Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do To Build Strength At Home
Bodyweight exercises can help you build muscle, increase strength, boost muscular endurance, and lose weight. We know there are so many bodyweight exercises out there, so we’ve taken our list of the best bodyweight exercises and asked exercise physiologist John Ford, ACSM, founder of JKF Fitness & Health, to help us expand it.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Chest
- Come to all fours. Separate your hands to shoulder distance apart and straighten your legs until the back of your knees are parallel to the ceiling. Create a long, straight line from your head to your heels. Clench your glutes and brace your core (pull your belly button toward your spine) to lock your body into position.
- Keep your elbows by your ribs and lower your torso until your chest hovers a few inches away from the floor.
- Pause at the bottom, then push yourself back up to the starting position.
2. Decline Push-ups
- Assume a standard push-up position with your hands on the floor and your feet elevated on a sturdy bench or box. Your arms should be straight, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, and body straight from head to heels.
- Keeping your body straight and core engaged, slowly lower your chest as close to the floor as possible.
- Return to the starting position.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Back
3. Inverted Rows
- Secure a barbell at waist height and lie face-up on the floor beneath it (if you are at home, you can use a sturdy table). The bar should be lined up directly over your chest and should not move.
- Grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width, and hang with your arms fully extended. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels, which should be hip-width apart.
- Engage your core and pull your chest to the bar as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Pause, and slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
- Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly beyond shoulder-width. Hang at arm’s length with your arms straight (a position known as a dead hang) and cross your ankles behind you.
- Without swinging or kipping (using momentum to propel you upward), squeeze your shoulder blades together to pull your chest to the bar.
- Pause, and then lower yourself back to a dead hang.
- Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width, and hang at arm’s length (a position known as a dead hang).
- Pull yourself upward until at least your chin clears the bar, keeping your back straight and core tight.
- Pause, and then lower yourself back to a dead hang.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Quads
6. Bulgarian Split Squats
- Stand facing away from a box or bench (or chair at home). Place the toes of your left foot on the bench behind you. Stack your right foot under your right hip.
- Keeping your torso upright and your gaze forward, lower your body until your right thigh is parallel with the floor (your left knee will lower toward the floor, too).
- Reverse the move, and repeat for reps, then switch sides. Perform an equal number of reps on each.
7. Reverse Lunge
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips.
- Keeping your chest up, back flat, shoulders back and down, and core engaged, take a step back with your right leg.
- Lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Bend your knees to 90-degrees, keep your right knee hovering a couple of inches above the ground.
- Pause, and then push off your back foot to return to the starting position. Switch sides and perform equal reps on both sides.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Hamstrings/Glutes
8. Single-Leg Deadlifts
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides, palms facing your body.
- Shift your weight onto your right foot and lift your left foot several inches away from the floor behind you—this is the starting position.
- Keeping your right leg slightly bent, your back flat, and your core engaged, push your hips back into a hinge and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor, raising your left leg behind you.
- Pause, and then lower your left leg to return to the standing position. Perform equal reps on both sides.
- Stand tall and place your left foot on a bench (or couch) so that your leg is bent to 90-degrees.
- Keeping your chest proud and shoulders back and down, push your body with your left leg until it’s straight lifting your right foot away from the floor (keep your right foot elevated the entire time).
- Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position under control. Perform equal reps on both legs.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Shoulders
10. Judo Push-ups
- Begin in a push-up position but move your feet hip-width apart, and raise your hips so that your body forms an upside-down V (or a downward-facing dog).
- Lower the front of your chest by bending your elbows until your chin nears the floor, and then swoop your head and shoulders upward while lowering your hips until they almost touch the floor (you should end in an “upward dog” position).
- Reverse the move to return to the starting position.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Triceps
11. Diamond Push-ups
- Assume a push-up position (body straight from head to heels, core engaged, glutes squeezed, hands flat on the floor, and your arms straight and in line with your shoulders). Move your hands together so that the tips of your thumbs and index fingers are touching (see the diamond?)—this is the starting position.
- Keeping your elbows tucked (don’t let them flare), lower your torso until your chest lightly touches the backs of your hands. (Or as far as you can go without losing proper form).
- Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.
Bodyweight Exercises for the Core
12. Leg Lifts
- Lie on your back with your legs straight, your head may raise (or let it relax on the floor). Extend your arms out to the sides in “T” (or under your butt for back support).
- Engage your core and press your back into the floor. Keeping your legs straight and together, slowly raise them until they are perpendicular to the floor.
- Pause, then lower your legs back to the floor, keeping them straight and your core engaged.
13. Forearm Plank
- Assume a push-up position and lower down to your forearms. Make the number 11 with your arms (you can make fists or press your palms into the floor).
- Squeeze your glutes and brace your core (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) to lock your body into a straight line from head to heels.
- Hold this position for up to 90 seconds. Rest for one minute. Repeat three-to-five times.