Top Bodyweight Exercises
Well, as promised in my previous blog post about home-workouts, I am going to give you some tips on doing a workout at home with absolutely no equipment at all! Yes – it can be done, and you can get fit and build muscle by doing so.
You aren’t going to be able to build as much bulk by doing home workouts, but it is still a great way to stay (or get into) shape without the cost of a gym and can take barely any time if you want it to. The great thing about the bodyweight workout is also that you don’t have to do it at home, you can do it anywhere – on holiday, at the gym, at home, at a friend’s, outside (you get the point).
Another big advantage of bodyweight workouts is that they give you great functional strength. By this I mean that it makes all your everyday tasks easier, as it builds strength with your own body, so incorporates a lot of everyday movements and activities (OK, you aren’t usually going to be a position where you are doing handstand push-ups, but it does help with everyday lifting of things).
A further advantage is the amount of core strength it builds because you are using your body as the main weight (and for some of us, me included, that can sometimes be quite heavy!) - it really means the majority of the movements involve engaging your abs. If you want to see some great examples of this, then look up some calisthenics athletes and the kind of things they can do, it all looks amazingly impressive and, I’m sure you will agree, they certainly don’t look weak or unfit. I personally use some of the exercises on a weekly basis in my full body workout, and they definitely increase my all round strength.
So, let’s get down to business - what are some of the best bodyweight exercises? Well aren’t you lucky, I’m about to tell you some of my favourites!
Pike Push-ups / handstand push-ups (Shoulders)
Shoulders are one of the harder ones to do without weights, however, it is possible! A pike push up works by getting your bum as high to the sky as possible, but still supporting your bodyweight with your feet (similar to the downward dog position in yoga). You essentially do an upside down V with your body. Then slowly, keeping the legs straight, lower your head towards the floor and then push back up. The handstand push-up works in a similar fashion. If you haven’t got a rock hard core, then use a wall to stabilise. It works by doing a handstand against a wall, and then lower the head towards your hands and push back up (its rather tricky and requires a lot of strength, I wouldn’t advise trying this without someone around to help you).
Wide Press-ups (Chest/Back)
Start like a press up, ensure your core is engaged, keep the bum low, but widen your hand stance. You want it about 1.5x shoulder width apart, this will engage the back more. Then slowly lower yourself to the ground, ensure you get low (I know it’s harder, but it engages more of the muscle fibres by getting the depth), and then push back up and repeat the process. You should be feeling it between your shoulder blades as well as your chest, the wider the stance the more the back it uses. If you find it too difficult doing a classic press up position, then you can do it from your knees or off the wall. The important thing is you can do some, so don’t feel deflated if you can’t do a full press up - with practice from your knees/wall then you will become stronger and be able to do it eventually!
Narrow Press ups (Chest/Triceps)
For this one, do the same as the above, but instead of having a wide grip, make a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers, then use this as the base to slowly lower yourself and then push yourself back up. You should feel it more in your triceps with this one. As above, if it is too difficult, you can do it from your knees or off the wall.
The classic plank. One which I’m sure you have likely done before. It’s a great one for the core and engages the back as well. Again, ensure the bum is down and the abs are engaged for this. Have your arms at a 90 degree angle with the floor, and simply hold it there for as long as possible.
Chin Ups (biceps/back)
Ok, so this one does help to have a chin up bar, but if you don’t have one, then sometime you can find a structural beam or something of equal strength to do it off. Do NOT do it from something which is not strong enough to hold your weight (I’m sure You’ve Been Framed would be delighted by this, but it can cause serious injury if the bar you are using for pull ups suddenly gives way)! For this one, you want your hands about shoulder width apart and use an underhand grip. Then you engage your back and biceps to pull yourself up. If you cannot do a pull up, then you can try hanging pull ups until you can. This involves jumping to the top of the pull up position and then trying to slowly lower yourself down. The slower the better.
Wall Squat (legs)
This is what it says on the tin, a squat against a wall. However, instead of repeatedly going up and down, you will prop yourself against the wall until your knees make a 90 degree angle, then just hold your body there for as long as possible. It won’t be too long until your quads start to burn! Watch out though, it can be quite difficult to get yourself back up once the burn has gone past a certain point!
Calf Raises (legs)
This one is so that you don’t neglect the (often neglected) calf muscles! A lot of people will do a lot of work on their quads, but not even consider the calf muscle. So, for this, doing it off the bottom stair in your house is probably best, or a surface of equal functionality. You stand on the edge of the step facing toward the step, but with your heel off of the edge of the step, then slowly lower your heels so the heel is below the toes, then go up onto tip toes and repeat the process. Be careful of your balance on this one!
Well there you have it, examples of some great exercises which you should be able to start straight away. As always, more than happy to respond to any questions people may have, just drop us an email or DM! I hope this helps you on your fitness journey, all the best!