Table of Contents
- 1 Best bodyweight exercises
- 1.1 1. Squats
- 1.2 2. Power jacks
- 1.3 3. Good mornings
- 1.4 4. Curtsy lunges
- 1.5 5. Inchworm to shoulder tap
- 1.6 6. Pushups
- 1.7 7. Tricep dips
- 1.8 8. Bear plank
- 1.9 9. Plank-ups
- 1.10 10. Sprawls
- 1.11 11. Plank
- 1.12 12. Single leg deadlift
- 1.13 13. Side plank
- 1.14 14. Overhead squats
- 1.15 15. Up and down lunges/split squats
- 1.16 16. Reverse plank
- 1.17 17. Sumo squats
- 1.18 18. Supine bird squats
- 1.19 19. Superwoman
- 1.20 20. Handstand
- 1.21 21. Squat jacks
- 1.22 22. Plank shoulder taps
- 1.23 23. Squat hold with jabs
- 1.24 24. Skaters
- 1.25 25. Supine heel taps
- 1.26 26. Crab toe touches
- 1.27 27. Cross-body mountain climbers
- 1.28 28. Hostage with alternating knee drive
- 1.29 29. Prisoner hockey lunge
- 1.30 30. Pause step-up
- 1.31 31. 3-2-1 tension squat
- 1.32 32. Gorilla squat jump
- 1.33 33. Towel deadlift
- 1.34 34. Vertical leap
- 1.35 35. Inchworm pushup
- 1.36 36. Plank march
- 1.37 37. Lateral bear crawl
- 1.38 38. Slow-mo mountain climber
- 1.39 39. Glute bridges
- 1.40 40. Step-ups
- 1.41 41. Reverse crunches
- 1.42 42. Jumping jacks
- 1.43 43. Wall sit
- 1.44 44. Crunch with double knee lift
- 1.45 45. Plank rocks
- 1.46 46. Barre arabesque toe taps
- 1.47 47. Side lunge
- 1.48 48. Fire hydrant
- 1.49 49. Second position plie
- 1.50 50. Side lying inner thigh lift
- 1.51 51. Double leg drop
- 2 Sources
The past year has changed the way most of us work out. With many gyms closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us resorted to working out at home. And that meant minimal access to equipment. Thankfully, getting in an efficient workout is still possible without all the weights and machines thanks to bodyweight exercises.
“Bodyweight workouts are great for at home because they require no equipment and can help build strength and cardio endurance,” says Beth Gold, NASM CPT, CFSC certified trainer for BoxUnion, BoxUnion Digital and TITLE Boxing Club.
Adds Finley Funsten, personal trainer and general manager at the Charlotte strength-training gym, MADabolic, “We’re all naturally equipped with weight we can manipulate to add resistance to our workouts when we’re without our beloved kettlebells…our bodies.”
Plus, bodyweight moves can actually burn more calories and build more muscle. “You will burn more calories and use more muscle fibers in each session, which is great for those of us without a ton of time to workout,” says Vytas Baskauskas, E-YRT 500, FitOn App senior trainer. “Bodyweight is enough for us all.”
And perhaps one of the biggest benefits of getting a bodyweight workout is that you can do them anywhere. “One of the benefits of bodyweight training is that you can do it anytime, anyplace,” says Kelly Matsunaga, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Fit by Coach Kel.
And if you’re worried you won’t feel challenged enough, there are ways to make bodyweight exercises even harder.
“You can always challenge bodyweight moves by changing the speed of the movements (slower is always more challenging) or making the move an isometric move (holding the work aspect of a movement),’ says Ridge Davis, CPT, owner of Ridgid Fitness in Los Angeles.
Finally, bodyweight workouts are great for all fitness levels. “Body weight exercises are great for beginner, intermediate, and advanced workouts because they help you to develop your body awareness since there are no other distractions such as bands, weights, or other equipment,” says Ashley Joi, CPT at Centr. “You can easily add a challenge by slowing the tempo and adding more reps, which can emulate weights.”
While many gyms are reopening now (hallelujah!) it’s always nice the option to do anytime, anywhere, no equipment require. Here are 51 of the best bodyweight moves from trainers that you can do at home or whenever you’re short on equipment.
Best bodyweight exercises
How to do it: “Set your feet wider than hips width. Stay heavy in your heels, driving your knees away from each other as you sit your booty back like you are sitting in a chair. Keep your chest tall as you protect your back by pulling your core into your spine. Try to drop hips in line with knees or lower, drive back up through your heels (never in your toes) to stand tall. Add an extra challenge by making it a jump squat! Just remember to land in your squat and power up from there,” says Gold.
2. Power jacks
How to do it: Just like a jumping jack, set your feet under your hips. As you jump your feet out laterally, you punch your arms to the ceiling. Great move to get your heart rate up based on your intensity,” says Gold.
3. Good mornings
How to do it: “Set your feet directly underneath your hips and your hands behind your head. With a soft bend in your knees think about pushing your hips back as if you were closing a car door with your booty, also known as a hinge, until your chest is parallel to the floor. Make sure you keep your ears away from your shoulders and back stays flat – you should feel this in your hamstrings. Push your hips forward to stand tall!” says Gold.
4. Curtsy lunges
How to do it: “Set your feet directly under your hips to start. Take a step back with one leg to the opposite corner instead of directly back (like a reverse lunge on an angle). As you drop the knee of the leg you stepped back with, think about lining up your front and back knees while maintaining your shoulders over your hips. Working the glutes, bring your back foot to stand,” says Gold.
5. Inchworm to shoulder tap
How to do it: “Start with your feet under your hips and plenty of space in front of you. Reach down to the floor as you walk out to your plank on your hands. Find your high plank, shoulders over the wrists and feet as wide as your hips. Take your opposite hand to opposite shoulder for 4 times plank shoulder taps, minimize the rock in your hips by pulling your navel to the spine or widening your feet. Walk your hands back to your feet and stand up tall,” says Gold.
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How to do it: “Find your high plank, shoulders over your wrists, navel pulled to your spine and soft bend in your knees. As you lower your chest to the ground, point your elbows towards your hips to create an arrow or A shape as opposed to T-shape in your elbows. Use your whole hand to press the floor away like a moving plank. As a modification, elevate your hands on a couch, chair or wall and follow the steps. As you get stronger in your push up, find surfaces lower to the ground,” says Gold.
7. Tricep dips
How to do it: “Find an elevated surface such as a couch and a chair. Place the palm of your hands on the elevated surface facing away from it, fingers pointing towards you. Either bend your knees to make these a bit easier or extend your legs to make them harder. As you keep your body close to the chair or couch, bend at the elbows as you allow your hips to drop and lower yourself down. Press yourself back up as you extend your arms fully at the top,” says Gold.
8. Bear plank
How to do it: “Come to a table top position on the floor. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrists and your hips are over your knees. Tuck your toes under as you elevate your knees .5 inches off the floor. Make sure you have a nice flat back by drawing your navel in to your spine. No arching or rounding. Press through your palms. Hold for 30s and feel your core, quads and shoulders light up,” says Gold.
How to do it: “Find a high plank position with your hands under your shoulders, core engaged by pulling your navel to your spine. One arm at a time drops to a low plank (or your elbows). Immediately press yourself back up to your high plank one arm at a time. Try to keep a minimal rock in your hips and place your hands right back under your shoulders every time you return to your high plank,” says Gold.
How to do it: “A sprawl is a burpee without a push up. Start with your feet wider than your hips. Squat and place your hands down between your feet as you jump your feet back to a plank position. Jump your feet back outside of your hands and squat up from the floor. Add an extra challenge by adding a jump at the top or simply come to a full standing position,” says Gold.
How to do it: “The ultimate low-impact full body pose. Plank teaches us a lot about our core and its role in stabilizing against gravity. Do it on your forearms and challenge yourself for endurance and go longer, with good form. No sticking your butt in the air!” says Baskauskas.
12. Single leg deadlift
How to do it: “A symphony of hip stability, core strength and breath awareness. These are excellent for hamstring mobility as well. Make sure you don’t hunch nor arch while doing them. Go slow and increase the time under tension. Don’t rush,” says Baskauskas.
13. Side plank
How to do it: “Lateral strength at its finest. I see many students rely too much on the weight bearing shoulder and not enough on the legs and obliques. Be sure to make it a full-body pose. Keep the shoulders broad and tailbone firmed in,” says Baskauskas.
14. Overhead squats
How to do it: “Reaching the arms overhead while we squat is no small feat, especially when trying to avoid arching or rounding. I recommend making fist out of your hands and pushing through them with vigor while completing each repetition. Make sure the front ribs don’t pooch forward either,” says Baskauskas.
15. Up and down lunges/split squats
How to do it: “Find a moderate distance for your lunge and stay there; simply standing up and down. Do this by bending both knees (get low) on an inhale and slowly straightening both legs on the exhale. Once you have that down, do it without tilting your pelvis forward and backward. Use your core to stabilize,” says Baskauskas.
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16. Reverse plank
How to do it: “All the benefits and fun of plank, except on the posterior side of your body. Turn the hands out to the sides and plant the feet, lifting the hips high. Allow your head to look up. Once you can hold that for awhile, do it with straight legs. Flex the feet and keep the hips up!” says Baskauskas.
17. Sumo squats
How to do it: “Spread the legs about a foot wider than from a normal squat. When squatting down, try not to stick your butt out. Let the knees spread wide and stay vertical with your torso. Drive through the floor and squeeze the glutes to stand up and keep those knees tracking wide,” says Baskauskas.
18. Supine bird squats
How to do it: “This is the ultimate full-body core strengthener. While lying on your back, bend the knees 90 degrees as if you were resting your calves on a shelf with the feet in the air. Reach the arms up to the ceiling and feel that the spine is flat on the floor. The point of this exercise is to not move the spine or pelvis at all. Extend one leg forward and the opposite arm backward while keeping the lower back flat and head on the floor. Slowly come back to neutral. Alternate sides continuously without letting your torso come off the floor,” says Baskauskas.
How to do it: “It is important to make time and strengthen the back… and this yoga pose does the trick! From a prone position, extend the arms forward with your head still on the ground. Before lifting off, slightly tuck the tailbone to stabilize the low back. Making sure to breathe deeply, lift everything off the ground and try not to look forward. Go for endurance and stay up as long as you can. If it is too challenging with your arms forward, then reach them wide or by your sides,” says Baskauskas.
How to do it: “Although balancing in the middle of the room can take years to practice and perfect, using the wall is accessible by most. It takes some shoulder and hamstring mobility before kicking up, so be sure to warm up first. Start in downward dog, with your fingertips about 6 inches from the wall. Walk your feet in toward your hands and lift one leg. Before kicking up, commit to not bending your elbows at all. Keep the arms straight and spring off the leg that is still on the ground. If you don’t touch the wall at first, that is ok. Try a few times and don’t rush. Eventually you will be able to get both legs up there and elongate upward!” says Baskauskas.
21. Squat jacks
How to do it: Start by standing with your feet together, hands by your sides. Jack your feet out (jump them out wide), sit into a squat, and touch the ground with one hand. Push the ground away and jump back up to the starting position. Then repeat!” says
22. Plank shoulder taps
How to do it: “Start in a high plank position – your feet can be either a narrow or wide base, but make sure your shoulders are right over your hands. Keep your core, back, quads, chest, and shoulders engaged. Lift one hand up and tap the opposite shoulder while keeping your hips square. Replace the hand, then repeat on the other side,” says Joi.
23. Squat hold with jabs
How to do it: “Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back into a squat and hold the position. Throw alternating jab punches while holding the squat,” says Joi.
How to do it: “Start with your feet together, then bound laterally off of one leg (left), landing on the opposite leg (right). Swing the bounding leg behind your landing leg and tap your foot. Your landing foot should be flat, stable, and ready to push off again in the other direction,” says Joi.
25. Supine heel taps
How to do it: “Lay flat on your back, bringing your feet up and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Your hands can be under your lower back for support, or out by your sides. Keep your head flat on the ground. Keeping your knees bent, lower legs one at a time to tap your heel on the ground, then bring them back up to the starting position, repeat on the other side,” says Joi.
26. Crab toe touches
How to do it: “Sitting on the ground with your hands behind your butt, feet flat on the ground, push your hips up to the sky. Extend one leg out and reach to touch the toes with your opposite hand. Then repeat on the other side,” says Joi.
27. Cross-body mountain climbers
How to do it: “Start in a high plank position, hands over shoulders, feet either wide or narrow. Drive your knee towards your opposite elbow, keeping your back as flat as possible. Alternate legs and elbows,” says Joi.
28. Hostage with alternating knee drive
How to do it: “Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands behind your head with your elbows flared out. Sit back into a squat, then stand tall, pushing through your heels and big toe. Drive your knee to your opposite elbow,” says Joi.
29. Prisoner hockey lunge
How to do it: “Interlock your hands behind your head and keep your chest upright. Lunge at a slight 45 degree angle, stepping just outside the frame of your hips. Let your back knee kiss the ground and load the front heel to drive out of the lunge and progress forward,” says Funsten.
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30. Pause step-up
How to do it: “Place your entire foot on a flat, stable surface so that your knee is in line with your hip crease. Lean forward, place your weight into the elevated heel, drive up 2 inches off the ground and pause for 2-3 seconds before completing the step up. Exchange legs at the top and descend to the ground with control,” says Funsten.
31. 3-2-1 tension squat
How to do it: “Take 3 seconds to lower to the bottom of your squat. Hold the bottom of your squat for 2 seconds. Power out of your squat in 1 second to the tall standing position and repeat,” says Funsten.
32. Gorilla squat jump
How to do it: “Set your feet up under your shoulders, angle your toes slightly out. Send your hips back and down into the bottom of your squat, keep your chest upright, and let your fingertips touch the floor in between your feet. Jump out of the bottom of your squat, open your hips up at the top, and softly land back in the bottom of your squat with control. Continue stringing your squat jumps together in multiples of 3, 4, 5, or 6 before resetting and repeating,” says Funsten.
33. Towel deadlift
How to do it: “Grab both ends of a bath/beach towel and start in a relaxed, tall, standing position. Actively pull the towel ends apart and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you slowly hinge your hips back – keeping tension on the towel at all times. Hold the bottom position for 3 seconds, and continue to hold tension through the towel as you come back to standing. Relax your grip on the towel before repeating,” says Funsten.
34. Vertical leap
How to do it: “Reach tall overhead and extend your arms past your hips as you load through the hinge. Using your arms for momentum, explode out of your hinge into your vertical leap with power and height. Land as soft as possible back in the loaded hinged position, snapping your hands past your hips to finish. Stand tall, and repeat,” says Funsten.
35. Inchworm pushup
How to do it: “Start in the tall standing position, push your hips back and find a forward fold toward the floor. Inchworm out into your tall plank (hips in line with your shoulders, midsection braced, and shoulders stacked on top of your knuckles). Perform 1-2 strict push ups: track your elbows back towards your heels and lower until your chest and thighs hit the floor. Walk your hands back towards your feet, stand tall, and repeat,” says Funsten.
36. Plank march
How to do it: “Start in your tall plank, and lower to your forearm plank with control (make sure to bring your hips with you!) Walk back up to your high plank, and repeat. Aim to keep your hips, torso, and shoulders as square to the floor throughout the transition,” says Funsten.
37. Lateral bear crawl
How to do it: “Set up in the tabletop position, with your knees at a 90 degree angle and hovering one inch off the floor. Your opposite arm and opposite leg will work together as you take 4 lateral steps back and forth from left to right. Keep your hips and shoulder aligned, back flat, and knees low to the ground,” says Funsten.
38. Slow-mo mountain climber
How to do it: “You’ll need two dish towels or socks and a flat/slick surface (such as a wooden floor). In the plank position, your toes will be on top of the towels or socks. Slowly alternate sliding each knee towards your chest in a see-saw pattern (with your feet in contact with the floor),” says Funsten.
39. Glute bridges
How to do it: “Lying on your back, bend at the knees, and plant your feet into the floor. Press into the floor with your feet to raise your hips, and squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. As you press, exhale gently to engage your abs, putting less pressure on your lower back,” says Davis.
How to do it: “Place one foot on a bench, box or step in front of you. Maintaining a tall posture, press off of the elevated foot with even pressure and step completely onto the bench. Lower your foot down as slowly as possible and avoid using momentum to ‘bounce’ off of the floor,” says Davis.
41. Reverse crunches
How to do it: “Lay on your back, holding on to a stable surface, or heavy kettlebell behind your head. Press your knees straight toward the ceiling, lifting your hips off of the floor, and slowly lower your body back to the floor,” says Davis.
42. Jumping jacks
How to do it: “Start by standing with your feet together. In one motion, jump your feet out to the side and raise your arms above your head. Immediately reverse the motion by jumping back to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions,” says Davis.
43. Wall sit
How to do it: “Sit with your shoulders and lower back pressed against a wall, bend your knees at 90 degrees and hold,” says Davis.
44. Crunch with double knee lift
“Lie on your back with the hands behind the head. Bend the knees and place the feet on the floor hip width apart. Perform a basic crunch by lifting the head and shoulder blades up off the ground. At the same time, lift your feet off the floor and pull your knees towards your chest. Slower lower the feet and head back to the starting position on the floor. Perform 10-20 reps of this exercise,” says Matsunaga.
45. Plank rocks
“Come into a plank position by placing the hands on the floor underneath the shoulders like you’re going to do a pushup. Step back onto the balls of your feet so that your legs are straight with your knees off the floor. Your body should make one straight line from the head, shoulders, hips, and heels. Perform a rocking motion forward and then back by shifting your weight back into your feet, and then forward into your hands. You should visibly be able to see the entire body rock forward and back. Rock forward and back 10-20 times,” says Matsunaga.
46. Barre arabesque toe taps
“Facing a chair, place your hands on the back of the chair for support. Extend one leg straight behind you with the toe pointed and kneecap turned out to the side slightly. Keep both legs straight. Squeeze the glutes and lift and lower the extended leg straight up and down behind you without tilting the hips forward. Perform 15-20 reps on each leg,” says Matsunaga.
47. Side lunge
“Start standing tall with the feet hip width apart. Step the right foot out to side as wide as possible. As you take the step, bend the right knee, push your hips back and keep the chest lifted as much as possible. Push off the right foot and step the right foot back into the starting position. Perform 10-15 reps on each leg,” says Matsunaga.
48. Fire hydrant
“Kneel on the floor with the hands under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Keeping the hips as still as possible, lift the right knee directly up to the side as you keep the knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower the knee back down to the starting position. Perform 15-20 reps on each leg,” says Matsunaga.
49. Second position plie
“Facing a chair, place your hands on the back of the chair with the legs in a wide stance. Your heels should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and the toes turned out to the side slightly. Keep the knees straight. Lift the heels up so that you are balancing on the balls of your feet like a dancer. Keeping the heels lifted, bend the knees and lower the hips down toward the floor into a plie position with the hips slightly higher than the knees. Be sure to keep your hips placed directly under the shoulders. Squeeze the glutes and inner thighs to straighten the knees and come back to the starting position. Perform 12-20 reps,” says Matsunaga.
50. Side lying inner thigh lift
“Lie long on your side with your head propped on your hand. Straighten your bottom leg along the floor so that your body is in one straight line. Bend the top leg and place your foot on the floor behind the bottom leg. Lift the bottom leg up off the floor 3-4 inches and hold for a couple seconds. Keep the leg straight. Lower back to the floor with control. Complete 12-20 reps,” says Matsunaga.
51. Double leg drop
“Lie on your back with your palms on the floor by your sides and the legs straight up in the air with the toes pointing towards the ceiling. Squeeze the thighs together and slowly lower the legs down towards the floor. Only lower the legs as low as you can while keeping the lower back pressed into the floor. Lift the legs back up to the starting position. Complete 12-20 reps,” says Matsunaga.
Next up, here are 75 at-home workout ideas.
- Beth Gold, NASM CPT, CFSC certified trainer for BoxUnion, BoxUnion Digital and TITLE Boxing Club
- Finley Funsten, personal trainer and general manager at the Charlotte strength-training gym, MADabolic
- Vytas Baskauskas, E-YRT 500, FitOn App senior trainer
- Kelly Matsunaga, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Fit by Coach Kel
- Ashley Joi, CPT at Centr
- Ridge Davis, CPT, owner of Ridgid Fitness in Los Angeles