When walking into a gym, it becomes quickly apparent what the purpose behind each piece of equipment is, which guys you throughout your workout. When you leave the gym behind and start completing bodyweight workouts, what do the exercises look like?
Bodyweight exercises include planks, reverse lunges, bodyweight marches, lateral lunges, knee-grab sit ups, box jumps, jump squats, up down planks, pull-ups, high knee raises, 180 split squat jumps, elbow planches, pistol squats, handstand push ups, and chin ups.
Being able to use your own body as the tool for your workouts is a great way to not only decrease your need for the gym, but to also move your body in a way that leads to more strength, flexibility, and balance. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, there are bodyweight workouts that will be challenging and effective. Continue reading to find bodyweight exercises for beginners, those at an intermediate level, and those more advanced.
Bodyweight Exercises for Beginners
If you are at the very beginning of your bodyweight exercising journey, you may be a bit intimidated by the variety of different workouts available. There are some that seem doable as a beginner, but others that would absolutely stop you in your tracks. If you are new to using your bodyweight as your exercise modem, take a look below at a few great exercises that will get you started and familiar with the feel of this type of workout.
The plank is a great way to get your whole body engaged without having to jump through hoops to do so. To complete a plank, level your body to the ground with your stomach facing the floor. Elevate your body as you place your forearms on the floor beneath your shoulders and raise your lower body with only your toes touching the ground. Keep your back and core straight and hold this position for 30 seconds to two minutes.
To get your legs good and warm, try a reverse lunge. To complete a reverse lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms to your side. Step backward with your left foot and bend both knees as you lower your left leg into a kneeling position. Get back into a standing position and rotate those same steps, but with your right leg. Be sure to keep your core engaged and maintain good posture to maximize the effects of this exercise.
You will start this exercise in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart while your arms rest at your side. You will then drive your left knee and right arm up together so they both create a 90-degree angle. Lower your arm and leg back into the starting position and repeat the same steps but with your right knee and left arm. Do this at a rapid enough pace that you are able to be challenged without getting completely winded
Stand straight up with your feet hip-width apart and your arms down at your side. With your left foot, take a big step to the side (not too big or you will lose your balance) and bend at the knee. During this motion, you will get into a squatting position and sit back on your extended left leg. Then, push your body back up using your left leg and propel yourself back into the starting position. Switch the direction of the exercise to your right foot to repeat.
Knee Grab Sit-Up
These are a bit more of a stretch, but knee grab sit-ups are great for beginners who are trying to make their way to a more moderate bodyweight workout. For knee grab sit-ups, get onto the floor and lie flat on your back with your arms extended above your head and your legs straight. Tighten your core and complete a sit up as you bring your knees to your chest and your hands around your knees. Slowly lower back down and repeat.
Intermediate Bodyweight Exercises
If you find that you are either more advanced than you first thought or that you have mastered the beginner exercises for bodyweight workouts, it may be time for you to try out exercises that are at more of a moderate level. These workouts are going to push your body a bit further, make you a tad more uncomfortable, but will do great work at conditioning your body, building your endurance, and burning calories.
This exercise requires a bit of vertical, but it is a great segway to more advanced exercise. To complete a box jump you will need to stand in front of a box that requires you to jump with effort. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend at your knees. Lower your body down into a half squat as you swing your arms back and explode forward as you jump on top of the box. Hop down and repeat for more repetition.
The jump squat is one that beginners may be capable of, but it requires more cardio endurance which is what makes this a more moderate workout. To complete a jump squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend at your knees. You will then push your hips back into a squat and push through your heels so that you explode up into a jump. Land softly on your heels and then resume your starting position for the next rep.
This is an advancement of the regular plank to help make things a bit more challenging for those at a moderate level. To complete an up-down plank, start in a high plank position with your arms straight with your hands under your shoulders and your legs extended onto your toes. You will then engage your core and bend one elbow so that your body lowers down onto your forearm. Go back to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm.
If you find that your upper body is needing a bit more of a challenge, consider the pull-up. To complete a pull-up, you will need either a bar or other type of fixed hanging rod that you can easily wrap your hands around. You will start in a dead hang position on the bar with an overhand grip. Fully extend your arms and start by engaging your shoulder blade into a shrug as you pull-up with your back, and bend at your elbows until your chin is over the bar.
Hanging Knee Raise
This is a great exercise for those muscles that are hard to reach within your abdomen. To complete a hanging knee raise, hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip as you keep your arms extended and legs together. You will then engage your lower abdominal muscles to pull your legs upward. Complete this motion by bending your legs at the knee until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Raise your legs to the middle or to the sides of your body as well.
Advanced Bodyweight Exercises
If you have been in the bodyweightworld for some time, you may be in need of a few exercises that will challenge you more than your current routine. Even more, if you have gotten comfortable with beginner and moderate exercises, it may be time to pick up the pace and push your body harder than you ever have before. Take a look below to find a bodyweight exercise that will force you out of your comfort zone
180 Split Squat Jump
For the 180 split squat jump, start by getting your body into a lunge position. You will have your knees bent with your front thigh parallel to the floor and your back leg bent behind you. You will then jump up with as much force as you can render and during this jump, turn 180-degrees. Once you have turned rapidly, switch your legs midair so that when you land, your legs are opposite from how you started.
For an elbow planche, place your hands on the floor with your fingers pointing to the sides or behind you. Keep your knees on the floor and pull your elbow in so that you are resting your waist on your elbows. You will then slowly extend your legs as you keep your toes on the floor until you have found a position where you know you can balance. Then, lift your legs to maintain a “floating” position and hold this as your body rests on your elbows
This is an exercise that requires balance, strength, and movement control. For the pistol squat, get into a standing position and keep one leg raised directly in front of you. Then, extend your arms out in front of you and slowly descend towards the ground. During this movement, keep your leg raised and parallel to the floor as your opposing legs bends until your hamstring is resting on your calf. You will then push back up maintaining your position and switch feet.
Handstand Push Ups
If you have mastered the regular push up, it might be time to challenge your body a bit more than that exercise is capable of by attempting handstand push ups. For these, start facing a wall in a standing position, but then kick your feet up so that you are in a handstand position against the wall. Slowly lower yourself down to the ground as far as you can and then, as controlled as you can, push yourself back up. Repeat this for more reps.
The chin-up is just a bit more challenging than a pull-up, but these could be interchanged depending on your weight and upper body strength. To complete a chip-up, grasp a pull-up bar with an underhand grip (palms facing towards your body). To make this more difficult, place your hands narrower than shoulder width-apart. From a position of a dead hang, pull your body up until your chin reaches the bar and lower down to fully extend your arms.
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