Your body provides one of the best workout machines available. Using your own bodyweight is a highly effective way to exercise and it can be done anywhere. This type of exercise is the perfect way to improve balance, strength, coordination and flexibility. Without the need for a machine or a trip to the gym, your own bodyweight provides the perfect resistance for working out anytime and anywhere.
20 Best Bodyweight Exercises
1. Full Body Exercises
The following bodyweight exercises engage your full body in the workout routine. This is a perfect way to strengthen all muscle groups by working the core and also improve your overall fitness.
This bodyweight exercise simulates the movement of an inchworm along the ground. Start in a standing position and slow bend forward while keeping the legs straight, but not locked. Reach the fingertips to the ground and then support your torso with your hands and arms. Slowly walk your hands forward until you are in a pushup position. Then start working your feet gradually up towards your hands until you are back in a forward bend position. Repeat this exercise for 4-6 repetitions. Don't be frustrated if you can only manage a few reps at first. As you gain strength and stamina, the number of reps you can do will rapidly increase.
This exercise engages the lower body intensely at first and then relies on the core, including the abs and hip flexors, to complete the maneuver. Start with your feet close together and with just a slight bend in the knees. Explode upward jumping as high as possible while pulling the knees upwards. Try extending the arms straight out during the jump to add the upper body into the workout. Land with your knees slightly bent. Work towards 10 reps.
Some refer to this exercise as the grasshopper. The idea is to rapidly alternate leg position to produce an excellent full body workout. Start in pushup position and then bring on knee forward and rest your foot between the hands. You will now be in a lunge type position. Use the upper body to support and stabilize yourself while rapidly jumping slightly to switch legs. The opposite leg should now be forward. Be sure to keep your arms and abs contracted to stabilize your core against extra movement otherwise you may lose balance and tip over.
This is a powerful exercise to develop your entire body. Start in a low squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick you legs straight back behind you into a push up position with arms extended but not locked. Then push up slightly and immediately bring yourself back into the low squat position. Next jump up explosively and reach your arms overhead as high as you can. Repeat this for 5-10 reps to build a solid physique.
2. Leg Exercises
The wall sit is a good overall lower body exercise. It will strengthen the thighs, hamstrings and glutes. If done properly, you can also engage the lower back and arms. Start by leaning against a wall and slowly lower yourself down until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Do not go past 90 degrees of bend in the knee. Hold this for 60 seconds if possible. You can engage the arms by either pushing into the wall with your hands or elbows, or do bicep curls with a small weight.
This exercise elongates the muscles and develops dynamic strength. Start with your feet close together and slowly step either forward or backward with your left foot. Bend the knee to 90 degrees until the knee touches or nearly touches the floor. Do not rest the bodyweight on the knee. Push back up and return to the starting position and repeat. Variations include alternating stepping forward and backward or holding in the lunge position for 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.
Perhaps one of the most widely known exercises, squats are an effective way to engage the entire lower body and core. Start with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Toes should be pointing forward or slightly out to the side. Pick a spot in the distance on the opposite wall to focus on. Slowly lower down until the knee is bent to almost 90 degrees or the thigh is close to parallel to the floor. Do not bend at the waist and remember to keep your shoulders back. Use the strength of the lower body to push back up into a standing position. Aim for 10 reps and build from there.
Calf exercises are often overlooked, but are important to developing overall fitness. Use a block or a step on a staircase. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the step and make sure you are comfortably balanced before starting this exercise. Lower the heels down until you feel a gentle stretch of the calf and Achilles tendon. Press back up and repeat for a minimum of 10 reps. Alternatively, alternate lowering one heel at a time.
3. Chest and Back Exercises
This classic exercise is a favorite because it works. Start in plank position with the spine in alignment. Slowly lower the entire body down until the chest is close to or touches the ground. Keep the elbows close to the body and the neck in alignment with the rest of the body. Push back up into starting position. If this exercise hurts your back, the alternative is to place the knees on the ground and perform the modified push-up. Start with 10 reps and increase as your strength improves.
This exercise is a bit more energetic and requires some practice. Begin in the classic push-up position with your legs close together. Contract and stabilize your core and then kick both legs up into the air while bending at the knee. While in the air, kick the legs our behind you like a donkey to activate the glutes and hamstrings. Land as gently as possible back in the starting push-up position. Repeat for 5 reps at first and then build from there.
This exercise gives the shoulders a strong appearance by adding some definition to the deltoid muscle and upper back. Stat by bending forward slightly at the waist and bend your knees. Raise the arms out to the side and visualize your shoulder blades moving to together to touch in the middle of your back. Options include rotating your thumb so it faces slightly downward to give the triceps a bit more workout. Also try smoothly lunging side to side to engage the lower body as well. Use a small weight or water ball for added resistance.
Start by lying on your stomach with your arms and legs stretched out in front and back of you. Then raise both the arms and feet at the same time. Keep the head up looking forward. Reach up as far as you can and then slowly lower back to the floor. Repeat for 5-10 reps and you will surely feel the effects and see results.
4. Arms and Shoulders Exercises
Start by sitting on a chair, stable bench or platform. Grasp the edge and slowly slide forward off the seat. Lower your body down in front of the bench or chair until your elbows are bent approximately 90 degrees. Then press back up to starting position. You may be only able to do a few of these at first, but work towards a goal of 10 reps.
This is a variation of the classic and will produce dramatic results in the shoulders and triceps. Start in a standard push-up position. Then walk your hands together into a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers touching. Then lower down just like you did for the standard push-up. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10 reps. If you feel unsteady, try widening out your feet a bit.
Shoulder Stabilization Series
The shoulder girdle is comprised of several muscle groups and working them all through a range of motion is an effective way to build strength and prevent injury. Lie comfortably facedown on the floor or a mat. Reach your arms out in front of your body and raise them off the ground. With control, move your arms into various letter shapes such as Y, T, O or W. These motions will strengthen the various components of the rotator cuff and stabilize the shoulder. Complete a few letters at first and add reps as your fitness level allows.
This exercise will work the deltoids, trapezius and upper back. Start in a comfortable standing position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Extend the arms out and begin to circle forward in 1-foot diameter circles. Repeat for 20-30 reps and then repeat circling your arms backward.
5. Core Exercises
Sit with your legs extended in front of your body and stabilize your torso by placing your palms beside your hips. Keep the legs straight and raise the torso slightly off the ground. You may have to bend the torso forward to keep your balance. Focus on the core to stabilize your body. This exercise will be quite challenging at first and you may only be able to complete a few reps.
Lie on your back with one leg out straight and the other bent to 90 degrees. Bring your hands together behind your head but be sure not to pull the neck forward. Now bring the legs off the ground and begin by rotating your torso and bringing the elbow toward the bent knee while keeping your legs off the ground. Now straighten that leg and bend the opposite leg while bringing the other elbow towards the knee. The motion is similar to pedaling a bike. Try for 20 reps and build from there.
The best way to perform this exercise is slowly and with control. Start by lying on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. Place your hands behind your head and gently support the head and neck without pulling the neck forward. Slowly curl your torso and bring the upper back off the floor. This is not a sit-up so don’t try to curl all the way up. Hold the upper back off the floor for a few seconds and then slowly lower down. Repeat for a minimum of 10 reps.
Begin by lying on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. Place your arms at your side with palms facing the floor. Slowly elevate the hips while keeping the rest of your body on the floor. Once the hips are fully raised, bring one leg into the air and raise it until perpendicular with the floor if you can. Slowly lower the leg and hips and repeat on the opposite side. The ultimate goal is to complete 10 reps per side.