Tutorial Roundup: Basic Bodyweight Exercises

We always encourage you to work as hard and as fast as you can in your workouts, because that’s what HIIT training is about.

But it’s important to also keep in mind that these reps should also be performed with proper technique.

In this post, we’re teaching you how to do the most basic bodyweight exercises. In part two of this series, you’ll find tutorials for advanced bodyweight exercises.

If you have the 12 Minute Athlete app or you’ve done any workouts from the website, you probably know that a majority of the exercises are actually basic bodyweight exercises. That’s why we want to be sure you have the right technique down for doing them.

If you haven’t done any of our workouts yet, just take our word for it—you’re going to find the following tips useful.

Why the Fundamentals Matter

The most important reason to learn proper technique for every exercise is to prevent injuries. It is possible to hurt yourself even when doing a simple air squat (an air squat is just a bodyweight squat, with no additional weights).

Later, you may want to add some weights to your squats or an additional challenge to your squats. Then it’s even more important that you’ve learned the right technique from the beginning.

Knowing how to perform exercises correctly allows you to work hard and fast, which is what makes HIIT training so effective. When you’re first learning the form, you may need to repeat one exercise tens or hundreds of times, putting a lot of focus into your form and taking it a little slower. The more you practice, the better you get, and you can soon pick up the pace without worrying about your form deteriorating.

Lastly, by getting the basics dialed in, you’re building your base for more advanced exercises. Over the years, we’ve added more advanced strength exercises into the mix, but to be able to do them, you have to have the basics covered.

For example, to do a pistol squat, the first step is get your bodyweight squat perfect. If pull ups are your goal, it’s useful to first build some strength with push ups and planks first. If you’re interested in doing double unders–the jump rope exercise where the rope goes under your feet twice while you’re in the air—you first need to get familiar with the basics of jumping with a jump rope…and so on.

Here’s How to do the Basic Bodyweight Exercises

We have a bunch of different tutorials on the site detailing some of our favorite bodyweight exercises. Here are some of the basic bodyweight exercises you should know:

Air Squats

Squats are the foundation of all exercises. In fact, it is a foundational movement in our everyday life. Back in the day, we used to spend a lot more time squatting, but now with comfortable seats, sitting at our desks and driving, many of us have lost the ability to do this basic movement. Check out how to do a proper air squat to learn the fundamentals of the bodyweight squat.

Side Lunges

It’s important to move in various directions—not only front-to-back, but also side-to-side. The sideways movement is called moving on the lateral plane. The more ways we move our bodies, the more functional our movements get. Check out how to properly do side lunges for more on this important exercise.

Push Ups

Push ups are one of the best ways to a build strong upper body and core. Girls, forget that you can’t do push ups (and pull ups!) just because you’re a girl. Anyone can, and should do them, on a regular basis.

In this post, How to Do a Perfect Push Up, we go over step by step how to do a perfect push up, and we also include modified versions like incline push ups and kneeling push ups to get you started.

V Ups

V ups are one of our favorite core exercises. They require a good amount of strength, coordination and synchronization between both your upper and lower body. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do the full version right now. Find some tips on how to work your way up to V-Ups here.


You probably guessed that this one was coming! In this post, we go over all you need to know about burpees. If you’re a long time reader, you’ve probably taken our monthly 100 Burpee Challenge at least a few times. If you’re new, we encourage you to challenge yourself and take your first challenge already this month.


Triceps dips are another great upper body exercise that focuses mostly on triceps, chest, and core. There are several variations of dips, and we give you detailed description of each one of them in this post: How to Get Started With Dips.

Jump Rope Exercises

We love to get our heart rate up in our workouts, and one of the best ways to do it is to use a jump rope. If you haven’t even touched a jump rope since elementary school, it may be a good idea to go over some basics that we cover in our beginner jump rope tutorial.

Box Jumps

Box jumps are another way to get your heart rate up in no time. To do them, you need either a really sturdy chair, park bench, stairs, or a plyo box. If you don’t have one, it’s actually pretty fun to have your own a plyo box, because you can actually use it for so many other exercises as well. If you’re not ready to jump on the box yet, that’s totally cool—simply start with step ups. Find out more about box jumps in this post: Box Jump Progressions and Advanced Variations.

Work Hard!

Getting the basics down is really important in any exercise, and bodyweight exercises are no exception. Getting down proper form will help you build a solid foundation for your future skills and make it less likely that you’ll get injured. Once you feel more confident doing them, you can add intensity and do the reps even faster, to get the full benefits of HIIT workouts.

Keep your eyes open for another similar post on more advanced exercises!

And if there are any exercises you’d like to see a tutorial for, feel free to let us know in the comments.

Work hard athletes!

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