Bodyweight training is the most convenient and cost-efficient mode of training that exists. Period.
It requires no, or very little, equipment and can be done anywhere. It’s also a very efficient means of training as long as you know what movements to do. This article will walk you through the best bodyweight exercises for strength, core, and cardio and how to use them to reach your goals.
Top Bodyweight Exercises For Strength
Pushups are one of the best upper body exercises that exist; bodyweight or not. They are used by athletes, powerlifters, and average gym-goers alike due to their numerous benefits:
Strengthens your chest, shoulders, and triceps
Works the core. The pushup is just a plank that moves up and down!
They’re great for shoulder health!
Pushups are generally performed with your feet on the ground while lowering and pushing your body through a full range of motion. Depending on your ability, there are also several variations you can choose from to alter the intensity.
Incline pushups are done in the same manner as a traditional pushup except that your hands are placed on an elevated object. This puts the body at an angle that helps lighten the load of the body. The higher the object, the lighter the load.
Performing controlled negatives only focus on going down slowly, in a controlled manner. Once you hit bottom, you can get on your knees to get back in position. These are very effective as the negative portion is actually responsible for the majority of muscle growth and strength increase.
Tips for pushups!
Make sure to keep your elbows tucked to the body at a 45-degree angle. This will eliminate any problems with the shoulder
Do not let the hips sink! This puts excessive stress on your lower back
Maintain a straight line with your body
This movement is going to train your entire backside. While on your knees and hands, you will simultaneously lift a leg straight out along with the opposite arm. Make sure each limb is fully extended with a little pause. This will increase your mobility while strengthening your pulling muscles.
Tips For Bird Dog!
Aim to keep the entire body straight
Increase the intensity by lengthening the duration of the hold
Tried and true. This classic shoulder exercise from gym class is a great shoulder exercise for beginners. For strengthening, you want to keep the hands out extended with small circles. The intensity is simply increased by going longer.
Tips For Arm Circles!
Add extra movement to the exercise such as raising your arms out to the side and the front...but slowly!
The squat is the fundamental movement to strengthen your legs, even when just using your body! They will:
Increase strength in the hamstrings, thighs, and glutes
Burn a lot of calories!
Try box squats if you find full body squats difficult. They are performed by placing an object (a box or chair) behind you at approximately knee level. You then squat, tap the object with your butt, and squat back up. These are a useful tool to teach the proper form of a squat by providing a physical cue to hit. Choose an object that is a bit higher than your knees to decrease the range of motion if needed.
Tips for squats and box squats!
Make sure your knees always track your feet. They should refrain from caving in AS WELL as moving too far forward.
Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back, not bending your knees forward
Drop your shoulders straight down rather than coming forward
Use a doorway for assistance if needed
Hip bridges are the best bodyweight movement to target your glutes and hamstrings while also hitting your core. The hip bridge is performed by laying on the floor with knees bent. You then push down into the ground and thrust your hips up.
Elevated Hip Bridge
An elevated hip bridge is performed simply by placing your feet on an elevated surface, such as a couch. This will increase the range of motion and intensity.
Tips For Hip Bridges!
Concentrate on driving your heels down into the ground
Extend your hips until your body is entirely parallel
The Best Bodyweight Exercises To Train The Core
Planks are an extremely efficient and low-stress movement to train the entire core (this means the abs AND lower back). It is so effective because it trains these muscles the way they are designed to work; by preventing the movement of the body through isometric contractions.
Shoulder taps start in the pushup position. You then raise one hand and tap the opposite shoulder. This will add an anti-rotational aspect to the movement by forcing your body to resist leaning. You can go fast with your taps at first and gradually slow down, bracing with one arm for more extended periods.
Tips for planks and shoulder taps!
• Keep your body perfectly straight and your shoulders parallel with the floor, especially during shoulder taps
Dead bugs are similar to bird dogs, except now your laying on your back. Begin with your arms straight up and your legs up with knees bent; as if you’re kneeling into the sky. Now, extend one leg straight out (DO NOT touch the ground!) and extend one arm behind your head. Then repeat.\
The Best Body Weight Exercises For Cardio
You might feel silly when first doing this exercise. Don’t. Shadowboxing is the easiest way to get your heart rate up with no stress. Don’t worry too much about being able to throw the perfect hook as your main goal is to keep moving as fast as you can.
Basically stair climbing without going anywhere. Mountain climbers are an amazing workout to get your heart pumping. They are also going to work your chest, arms, and core, all at the same time.
How To Use These Exercises
Perform these exercises three times a week with at least one day of rest in between training days. The most efficient way to perform these exercises is in a circuit. Start by doing each exercise for 20-30 seconds (depending on your ability) followed by 15 seconds of rest to transition. You will also want to alternate the types of exercise:
Pushup (choose variation)
Hip Bridge (choose variation)
Squats (choose variation)
After you finish one circuit, rest 1-2 minutes and run through it again. You can continue depending on how much time you have.
Tips for running a circuit!
Try to increase the reps you are able to complete during the work time.
Once you can perform the exercises for the entire time, increase the work time OR decrease the rest time
Keep Aiming To Improve
Once you master these, you can move on to more advanced exercises. The key point is to ALWAYS be trying to improve. 1% better every day and you’ll reach your goals!