20 best body weight exercises

Written by susy sedano | 13/05/2017
20 best body weight exercises
You don't need a gym to experience a great workout. (Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

You don't need to go to your local gym to experience a great workout. These 20 exercises, recommended by fitness expert Amy Dixon, will hit every single muscle in your body and slash fat -- without any equipment.

Squat

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

One of the best exercises is also one of the most natural (just watch a baby sit). This movement works all of the muscles in the lower body including the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It also provides an extra kick for the core as you need your deep abdominal muscles and back to perform correctly.

Pushup

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

This is one of the best upper body exercises because it works everything from your chest to your back, your arms and even your abs. Make sure your shoulders line up with your wrists and you tuck your elbows towards your sides (and don’t flare out your elbows wide). Try to get your chest and hips as close to the floor as possible without touching.

Bridge

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

The bridge (also called a hip raise or extension) will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, while also working your abdominals, back and inner thighs. For a fun variation, lift your hips with your feet flat on the floor and slowly extend one leg long into the sky.

Lunge

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Start with feet together and arms resting comfortably by your sides. Step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your front knee is at 90 degrees and your knee is not touching the floor. Then, to complete the exercise, push off on your front right foot while straightening your left leg keep your RIGHT foot off the floor and balance with your right thigh parallel to your hip.

Plank

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

The plank has become one of the key go to exercises to define your core. If you are struggling to maintain the arms straight position try this exercise on your forearms and be sure to align your elbows and shoulders and keep your hips, heels and shoulders at the same height.

Triceps dip

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

This exercise targets the muscles on the back of your upper arms. If you find that you have wrist discomfort, try turning your hands to the side slightly to the side and or taking breaks to roll out your wrists. In order to target the back of your arms correctly be sure to have your hips as close to your arms or the edge of the chair as possible, otherwise your legs will do the work instead of your arms.

Single leg deadlift

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

This is one of the best hamstring, glute and core exercises, and it works the muscles on the backside of your body that are typically ignored. Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent, and without changing the bend in your knee, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s parallel to the floor. Pause, then return to the start. Do all reps, and then switch legs and repeat.

Spinal balance

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Come into a table top position on your palms and knees, making sure that your head and neck are a natural extension of the spine. Extend your right arm out directly in front of your shoulder, with your palm facing in slowly extend your left leg back behind you with your heel lifted and leg in alignment with your hips. Complete the exercise by bringing your right elbow in to touch your left knee while rounding up through your spine and tucking your chin into your chest. Return to the starting straight-arm and leg position.

Bicycles

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Bicycles create fire in the core because they require deep abdominal stabilisation and rotation. They also have been proven to activate more muscle fibers in the rectus abdominus and obliques then a standard crunch.

Kick downs

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

This core exercise can help you build a stronger back and make you less prone to injury. Make sure to keep your low back pressing into the ground the entire time and lower your legs as close to the floor as possible without allowing them to touch. To make this exercise easier, bend your knees. Or for more of a challenge, keep your legs straight.

Side lunge

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Most people only exercises in two planes: Up and down or forward and back. That’s what makes side lunges so effective — they train you laterally. This lunge variation is a great addition to any conditioning plan because it will work your muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments in a different pattern. To make this exercise more challenging add a side leg lift to the equation and feel your core kick in too.

Burpees

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

The great thing about burpees are that they combine cardio and strength into one exercise. A burpee is a complex total body exercise that will work your upper and lower body at the same time with a strong focus on the core. For an added cardio punch add a full standing jump into the mix before the squat.

Switch lunges

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

It's a simple but challenging way to tone and strengthen your entire lower body: quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and the anterior tibialis. Bonus: It also works the core and will help you jump higher and improve your power.

Pullup

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Performing a pullup is one of the most challenging body-weight exercises, and for a good reason: It works the muscles in your back, chest, shoulders, and arms like few others. If you can’t do a standard pullup, try an assisted pullup or complete a kipping motion to help yourself build up the strength necessary to complete this exercise without momentum.

Jumping Jack

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Sometimes jumping gets bad press but when it comes to increasing bone density it is a great thing. A jumping jack is one of the best plyometric exercises out there and it is a fantastic cardiovascular drill. If you're looking for a way to improve your quickness, this is the exercise.

Mountain climbers

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

One of the best core exercises you’ll find. This exercise combines the difficulty of a plank, deep core stabilisation and alternating knee drives towards your chest. The knee drives also increase your heart rate, which is the perfect way to flatten your abs and burn calories. It’s crucial that you maintain proper alignment throughout the exercise and keep your shoulders and wrists perfectly stacked.

Tuck jump

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

The tuck jump is an extremely powerful and fun exercise that will help you strengthen your entire body including your heart. It is also a wonderful way to improve your agility, power and increase your ability to jump higher.

Behind kicks

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Start standing hip-width apart, squat down low and fall forward onto your hands while kicking both heels to your glutes, push off of your hands and return to a standing crouched position.

Frog jumps

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

This exercise adds an element of power in the lower body that will get your heart rate up for a cardiovascular benefit and define the muscles in your lower body. Start in an athletic squat position and swing your arms back behind your hips, push off of your heels and jump forward, land, and immediately sink back down into a squat position and jump again.

Grand plie’ squat heel drag

20 best body weight exercises
(Photo Credit Ben Attridge)

Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed outwards. Lower down into a squat until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. As you push back up to a standing position slowly drag your left heel across the ground until it touches your right heel with your toes still turned out, slowly step out with your right foot returning right back to the squat position and then drag right heel to left. Repeat alternating the heel drags with the squat.

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