Body Weight Workout Basics

While many may know that Prince Philip recently died at the age of 99 they probably did not know that he had a basic body weight fitness regime that he followed for most of his life, keeping him in shape and able to function on his own all the way until his last day.  It’s something that Princes Charles and William do as well.  The routine is nothing fancy but it gets the job done and, since you don’t need a gym to do them, it’s pandemic-proof too.


Body weight exercises don’t require any equipment, but they do require a focus on form.  Proper form ensures:

  • More targeted muscle activation
  • Better results
  • Lower chance of injury

A focus on form also prepares you for more advanced exercises.  Trainers often say the first issue they have to address when taking on a client is poor form.  Hence, body weight training is a perfect foundation for your fitness goals.

In addition to form you want to think about intensity.  A high intensity form of your body weight workout can burn up to 50% more over a moderate version.


There are dozens of movements and even more variants of those movements that you can choose for your routine.  The most popular include:

  • Dips
  • Pullups
  • Situps
  • Lunges 
  • Planks (the best exercise for your core)
  • Burpees (adds cardio)
  • Mountain climbers (like burpees, adds cardio)
  • Squats (these add ankle and hip mobility, trunk stability, and build your quads)
  • Pushups (they are one of the most popular movements for a reason: you hit six, count ‘em six, muscle groups: pecs, delts, quads, triceps, hip flexors, and yes, the core)

It’s okay to like some movements and hate others, but sometimes we hate a movement just because it exposes a weakness in a muscle group, forgetting that digging in and working on that muscle group will deal with that weakness, and possibly erode the “hate.”

If you want to see the exercises that Prince Phillip did, you can check out this 1959 promotional video from the Royal Canadian Air Force which is credited with kicking off the modern fitness culture, which makes sense given that it was called 5BX for “Five Basic Exercises.”

Get Started

Once you’ve figured out how much time you want to allot to these exercises, pick 4-6 of them and do them in a circuit of three.  

If you want to build muscle mass with these exercises on top of simply staying fit, you can do so.  You just need to do one or more of the following:

  • Increase reps
  • Decrease rest between movements
  • Do more difficult variations
  • Go slower (increasing your time under tension)

Needless to say this hard work has to be paired with eating and sleeping well, otherwise you’re just running uphill on slippery ground.  

Are there any exercises you would add to this list?  Let us know in the comments below.

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