Bodyweight exercises are a great way to keep yourself fit and active. Often people put off their goals of joining the gym because of various reasons. Probably due to the lack of time, no gym nearby or the current pandemic situation. With bodyweight exercises, however, there are no excuses to stop you from kick-starting your fitness routine.
Bodyweight exercises improve your overall strength and conditioning. You don’t need any free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells) or gym equipment to perform bodyweight exercises. Here you are using your body weight as resistance.
Benefits of bodyweight exercises
A significant benefit of bodyweight exercises is that you can do them anywhere. From the comfort of your home or in a hotel room while travelling.
Cost and time effective
No expensive gym membership or hassle of managing the time for the gym.
Bodyweight exercises provide a full range of motion around the joints without putting a lot of stress on the joints, thereby increasing the flexibility of your muscles and joints.
Increases core stability
You have to maintain balance when performing bodyweight exercises; it activates your entire core muscles, making them stronger.
Here are the ten best bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere
1. Inverted rows
Inverted rows are like barbell bent over rows but in reverse. In a barbell bent over rows, you bring the barbell towards you. But, in inverted rows, you bring yourself up towards a rod. Like barbell rows, inverted rows are also a pulling movement that targets your back, biceps and traps. It’s a great alternative for pull-ups, as pull-ups can be challenging for beginners.
How to do inverted rows
- Place two solid chairs of the same height opposite each other with their backs facing each other. The distance between the chairs should be such that you can lie down in between them.
- Now place a sturdy wooden stick on top of the chair.
- Lie down on your back such that the wooden stick is in line with your clavicle (collar bone).
- Then hold the wooden stick with an underhand grip (palm facing inwards) at shoulder-width apart.
- Now, slowly pull your body upwards as high as you can. Your legs will be straight with heels on the ground. Your back should be in a neutral position (no sagging of hips).
- Gradually lower yourself back to the starting position.
Push-up is a classic and popular bodyweight exercise simply because it works. It’s a great exercise to train your chest. Along with your chest, it also targets your shoulder muscles and triceps. It also activates your core and back muscles isometrically. There are hundreds of push-up variations you can try as you will progress. If regular push-ups feel difficult, start with knee push-ups.
How to do push-ups
- Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width on the floor. Place your toes firmly on the ground.
- Keep your back straight and your core tight (squeeze your glutes and brace your abs to engage the core muscles).
- At the top position, your elbows will be locked, and arms parallel to each other. Also, your gaze should be 3-4 feet in front to keep the neck neutral.
- Now, take a deep breath and go down till your elbows are making a 90-degree angle.
- From the bottom position, explode back up until you are at the starting position. Exhale while coming up.
The squat is another great bodyweight exercise that works your entire lower body muscles, targeting your glutes, quadriceps, hamstring and calves. The squat targets the largest muscle groups of the body: therefore, it will help you burn plenty of calories. Also, it makes your quads and glutes strong. Plus, it also strengthens the knee joints, thus reducing the risk of injuries.
How to do squats
- Place your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width with toes pointing outwards at an angle of 30 degrees.
- Keep your back arched (push your chest out and brace your abs). Keep your hands at shoulder level, pointing straight in front.
- Inhale and go down with your hips pushing backwards and knee pointing outwards, in the direction of the toes.
- Lower yourself until your glutes are slightly below your knees. Make sure your knees don’t cross the line of your toes.
- Exhale and push your hips straight up to come back to your starting position. Your head should point 7-8 feet in front of you.
4. Plyometric Lunges
Like squats, this also targets your lower body muscles along with the core muscles. But it’s more explosive and requires a lot more coordination, thus increasing mobility and functionality. Many athletes incorporate this bodyweight exercise in their workout routine because of this reason.
How to do plyometric lunges
- Stand with one foot forward. The distance between the two legs should be slightly longer than your walking stride.
- Bend down your knees until they are at an approx 90-degree angle. Inhale while going down. Make sure your front knee doesn’t cross the line of your toe.
- Now jump straight up while exhaling. Swing your arms to maintain the balance while simultaneously switching your leg position in mid-air.
- Land gently on the floor with your knees bent.
Burpees is a dynamic and fast-paced bodyweight exercise that involves almost all the muscles of the body. It improves your endurance and conditioning, and you can burn a lot of calories.
How to do burpees
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down and place your hands slightly in front of your toes.
- Now, jump back to the starting position of the push-up.
- Do a Push-up.
- Then jump forward in a squat position with your hands still touching the ground.
- Jump up as high as you can with your hands over your head.
Inchworm is another bodyweight exercise that works your entire muscles.
How to do inchworm
- Stand straight with feet slightly apart.
- Bend down from your hips till your hands touch the floor, keeping your spine neutral (no roundness). Keep your knees soft. If the hamstrings are too tight, bend your knees a bit, but not too much.
- Slowly walk on your hands, away from your feet, till you reach the starting position of a push-up.
- Do a push-up (optional).
- Now slowly walk your feet towards your hands. Try to keep your knees straight as much as the flexibility of your hamstrings allow.
- Walk till your toes reach near your hands and then stand straight back up.
Plank may seem a tad bit boring to some as you will hold a lifted body position while staring at the stopwatch. Nevertheless, this bodyweight exercise packs a lot of benefits. Your entire body will be in isometric contraction actively, targeting your core muscles. It helps in improving the stability and posture of your body.
How to do the plank
- Start from the starting position of a push-up.
- Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms. Elbows should be directly under your shoulders. The body should form a straight line from head to the ankle (no raising or sagging of glutes).
- Squeeze your abdominals and tighten your whole body.
- Hold the position as long as possible.
8. Windshield Wiper
The windshield wiper combines leg lifts and trunk rotation. It requires balance and coordination. Also, it strengthens your abdominals, oblique and hip flexors.
How to do windshield wiper
- Lie down on your back on the floor with your feet together.
- Place your arms out in the shoulder line with palms facing down. Or you can hold something steady, like the foot of your bed over your head.
- Now raise both feet till it makes a 90-degree angle to the floor.
- Keeping your torso firm, slowly rotate your feet to the right till your toes touch the floor.
- Without resting, rotate your feet back to the previous position and go to the left till the toes touch the floor and circle back to the starting position. This whole movement is one rep.
9. Reverse Crunches
Reverse crunches strengthen your abdominal muscles. Regular crunches have more room to cheat as you can swing your arms to get extra momentum. But in reverse crunches, you will not get much room to cheat, and it will put more strain on your abdominals.
How to reverse crunches
- Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet together. Keep your hands alongside your body with your palms facing down.
- Keeping the knees bent, pull it towards your chest till your hips leave the floor.
- Then lower your knees down till your hips are almost touching the floor and repeat.
- Inhale while pulling your knees towards your chest and exhale while lowering.
10. Triceps dips
Triceps dips are an intense and effective bodyweight exercise that primarily targets your triceps along with the engagement of shoulder, chest and forearms. Even the veteran gym goers add this to their triceps routine to add more meat to their triceps.
How to do triceps dips
- Sit at the edge of a bed, chair or bench sturdy enough to hold your body weight.
- Place your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers pointing forward and elbows slightly bent.
- Now slide your glutes forward with legs extended in front and knees slightly bent.
- Inhale and slowly lower your body until your shoulders are slightly below the elbows. Your body should be close to the bench.
- Exhale and push back up to the starting position.
What is your favourite bodyweight exercise? Let me know in the comment section.