. Gaze just past nose to keep neck neutral, then extend arms straight forward. Hold for 30 seconds. That’s 1 set.

Marching Glute Bridge

How to: Lie faceup with legs bent, feet flat on floor hip-distance apart, ankles under knees, and arms on floor by sides. Lift hips toward ceiling, keeping core engaged and pressing arms into floor for more stability. Raise left knee up over hip. Lower it back down, then repeat on opposite side. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Squat Jump

How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then lower into a squat, and jump up into air. Land gently back in squat. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Step-Up

How to: Begin standing in front of a stair or box with hands on hips. Put right foot flat on top of elevated surface, then transfer weight into it in order to bring left foot up and rest it next to right. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 per side.

Pushup Isometric Hold

How to: Start in a high plank, then bend elbows to lower down as far as possible while keeping body in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for three counts, then press back up to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 5 or 6.

Superman Hold

How to: Lie facedown with arms bent 90 degrees, elbows in line with shoulders,
all four limbs and forehead on floor. Engage abs and squeeze glutes to lift head, chest, arms, and legs a few inches off floor. Gaze just in front of nose to keep neck neutral, and extend arms straight forward. Hold for 45 seconds. That’s 1 set.

Broad Jump

How to: Stand with feet under shoulders, knees bent, hips pushed back, and arms extended behind body. Use momentum to jump as far forward as possible, bringing hands to clasp in front of chest. Land gently in a shallow squat. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Burpee

How to: Stand, then swing arms overhead and jump a few inches into the air. Land softly, then immediately fold forward to place palms on floor and hop feet back into a high plank. Reverse movement to return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12.

Single-Leg Deadlift

How to: Stand with weight on left leg and arms by sides. Hinge forward at hips to simultaneously lower upper body toward floor while lifting right leg into the air until both are parallel to ceiling and body forms a T shape; extend arms straight down in line with shoulders for extra balance and stability. Slowly return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 per side.

You Might Also Like