Best Bodyweight Exercises
If you’ve been using the old excuses of having no gym near you or membership fees being an unnecessary expense for not getting to grips with your fitness and overall health, it’s time for a rethink. You don’t need a gym to enjoy a good workout or enjoy its benefits. You can do it all from home with minimal expense and little or no equipment. Simply learning to use your body weight to challenge different muscle groups will soon bring about changes you’ll notice in your physique.
It’s true lifting weights in the gym has its own benefits, but don’t underestimate the value of body resistance for when you don’t have access to any machines or serious exercise equipment. There are a number of interesting advantages for including bodyweight exercises in your health and fitness routine.
- These exercises help you build strength without wasting hours upon hours a week. There are many interesting high output, low investment bodyweight exercises to build muscle effectively.
- They help improve your balance and overall flexibility, which will come in handy if you eventually gain access to a gym and start including weights in your training. Combining bodyweight training with dance-inspired moves will help improve your posture and the alignment of your limbs.
- Body weight exercises keep things interesting and save you from enduring the boredom of the same cardio routines. It is easy to change your exercises and to increase the challenges to keep achieving the
- These exercises don’t require specialized equipment or space. One clear benefit of bodyweight exercises is that you can perform them anywhere, anytime.
- They help you stay lean even if you are lifting weights in the gym. You can simply add short bursts of bodyweight exercises to your weightlifting routines to make things challenging for you to maintain a lean physique.
Best Bodyweight Exercises
You might be working out already, but you’re missing out on many fitness benefits by not including body weight exercises in your fitness regime. But just in case you’re still not convinced, here are some of the most effective bodyweight exercises that will get you good gains.
The dip is a hardcore exercise for obtaining chiseled six-pack abs. This exercise primarily focuses on building triceps muscles. It strengthens your chest and shoulder muscles. This exercise requires robust body strength and is not for people who have yet to build muscle.
Squats are a popular exercise with weight reducers and bodybuilders. You begin squats by sitting on your feet, much as babies do, and the focus is primarily on the lower body and leg muscles. Squats also strengthen the back and help attain a flatter belly since the abdominal cavity and chest trunk must align and straighten while performing squats. You can also use a squat rack when performing squats.
Single-leg squats are a variation of natural squats but more challenging. They strengthen quads, hamstrings, glutes and body core. For this exercise, stand on one foot keeping the other leg resting in the air. Keep your hands straight in front of you to maintain balance. Now perform squats with this same position, one leg in the air and one on the ground. Do several repetitions alternating legs.
Pistol squat is a variation of the one-legged squat. It aims to build core power and ultimately improve balance. In the same position, one leg in the air and other foot on the ground, instead of sitting like in a squat, lower your body in a one-legged crouch. Remember the angle behind your knee should remain less than 90 degrees in pistol squat, unlike the regular squat.
Handstand push-up is another exercise that helps build abs. It’s a relatively simple exercise and primarily focuses on building triceps muscles and strengthening shoulder muscles. To perform this exercise get into a handstand and lower down your body. Execute more pressure on your shoulder muscles and keep your elbows in front of your shoulders. Now push your body up. Do several repetitions of up and down focusing on your correct posture.
Jump squat is an essential exercise included in the regular workout regime of both athletes and weight trainers. It strengthens the lower body muscles enabling athletes to run faster and climbers to climb swiftly. When performed correctly it increases the flexibility of leg muscles. Be mindful to land softly after each jump so as not to cause injury.
Crab walk is another popular exercise among weight trainers and focuses on strengthening triceps and core muscles. It increases body coordination and overall flexibility. To perform this exercise crawl backward with the help of your palm and foot without letting your body touch the floor. If your wrist gets tired you can take the support from your lower arms to crawl.
Push-ups are a widely used exercise in upper body workout. It involves the shoulder, chest, and back muscles helping you develop triceps and abs. For push-ups, elbows should be close to your body whilst the shoulder and wrist should be in line with each other. While maintaining this position lower your body till your chest is about to touch the floor then rise again and repeat.
Close grip push-up is a variant of an original push-up. This push-up style especially targets the triceps and help in developing strong larger muscular arms. The development of triceps and biceps go hand in hand resulting in visible bodily changes.
The suspended push-up is based on the original push-up but is more intense and difficult. Performing push-ups on a suspension trainer increase your muscle growth as its handles are unstable adding extra resistance to your workout. It gives you stronger and defined muscles in lesser time. If you want to increase the intensity of this bodyweight exercise then raise your feet above the ground level while exerting all the pressure on your arms and shoulders.
Pike push-up is a completely different kind of push-up, especially aimed at breaking the plateau. For this push-up, rest your hands and feet on the ground and raise your hips to the highest level. Now lower down your body and repeat.
Spinal balance aims at strengthening your spine. First lay on a floor and raise your back with the help of your arms and legs whilst keeping your palms and knees resting on the floor. Keep your head and neck in alignment and move forward your right hand in line with your shoulder then move backward with your left leg in line with your hips. Return to the resting position and repeat with the left hand and right leg.
The pull up is a classical exercise aiming at building shoulder and arm muscles. Its core focus is on developing defined biceps curl.
Box jumps target strengthening and developing the lower body muscles. Take a box like position on the floor and jump in the air slightly above the ground level. The key is to land softly after each jump so your joints don’t suffer injury.
Bent-Knee Calf Raise
Bent knee calf rise, as the name suggests, focuses on building your leg and hip muscles. First, stand on a step or box with your knees bent in 45 degrees position. Next, slowly raise one foot and let it stay in the air for a few seconds. Return the foot back and repeat with other foot. Perform at least 15 repetitions with each foot.
Eccentric Calf Raise
Eccentric calf rise is an alternative to the bent knee calf raise. Stand at the edge of the box or stairs on your toes instead of heels. Slowly lower down your heels below the edge of the box. Hold for a while and return. Repeat this exercise 15 times but with caution and care.
Prone Back Extension
Prone back extension aim at strengthening your backbone and treats pain in lower back. For this exercise, first lay flat on the ground. Now put all your body weight on your stomach and raise both arms and legs above your body level. Hold on for few seconds in this position then return to the resting position. Repeat this exercise 15 times.
Mountain climber is an imitation of actual mountain climbing drill. Start your exercise from a plank position. Then move your right knee towards your chest and then return back to plank position. Now move your left knee towards your chest and then move back to plank position. Continue the drill for 15 reps per knee.
Double Leg Lifts
Double leg lift aims at strengthening your backbone and providing you a flatter tummy. First lay down flat on your back. Now raise both your legs in an upward direction. Hold for half a minute and return back to the prone position. You can add variety to this work out by performing the same steps with one leg at a time. Perform 15 reps per day for a flatter tummy and reduced back pain.
First, lay down on your tummy and raise both arms and legs above your body. Now mimic swimming by moving your hands and legs alternatively as you do when swimming breaststroke. Repeat your moves swiftly one after another for a minute. Rest for few seconds and then repeat.
Lying Hip Raises
Lying hip raises is another exercise focusing on the lower body muscles. For this workout, lie flat on your back and raise your hips above the ground while keeping your head and feet on the floor forming a bridge. You can add different variations to this workout by lifting your leg or arm along with the hip.
Rollout (Ab Wheel or Barbell)
You need an ab wheel or barbell to do this exercise. Rollout helps strengthen the core, arm, and thigh muscles all in one workout. First, sit on your knees and hold the barbell in your hand. Now place your hands on the floor with the barbell and push it forward. Perform multiple back and forth movements with barbell concentrating on your core muscles.
Swiss Ball Rollout
Swiss ball rollout is a variant of ab wheel rollout. Replace the ab wheel or barbell with the Swiss ball and do as a regular roll out exercise. Swiss ball increases the intensity and results of this ab workout.
Burpee is one popular addition in all workouts. Whether you want to burn fat or tone up your muscles burpee reps are beneficial for you. It is a mix of push-ups and mountain pose along with a jump. The moves are performed in close succession for a set time to stimulate all your body muscles.
Inverted row is a variation of pull up workout. It is an exact opposite of push-up exercise and performed with the help of a bar or handle. It helps build well-defined bicep curls along with broad sore shoulders. Rest your heels on the floor away from the bar. Hold the handle with your hands and move your body up and down while your heels rest on the floor.
Plank is an essential exercise in all kinds of workout regimes. It is quite similar to traditional the push-up but with more intensity and resistance. Rest your arms and toes on the floor in line with each other. Next, move your body up and down without letting your chest or feet touch the ground. Perform a set of 15 to 20 reps in one go.
Lunges are a popular exercise among all fat burners and muscle builders. They aim at strengthening belly and hip muscles and make them less bulky and firmer. First, stand with both feet together and your arms at your side. Lean forward with your right foot in front of you and your left at your back until both knees touch the ground making a right angle. The key is to balance both your knees on the floor in such a way that they remain parallel to each other.
Understanding The Limitation Of Bodyweight Exercises
There is absolutely no denying bodyweight exercises can help you gain a lean physique and even play a role helping you gain muscle. However, these exercises do have their limitations. For instance:
- It takes a lot of time to improve your skills and gain enough strength to perform advanced versions of bodyweight exercises. You may have to perform the same exercise for weeks, even months, before proceeding to the next level. This is where you may want to switch to weight training, as lifting serious weight is always going to help you achieve better gains.
- It is usually quite difficult to quantify bodyweight exercises, which is the reason why progression can become a challenge. To keep building on results, you need to make each exercise progressively more challenging which can be difficult to maintain. You will, however, be in a better position to use the idea of progressive overload to gain muscle, For example, you can add more reps, increase sets, and even lift heavy weights with time, which are not possible with bodyweight exercises.
- It is not possible to stimulate the posterior chain effectively using the bodyweight exercises. For optimal gains, you need to find a way to overload your thighs, and that is where bodyweight exercises have their limitations. You have to switch to barbells and dumbbells to work the posterior chain effectively. Certain bodyweight exercises, such as pistol squats, really help focus more on your legs but you will have to spend time developing enough flexibility to perform these moves effectively and safely.
The fact of the matter is that bodyweight exercises provide numerous benefits and performing these exercises is the best option when you don’t have access to a gym or gym equipment. They improve flexibility, provide a good cardio workout, and don’t require any specialized equipment. However, the biggest issue with bodyweight exercises is that you cannot apply the rule of ‘progressive overload’ to these movements, and that will prevent you from achieving maximum results. The most efficient way to get the kind of physique you need is a combination of bodyweight training and free weights that add resistance to your workouts.