I tried this 30-minute beginner bodyweight workout — here's my results

a photo of a woman doing mountain climber exercise
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I’m always eager to try a workout that works muscles all over the body but doesn’t require too much effort or equipment. In an attempt to mix up my home workout routine, I clicked play on Joanna Soh’s 30-minute bodyweight workout on YouTube, with over 785k views, designed for absolute beginners.

Joanna has over 3 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, and is a personal trainer and women's fitness specialist. Joanna believes that total wellness isn't just about keeping the body fit and healthy, but that the mind is equally as important. This workout is all about working the full body, keeping it fun and with a good variety of steps, without putting too much pressure on the joints. It’s a convenient workout that requires no equipment — other than a humble workout mat if you want one.

Phil Carpenter, Personal Trainer at PureGym Portsmouth, talked to me about the variety in this workout, and how it’s great for beginners. Knowing the benefits of the workout, and why it was great for those who aren’t used to full-body workouts. Read on to find out more.

What are the benefits of this bodyweight workout? 

The workout is 30 minutes long and is made up of three circuits. It follows a sequence of 40 seconds work, followed by 20 seconds of rest. During the workout, you'll burn an estimated 250 to 300 calories. The workout is suitable for beginners as it requires no weight (put your best adjustable dumbbells to one side for this one!) and no jumping, and works the thighs, glutes, core, arms, shoulders, back, and chest.

Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body, explains Phil. Whether you're hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core or move through it. No matter where the motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Therefore, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function and that can sap power from many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core cranks up the power. A strong core also enhances balance and stability — this can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities.

Why is this workout particularly suitable for beginners?

This workout sequence is good for beginners as it offers variety. This will keep the routine more interesting while enhancing their exercise catalog for future routines, says Phil. This also allows the routine to be progressive by adding additional time and adaptive for metabolic conditioning by increasing or decreasing rest periods between exercise and/or circuits.

The workout includes:

Circuit 1
Reverse Lunge with Rotation
Curtsy Lunge Pulldown
Squat to Lunge

Circuit 2

Knee Push-up
Tricep Dip
Knee Push-up to Superman

Circuit 3

Russian Twist
Single Leg Knee Tuck
Mountain Climber

I tried this beginner bodyweight workout — here's what happened

I was eager to try this workout because it moves at a slow pace, with frequent rest times. In the video, Joanna walks you through each step and shows you the correct form. As always, however, if you’re new to exercise or returning to exercise following an injury or pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to ask a personal trainer to check your form. 

I found the single-leg knee tucks the hardest

This workout primarily focuses on working the lower abs but also works the leg muscles, hamstrings, and quads. By the time I’d got to the third circuit and was towards the end of my workout, my core was feeling tight. 

I enjoyed needing no equipment

Other than a mat to keep me from sliding on the floor, it was handy to find a workout that requires no weights, resistance bands, or other equipment, especially when I’m looking for home workouts when traveling over the holidays. This workout is super easy to do at any time — I propped my phone up against my desk and laid a workout mat out in front of it.

I loved the tips, modifications, and knowing what not to do

In her video, Joanna made things super easy. She highlights form mistakes, explains how to hold correct form, and shows slow, repeated steps — it feels like you’re working out with somebody else. When working out alone, especially with a pre-recorded video, it can be hard to keep yourself on track and know that you’re doing exercises with good form. With the seconds ticking down on the side of the screen, and Joanna walking viewers through the workout, I felt comforted by the fact that I was doing everything the right way.

What did I learn from this workout?

While I didn’t finish the workout looking quite as toned as Joanna, I did feel pretty accomplished. After the video, I could feel my heart pumping and felt like I'd worked hard. I didn’t pick up on any of the modifications and managed to get to the end without needing to stop. For me, what stood out in this video was how Joanna walks you through the correct form — something that makes a huge difference to performance.

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Mollie Davies
Mollie is a UK based, Welsh, lifestyle journalist. She writes frequently on all things involving women, health and fitness, and beauty - amongst other topics. Her work can be found in Cosmopolitan, Insider, the Independent, Women’s Health and more. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the pottery wheel or walking her basset hound.