10 Bodyweight Training Exercises You Can Try at Home

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You know you should exercise, but that gym membership you’ve been thinking about hasn’t yet materialized. Maybe you’re not quite ready to venture outside to run or walk in public. The good news? You can get a full-body workout in the comfort and privacy of home—and it won’t cost you a dime.
While many mistakenly assume that they need a full home gym with pricey equipment and tons of space to get a good workout, with bodyweight exercises, you can work all of the major muscle groups without a single piece of fitness gear. It’s a great way to ease into strength training if you’re still a little daunted by weights. Best of all, you can do them anywhere—from your living room floor or hotel room to your backyard or local park.
Ashley Stewart, a NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Kardiá Personal Training, loves these 10 effective moves that use your own body resistance to build strength, balance and flexibility, all while burning calories and raising your heart rate. All you need to get started is a mat or towel, some floor space and a motivating playlist to power you through to the end.

Superman Hold

Benefits: This movement works the entire back side of your body. The glutes are the primary muscle used, but the upper and lower back are involved as well, which helps build strength for lower-body pulling movements, like deadlifts.
  • Start by lying on your stomach.
  • Squeeze your glutes and pull your chest and legs off the ground.
  • Keep your arms out in front of you to engage your entire body.
  • Hold for anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes, two to three times. Increase time as you progress to build strength.

Split-Stance Deadlift

Benefits: This deadlift variation is a great way to work the "hinge" pattern, which teaches you to hinge at the hips versus squatting into a deadlift. It works the glutes, and is also a great way to mobilize the hamstrings. Since it is also a single-leg movement, muscular imbalances can be improved here as well.
  • Begin with one leg out in front of your body and your back leg trailing for balance.
  • Sending your hips back first, hinge at the hips and reach down to the ground.
  • Keep your core tight and back flat.
  • Squeeze your glutes (mainly in your lead leg) to stand up.
  • Repeat for 15 to 20 reps per leg, for two to three sets.


Plank Shoulder Taps

Benefits: This move promotes core stability and strength, and also works the glutes, triceps, deltoids and lower back.
  • Begin in a high plank.
  • Touch one hand to your opposite shoulder while balancing on your other hand.
  • Hold this position for one to three seconds, then return to start and repeat on your other side.
  • Keep the core and glutes tight throughout the movement. To make the movement easier, widen your feet.
  • Repeat 20 alternating reps for one to two sets.


Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Benefits: This movement works the glutes in a single-leg fashion, which helps even out muscular imbalances.
  • Begin by lying on your back with one leg up, and your opposite foot on the ground close to your body.
  • Push through the heel of your working leg while keeping the other straight. The goal is to get your hips up until they are in line with your knee and shoulder.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps per leg, for two to three sets.

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat

Benefits: This movement helps to even out imbalances, but involves more muscles. The glutes and quads are targeted here, and the balance necessary to complete the movement helps ensure proper muscle engagement.
  • Begin with your back foot up on a bench or chair, with your lead leg positioned a few paces away from the bench. Find a setup that feels comfortable, not cramped.
  • Lower yourself to the ground as far as possible, dropping your back knee down toward your bench or chair.
  • Keep the knee of your working leg in line with your foot, and keep your chest up tall.
  • Press up through your front foot to return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes at the top.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps per leg, for two to three sets.

Single-Leg Hip Thrusters

Benefits: A more advanced version of the single-leg glute bridge, this move targets the glutes as well, but allows for more range of motion and more muscle recruitment.
  • Rest your upper back on the edge of a bench.
  • Begin with your hips raised to find your ideal foot position. Send one leg straight out in front of you and plant the other firmly on the ground. The foot of your working leg should be directly beneath your knee.
  • Lower your hips as close to the ground as far as possible, keeping your non-working leg straight and in the air.
  • Push through the heel of your working leg and raise your hips until they are in line with your knee and shoulders.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Repeat for 12 to 15 reps per leg, for two to three sets.

Bench Dips

Benefits: This movement targets the triceps, and is good for building upper-body pushing strength.
  • Begin with your hands on the edge of a bench or box.
  • Keep your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Lower yourself as far as possible, keeping your body close to the bench. Ideally, your shoulders should be in line with elbows.
  • Press back up into your starting position.
  • Repeat for 15 to 20 reps for two to three sets.

Star Side Plank

Benefits: This is an advanced plank variation targeting the obliques and gluteus medius, two muscles that play a role in overall stability.
  • Begin by balancing on one hand and one foot in a traditional side plank.
  • Activating the muscles of your core, raise your top leg and top arm to form a star.
  • Squeeze your glutes and core to maintain balance in this position.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to one minute, two to three times.


Pike Push-Up

Benefits: This movement targets the shoulders and is a great way to build overhead pressing strength.
  • Begin in a pike position, with your hips as high as possible and your chin tucked.
  • Keeping your legs straight, lower your head and touch it to the ground slightly in front of your hands. Try to make a triangle between your two hands and the top of your head.
  • Press back up into your start position, bringing your head back through your arms.
  • Perform 10 to 20 reps, for two to three sets.

Bear Crawl

Benefits: This is a full-body movement. The core is heavily involved in keeping the body stable, while the quads and shoulders get a good burn as they support the body, as well.
  • Begin on your hands and feet, with your knees hovering one inch above the ground.
  • Crawl forward by shifting your right hand and left leg up. Follow with your left hand and right leg. Don't overthink the movement; the focus should be keeping your core tight and making deliberate, small movements forward.
  • Keep your core tight and hips level. Take small steps to avoid excessive hip swiveling.
  • Crawl up approximately 20 meters, then come back. Repeat two to three times.

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Great addition to add to my running days! Thanks! Report
No gym for me! Love body weight workouts! I'm an outdoor enthusiast. I combine outdoor cardio with body weight exercises. I use what I find in nature - like a fallen log for tricep dips. I've even been known to combine dog training with body weight exercises - asking my dog to lie/stay while I hop side to side over her. Report
Now there is no excuse for me not to work out! :) Report
I've only recently been able to do planks. I have back problems and would love to see some of these moves in a modified position. Report
I have a tv show that I want to watch that is premiering tonight....thinking about doing these exercises during the commercial breaks :)

These are great for when the hotel you are staying at doesn't have a gym except for the jumping one. I to am too heavy to be doing it there Report
I need more bodyweight exercises. Thanks. Report
LOL, anywhere, really? I can just imagine someone of my weight doing some jump and reach in my hotel room first thing in the AM. People would run screaming in panic thinking the building was collapsing. Good article and workout however, but I think I will stick to doing them when I am home, alone. Report
Some of the most effective exercises mentioned here for all body parts.I ordered my Home exercise equipments from www.lodhisport.com and I would advice the same to others. Report
just what i was looking for ! Report
Thanks, I finally found something that can help me get motivated. I'm a big supporter of working out at home. My advice for all at-home workouters (like myself): http://homegym-exercises.com/bwe_bo
thank you for posting this!
I do a lot of these exercises, but not usually in the a.m. Report
this is a great example of having no excuse to not exercise.. you don't need anything but your body to exercise. great routine. thanks for sharing! Report
I do a lot of these exercises. Convenient and doable anywhere Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks so much for this: I am a traveling project manager who spent 44 weeks last year in hotels, and I NEED this info lol. Report
And we do hope that isn't Chris, altho cute, showing us how to do the exercises.... Report
Glad to have this. Had not seen it before and needed the info! Report
Recycled blog from 12/6/2011. SparkPeople must be running out of ideas so we can't get points. Report
Thanks so much for this.. it's wonder! If we started each day with just three of these, what a difference it would make! And so much for time/equipment/gym excuses! Report
Thanks so much for this.. it's wonder! If we started each day with just three of these, what a difference it would make! And so much for time/equipment/gym excuses! Report
Why do you keep reposting articles and not letting us get the points for them? Report
I am always looking for travel workout ideas--the Morning Riser looks like a serious challenge! Report
These exercises will be good for business travel and can be done in hotels. Report
Yes, Nancy, I would be more than willing to incorporate a body-weight routine like this as my usual workout routine!! My ST has been non-existent for quite a long time - ever since a SPteam I was on, that kept me in check, pretty much fizzled. But this looks easy and doable and I love that it doesn't require any equipment other than my own body weight!! Thanks for sharing!! I've bookmarked all the links you've given except for the SPlink which I already had bookmarked and used to use!! Report
This is a great collection to try out to use for travel. Learn them at home first and pick out a list of the exercises most beneficial to your needs. Report
I do several of those plus wall push ups, wall squats, lunges, half jacks, leg lifts, etc.
The fitness trainer at the gym will occasionally throw in an old fashioned calisthenics class which I really like....except for anything jumping. Report
This couldn't have come at a better time, as I'll be visiting relatives this weekend again and exercise equipment isn't readily available. This is PERFECT. Report
Gee, many of these look suspiciously like the calisthenics we did for Basic Training back pre-Vietnam.

Before Breakfast each day we would do an hour of calisthenics and then run a mile. We were encouraged to do the mile run as quickly as possible because that determined your spot in the Breakfast line.

We burned close to 4,000 calories a day - running everywhere and dropping for push-ups when any active duty person out of training hadn't started the day right.

Hungover Sargents were to be avoided at all costs - even if you had to go an extra half mile out of your way.

How did we know the hungover ones from those who hadn't partaken of adult beverages the night before?

It's 5 AM, if they were wearing sun glasses to protect their eyes from the moon, that was a really Big Hint. Report
This speaks directly to my needs at the moment. I know that I'm better at fitting aerobic exercise into my schedule than strength training. I'm reluctant to cut back on cycling to fit in more gym time, so I've been looking for ways to fit in bits of strength training here and there, using resistance bands and body weight. I've turned up a lot of fun exercises using the terms: "desk exercises resistance bands" in my searches, and I recently bought a book on bodyweight exercises called: "You are your own gym," by Mark Lauren. He shows a lot of different exercises you can do mostly without equipment (except for a chair, a table, a door, and a few other things), along with variations for making them easier or harder. I think it's a pretty good book *for strength training*, although the author downplays the importance of aerobic training.

I want to look at the exercises you have posted as well. I'm trying to put together a regular strength training routine, especially now that the weather is starting to cut into my cycling.

Thanks! Report
YEAH. this will help a lot. Report
As a fitness instructor, I teach alot of toning classes w/out any "toys" so that people are aware of all the things they can do when on vacation or away from the gym or house. Participants have reported back to me that since they know these exercise exist and they know how to do them safely that they actually do them when away!! Report
One that is guaranteed to wear you out is the Burpee (otherwise known as squat thrust). Even just 20 of those in a row is enough for me! LOL

I don't belong to a gym, so I'm happy to see this blog. Some of these exercises I do on a regular basis, already, but I'm always looking for new ideas. Thanks. Report
I am going to try some of these exercises Report
It's very useful. I did today and it's not difficult. Everybody could try. Report
Awesome Nancy! I'm going to share this :) Report
Now that I have a new computer I can watch the demos on how to do these exercises. My old one was too slow & the names don't help.. Now I can do more strength exercises! Report
I remember in "TERMINATOR 2" when she was in her Cell at the Psych Ward, and she was working out with just the bedframe. LOL She managed to get in great shape. Report
Thanks. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Report
I try to do push-ups.. i can do 4. Report
great ideas. TY!!!!! Report
In the past several months I've become absolutely addicted to Bodyrock which is mostly bodyweight exercises, and I've never been in better shape, ever. Report
Love it! These will be great for those days when the swim team is hogging the gym and there's no equipment available. Thanks! Report
These are AWESOME workouts thank you so much for sharing. Report
My regular workout includes a number of body weight exercises, including the following:

- bridges
- plank
- dead bug exercise (for core)
- pushups
- calf raises
- exercises for my hip flexors (clamshell, angled leg raise, leg circles)

Most of the other strength exercises I do involve only one set of dumbbells (15s these days) or a few pieces of equipment (like a balance ball). Report
Great "on the go" workout! My daughter and I were just looking for something like this today; Thanks! Report
This will be truly useful. Thanks! Report