Exercising is possible to do anywhere at any time. You do not need fancy equipment or special gear to get a good workout. Going to a gym is an excellent way to get a variety of exercises and strength training all at once in one place. However, going to the gym is not always possible, and sometimes just feels like too much work. For the times when you just want a good workout without all the hassle of hitting the gym, here are some of the best bodyweight exercises!
Many people dislike doing these because they can really work out your body fast. Doing burpees is not difficult but they are often done incorrectly. To do a burpee the right way follow these instructions:
Stand up straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart and arms hanging at your side. Bend your legs and get down into the squat position, put your hands on the ground and jump your legs backward landing them on the toes. Bring your feet back underneath you and jump up.
The trick to doing it correctly is to keep your back straight without letting it sag and arch downward. You can master the burpee with a little practice, and you will feel like you had a great workout after just a few minutes.
Everyone loves push-ups. They work just about every muscle in your body and will give you some nice cardio as well. These can be done just about anywhere although you may get some strange looks if you just drop and start rocking some in the grocery store.
Push-ups will strengthen your muscles, but did you know they are good for stretching as well? When you are doing push-ups, you are stretching your lower back and biceps repetitively without realizing it. This is great for those muscle groups to get stretched and worked at the same time.
To properly do a pushup, get face down on the ground and extend your arms with your hands flat in front of you. Keep your back straight and lower your chest to the ground and come back up. During the movement try not to push your butt up in the air (it happens all the time). Push-ups with a straight back are going to work way more muscles than if you point your fanny up. Push-ups are great for your upper body, but if you want to increase your muscle mass even more you should try battle ropes!
Lunges are excellent bodyweight exercises for building muscle mass and require no equipment at all. Just using the weight of your own body, you can get a full workout in not very much time by focusing on lunges. Lunges will work many muscles including:
This exercise comes with some surprising benefits, including:
Improving balance– Because you are using one part of your body at a time, lunges train each part to balance independently.
Better flexibility in hips- While you are doing lunges you are stretching your hip muscles. The repetitive process of stretching out each leg is also releasing the tension in your hips.
Good for your spine- Many of the bodyweight exercises in this list put some extra weight on your back, while lunges give your back a break. Relaxing your back a little bit during exercise happens automatically while doing lunges.
To do a lunge, start by standing up. Relax your shoulders and point your chin slightly upward. While keeping one leg where it is, lower your body down until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Take care that the nonmoving knee does not hit the floor. Each time you complete this motion, you can count it as one lunge. Lunges are especially good for training your legs, but for serious runners, a treadmill just cannot be beaten for overall effectiveness.
There are a few different kinds of planks, but we will focus on the most popular which is the forearm plank. Planks are stability exercises that are done in the pushup position facing the ground. No motion is needed during a plank.
Planks come with some excellent benefits to your strength and overall health. Here are some of the best benefits of planking:
- Great for your abdominal muscles- Because planking engages all the big muscle groups in your core, doing this exercise as part of your workout will lead to a more defined stomach.
- Excellent for the back- Planking is amazingly effective at strengthening the back muscles. Both your upper and lower back muscles are engaged during planking. Stronger back muscles will lead to fewer injuries or muscle sprains. Also good for the back (but can be expensive) are rowing machines.
- Metabolic boost- You will increase your metabolism by planking. Holding a pose while stationary is a well-known way to engage a large number of your muscles at one time. Engaging multiple muscles at once trains your body to metabolize fat faster to nourish those muscles.
To do a forearm plank, get down in the pushup position. Lay on your forearms instead of leaning flat on your hands. Your elbows should be on the ground. Your weight should be on your elbows, toes, and forearms. Hold the position for as long as you like, do not go too long.
Mountain Climbers (Running Planks) Bodyweight Exercise
This is a great bodyweight exercise. Many runners love doing mountain climbers, or running planks because it increases raw power which is important for sprinting or long runs. Runners are not the only athletes to benefit from this exercise, it will benefit anyone that wants to get in shape and become stronger. Some of the best reasons to do mountain climbers are:
- Building endurance- Mountain climbers will work your cardiovascular system hard, building endurance.
- Increase core strength- Because of the motions used during this workout the core muscles are engaged. This increases the strength of the stomach, lower back, and other core muscle groups when done consistently.
- Stabilization- You will gain more stabilization as you get used to doing mountain climbers. The repetitive motion of stretching one leg out simulating climbing trains the body to balance itself much better.
- Burning calories- If you do these fast or for a prolonged period, it will provide a serious workout that will have you sweating and burning off a lot of calories.
To do mountain climbers start off in the plank position and distribute your weight as evenly as you can across your hands and feet. Make your back flat and see that your hands are shoulder-width apart. Pull one of your knees to your chest getting it as close as possible, and then switch legs repeating on the other side.
Groiners will work your hip flexors and butt muscles as well as stretch and working your hamstrings. This exercise will also burn significant amounts of fat and give you a nice cardio workout. There some important benefits that groiners will offer, here are the most impactful:
- Requires only bodyweight, no expensive equipment
- Great for cardio while also building coordination
- Very dynamic exercise which increases explosive strength bursts
- Increases lower body flexibility
To do groiners start off as if you were going to do push-ups, in the same position. With both legs jump forward and land with both your feet near your hands being sure to keep your head raised as you jump them. After the jumps return your legs to the beginning position like a pushup.
Mountain climbers and groiners are not the same!
Groiners are often mistaken for being the same exercise as mountain climbers, but these are different exercises! Groiners end up with your feet more open on either side of your hands, while mountain climbers resemble running in the plank position. Another key difference is that you want to pause between reps with groiners at least 2 seconds for each leg. Mountain climbers are done in more of a continuous motion. They each target the legs but groiners also give the hip flexors and glutes are a great workout. Both are good cardio exercises, however.
Standing Long Jump
The standing long jump is a bodyweight exercise you can do almost anywhere, just make sure you have some space in front of you, or you will be crashing into walls. The standing long jump is exactly like it sounds; you jump as far as you can from a standing position. This exercise provides some significant benefits to your body such as:
- Increases agility and overall flexibility- Any kind of jumping teaches your muscles to be nimbler because you must land. You do not want to tip over and fall so you will learn to be more agile as you jump and land. This activity also stretches your back and legs making you much more flexible over time.
- Trains you for explosive power bursts-Getting your bodyweight off the ground requires burst energy. When you repeatedly use high-intensity energy to get your entire body off the ground, it becomes easier over time as your muscle memory gets used to how much strength is needed.
- Improve your body’s balance- Because of the air factor, your body instinctively searches for stability for the landing component of the exercise. Doing this in repetitions over time will train your brain and muscles to be more stable, and balanced.
- Builds muscle mass quickly- Your entire body gets launched in the air. This is not easy to do for your legs. Doing these jumps will help you gain lean muscle mass faster than many other activities.
- Helps prevent injury- By landing on your feet over and over, your bones will get stronger. Your ankles and feet will build muscle around the joints which helps prevent future injury. Think of it as wrapping your joints in a supporting tape, but instead of tape it is your muscle.
To do a standing long jump, start off by standing up straight with your feet. Swing your arms back and build your momentum, then bend your legs and launch yourself in the air as far as you can. When you are about to land bend your knees and let your legs absorb the weight.
Arm circles are deceptive little exercises. It appears when you are watching them being done that nothing is happening! There are no weights involved and they do not seem to require a ton of energy to do. This is just not accurate! This exercise when done correctly for a long enough time is an incredibly difficult workout for your shoulders and every muscle in your arms.
There are some important reasons to do this, but here are the top benefits of arm circles:
Stretching your shoulders- This will stretch your shoulder muscles forward and backward, leading to more limber and healthy muscles in your shoulders.
Shoulder muscle toning- Arm circles work your shoulders, which will help them become more pronounced and toned while adding muscle mass.
Good for healing rotator cuff- If performed correctly, this exercise will gently massage the tissue surrounding your rotator cuffs and strengthen the muscles needed to heal. This is a painful injury to have and arm circles are amazingly effective at making the healing process go faster.
Arm circles may not be impressive to watch, but if you add them to your routine you will see noticeable improvements in your shoulder muscles and form.
The inchworm is a full-body exercise that requires nothing but you and your bodyweight. This exercise involves a little bit of the plank form, which is when you are in the pushup position. The inchworm will give you some great benefits, here are the top 2:
- Excellent for warming up- Because you will be stretching many muscles at once, this is a great way to start your routine. Your muscles will be nice and limber for the rest of your workout.
- Helps stabilize your muscles- As you go into and come out of the plank position, you are using many muscle groups at the same time. This repetitious action will build your stabilization muscle memory as you go along.
To do an inchworm, start from the standing position and reach down to the ground in front of your toes. Then walk your hands forward away from your feet. This places you into a position like a plank. Now step your feet toward your hands and lift your body back up to the standing position.
Bodyweight Exercises- Summary
As you have learned here, you do not have to spend money on machines or gear to get a great workout anywhere. Many of the most effective workouts that bring the best results have nothing to do with gyms or gear. Just using your body and motion you can get a killer cardio workout and build muscle mass and flexibility. Of course, going to the gym is still beneficial, but do not think just because you are at home that you cannot have an awesome workout!