When it comes to building strength, a lot of people think you need to spend hours in the gym every day. And while it does take long-term commitment and dedication to sculpt the perfect physique—we’re talking months and years here—it can still be done when you’re crunched for time. So skipping a workout just because you only have a half-hour to sweat isn’t an excuse.
In fact, you don’t even need to haul yourself to the gym most of the time. “Your body is the only tool you need,” says fitness and wellness coach Gideon Akande, C.P.T., who coaches entire strength-building bootcamp classes that use nothing but bodyweight.
We know what you’re thinking: Are bodyweight moves really going to get the job done? The bottom line: yes. “No one is too strong to build more muscle during a bodyweight workout,” Akande says. You can dial up the intensity of any exercise by simply shifting something about the movement—like changing your hand position during a pushup, or adding an explosive element to a squat.
The next time you need to cram in a workout—or just don’t feel like going to the gym—try Akande’s 30-minute strength-building bodyweight workout for yourself, and you’ll become a believer.
Let’s get to work:
There are five total exercises. You’ll perform each exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds. You’ll repeat that pattern for each of the following four exercises. After you’ve finished all five exercises (five minutes), rest for a full minute. That’s one set. Repeat for five sets total (30 minutes). If you’re super short on time, you can stick to just two or three sets.
You’ve got three variation options for each of the five exercises so you can scale the workout to your abilities and turn up the heat for an extra challenge. Check out Akande’s demonstration videos, below, to choose which variation to use in your workout.
Exercise 1: Upper Body
To keep things simple, perform: Pushups
To turn up the heat, perform: Alligator Pushups
To make your workout insane, perform: Plyo Alligator Pushups
Exercise 2: Lower Body
To keep things simple, perform: Bodyweight Squats
To turn up the heat, perform: Drop Squats
To make your workout insane, perform: Jump Squats
Exercise 3: Core
To keep things simple, perform: Bear Crawl Holds
To turn up the heat, perform: Bear Crawls (forward and backward)
To make your workout insane, perform: Lateral Bear Crawls (side to side)
Exercise 4: Total Body
To keep things simple, perform: Caterpillar Crawls
To turn up the heat, perform: Caterpillars + Pushups
To make your workout insane, perform: Caterpillars + Pushups and Jumps
Exercise 5: Conditioning
Trust us, these will be hard enough as is: Shuffle Sprints