11 Strength-Building Exercises Using Bodyweight Alone

“I would work out more, but I can never find the time.” Does this phrase sound familiar? The bad news is, it’s true. Modern society does not promote a healthy lifestyle or provide the average person with all the time they need to exercise, sleep well, socialize, and relax. The good news is, if you don’t have time to hit the gym, you can fit a quick, full-body workout into your morning routine without leaving the living room – using bodyweight alone!

bodyweight exercises

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Bodyweight Exercise

Those fancy machines at the gym look great and may feel great to use, but they are not really necessary to an effective workout. Here are 11 strength-building bodyweight exercises you can do, just about anywhere:

1. Bird Dog

Start out on all fours. Pull your left knee up towards your chest and your right elbow down to touch the left knee; then, reverse the motion and extend the left leg and right arm all the way out, as far as you can. Repeat the move on the other side and continue the movement, interchanging sides for 2 reps of 15 with a short rest in between.

2. Burpees

This exercise is popular because it works out the entire body at once. Start in a low squat position with your hands on the floor and hop your feet backwards at the same time to land in a pushup position. Complete one pushup, and hop your feet forward again into the original squatting position. Finally jump into the air as high as you can before returning to the squat position and repeating the exercise. Perform 2 or 3 reps of 10.

3. Jack Knives

Target upper and lower abs by laying flat on your back with arms extended straight over your head. Simultaneously lift your legs together and raise your chest and arms until you touch your toes in the air; lay back down and repeat 2 reps of 20.

4. Monkey Pushups

Another whole-body routine, for this exercise you start in a quarter squat position and lean forward carefully until you fall slowly onto your hands. Bend your arms to let your forehead touch the floor and then push back hard with both arms to propel yourself back into standing position; in the same motion, jump straight into the air, as high as you can, returning to the quarter squat position. Perform 2 or 3 reps of 10.

5. Mountain Climbers

Work on one entire side of your body at a time, with an emphasis on that pesky love handle area. Hold your body in pushup position; then bring your right knee to your right shoulder along the outside of your body. Turn your head to look down at the right knee as it comes up as far as possible towards the right shoulder. Repeat on the left side and continue to change sides until you’ve reached 2 sets of 15.

6. Shove Offs

Build strength in your triceps, deltoids, and pec muscles with this simple move. Find a sturdy, knee-high surface, such as a sturdy coffee table or a chair set back against a wall. Stand facing the surface and fall slowly towards it, catching yourself with your hands. Remembering to keep your back as straight as possible, lower yourself until your chest almost touches the surface, and then push back hard to propel your body back into standing position. Repeat 3 reps of 10 or 15.

7. One-Arm Let Me In

Wrap a closed belt around both doorknobs of an open door to create a handhold. Place your feet to straddle the open door with your heels below the two doorknobs. Hold onto the belt and bend your knees 90 degrees. Lean back until your arm is fully extended and, keeping your thighs parallel to the ground, pull your torso towards the door using one arm. Slowly extend your arm back to the starting position and repeat for 2 or 3 reps of 10.

8. Lateral Raises

Focus on your upper back and shoulders with this easy exercise. Find two easy-to-clutch objects like full water bottles or a pair of thick, heavy books. With legs held straight, bend over so that your body is bent at a 90º angle and your arms hang to the floor with two heavy objects in-hand. Raise your arms back up to shoulder height, keeping them straight. Continue this flying motion for 3 reps of 15.

9. Split Squat

Stand directly in front of a chair with your back to it. Bend one leg back and place the lower leg and foot on the seat of the chair, toe-side down. Raise your hands straight overhead and bend the standing leg to squat down until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Repeat 2 reps of 15 on each side.

10. Pistol Roll-Ups

Stand with one leg held out straight in front of your body and your arms held out straight like Frankenstein. Sink down on one leg until your hips sit on the floor and, in the same motion, roll backwards onto your upper back. Be careful not to roll your head into the floor! Forcefully roll back up and onto the same leg in standing position. Switch sides and continue to interchange for 2 or 3 reps of 10.

11. Crab Walk

End your workout with a fun full-body exercise. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent in front of you. Place both hands, palms down, onto the floor and lift your hips into the air. Crab walk forwards and backwards around the room for several minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Refine Your Workout

If you are able to complete a few (or all!) of these bodyweight exercises each morning, your muscles will strengthen and build up endurance very quickly. When an exercise becomes too easy, add more reps or incorporate light, handheld weights along with ankle and wrist weights.

One easy way to increase your heart rate and incorporate a bit of cardio into the routine is to jog in place or do jumping jacks constantly in between exercise reps.

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