9 Bodyweight Class Ideas Designed to Challenge Your Clients

bodyweight class ideas

Adding some more challenging bodyweight class ideas into your sessions is a great way to help your members make progress whilst also keeping them motivated.

So if you’re a fitness instructor looking for inspiration, look no further! We’ve compiled our top 9 bodyweight class ideas to use in your next class.

Before we get started, why not progress your career and become a personal trainer with OriGym? Enquire today, or download our free course prospectus to browse the full range of fitness courses we offer. 


Bodyweight Class Idea #1 - Combine Bodyweight Exercises With Plyometric Movements 

Including plyometric exercises is one of the best bodyweight class ideas, as they add an explosive element to what is already a challenging workout.

Known as the stretch-shortening cycle, plyometric exercises cause the working muscle to stretch, which is then followed by a quick contraction.

This style of exercise also improves functional movement patterns, meaning that class members will be able to run faster, jump higher, and move more powerfully.

As well as helping your participants become more powerful, they also help improve muscular and cardiovascular endurance. This means that they can sustain exercise for longer periods of time.

To use plyometric exercises to increase the difficulty of your sessions, we’d recommend replacing more conventional bodyweight exercises such as squats or lunges, with plyometric variants.

Alternatively, you could combine a plyometric and a regular bodyweight exercise to form a superset, and really get your members’ hearts pumping.

For example, you could ask them to perform 10 squats, followed by 10 squat jumps, or 10 lunges followed by 10 lunge jumps.

If you’re looking for some bodyweight circuit ideas, you could also put 3 to 5 plyometric exercises and ask participants to perform them back-to-back. They should then rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Some ideas for exercises that you could include are:

Each of these exercises all have explosive alternatives you can intersperse into your bodyweight classes to add an additional layer of challenge.

Bodyweight Class Idea #2 - Slow Down the Pace 

When it comes to increasing the difficulty of your classes, faster isn’t necessarily better when it comes to improving  muscle strength and endurance.

With this in mind, the next of our bodyweight class ideas is to slow things down. 

You can do this by using the idea of Time Under Tension (TUT), by asking class members to perform exercises at a much slower pace than usual.

For instance, when performing an air squat, ask members to:

  • Lower for 3 to 4 seconds
  • Pause at the bottom for 2 seconds
  • Explode back up to the starting position 

Making the eccentric (lengthening) phase longer than the concentric (shortening) phase ensures that the muscles are kept under tension for longer.

This causes more microscopic tears in muscle tissue which, when repaired, adapt to this stimulus and cause the muscles to grow.

Focusing on TUT makes bodyweight exercises more challenging as it forces a greater mind to muscle connection, helping members to engage and work the correct muscles more effectively.

For example, in a squat, TUT takes momentum out of the movement and forces members to rely on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes to complete the exercise.

This type of movement provides an extra challenge for muscles within the core too, as they need to be engaged in order to keep you balanced during the longer time period.

It also allows them to focus on their form, breathing techniques, and movement patterns. This ensures that they develop correct posture and muscular control, so that they perform the exercise effectively whilst preventing injuries.

Bodyweight Class Idea #3 - Include Isometric Exercises 

Isometric exercises work to increase the difficulty of regular bodyweight movements in a similar way to adding a pause. However, the key difference is that these involve holding a static position.

There are several ways that you can incorporate bodyweight isometric exercises into your workout class, including:

  1. As part of a circuit
  2. At the end of the class, as a finisher
  3. Superset them with regular bodyweight movements

For example, with the last option, you could ask the class to perform 10 squats, and then perform a squat hold or wall sit for 30 seconds on the final rep.

Holding the muscles in an isometric contraction places constant tension on them. This allows tissues to fill up with blood, creating metabolic stress on the muscle.

Not only does this increase the burn of the exercise, but it can also help to improve muscular endurance and strength over time.

Bodyweight Class Idea #4 - Increase the Difficulty by Adding in Some Bodyweight EMOM Ideas

As a form of interval training, every minute on the minute (EMOM) is an effective technique for increasing the difficulty of a typical workout.

Ask your class members to perform a specific number of reps of a particular exercise within one minute. 

They can then use the rest of the minute to rest, before starting another set when the next minute begins.

The type of bodyweight EMOM workout ideas that you’ll want to implement will depend on your goals for the class.

For example, if you’re working on strength, muscular endurance or one specific exercise, you could ask class members to perform just one exercise for multiple sets.

Alternatively, you could vary the exercises in a circuit-style EMOM if your primary goal is cardio-based. A 10-minute EMOM could look something like this:

Minute #1- 20 Push-ups

Minute #2- 20 Jump squats

Minute #3- 40 Mountain climbers

Minute #4- 20 Burpees

Minute #5- 40 High Knees

Repeat all 5 exercises for the remaining 5 minutes.

Only having one minute to complete both the given number of reps and take a rest will give your members an incentive to perform quickly, which will help to get their hearts pumping faster.

They’ll also want to maximise the little rest periods that they have, which will help them to learn how to regulate their breathing. 

Through the high volume of reps performed, their muscles will also develop more endurance.

These factors together boost work capacity, so that in the long run, participants can train more effectively and get stronger.


Bodyweight Class Idea #5 - Try Including Pulsing Movements 

Pulsing exercises involve moving the body up and down in a small, repetitive motion at the end of the eccentric phase of the movement. 

This shortens the range of motion, so that the muscles remain contracted and under tension for longer.

When compared to a normal, full-range bodyweight exercise, pulsing isolates the active muscles and causes them to fatigue more quickly, which helps to improve muscular endurance.

As far as bodyweight workout ideas go, there are different ways of adding pulsing movements into a workout.

However, we’d recommend performing 10 reps of the normal variation, followed by 10 pulses, to really add tension and fatigue those muscles.

Some exercises that you could add pulses to in order to make them more challenging include:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups

After performing the pulsing variation, ask your class members to return to the full exercise, as this ensures that the muscles go through their full range of motion.

In the long run, this helps to reduce muscle tightness and promote mobility.

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more that we think you’ll love:

Bodyweight Class Idea #6- Add in Some Unilateral Exercises

Including unilateral exercises is one of the best bodyweight class ideas to increase the difficulty of your class.

This is because the core has to work extra hard to maintain a neutral spine position and keep you balanced, which helps challenge stability.

Unilateral exercises can also benefit class members who may have one side weaker than the other. Muscular imbalances can often go unnoticed when performing bilateral movements, which can lead to stronger muscles having to over-compensate.

So, by adding the extra challenge of using just a single leg or arm, this is a highly effective way of correcting these imbalances in the long run.

This will provide them with greater overall strength and efficiency in movement, as well as a reduced risk of sustaining an injury.

Choose a few of these unilateral exercises to include in your sessions alongside your usual bilateral movements:

  • Single-leg step up
  • Single-leg bridge
  • Pistol squat
  • Single-arm plank
  • Single-arm push up

In particular, the single-arm plank is an effective variation as it engages the obliques more than a regular plank. This is because the core is forced to work harder to keep the body stable.

We’d recommend including unilateral movements at the start of your class, as they are a great way of activating muscles that may not be recruited whilst performing bilateral exercises. 

Bodyweight Class Idea #7 - Include Elevations 

Another of the best bodyweight class ideas is to use a bench or box for members to rest their feet on, whilst performing exercises such as push-ups and planks.

Elevating the feet whilst keeping the hands on the ground puts more weight into the upper body, such as in the front shoulders and pectorals.

The change of angle hence forces the muscles here to work harder, in order to complete the movement.

This also puts more pressure on the core, forcing it to work harder in order to stabilise the body. Plus, the higher the surface is, the harder the exercises will be to perform. 

We’d therefore recommend starting with a low surface, and gradually increasing the height as your class members become stronger and more experienced.

This works best with simple exercises, like push-ups or crunches, but can be adapted to include any of the exercises you usually use in your bodyweight class ideas.

Bodyweight Class Idea #8 - Try “21s” to Challenge Range of Motion

If you don’t already know, 21s are an exercise performed in 3 ranges of motion, for 7 reps each. 

21s are typically performed with bicep curls, but they are also useful for increasing the difficulty of your usual bodyweight workout ideas.

For example, they can be used with push-ups. Ask class members to perform 7 from the bottom to halfway, 7 from halfway to the top, and 7 full push-ups.

They can also be performed with lower body exercises, such as calf raises or the farmers walk.

Increasing the range of motion that the muscles go through in order to complete all 21 reps is another way of maximising time under tension. This causes more microscopic tears to form within the muscle tissues, which triggers hypertrophy and can help with improving muscular endurance.

It also causes occlusion, which is a process that occurs when blood cannot flow into a muscle whilst it is contracted. This creates oxygen starvation, which tricks the body into thinking it is working harder than it is.

Plus, it causes lactic acid levels to rise, which produces substances that are essential for muscle growth, such as:

  • Growth hormone
  • Insulin growth factor
  • Myostatin

Not only that, but it’s arguably one of the more simple bodyweight workout ideas, in that your class members already know what they’ll be doing, so setting up should take much less time.

Bodyweight Class Idea #9 - Incorporate AMRAP Training 

Standing for ‘As Many Rounds As Possible’, the aim of AMRAP training is for class members to complete as many rounds as possible of a given set of exercises in a specific period of time, without rest.

Participants are required to work as hard as possible during this period, with the goal of setting a target to beat when they next perform AMRAP training.

If you’re looking for bodyweight circuit ideas to really challenge your class members, then AMRAP is the ideal technique to implement.

You could put 3 to 5 bodyweight exercises together into a circuit, and set a 5 or 10-minute time limit. Some exercises that you may consider including are:

  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers

Another option is to use AMRAP as a finisher, where class members work at a near-maximum intensity.

This will increase the post-exercise calorie burn through excess post-exercise consumption, or EPOC. 

After a period of intense exercise, this is because the body requires more energy to repair itself and return to its normal resting state.

Working to fatigue will also push your class members’ heart rates to the max, allowing their cardiovascular system to work more efficiently as they practise AMRAP training more and more.


Before You Go!

We hope that this article has given you some inspiration for bodyweight class ideas that you can implement into your sessions.

Feeling inspired? Take your career in the fitness industry to the next level by taking OriGym’s industry leading personal training courses! Enquire today, or browse our full range of courses by downloading our free course prospectus here


Become a personal trainer with OriGym!

Enquire today about our industry-leading personal training courses!

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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