Bodyweight Exercises – The Ultimate List
If you are looking for a list of bodyweight exercises then you have come to the right place!
On this page you will find a long list of the best bodyweight exercises to build muscle, lose fat, and improve your all round level of fitness (and happiness) in life.
This list is unique in that you will get much more than just the generic exercises like push ups and sit ups. A large number of these exercises have a unique twist to make them more suitable for specific goals of muscle building and fat loss, rather than just increasing endurance fitness in general.
The Ultimate List Of Bodyweight Exercises
Bodyweight exercises for chest
A great selection of chest exercises without weights, including a number of push up variations:
Push-ups for Chest Muscles. The old classic exercise that everyone thinks about when they refer to bodyweight exercises. Push-ups work many muscle groups at the same time including the chest, triceps, back, abs, biceps and shoulders. It is a great all round exercise and simaltaneously works multiple muscle for a great all body workout. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise and concentrate on slowly going through the movement, working all those muscle groups. For best results do this exercise slowly and steadily increase the repetitions that you do on a weekly basis. A great way to spice up a push-up is to put weights on your back. Find a back-pack and fill it up with books to add resistance to the exercise to help stimulate exrea muscle growth.
Plyometric push-ups. To do a plyometric push-up simply do a normal push-up but when you come back up you use extra explosive strength to vault yourself up off the floor. So you are still in the push-up position – just in the air! The most advanced version of the pylometric push-up involves performing a clap mid-air. But simpler versions can just include only raising the hands off the ground and not the feet. Work your way up to the mid-air clap versions.
Isometric push-ups. An isometric push-up is basically where you statically hold the push-up position for around 30 seconds. So get into the push-up position and lower yourself halfway. Then hold this position for 30 seconds. It is almost like a stretch, but is called an isometric hold. You can also perform the pushup isometric hold during the top or bottom of the exercise.
Decline Push-Ups. To do a declined push-up place your feet on an elevated object such as a box or a chair. Your arms should be on the ground as usual. You will then lower your upper body towards the ground at a steeper angle than a normal push-up. This puts more of a focus on the lower part of the chest. It is always a good idea to mix up the widths of the push-up grips so that all areas of the chest muscles get in a decent workout.
Incline Push Ups. Push-ups on an incline involve you raising your arms onto a platform such as a chair or a box. Your feet will be on the floor. Do the press up as usual but at this new angle. You will find that you will feel the exercise working your upper chest area with an incline push up. Upper chest muscles often get neglected so incline push ups are a great addition to your arsenal of bodyweight exercises.
Wide grip push-up. With a normal push-up your arms are approximately shoulder width apart and the focus is placed on working the chest muscles and arms. However, if you adopt a wider stance with your arms more than shoulder width apart you take the focus off the arm and shoulder muscles and place it back on the chest muscles. Wide grip push-ups tend to work the outer chest muscles more and are good for shaping and toning.
One Arm Push-Ups. Rocky does this in the movies I am sure you have seen! But you do not need to start off with a full one arm push-up. A good idea to start with is to elevate one of your arms up onto a box or a medicine ball and have the other arm resting on the floor. Then perform the pushup whilst focussing on primarily using the pectorial muscle of the elevated push-up arm. Once you improve with this style of one arm push up then you can try moving to the real one arm push-up where the second arm is off the ground altogether. This is very challenging and it might well take a bit of time for you to get to that stage. But keep at it and you will be doing a Rocky style one arm push up in no time!
Bodyweight exercises for biceps
Here are some of the best bicep exercises without weights:
Chin-ups for Biceps. This requires the use of a pull-up bar or some sort of bar that will support your body weight. Installing a pull-up bar in your home is relatively inexpensive and you just need to place the bar between a sturdy door frame and screw it in place. Grip the bar with your palms facing towards yourself, and then slowly pull yourself up until your chin touches your fingers. Exhale as you pull yourself up and inhale on the way down. At first chin-ups can be very hard and you may struggle to do just a few. Start off trying to reach 6 reps, and slowly build up the reps over time.
Bicep curl. A bicep curl typically involved using dumbells and barbells at the gym, but it can also be done without using weight lifting equipment. You just need to get creative and find your own replacements for the resistance. Popular make-shift weights include sandbags, empty milk-jugs full of water or sand, and also backpacks full of books. You do not need to go to the gym to build big biceps, you just need to find any form of heavy weight that you can use to stimulate muscle growth. Aim to do slow and steady reps of this exercise. For maximum muscle growth aim to reach failure after around 6-8 reps. As you get stronger, keep increasing the resistance to make sure you keep reaching faillure within the 6 to 8 rep mark.
You also get a good bicep bodyweight workout during other bodyweight exercises, such as the push up and pull ups.
Bodyweight exercises for triceps
Seated Tricep Dips. Tricep dips are a great way to build your arm muscles. They tend to be more powerful than many bodyweight exercises and as a result many bodybuilders integrate dips into their weight lifting schedule. To do a seated tricep dip you just need a chair. Sit on the chair with your legs fully extender in front of yourself. Place your palms on the bench and slide your body forward and off the bench. Support yourself with your arms that are facing palm down on the bench. Slowly lower yourself down to the ground until your arms form a right angles. Raise yourself back off the floor until your arms are fully extended again. Repeat this motion for however many reps you want to do. To make tricep dips even harder you can raise your feet off the ground by placing them on a second chair that is placed in front of you. Then when you repeat the exercise you can place a heavy object in your lap such as a weight plate or some books. If this exercise is done correctly you should really feel a nice burn in your triceps.
Parallel Bar Dips. This exercise uses just your bodyweight, but it does require a set of dip bars for it do be performed correctly. Firmly grip each bar and support your body which will hang between the bars. Slowly lower your body until your arms form a right angles and then raise yourself back to the start. This is a very challenging exercise and you are likely to find that you can only do a few reps. But as you start to progress you can make things harder by strapping a weight plate belt around your waist. Alternatively fill a backpack up with heavy objects. The parallel dip bars work both the triceps and the chest muscles. To focus on the chest muscles, lean you chest forward a bit when you do the lowering motion. When you focus on the tricpes, lean backwars throughout the exercise and focus on squeezing those arm muscle.
Narrow Grip Push Ups. When you do a push-up with a narrow grip you will place a focus on exercising the inner chest and triceps more. For a narrow grip push-up move your arms closer together so that they are almost touching. You will find that your triceps will be required to work much harder than usual and you should feel a nice burn. Narrow grip push-ups also work well for shaping the inner part of the chest might otherwise have been neglected using basic pushups.
Bodyweight exercises for abs
Basic crunches. This is one of the most well known bodyweight exercises for developing the abs. You basically lay on your back with your knees raised and feet on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and raise your shoulders a few inches off the floor. Hold. And repeat. The key to cruches is to go slowly and to really pause and squeeze the abdominial muscles at the top of the exercise. Make sure you do not lift your shoulders to far off the floor otherwise it will become more like a sit-up, which is for endurance and not muscle. To make basic crunches harder try really slowing down the speed on really squeezing those abs for a few more seconds during each rep. Try to go slowly enough so that you cannot physically do more than 25 reps or so. A good way to help you feel the squeeze in your abs is to rest an object such as a book onto your abs. It will then become more obvious when you contract your ab muscles and it gives you something to focus on.
Front Plank. The front plank is very similar to an isometric push-up hold. You get in the push-up position (at the top of the exercise) and instead of having your palms on the ground, you rest your forearms on the ground to support yourself. Make sure your back is straight. This position will be slightly lower down than a regular top of pushup position due to the fact you are using your forearms to support yourself. Try to hold this position for 15-30 seconds. The front plank is great for working out those abs and developing a solid core.
Side Plank. A side plank is a staic hold that works the oblique muscles. Lie on your side and support yourself with one forearm on the ground. Your other arm should be laying flat against your side. It is quite hard to keep balance during this exercise as you are trying to remain on your side whilst in an elevated position. Keep at it though as it is a great oblique exercise.
Hopping Planks. For the standard plank you hold a position that is effectively the push-up in its top position (before you lower yourself) but instead of supporting yourself with your palms on the floor you support yourself with your forearms on the floor. Make sure your back is flat. With a hopping plank you hop your legs from side to side every 1-2 seconds. So first of all you will swing your legs 30 degrees to the left, and then hold, then back to the starting position, and hold, and then swign them 30 degrees to the right and hold. Hopping planks are a killer but well worth the effort!
Oblique Twists. Abdominal crunches tend to work the middle part of your abs, and oblique twists are similiar exercises but work the side of your abs (the obliques). Lay flat on your back, with your feet on the floor and knees raises. But you arms behind your head. Raise your shoulders a few feet off the floor as you would do with a normal abdominal crunch, but this time do it slightly to the side. So for you first rep you will do it in the direction so that your right elbow goes towards your left knee and for the next rep your left elbow will go towards your right knee. As with basic ab crunches, focus on squeezing the abs throughout the exercise to make sure they are being worked out to maximum effect.
Abdominal Leg raises. This bodyweight exercise involves lieing down on your side, with one hand held behind your head and one hand on the floor for support. To do the exercise raise the upper of your legs up to the ceiling whilst still lieing on your side. As you do so push your torso forwards towards your legs. Hold the end position for one or two seconds, then lower your legs and repeat. The second where you pause in the exercise is very challenging and helps stabilize that core.
Bodyweight exercises for shoulders
Hand-stand push ups. Take the basic push-ups to the next level with a hand stand push-up. Where the flat push-up tends to focus more on the chest muscles, the handstand pushup has more of a focus on the shoulder muscles. To carry out this exercise perform a handstand against a wall and support your self by leaning your legs up against the wall. Look forward as you slowly lower you chin a few inches towards the ground, pause, and return to the starting position. It is a very small movement but is actually really hard to do. Some people will even struggle to do just one rep of this exercise, and if this is the case you can just hold the handstand in place for a static hold and over a number of days work yourself up to being able to do a few reps.
Shoulder press. The shoulder press is a relatively unknown bodyweight exercise, but it is very effective. It is similar to a push-up but is tweaked slightly to focus on the shoulder muscles. Get into a push-up position and then arch your back up into the air so that when you lower your body, the majority of the stress is placed onto the shoulders. To make the exercise even harder, elevate your feet onto a chair or a stall. The extra gravity will place even more stress on the shoulders and thus help promote growth.
Shoulder flies. This bodyweight exercise is most commonly done using dumbells, but you can do shoulder files without weights if you substitute in your own weights such as soup cans or bags of groceries etc. With shoulder flies you start with your hands by your side in an upright standing position and then outstretch your arms either side of you so you form a t-shape. Bend your arms slightly at the elbows so that they are not completely locked out. Shoulder flies only require very light weights as the main focus is on slow, steady reps with good form. You will find that shoulder fly exercises are good stabilizer exercises for balance puporses and for really showing off the shape of your shoulder muscles and back muscles. They are less appropriate for building bulk muscles but I like the way they tone things up for you.
Bodyweight exercises for back muscles
Pull-ups for back muscles. These are like chin-ups but the main difference is in the grip. With chin-ups your palms are facing towards you, with pull-ups your palms face away from you. Also, with pull-ups you adopt a much wider grip that is shoulder width apart. In addition to working the biceps, pull-ups give the back muscles a great workout as well. Slowly pull yourself up as your exhale, and then inhale as you lower yourself (at an even slower pace). Mix-up the exercise by experimenting with different grips. Close grip, wide grip, medium grip and reverse grip pull-ups all focus on slightly different muscle areas. Also change up the tempo every now and then to shock your body into action.
Bridge. This exercise is commonly associated with yoga, gymnastics and wrestling. It is very challenging, requires good flexibility and really does improve the back and neck muscles. What you do is lay flat on your back and put your hands over your head. Then push yourself upwards and arch your back into the air so that you form a bridge shape. You head should rest flat against the floor and you are almost upside down. To develop neck muscles, wrestlers will often carefully remove their hands from the floor and use just their neck muscle to support their bodyweight for a number of seconds/minutes. But the wrestler bridge exercise is not recommended if you are just starting out.
Hyperextensions bodyweight exercises. Back muscles a worked out using hyper extensions. Commonly these exercises are performed using a roman chair, which is an inclined bench with special pads to lock your feet in place. But you can just do back hyperextensions on the floor as well. So if you are flat down on the floor, place your arms out in front of you and look forward with your chin slightly raised off the floor. Simaltaneously raise your arms and feet off the floor and pause at the top of the movement for a few seconds. Lower, rest and repeat! You will look like superman doing this one!
Bodyweight exercises for legs
Legs are often neglected. Not anymore with these ultra cool bodyweight exercises for legs:
Calf Raises. Find a raised platform on which you can rest your foot on. This might be the foot of a weight rack or a workout bench. Alternatively it could be the stairs if you are doing a home workout. With calf raises all you do is rise onto your tiptoes so that you floot is parrallel to the floor on the raised platform. And then lower back to the starting position with you heel back against the floor and your toes still on the raised platform. Flex the calve muscles for one second at the top of your tip toe movement. Also make sure that you do the exercise is a slow and steady fashion. Calf raises are often very neglected exercises because they are quite boring to do! But it looks quite silly to have a big muscular chest and big things, but then to have skinny calves. You are just going to have to grin and bare it with calf raises as you don’t want to neglect any body parts with your bodyweight training sessions.
Hamstring Leg Lifts Bodyweight Exercise. When you do it with weights, you curl your leg backwards behind you to move the resistance on the weight machine. Working out without weights, you do the same leg curl motion but you just standup and do it without with just the leg and no resistance. The movement is very simple and it is like you are trying to touch your backside with the heel of your foot. When your heel reaches your backside hold the position for a few seconds and really focus on squeezing those hamstring muscles. Lower your leg back to a standing position and repeat with the other leg. This exercise is actually harder than it looks and can provide a nice challenge in your bodyweight leg workout.
Jump Squats. A unique twist to the basic leg squats is to finish the exercise with a jump in the air. This exercise is for sports where jumping is a key attribute, such as basketball. Also it is more of a cardio exercise so is good for weight loss purporses. Basically, do a basic squat by bending your knees until they are at right angles to the floor. And then instead of a slow upward movement, you do one big explosive movement that will propell you off the ground and into a vertial jump. Swing your arms upwards and outwards to launch yourself off the ground. Make sure you land carefully with a bend in the knees to avoid injury. With jump squats, you are less interested in counting reps…just try to do as many of them as you can in a 60-90 second period.
Wall squat. Instead of a moving exercise like the basic leg squats, the wall squat is a static, holding exercise. Get into the low squat position so that you form a 90 degree angle with your legs and backside. Then lean your back against the wall for support (your back should be straight) and maintain this low squat position for 90 seconds. The wall squat is a real challenge and you are likely to really feel a burn in those quads, but hang in there as the results are worth it.
Box jumps. Box jumps are a cardio bodyweight exercise that a good for burning off fat and also developing explosive strength in the calves. To do a box jump simply jump onto a box! Start in an upright standing position, swing your arms forward, and jump up and forward onto a sturdy box. Make sure your knees are bent when you land on the box to reduce the impact on your joints. Since this is a cardio workout, keep repeating this exercise by jumping on and off the box in quick succession. It looks like a simple exercise, but in reality it is brutal!
Squats. This is a classic. You simply squat down so that your legs are at right angles to the ground whilst looking forward and keeping your back straight. Pause at the bottom of the squat for a second, and then slowly return to an upright standing position. If you are using only your bodyweight for this exercixe then you can make things more interesting by wearing a weight plate around your waist or by filling a backpack full or books and wearing this during the exercise. The key thing with leg squates is to pause at the lower position and really feel the burn in those things.
Lunges. To do a lunge, start in an upright standing position and lunge forward on one leg until your leading leg forms a 90 degree angle. Return to the starting position, and next do a lunge but leading with your other leg this time. Lunges are good for developing the thighs, hamstrings and calves and for quick explosive leg strength.
Some of these legs bodyweight exercises also make great bodyweight exercises for cardio to burn the fat.
The ultimate bodyweight workout
Wow! What a list of bodyweight exercises!
Now it is time to put them all together into a bodyweight workout that you can follow on a weekly basis in order to melt the fat, build muscle, and sculpt yourself a lean and toned action hero physique.
For this I recommend Bodyweight Blast X. It gives you 30, 60, and 90 day workout routines and diet plans to follow and is designed specifically for people who want to workout at home.