When it comes to working out, there are all sorts of different options available. Some people prefer to go to the gym, where they can use weights and other equipment. Others prefer to workout at home, using their own body weight for resistance. And still others like to do a combination of both.
If you're short on time or don't have access to weights, bodyweight exercises can be a great option. When done properly, they can be just as effective as workouts that use weights. Plus, they're often more convenient and require no equipment.
There are all sorts of different bodyweight exercises you can do, let's look at which ones are the most effective.
Workout for Beginners
Bridge - As any fitness enthusiast knows, warming up before a workout is essential for preventing injuries. A common way to warm up is to do some light cardio, such as walking or jogging. However, another great way to get your body ready for exercise is to activate your core and posterior chain with a bridge. This exercise helps to engage all the muscles in your back and abdominals, preparing them for a more strenuous workout. To do a bridge, simply lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Then raise your hips off the ground, keeping your back straight. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times. Accompany this exercise with a resistance band around the top of your knees and you'll be sure to feel the burn in your muscles!
Chair Squat - Squatting is a great way to strengthen your legs and core, which will make everyday movements easier. Starting with a chair underneath you will help you master proper form. When you've got the hang of it, move on to doing bodyweight squats without the chair. Remember to keep your chest up and spine straight as you lower down, and drive through your heels to stand back up. As you get stronger, you can add weight by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest. Mastering the squat will not only make things like picking up groceries or getting in and out of a car easier, but it'll also reduce your risk of injury in the long run.
Knee Pushup - A pushup is a simple yet effective exercise that can be done almost anywhere. Though often thought of as a move for experienced exercisers, a beginner-style pushup is a great way to build strength and prepare for a standard pushup. To do a beginner-style pushup, start in a high plank position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the ground, then press back up to the starting position. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the movement. As you become stronger, you can begin to add more challenging variations, such as placing your feet on an elevated surface or doing one-arm pushups. With time and practice, you'll be able to execute perfect pushups like a pro!
Stationary Lunge - The stationary lunge is a great exercise for targeting the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. To do the exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with one leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Be sure to keep your front knee directly over your ankle, and your back knee from going too far forward. From this position, push off with your front leg to return to the starting position. Repeat the movement with your other leg. You can also add dumbbells to the exercise to make it more challenging.
If you’re looking to take your workout to the next level, these intermediate moves are a great place to start. complete 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise, then move on to the next after 1 minute of rest. An alternative, more advanced approach is to complete timed rounds. For instance, complete 1 minute of each exercise and repeat the circuit twice. Compete against yourself to get just 1 or 2 more reps each time you complete the routine. These moves will help you build strength and endurance, so you can keep pushing yourself to reach new fitness goals.
Single Leg Bridge – Taking any exercise to a single leg automatically makes it more challenging. By lifting one foot off the ground and keeping your leg bent, you automatically increase the difficulty of the exercise. As a result, you’ll work overtime to maintain your balance, which will lead to a better workout. So next time you’re looking for a challenge, try adding a single-leg element to your workout routine.
Squat – Yes, we are back to that squat again. This time without the chair. The same motion is still applicable here, though. Imagine you’re sitting down in a chair by hinging at the hips and pushing your bottom back. This movement is typically performed when picking something up off the ground as well. To properly execute this movement, hinge at the hips keeping a relatively flat back, and send your butt back like you’re attempting to sit in an invisible chair behind you. Doing this will keep your lower back from rounding over, and place most of the load on your posterior chain muscles rather than your spinal erectors. You should feel a pull in your hamstrings as they stretch eccentrically while simultaneously performing a concentric contraction to return to the upright position. The glutes are also heavily involved in this movement pattern as they extend the hip.
Pushup - Instead of starting in a low plank with your knees on the ground, begin in a high plank with your feet shoulder-width apart. From there, lower your body down until your chest nearly touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position. You'll notice that this version is more difficult than a knee pushup because you have to support your entire body weight with your arms. However, it's an excellent way to build strength and improve your pushups form. Just be sure to keep your elbows flared out at a 45-degree angle to avoid putting too much strain on your shoulders.
Walking Lunge - Traveling lunges are a great way to add some variety to your workout routine. Not only do they help to improve your balance and stability, but they also challenge your muscles in new ways. To perform a traveling lunge, start with your feet together and step forward with your right leg. Lunge down until your right thigh is parallel with the ground, then stand up and repeat with your left leg. You can make the exercise more challenging by holding dumbbells or a barbell in each hand.
Bridge With Leg Extended - Try this variation of the bridge exercise to really work those glutes. Instead of both feet on the ground, start with just one foot planted firmly. Lift the other foot off the ground and extend it straight out in front of you. Keeping your foot flexed, raise your hips until your thighs and torso are in line with each other, then hold for a count of two. Lower yourself back down to the starting position and repeat. Be sure to complete the same number of reps on both sides. Strengthening your glutes will help you power through challenging workouts and improve your overall athletic performance.
Overhead Squat - The simple act of extending your arms overhead while squatting requires a great deal of coordination and flexibility, both of which will be improved with practice. In addition, the overhead
squat is also an excellent way to build strength and stability in the lower body. By engaging the muscles of the legs and hips throughout the movement, you can effectively work to increase strength and power. Ultimately, the overhead squat is a well-rounded exercise that can provide benefits for both the upper and lower body. Give it a try the next time you hit the gym!
One-Legged Pushup - To do a one-legged pushup, start in a pushup position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift one leg off the ground and hold it in the air, then lower your body down until your chest nearly touches the ground. Push back up to the starting position and repeat. You can make this exercise more challenging by holding a weight in your non-working hand, or by placing your working foot on an elevated surface.
Jumping Lunges - Jumping exercises are a great way to get your heart rate up and build power and strength. Often known as plyometrics, these exercises require you to give it your all for a short interval of time. Because they are so demanding, you will quickly feel the burn. Adding a jump to your lunge is a great way to challenge yourself. When you explode up on each rep, you will really feel the difference. Not only will your heart rate be increased, but you will also notice an improvement in your power and strength. Give it a try next time you are looking for a challenging workout!
Everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs can become more difficult as we age. This is often due to a loss of muscle strength in the legs and core. However, there are some simple exercises that can help to prevent this muscle loss and keep us moving strong into our later years. Any variation of squatting, lunging, pushups, or bridges can help to improve our balance and coordination, making us less likely to fall. So next time you're looking for a way to stay active and independent as you age, try adding these workouts to your routine.