Best Bodyweight Exercises: The Top 25 List

List of the Best Bodyweight Exercises

 

Best Bodyweight Exercises: Get in Shape Anytime and Anywhere

A good workout doesn’t always need to have weights and equipment. In this list of the best bodyweight exercises, we detail 25 that are sure to help you get into great shape.
And thankfully, this list has everything from upper body to lower body to cardio exercises. This will ensure that you are able to work all of your muscles and get in the best shape possible!
 
For even more exercise and health ideas, check out our lists of the best workout videos, best protein powders, and best bodybuilding supplements.

 

Top 25 Bodyweight Exercises:

 

 

Planks Exercise

 

Planks Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Abs and Core

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Don’t allow yourself to round out your back; keep it as straight as possible. Control your breathing and keep yourself relaxed as you go through the exercise.

Exercise Variations: Instead of resting on your forearms, you could execute this exercise on your hands (push up position).

About Bodyweight Exercise: Great for the core, the plank is perfect for small workout spaces. You will be able to develop your abs pretty much anywhere. There are also several variations you can do as well to increase or decrease the difficulty of the exercise. To make it easier you can go on your knees, and to make it more difficult, you can raise up on your hands and extend them out in front of you or to your side. The keys are making sure you keep your back straight and controlling your breathing.

 

 

 

Burpees Exercise

Burpees Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Whole Body

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Advanced

Tips: Make sure your form is good, and then get into a nice steady rhythm. Keep your back straight as you go into your push up and get up off the ground on your final jump.

Exercise Variations: If you are unable to do a push up, just kick your feet out and then bring them back in.

About Bodyweight Exercise: A high cardio exercise, burpees help to work on the whole body. If you are looking to get your heart rate up and build endurance, burpees are the way to go. If you only have a limited time to workout or are wanting to challenge yourself, burpees are the way to go. Most people usually have a love-hate relationship with this exercise.

 

 

Mountain Climbers Exercise

 

Mountain Climbers Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Abs and Core

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Keep your back straight and look to get into a good rhythm. As you are going through the exercise, really focus on controlling your breathing.

Exercise Variations: You could do this exercise with a swiss ball, on a bench, or with TRX Straps.

About Bodyweight Exercise: A great cardio workout that does not require a lot of space – mountain climbers get the heart rate up and work the abs, all in a small area. Try this exercise next time you need some cardio but don’t have the space to run. You will be able to tone up with this excellent bodyweight exercise. To ramp up the difficulty of this exercise, try performing it with TRX Straps.

 

 

 

Pushups Exercise

 

Pushups Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Pecs, Shoulders, Triceps, and Core

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced

Tips: Keep your back straight, make sure you are getting all the way up and down, control your breathing.

Exercise Variations: There are a bunch of different variations that you can use to make the pushups harder or easier and work on specific muscles. One of the basic ones would be to start on your knees instead of your feet. If you are struggling with regular pushups, start out with knee pushups and then work your way up.

About Bodyweight Exercise: The humble pushup makes this list for a good reason – it is a great upper body workout. And, with so many variations like the decline pushup, diamond pushup, clap pushup, etc., a variety of different muscle groups can be targeted. A big key to this exercise is making sure that you have good form. Also, if you are not quite strong enough to do a traditional pushup yet, start from your knees and work your way up.

 

 

 

Leg Lifts Exercise

 

Leg Lifts Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Abs, Core, and Hip Flexors

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Focus on controlling how fast you raise and lower your legs, you want nice controlled movements.

Exercise Variations: To switch things up, you could alternate legs or use a bench instead of the ground.

About Bodyweight Exercise: A good Pilates exercise, leg lifts, or leg raises, really work the core and will allow you to tone up your midsection. As you are going through the exercise, make sure that you control your breathing and keep your core tight. Continue to increase the number of sets and repetitions as you begin to master this exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

Russian Twist Exercise

 

Russian Twist Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Obliques and Core

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: The farther you lean back, the more difficult the exercise will be. To help yourself out, brace your feet against something.

Exercise Variations: This exercise can be done with our without weight. Also, using a Swiss ball is a great way to use this exercise as well.

About Bodyweight Exercise: The Russian twist is another excellent core and midsection exercise. It can be done with or without a weight. The key is making sure that you have great form and are controlling your movements and breathing.

 

 

 

 

Bodyweight Calf Raises Exercise

 

Bodyweight Calf Raises Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Calves

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Control the speed that you raise and lower and look to get a full range of motion as you go up and down.

Exercise Variations: This exercise can be done with our without weight. Also, a great way to make the exercise more difficult is to use a ledge to hang your heels off of. You could also do this exercise one foot at a time for even more difficulty.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Calf Raises will help to develop a long, lean calf muscle. You can do this exercise with our without weight, and still get great results. To make it a little harder you can go on one foot at a time or find a small ledge to hang your heels off of. Using a ledge will allow you to get full motion in your calf raises.

 

 

 

Side Plank Exercise

 

Side Plank Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Obliques and Core

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Don’t let your hips sag, you want to keep your body in a straight line. Control your breathing as you execute this exercise.

Exercise Variations: This exercise could also be done with a straight arm where you are balancing on your hand. Also, to make the exercise more difficult, you could reach under and then up with your top hand or lift both your top arm and leg up in the air while you balance.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Side planks are going to isolate your obliques and help to tighten up those love handles. Along with working on your core, it is also going to help strengthen your shoulders because of having to prop up all of your weight on one arm.

 

 

 

 

Elbow to Knee Push Up Exercise

 

Elbow to Knee Push Up Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Core

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Keep your back straight and make sure that you are going all the way down and up each time.

Exercise Variations: For a really advanced version of this exercise, try keeping your leg straight as you bring it up. Or, execute this exercise on a Half Swiss Ball.

About Bodyweight Exercise: A push-up variation, this exercise is going to work on developing chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs. The knee motion is going to challenge your core as you go down. Alternate which leg you kick with each time for a balanced full upper body exercise.

 

 

 

Glute Kickbacks Exercise

 

Glute Kickbacks Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Glutes and Hamstrings

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Really lock in on controlling your leg speed and look to push up as high as you can each time.

Exercise Variations: To mix things up, you could pulse your leg as it is up in the air or hold it for a count of five.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Great for working on the glute and hamstring muscles, you will really be able to feel this exercise because it does such a great job of isolating these specific muscles. Focus on keeping your body in great form and really extend up on the glute kickbacks.

 

 

 

Side Star Plank Exercise

 

Side Star Plank Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Obliques, Core, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Don’t let your hips sag and control your breathing.

Exercise Variations: To give this exercise a little variation, try moving your top arm and leg up and down as you hold the plank.

About Bodyweight Exercise: The side star plank is a little bit more of an advanced exercise. It is going to work on your obliques and also your shoulder muscles, as you have to hold up all your weight on one arm. A big key to this exercise is making sure that you keep a straight line with your body. So if you start to feel yourself sag, go back to regular side planks.

 

 

 

Single Leg Deadlift Exercise

 

Single-Leg Deadlift Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Hamstrings

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Moderate

Tips: Make sure you have good balance before going down and keep your eyes up as you lower yourself down.

Exercise Variations: This exercise can be done with our without weight. If one foot is too difficult, start out with keeping both legs on the ground as you lower or not going down quite as far. To make this exercise more advanced, try it balanced on a Half Swiss Ball.

About Bodyweight Exercise: With or without weight, the single-leg deadlift exercise is going to be great for strengthening your hamstrings and also improving flexibility. You really want to do a great job of staying balanced and having nice controlled movements as you go down and up.

 

 

 

 

Bird Dog Raises Exercise

 

Bird Dog Raises Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings, Back, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Focus on great form and controlling your breathing.

Exercise Variations: Feel free to adjust how long you hold the pose for or if you want to go up and down for a set number of repetitions.

About Bodyweight Exercise: More of a yoga pose, but still an excellent bodyweight exercise. This exercise is going to work your abs, glutes, lower back, hamstrings, shoulders, and traps. To make the exercise a little bit more difficult, you can also hold the pose at the top for a set amount of time.

 

 

 

 

Superman Exercise

 

Superman Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Lower Back

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Really relax before coming, and then raise up your while staying nice and controlled.

Exercise Variations: You can also do this exercise by alternating opposite arms and legs. So pair up your right leg with your left arm and vice versa, and then lift and lower in an alternating fashion.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Perfect for isolating the lower back muscles, the Superman exercise is going to allow you to strengthen and help to protect your lower back. If you struggle with back pain, you are going to want to try out this exercise. It will really help to strengthen your back, and hopefully help to prevent future back injuries.

 

 

 

Arm Circles Exercise

 

Arm Circles Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Keep your arms straight as you circle them.

Exercise Variations: You vary this exercise by arm speed, circle size, direction, or having your palms up or down.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Typically used for a warm-up, arm circles can also be a great exercise to tone and strengthen your shoulders and traps. Try them out for 30+ seconds, and you will really start to feel the burn. Do some arm circles going both forward and backward for best results. Also, you can do large circles, small circles, or palms up as well to give the exercise some variation.

 

 

 

Bicycle Exercise

 

Bicycle Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Abs and Core

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Keep your legs straight as you extend them out and really focus on controlling your breathing.

Exercise Variations: You can do this exercise for as many reps as you can get, or pause for each rep for a set amount of time (3-5 seconds would be good).

About Bodyweight Exercise: Get the six-pack abs you always dreamed of with the bicycle exercise. As you do this exercise, you will really be able to tone and strengthen your core. To make it easier or more difficult, increase or decrease the seconds you do the exercise for. Try this exercise out next time you are watching your favorite TV show.

 

 

 

Shoulder Bridge Exercise

 

Shoulder Bridge Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Glutes and Hamstrings

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Squeeze your glutes together as you raise up and keep your back straight at the top.

Exercise Variations: To make the exercise more difficult, you can do one leg at a time or hold your pose at the top for a set amount of time.

About Bodyweight Exercise: The shoulder bridge or glute bridge exercise is going to really allow you to strengthen your core, glutes, and hamstrings. When you do the exercise, really lock in on good form, and make sure that you are keeping your core tight. You want to flex your glutes at the top of the motion as well. A couple of variations are one leg at a time and holding the pose at the top for a set number of seconds on each repetition.

 

 

 

 

Bodyweight Side Lunge Exercise

 

Bodyweight Side Lunge Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Find a comfortable distance to step out to, and then try to get a nice deep lunge. Look to place all of your weight on your bent leg.

Exercise Variations: To make this exercise more difficult, try holding the pose at the bottom for 3-5 seconds or pulsing up and down before coming back up.

About Bodyweight Exercise: A really great upper leg exercise, Side lunges are going to allow you to strengthen, tone, and improve flexibility in your legs. The key to this exercise is form. Whether you are going nice and slow to work on strength and stability, or looking to work on being explosive by going quickly from rep to rep, really lock in on form for best results.

 

 

Bodyweight Single Leg Squats Exercise

 

Bodyweight Single-Leg Squats Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Keep yourself balanced as you lower down and only lower as far as you are comfortable. If needed, place a chair or bench under you as a spotter.

Exercise Variations: For more of an advanced exercise, hold the position at the bottom of the squat for 3-5 seconds before coming back up.

About Bodyweight Exercise: There are several different variations of the single-leg squat, and all have value. This variation will start by having you place one of your legs cross-legged over your other knee. From here you will squat down like you are going to sit in a chair, raising your hands out as you do. Try to get to a 90-degree angle before coming back up.

 

 

Bodyweight Jump Squats Exercise

 

Bodyweight Jump Squats Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Focus on good form and explode up as you raise. If you are unable to jump, just raise up quickly but don’t jump off of the ground.

Exercise Variations: Instead of placing your arms on your head, leave them at your side. As you lower, bring them backward, and then when you raise up to get into the jump, throw your arms up in the air to help propel you upwards.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Not just for athletes, this full leg exercise is going to allow you to develop your legs but also improve your fast-twitch muscles. A couple of keys are making sure that you get all the way down on the squat before jumping up, and then making sure that you land softly with bent knees.

 

 

High Knees Exercise

 

High Knees Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads, Hip Flexors, Calves

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Bring your knees all the way up. Use your hands to show where you want your knees to come up to.

Exercise Variations: To provide a little variation to this exercise, speed up or slow down, or execute multiple knee raises with the same leg at a time.

About Bodyweight Exercise: High knees are a great cardio exercise. This exercise will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Also, high knees can be done pretty much anywhere and are great for when you don’t have enough room to run. Make sure that you get your knees up to waist height each time for best results.

 

 

 

Bodyweight Curtsy Squat Exercise

 

Bodyweight Curtsy Squat Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads, Hips, Glutes

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Find a comfortable lunging distance and then focus on great form.

Exercise Variations: Try holding the pose at the bottom of the lunge for an extended period of time to really challenge yourself.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Whether you have ever curtsied before or not, the curtsy squat is still for you. The curtsy motion is going to allow you to isolate and work your leg muscles from a different angle. It is similar to side lunges and forward lunges, but it is going to come at your muscles from a different angle.

 

 

Dynamic Plank Exercise

 

Dynamic Plank Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Core, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Advanced

Tips: Keep your back straight the whole time.

Exercise Variations: Try speeding up or slowing down the transitions to give this exercise a little variation.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Finding the traditional plank a little too easy or just wanting to mix it up? The dynamic plank exercise is going to be perfect for you then. Working similar muscles as the plank exercise, the dynamic plank is going add a whole new level of difficulty. This exercise is going to have you go back and forth between your hands and elbows.

 

 

Bodyweight Squats Exercise

 

Bodyweight Squats Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Feet should be about shoulder-width apart and your weight should be on your heels.

Exercise Variations: Try holding the squat at the bottom or a set amount of time or pulse up and down for a few repetitions before coming back up.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Bodyweight squats are going to allow you to strengthen your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Along with strengthening, this exercise will also allow you to improve your hip flexibility. A few keys are going to be a nice solid base with your feet, weight on your heels as you squat down, and then not allowing your back to round as you squat down.

 

 

 

Bodyweight Lunges Exercise

 

Bodyweight Lunges Exercise (link)

Primary Muscles Worked: Quads

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Don’t allow your knee on your front leg to extend out past your toes and keep your back straight up and down.

Exercise Variations: This exercise can be done in an alternating fashion, one leg continuously and then switched, held at the bottom of the lunge for a set amount of time, or pulsed at the bottom of the lunge before raising back up.

About Bodyweight Exercise: Whether they are in-place lunges or walking lunges, lunges really tone the lower body. If toned glutes and legs are what you are after, lunges should not be skipped. Make sure that when you are lunging forward you do not allow your knee to pass over your toes, think 90-degree angle with the forward leg.

 

 

Best Bodyweight Exercises Conclusion

Staying in shape has never been easier with this list of the best bodyweight exercises. So whether you are looking to switch it up at the gym or are just wanting to do some exercises at home on your own, you will be able to get a full-body exercise with this list. Our goal with this list was to provide exercises that were going to allow you to get a full-body workout pretty much anywhere.

We would love to hear your feedback on any of these exercises in the comments below.

 

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