No gyms open? No problem. Here’s your bodyweight program to tie you over while the pandemic continues.

A friend recently asked me to devise a bodyweight workout program for him after his gym shut due to the pandemic.

He is a financially challenged college student and has no usable equipment for training.

And we don’t want the global situation to rob you of your gains or force you into becoming lazy.

I know, given the recent lockdowns, many of you will be scouring the internet for home workout ideas.

Bodyweight Exercises to The Rescue!

Franco Bodyweight Exercises
Golden Era boys getting it done

A lot of bodyweight or callisthenics workouts will require at least some access to a pullup/dip bars.

Of course, with some creativity, you can turn household items into dumbbell/kettlebell substitutes.

For example, you can turn a suitcase or a rucksack into a dumbbell by filling it with stones, books, or other weighty items.

While they may not be as comfortable as dumbbells, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And it doesn’t need to be glamorous — it just needs to get the job done.

Pushups, bodyweight squat variations, planks, etc, are all wonderful staple bodyweight exercises to mitigate any lockdown-induced muscle wastage.

And with the amount of spare time some people might have freed up by the lockdown restrictions, there’s no excuse to at least get the blood pumping.

Try these exercises if you’re an athlete

One of our philosophies here at Herculean Strength is to try to make each individual lifter proficient in constructing their own training programs.

Freedom comes through independence; if you know what exercises work for you, and you possess clarity in what your goals are, you don’t need to become reliant on anybody, gymwise.

Doing bro splits — chest and tris, back and bis, legs, shoulders & arms — won’t be the best use of your time with limited equipment and bodyweight.

It would be best to train each muscle group 2-3 times a week in either a push/pull or upper/lower split.

The Push/Pull Split

Upper body:

Push pattern:

Pushup variations
Handstand pushups
Bodyweight skullcrushers

Pull pattern:

Pullup variations
Inverted bodyweight rolls
Bodyweight curls
Bodyweight upside-down hanging shrugs (advanced)
Muscle-ups (advanced)

Lower body:

Push pattern:

Bodyweight squats variations
Box jumps
Vertical jump variations
Lunge variations
Bodyweight leg extensions

Pull pattern:

Nordic glute-ham raise
Explosive hamstring curls
Single-leg glute bridge/hip thrusters
Broad jump variations

The Upper/Lower Split

An upper/lower split, in my opinion, is most beneficial when access to equipment is negligible. Such a training split can be implemented as follows:

Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower body
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Upper body
Friday: Lower body
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest (optional)

Bodyweight lifts, on the whole, are less taxing than barbell training and you can eventually work towards a 6-day-a-week training split:

Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower body
Wednesday: Upper body
Thursday: Lower body
Friday: Upper body
Saturday: Lower body
Sunday: Rest

If you’re on the heavier side, you might be more challenged in doing bodyweight exercises; likewise, if you’re lighter, you might be able to do a ton of reps.

This will require a little common sense; aim for sets of more than 5 reps, but less than 15. Ensure that you work close to complete muscular failure, but keeping 1-2 reps in the tank. Work to failure on your final set.

If a certain exercise is too easy, you can add a weighted rucksack to increase resistance; if a certain exercise is too hard (if you can’t do more than 5 reps), try doing cluster sets — which I will clarify below.

Do Cluster Sets

Say you can only do 3-4 pushups/pullups and want to quickly progress to a set of at least 10 reps, there are two things you can do to advance fairly quickly:

1) Lose fat

2) Cluster sets

A cluster set is a low-rep, high volume style of training with short rest periods between reps.

Let’s assume you can only do 4 pushups, failing on the 5th.

Try a schema of 10 sets of 3 reps, with 15-30 seconds rest between sets. You can even do something along the lines of 20 sets of 2 reps. You can get really creative!

That way you work in a decent amount of volume while training close to failure.

The short rest period between sets while working close to failure will rapidly increase resistance.

Don’t forget to progressive overload each session by adding more reps or total resistance.

One of my favorite 15 minute workouts for my upper back is a pyramid cluster set for pullups adhering to the following rep structure: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

By following a cluster set rep pattern, you can make very quick gains on lagging lifts.
A few bodyweight ideas for powerlifters

Weekly workout example

Again, some autonomy and common sense is required in constructing your own bodyweight workouts as everyone will have differing relative strength levels.

If you can’t do a pullup, you can kip/jump into a pullup until you can do them with strict form when equipment is limited.

Click Here to Buy SARMS


Monday: Upper body

4 sets of pushup variations

Start off with traditional pushups. When you can comfortably do more than 15 pushups on your final set, add weight or change up the variation.

4 sets of dips/incline pushups

If you don’t have access to dip bars, try doing incline pushups

4 sets of pullups variations

4 sets of inverted row variations

Tuesday: Lower body

4 sets of lunge variations

3 sets of bodyweight squats

4 sets of single-leg hip thrusters

3 sets of Nordic glute-ham raises

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Upper body 2

3 sets incline pushup variations — the idea is to slowly work toward a handstand pushup

4 sets close-grip pushups

3 sets pullup variation or clusters

4 sets inverted bodyweight rows

Friday: Lower body 2

Vertical and broad jump variations for warm up

4 sets Single leg squat/lunge variations

4 sets box jumps

4 sets single leg hip thrusters

3 sets Nordic glute-ham raise

Finisher: 5 x 20 seconds bounding

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest



If you can find items such as a suitcase, rucksack, etc, to use for makeshift dumbbells, you can sprinkle in the following movements to your workouts:

-hammer suitcase curl
-rucksack bicep curl
-rucksack lateral raise
-rucksack rear delt raise
-suitcase/rucksack single arm row
-suitcase carry/hold — great for targeting core and obliques
-suitcase walking lunges

A weighted rucksack can provide extra resistance for bodyweight exercises when bands and weights are unavailable.

Can’t afford PWO? Make this substitute at home

The Core Question

Some may be confused at my avoidance of core exercises.

However, many novice and intermediate lifters will receive more than enough core stimulation from stabilizing the body in pushup and pullup positions as well as in the lower body exercises.

But if this isn’t enough for you, you can always add a few sets of planks, crunches, and dragonflags.

While I prefer to do my core exercises on my lower body days, you can definitely throw in planks after your pushups, leg raises after pullups, etc.

The core doesn’t need that much direct stimulation. Gone are the days where people meticulously hammer their abs for 15 sets.


4-6 total sets directly targeting the abs are enough if they’re brought close to failure each time.

Trust me, you’ll thank me later when you can cough, sneeze, and laugh without being in agony the days following direct ab work.

Don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] for personalized coaching and a client questionnaire if you’d like DEDICATED tailor-made personal training on strength training, building muscle, losing fat, developing athleticism, and more — all to your liking, lifestyle, habits, and taste!

Otherwise, don’t forget to claim your FREE eBook detailing how to lose 20lb of fat while building muscle in 12 weeks! You can claim it here.