Today, I’m going to share with you my favorite bodyweight exercises. I’ve already talked about my favorite TRX and kettlebell exercises, but the disadvantage that these exercises have is that they do require some piece of equipment. With bodyweight exercises, you don’t require any equipment at all (with the exception of pull ups and jump rope, but we’ll get to that in a bit).
Since bodyweight exercises require little to no equipment, it means you can do bodyweight training almost anywhere – at home, in a hotel room, or better yet outside at the park. One study found that exercising outdoors can have a positive effect on mental well being in addition to the physical benefits. The participants in the study reported feeling revitalized, a decrease in negative emotions, and an increase in energy. So if you’re looking to mix up your routine, take this bodyweight workout outside.
Bodyweight workouts are also good for you if you’re just starting to exercise and aren’t in great shape. Bodyweight exercises are generally safer than lifting a heavy load, so starting with bodyweight workouts can help you avoid an injury you might get while lifting heavy weight. Often times when I work with clients who have physical limitations because of age, injuries, or who are de-conditioned, we start with simple body weight exercises to teach proper form and to build the strength and endurance need to progress to lifting heavier weight.
So what are my favorite bodyweight exercises? The list of eight exercises below are the ones that I use consistently in my workouts, or in the exercise programs I build for my clients. I’ve taken these exercises and put them into a Tabata circuit, so that you can get an effective HIIT workout. After a warm up, do as many reps as you can of the first bodyweight exercise for 20 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds before moving to the next bodyweight exercise. Complete all bodyweight exercises in a 4 minutes Tabata circuit, rest for one minute, and then repeat 3 times for a total of 4 rounds. This will give you a quick routine you can in under 30 minutes.
Here is how you can do these bodyweight exercises:
The push up is an essential exercise for a good reason. It builds strength and muscular endurance in your chest, core, and triceps.
Like push ups, the squat is an essential movement. Think of how much we need to bend down and pick things up from the floor. To do that properly without getting a strained muscle, you need to be able to squat down. Plus, this exercise works your quads (thighs), glutes, and core.
Pull ups build strength in your back and biceps, as well as building muscular endurance. I tell clients that it’s an important move to do in case you ever fall from a cliff and have to pull yourself back up.
The lunge builds strength in the quads (thighs) and glutes, as well as improves your balance. The key to a proper lunge is to drive back up from the heel, not from the toe. This video does a good job demonstrating that correct form.
Besides being a good cardio workout, jumping rope strengthens the calves, as proper technique for jumping rope involves bounding up off the balls of your feet while keeping you legs together. Your calves are the muscles that are forcing this bounding motion. You can do this move even if you don’t have a jump rope, just practice the jump rope motion as demonstrated in this video.
The glute bridge, or hip bridge, works the glutes, hamstrings, and core. If you deal with low back problems, this exercise is one of the best you can do, because it builds strength in the key muscles that support the low back (hamstrings, glutes, and core)
A correctly done plank will work your abs better than sit ups. It’s a fantastic exercise that engages a lot of muscle groups, including the core, back, and shoulders.
This third core building exercise challenges your balance as well.
There you have it, my 8 favorite bodyweight exercises! Which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.