50 Best Bodyweight Exercises: Make Gains Anywhere
It’s no wonder bodyweight training has only grown in popularity. Convenient, with the ability to be performed anywhere and the need for little-to-no equipment makes it an easy choice for those wanting to build a little muscle, burn a little fat and get in phenomenal shape. Plus, bodyweight training allows you to build real, full-body strength which is difficult to accomplish on a machine.
Below are 50 of the best bodyweight exercises that can be performed virtually anywhere.
50 Best Bodyweight Exercises
1. Push-ups – As the granddaddy of bodyweight training the timeless push-up gets little love but is highly effective stimulating your pecs, shoulders, and triceps along with core activation. A must to include in any program.
2. Feet-elevated push-ups – Placing your feet on a bench increases the intensity and shifts some focus to your upper pecs. Start with a low bench or elevation and then progressively increase the angle as your strength develops.
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3. Plyometric push-ups – Adding a power element to your chest training is another unique way to develop strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps. Start with your hands placed on a high bench and then lower in gradually as you get stronger.
4. Diamond push-ups – Great as a triceps builder, a close hand placement also stimulates your pecs a bit differently as well. Be sure to keep your elbows close to your sides and focus on flexing your arms during the movement.
5. Parallel bar dips – Another chest and triceps builder, the dip is a powerful and impressive exercise that can give your entire upper body strength and stability. Perform a full range of motion.
6. Ring dips – Rings add an extra challenge to the dip. Since they provide an unstable aspect your body, especially your arms, shoulders and chest, will have to work overtime to complete reps.
7. Bench dips – Bench dips are a bit easier to perform than a bar or ring dip since you are stabilized. Be sure not to drop below 90 degrees at the elbows as this can risk shoulder injury.
8. Pull-ups – Another staple of any bodyweight training program the pull-up can be challenging but highly effective. If you have a hard time at them simply add one rep per week to your routine.
9. Inverted rows – As a great alternative to barbell rows, inverted rows give you the most bang for your buck without lower back strain. You can perform these in a Smith machine, squat rack or anywhere there is a parallel bar a few feet from the floor.
10. TRX rows – The TRX suspension trainer is a highly versatile piece of equipment. Perform these as you would an inverted row. The independent handles will have you working harder to help stabilize your body.
11. Chin-ups – A chin-up, as opposed to a pull-up, simply has you reversing your grip on the bar where your palms face you. This puts the biceps in a stronger position as some will find this version a bit easier to perform.
12. Wide-grip pull-ups – To give yourself an even greater challenge taking a wider grip on the pull-up bar stresses more of your upper lats and gives you that wide look.
13. Side-to-side close-grip pull-ups – Take a close parallel grip on a pull-up bar. As you pull yourself up pull to one side of your chest for one rep, lower to the bottom and then pull to the other side of your chest.
14. Feet-elevated inverted rows – To make inverted rows a bit more of a challenge simply place your feet on a bench to increase the angle of stress.
15. Bulgarian split squats – Place your rear foot on a bench and squat down with your front leg. Be sure to keep your knee in line with your foot. Lower until your knee is an inch or so from the floor.
16. Single-leg TRX squats – Much like the Bulgarian split squat this version has you placing your rear foot in a suspension trainer for less stability.
17. Lunges – Forward lunges add a ballistic aspect to your leg training since you have to “launch” from the bottom position. You can perform one at a time or alternate legs.
18. Pistol squats – Difficult for many the pistol squat is best started while descending to a bench for support. Increase your range of motion over time.
19. Lateral lunges – Side lunges are another great way to attack our legs from a unique angle. As with traditional lunges be sure to keep your knee in line with your feet with each rep.
20. Reverse lunges – These target the quads a bit more than forward lunges. Imagine you are on train tracks to keep your form in check.
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21. Walking lunges – As much more of a dynamic motion walking lunges give you the advantage of continuous tension. Try not to descend to quickly and avoid banging your knee to the ground.
22. Prisoner squats – The simple prisoner squat (aptly named for putting your hands on your head) is a great way to include as much range of motion as possible.
23. Box jumps – Adding a plyometric element to your lower body training will give you a unique stimulus for building muscle and burning fat. Avoid jumping off of the box. Step down.
24. Depth jumps – Depth jumps have you walking off of a box, landing in a squat position and then exploding from a jump. It builds serious power.
25. Jump squats – Jump squats give you another reason to get explosive. And squarely and give every rep the most power you can muster.
26. Step-ups – With step-ups be sure to take each step carefully and deliberately. Too much speed and rushing through will risk a fall and possibly injury.
27. Russian leans – Also known as the glute ham raise Russian leans are the ultimate strength builder for hamstrings. Fix your ankles under a bar or have a partner hold your feet.
28. TRX leg curls – The TRX suspension trainer will again provide instability making your hamstrings and glutes work overtime.
29. Flex ball leg curls – As another alternative to the leg curl machine, performing them on a flex ball (or exercise ball) challenges many supportive muscle as well.
30. Single-leg calf raises – Any single leg exercise gives you the advantage of focusing on each leg independently. This also allows you to use little-to-no weight as your body provides plenty of it.
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31. Squat calf raises – Squat down into the bottom position so your calves meet your hamstrings. While staying in this position perform calf raises slowly and deliberately. Squeeze at the top.
32. Calf jumps – For calf jumps avoid simply hopping. Instead attempt to jump with your calves only keeping your knees partially locked with a slight bend.
33. Standing floor calf raises – It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Just keep your feet parallel to each other and raise your heels off the floor. Perform reps of up to 100 and you’ll feel the burn.
34. TRX curls – Who says you can’t use bodyweight exercises to build great arms? Avoid flaring your elbows out to the sides and keep them close to your head during the motion.
35. TRX triceps extensions – The suspension trainer triceps extension can also be seen as a bodyweight nosebreaker of sorts. Keep your elbows by your head and go slow and steady while keeping a straight line with your entire body.
36. Pike presses – For those who cannot perform a handstand push-up pike presses do the trick. Over time you’ll develop enough strength and stability for the handstand version.
37. Handstand push-ups – As noted before the handstand push-up requires a great deal of strength and stability. Practice with a partner to perfect your form.
38. Hyperextensions – If you don’t have a hyperextension bench available simply lie over a normal bench and stabilize your feet or have your training partner hold them for you.
39. Supermans – Lie face down on the ground while raising your arms and legs from the floor and using your lower lumbar and core to stabilize. Hold for a count.
40. Planks – The plank is great to stimulate stability and strength in your abdominal wall as well as internal and external obliques.
41. Side planks – As another effective version of the plank side planks challenge your obliques, intercostals and serratus.
42. Windmill planks – Assume a side plank position and extend your arm and leg that are not planted to the floor out into the air.
43. TRX planks – Of course suspension trainers make any plank move that much harder. Perform the regular plank first before moving on to this advanced version.
44. Floor crunches – Done anywhere it doesn’t get any more basic than crunches. Avoid bouncing and try holding the top position for a count.
45. Lying leg lifts – Another convenient ab builder the lying leg lift is great for stressing the lower abs.
46. Hanging leg lifts – The hanging version of the leg lift will make your abs work overtime since they will have the job to stabilize your entire core.
47. Hanging twisted leg lifts – Adding a twist to the hanging leg lift begins to involve the obliques to a greater degree and cranks the intensity up a notch.
48. Windshield wipers – Lie on the floor with your arms out to the sides for stability. Lift your legs toward the ceiling and twist them from side to side. Go slow and controlled to feel the effects.
49. Bicycle crunches – The bicycle crunch is a comprehensive ab builder that includes the upper and lower areas as well as the obliques.
50. Dragon flags – Reserved for the more advance trainer dragon flags are a true test of strength and stability. Start with the bent leg version before moving on to straightening your legs gradually.