Swiss ball push-ups are important for pushing and stablising muscles to be coordinated. *Photo supplied
Swiss ball push-ups are important for pushing and stablising muscles to be coordinated. *Photo supplied

Resistance to any movement is just a means to an end. It doesn’t really matter if we’re using dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls or our own weight. As long as there is an adequate resistance applied to the action it will create an increase in strength and tone up the muscle.

With bodyweight training, I focus on using the Primal Pattern system. These are seven movements that were necessary for survival in our developmental environment.

If you were a caveman or cavewoman and couldn’t execute these movements proficiently then you wouldn’t stay alive too long. Primal patterns are compound exercises that use more than one joint and engage several muscle groups.

This is perfect for fat burning as the more lean muscle we build, the greater our metabolism will be.

Therefore, we’ll burn more calories throughout the day, which is key for weight loss.

Try out a selection of these Primal Pattern bodyweight exercises that require nothing but your own bodyweight and a Swiss ball to add variety.

Aim to complete three sets of 15-20 repetitions for optimal results.


We have to squat to sit in a chair or on a toilet all the time, so this is an essential move for all of us.

• Wall squats with a Swiss ball

• Single leg

• Overhead squat


Bending is often seen in parents picking up their children, construction workers lifting heavy objects and is even evident when playing golf.

• Kneeling bend

• Bodyweight deadlift

• Hamstring curl feet on Swiss ball


Most sports that we play require lunging and any throwing action involves a step forward to perform it correctly.

• Static lunge

• Walking lunge

• Multi-directional lunge


We push prams, shopping trolleys and doors open all the time, so it’s important for our pushing and stabilising muscles to be coordinated.

• Wall push-ups

• Swiss ball push-ups

• Full push-ups


Pulling is seen in most household activities and many sports.

• Prone cobra

• Reverse push ups

• Pull-ups


Most back injuries occur during twisting and bending. Twisting movements of the spine are integral to every movement we make.

• Supine lateral ball roll

• Swiss ball Russian twist

• Bodyweight wood chop


It is essential to be able to perform gait correctly and effectively to reduce any risk of injury.

• Walking

• Jogging

• Sprinting


Colin blogs at

Colin Ayliffe is a certified personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach with over 10 years’ experience in training clients. He graduated from the University of Surrey with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science and is also a CHEK practitioner, golf biomechanic and is accredited by the
National Academy of Sports Medicine.