7 BEST BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES
Hey there buddy! Have you ever woken up to a beautiful morning where you’re pumped up and ready to hit the gym? With all that excitement and drive you enter to only find yourself being held-up by the corner because some dude is working on that bench you wish to hit your chest on, or maybe do some squats by the smith machine after the long wait is over. You might just give up and tell yourself, ”Tomorrow”.
But wait! You don’t have to skip your workout just because all equipment is grabbed. Your Body is enough to work your muscles and enough to shock them. In this article, I’ll elaborate 7 best bodyweight exercises that hit each and every muscle so you can have a super workout just by deploying your body weight and walk out of the gym like a boss!
We all at one point in our lives have done push ups. Well, sometimes you just might see one or two-year-old toddlers doing it for play. When we talk about fitness or exercising the most basic yet most effective exercise is Push-ups! This exercise is widely used by bodybuilders, gymnasts, sports persons and physiotherapists and has proven to show results over the years. I’m pretty sure you are well aware of it, however, there are things you just might discover about this exercise, while you traverse along this article.
Basically, Push-ups are categorized under Compound exercises. What it means is that it does not concentrate on a single set of muscles but attacks more than one set and you end up working out or isolating more muscles, which is a good thing for building mass as well as strength.
This exercise incorporates major upper body muscles which are your Pectoralis Major and Pectoralis Minor, Deltoid muscles (muscles in your shoulder), Triceps (muscles in the back of your arm), Biceps (muscles in the front of your arm), Rhomboid and Trapezus (muscles in your upper back) and Latissimus Dorsi (muscles on the sides of your body). In all Push-ups is primarily a full upper body exercise but a proper form requires strength and stability of core muscles including the abdominals and lower back, which leads to strengthening and development of these muscle groups too. Now since you know what push ups do, let us learn how to do it correctly.
Step 1: Face down on the floor with your body weight balancing on toes and palms with hands placed slightly wider than shoulders.
Step 2: Keep your legs and feet together and incorporate abs by tightening them. Tighten your glutes too.
Step 3: Keep your back straight and remember to not let it curve or sag downwards. Make sure your bottom is a little higher than the rest of your body.
Step 4: Lower yourself until your arms reach a 90-degree bend. Raise yourself by pushing yourself away from the floor. Do not lock your arms when the range of motion is complete. This eliminates the stress on your muscles.
Use your toes only to balance your body and always have a controlled motion. Do not fall while dwelling towards the floor, use muscles.
You have successfully performed a perfect Push-up! So the next time you don’t have access to bench press, do push-ups. Besides this, I highly recommend performing push-ups daily. Two sets of 20’s will boost your growth. Get in the corner and Push ’em all!
Similar to Push ups are Pull ups. Now when you go to the gym, you see meat heads lifting dumbbells and do bicep curls and go extremely heavy to put their testosterone to good use. But have you ever seen anyone do the equal number of pull ups as bicep curls? Most of the time, no! Because their arms aren’t developed enough. Doing proper pull ups requires good strength.
Pull-ups are one of the most effective upper body compound exercises that hits various muscles. It increases shoulder stability, upper body pulling strength and relatively a stronger chest. The best part about this exercise is, like push-ups, it can be performed anywhere for as long as you have a bar or some firm fixture to grab and hang on to. A variety of muscles is put to use when doing pull ups such as Latissimus Dorsi, Infraspinatus, Lower Trapezus, Pectoralis Major, Erector Spinae (muscle in your back) and External Oblique (muscles on the sides of your body). Pull ups are a great way to develop your core and abdominal muscles as you require them to keep your lower body stable.
Now there are two exercises that fall under pull ups, they are Pull-up itself and Chin-up. Although both work your back and biceps, chin-up has more emphasis on your bicep.
Here’s how you perform Pull-up/Chin-up.
Step 1: Grab a firm pull up bar (shoulder width or close grip) and hold it with your palms facing away from you.
Step 2: Firmly pull yourself towards the bar. Make sure to curl your legs backward from your knees, do not hunch your back. A good upright back is necessary.
Step 3: Pull yourself in a controlled motion. Don’t swing. This will take time and practice. Engage your core to maintain a good balance.
Step 4: Keep pulling yourself until your chin is just a little higher than the bar.
Step 5: Release pressure from your arms and come down in a controlled manner. Do not let go and fall downwards.
Step 6: Remember to fully extend your arms by almost locking your elbow.
To perform a Chin-up, repeat the above exercise but reverse the grips i.e. your palms must face towards you. Try a variety of grips. Wide, Super-wide and Close grips.
So, a lot of people have come up to me asking whether they should perform pull ups daily or on specific days. The pull-up isn’t your conventional single muscle workout. I personally end my workout with a set of pull ups and push ups so I work out a majority of my secondary muscles. I would highly recommend you to perform them daily. 2 sets of 10 repetitions will do. So grab onto that bar and Pull-Up!
Above mentioned are great upper body exercises you can do but, you need to have a good foundation to be a skyscraper. Legs! Your support, your vehicle and your defense in some cases. Ever wondered how strong they would be considering how much weight they carry and how many miles they take you each day, throughout the year? Hmm, not as much if you don’t do Squats. If you’re at the gym waiting for the leg press machine or a leg raise machine, don’t waste time my dear. Squat it.
Free Squats are very important for building your lower body strength, primarily your legs and the best part is you don’t require additional weights. Your body is sufficient enough to build strength and train your legs. This exercise can be performed anywhere for as long as there is a floor beneath you. An airplane is a good place too (even if the floor is flying!!). Well, it is almost hard to imagine a person not doing squats on a day to day routine. Sitting on a toilet seat, sitting on and standing up a chair, getting in the seat of a car or simply get out of your bed in the morning. You start your day with a squat, fitness freak!
Now squatting involves engaging a variety of muscles so it’s one of the best compound lower body exercises you can perform. Hamstring muscle situated between your pelvis all the way to your knee engages when your hip extends. It also works as a controlling arm to help you maintain your position by supporting your body weight. Quadriceps are 4 muscles situated on the front part of your thigh all the way from your hip to your knee, namely rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis. Gluteus Maximus is another large muscle located on the back of your hip and butt. This is often called as Glutes. It works with Hamstrings to provide strength and balance to your body. Besides these muscles, Core is also engaged unknowingly when you perform squats by keeping your spine erect and provide lumbar support. It prevents your back from curving as you bend.
Let’s learn to perform a perfect Squat.
Step 1: Place your feet a little wider than your shoulder width. Hips perfectly aligned with knees.
Step 2: Keep your back erect and try to maintain a neutral spine to avoid any injury or unnecessary stress.
Step 3: Stretch out your arms parallel to the floor to balance your body. Inhale and unlock your hips by bringing them back. Remember to keep your knee stationary and use it as a pivot point. Let your hip move backward.
Step 4: When you stick your hip out, keep your chest upright and back straight.
Step 5: Go as low as you can, try sinking your hips below your knees (This takes time and depends on your flexibility, just build it)
Step 6: Balance your body weight with heels and engage your core. Raise yourself by keeping your back straight at all times and without moving your feet.
You have successfully performed a perfect Squat.
As and when you feel you haven’t worked out your legs or even if you want to start or end your workout with a leg exercise, Squat. It’s the go-getter in the world of exercises I tell you.
Lunges are not much different from squats. They involve similar sets of muscles and are a quintessential to tone your legs whilst developing strength. It is relatively much simpler than squats as squats require more efforts to perfect balancing however, this is not the case with lunges. Since the benefits of lunges are quite similar to squats, I will now demonstrate variations in performing lunges.
These are lunges that you perform while walking, so you just might have to leave your spot and get some fresh air. This is a great exercise to increase your flexibility as well. Here’s how you do it,
Step 1: Stand upright with both your feet together and take a step forward, say your left leg. Now lower your hips towards the floor by bending your knees to a perfect 90-degree angle. Your back knee must point downward at this point but not touch the ground. Your front knee should coincide with your ankle of your front foot.
Step 2: To rise back up, apply force on your left heel and lift off the ground and push with your right leg (the one with knee facing down).
Step 3: Bring your right leg forward and repeat the same for both legs.
Make sure to have a controlled motion throughout the exercise. It takes some time to balance between two legs but once you get a hang of it, you’d be lunging your way almost everywhere you walk.
Reverse or Step-back lunges is just another iteration of simple lunges but is highly underrated. Some simply neglect this exercise. It’s great to work on your balance and that can only be done when you train yourself enough. Here’s how you go about it,
Step 1: Stand upright with both your feet together, similar to that of walking lunges.
Step 2: Now lift your left leg and place it in the reverse direction, behind you. Lower your hip with your back upright and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle with your back knee facing the floor.
Step 3: To raise yourself apply pressure on your front leg’s heel.
Step 4: Repeat the process for the other leg.
Lunges might sound too straightforward and simple and believe me they are. But what’s fascinating is how effective they can be even if you add them to your cardio or simply do a short and sweet couple of sets of 10 or 20 reps. You’re all set to work those legs now.
When we talk about increasing core and abdominal strength, there is no better exercise than Crunches. Crunch is an anaerobic, strength-training exercise that does not contribute to weight loss but what it does is strengthen your core. It’s a good compound exercise which labors multiple muscles around your stomach region.
The Rectus Abdominis, a muscle that runs from your rib cage to pubic bone, the internal and external oblique, the transversus abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle which runs horizontally across the torso are developed while performing crunches. Doing crunches will also help you flatten your belly if performed on a regular basis.
There’s not much thought put into this one.
Step 1: Lie down with your knees raised up and hands behind your head.
Step 2: Raise your upper body by applying pressure on your abs/core.
Step 1: Lie down flat with your hands behind your head.
Step 2: Raise your upper body with pressure on your abs and twist your body to the left side simultaneously.
Step 3: Repeat the same for the next repetition by turning towards the right.
This is one of the most difficult bodyweight exercises but, it does help you build strength a lot faster.
Step 1: Lie down flat on the floor with hands stretched out right beside your waist
Step 2: Raise your legs to an angle of about 45-degrees and hold them there.
Step 3: Now perform your normal crunch but stretch your arms ahead of you as you raise your upper body to maintain balance.
This exercise will definitely help you develop abs and get results soon if you’re consistent enough.
Crunches are one of the easiest ways to get a flat, toned and a muscular abdominal region. Who says you need dumbbells or barbells. Just get on with your weight and build yourself mate!
The dip is a strength building exercise usually done to build either triceps or chest. Now there are two variations to do this. Let’s understand them individually.
1. Dips for Chest
Generally, dips are considered as the King of upper body workouts just like deadlifts are for your lower body. Want a super broad and muscular chest? Dips. This exercise defines your chest and builds the strength of your pectoralis major (primary muscle in this exercise). It works your pectoralis minor, anterior deltoid and rhomboid muscle in shoulders. Trapezius muscle in your back acts as your stabilizer muscle during dips.
Chest dips are performed on specially designed parallel bars that are wider than your shoulder width. They are almost present in every gym.
Here are steps to perform chest dips,
Step 1: Grab the parallel bars and hoist yourself up and look straight ahead. Engage your core to maintain balance and avoid swinging.
Step 2: Now keep your elbows close and dip till your triceps are parallel to the ground. (This might take practice).
Step 3: You can cross your legs and roll them up backward from your knees.
Step 4: To raise up, apply pressure on your arms and chest. Push from your palms onto the bars.
Step 5: Repeat!!
2. Dips for Triceps
To develop good definition and strength, triceps dip is a great exercise to engage your triceps as a primary muscle and also pectoralis chest muscle as your stabilizer muscle. This exercise can be performed on a bench for beginners and as you advance you can do this between two leveled surfaces and place your legs on one and arms on the other. This makes dips a bit more challenging.
Perform Triceps dips,
Step 1: Sit on the bench with your arms beside your body with your fingers facing forward. Now stretch your legs in front of you.
Step 2: Take a dip with your back moving straight towards the ground. Do not curl your back.
Step 3: Stop until your arm reaches a 90-degree angle. To raise yourself, reverse the motion by applying pressure on your palms. Do not use legs to lift your body.
The next time someone shows you heavy weights, you show them dips. It’s Ironoid’s favorite, to be honest.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I know you don’t feel like working out much or want to just go light on everything. That great Sunday morning you just want to lay in bed and not hit the gym in the morning like you usually do. But, much like me, you’re a fitness freak and you’ll rebuke yourself throughout the day if you skip your workout and go on a guilt trip. There’s a solution for this. Burpeeeeeees!
Burpees is the King of all exercises as it works out all the muscle groups. Yes, All!! You might think I’m probably joking but I was as surprised as you are when I first read about it. I performed this exercise and man, what an exercise. Too much suspense right?
Let’s get right into it.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width wide, abs and core tight and your shoulders back.
Step 2: Now, just like you squat go extremely low. At this point make sure your hands are wider than your knees. Smoothly place them on the ground like you would in a push-up.
Step 3: Once you’ve reached as low as you can, apply body weight on your arms and push your legs back and take a form of the push-up.
Step 4: To come back up, reverse the action by pulling your legs back to the squat position. You might just mildly hop or pump to bring your legs in front.
Step 5: Raise yourself and un-do the squat. REPEAT REPEAT and REPEAT.
Burpees is a great way to increase flexibility and build good stamina as well as lose fat if you increase your repetitions gradually. Burpee might seem too energy consuming, and to be honest, it is. But don’t let that stop you. This is a great way to strengthen your body and I’m pretty sure you would do it.
Here we are together, loaded with knowledge. It takes motivation and dedication to get results. Just work hard and keep up with us and I’ll make sure you get the best fitness content and all the motivation you need.
Remember, it’s never about what destination you want to reach, but how you get there.
Be an IRONOID!!