Having a go-to list of bodyweight exercises is a must! Bodyweight workouts are truly great workouts that are easy to overlook if you’re a gym regular. And when it comes to picking exercises for our training, most of us think about the obvious barbell exercises like squats, deadlifts, and the bench press.
But, there is another set of fantastic and underutilized exercises that can elevate our training and add a lot of variety. These are your bodyweight exercises.
Below, we’ll go over what these movements are, what benefits they offer, and how to use them within our training. And, for dessert, we’ve also compiled a list of bodyweight exercises for you.
Ready? Let’s take a more in-depth look.
An Extensive List of Bodyweight Exercises
Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises.
There are others, but we always keep it simple and focus on the core fundamentals. The many other bodyweight exercises are variations of these core bodyweight exercises, and just not necessary.
We’ve categorized them based on the primary muscle group they train.
Chest and Shoulders (in order from hardest to easiest)
- Decline push-ups
- Wide-grip push-ups
- Classic push-ups
- Diamond push ups
- Bench push-ups (doing push-ups on a low table or bench)
- Incline push-ups (on a kitchen counter or even a wall so your body is more vertical — much easier push-up to do)
(Click to see a complete list of Pushups)
- Hand Curls
- Tricep dips – Traditional
- Tricep dips – Feet Elevated on a bench or a chair
- Tricep push-ups (also known as diamond push-ups)
- Hand Extensions
(Click to see more on Tricep Dips)
- Bodyweight squats
- Forward Lunges
- Calf raises (push up on the balls of your feet to the tippy-toe position)
- Pull-ups (with a pull-up bar)
- Chin-ups (with a pull-up bar)
- Bodyweight Back Extensions (Superman Stretch)
- Bodyweight Bridge
- Mountain Climbers
What Are Bodyweight Exercises And What Benefits Do They Offer
Bodyweight exercises, as their name suggests, are those in which we use our bodies as the resistance. For example, instead of pulling a weight down (e.g., lat pulldown), we pull our own body up (e.g., pull-up).
Both exercises train the same muscle groups, and both of them look similar enough. Yet, they are quite different from one another.
As far as benefits go, bodyweight exercises offer plenty, some of which include:
- You don’t need any equipment to do them. As long as you have your body and some free space, you’re good to go.
- The risk of injury is much smaller, especially when compared to weight lifting.
- According to research, bodyweight exercises are just as effective as weighted movements. (1)
- They are incredibly convenient – you can do them anywhere at any time.
- They are a fantastic addition to a good strength training program.
Always Remember to Warm-Up Well
Most people think that, because these are bodyweight exercises, we don’t need to warm-up much—big mistake.
You need to warm-up before any training, and this fully includes bodyweight workouts. Start with 2-3 minutes of low-intensity cardio to get your muscles warmed up and blood flowing.
Proceed with up to five minutes of dynamic stretching to thoroughly warm yourself up and prepare yourself for the workout.
It’s a small time investment, but the payoffs are enormous in the long run.
How To Structure Your Bodyweight Workouts
Just as you would go about structuring any other workout, you should start with larger muscles and more complicated exercises before moving to smaller muscles. (2)
Your large muscles are:
Your smaller muscles are:
So, for example:
Start with a push-up before doing tricep dips. Start with squats before doing calf raises. Start with pull-ups before doing bicep exercises.
Click to see more bodyweight workouts.
- Edward R. Laskowski, M. D. (2020, October 10). How to use your body weight for strength training. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/body-weight-training/faq-20147966#:~:text=Yes.,free%20weights%20or%20weight%20machines.
Leaf Group. (n.d.). Which muscle group should you work out first, larger or smaller? | livestrong. LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/471151-which-muscle-group-should-you-work-out-first-larger-or-smaller/