10 Bodyweight Exercises You Need To Master
Before learning to master any other fitness tool, you need to master the one you already have: your own bodyweight! Training using just your bodyweight is not only convenient, but it also prepares you for external resistance later on.
Master These 10 Bodyweight Exercises
Between kids, work, obligations, and personal time, life can get busy! And sometimes that means gym time gets pushed aside.
Learning to master bodyweight exercises will not only keep you strong but make you more consistent too! When you don’t need any equipment, you can workout absolutely anywhere. This saves time, planning, and sanity!
On top of the convenience, training using only your bodyweight allows you to prepare for loaded workouts later on. Mastering your own bodyweight helps prevent injury, keep you balanced, and makes you strong.
Below are ten bodyweight exercises everyone should master in order to boost strength.
Exercise #1 Bulgarian Split Squats
This lovely unilateral exercise is a tricky one! It is super challenging all on its own and will have your legs on fire. By altering the angle of your torso you can choose to work the front of the legs more (by remaining more upright) or the back of the body more (hinge forward slightly to hit more glutes and hamstrings).
Get into the squat position, and then choose one leg only. Start with doing squats on that leg alone. The challenge is to get as low as possible, without falling over, while maintaining engaged leg, butt, and core muscles.
This exercise is challenging and builds strength and mobility in the hips and legs. Plus, it comes with a lovely stretch for the quadriceps!
Exercise #2 Push-Ups
This chest exercise is a classic, and there are so many ways to both perform it as well as progress it. If you’re just starting off, master correct form before moving into more advanced options. From there, find the variation that best suits your skill level and get to it.
Start in plank form, essentially, with hands a little wider than normal. From there, lower your body as a whole unit (don’t dip your chest or your hips) until your arms are at 90 degrees at the elbow. If that isn’t possible yet, do the same thing but from your knees.
This will take a lot of the stress off and then you can progress from there.
Exercise #3 Glute Bridge
Learning to properly engage the glutes will not only help your workouts immensely later on, but also improve posture, help alleviate lower back pain, and, of course, make you stronger. Start by lying on the floor on your back, knees bent and feet about hip-width apart. Keep your feet firmly planted and raise your hips toward the ceiling, trying to make a flat line from knees to hips to shoulders.
As part of our pelvic floor, glutes keep us strong internally as well as externally. While there are a lot of variations to this exercise, learning to activate the glutes properly before progressing is essential.
Exercise #4 Squats
While squatting is — in theory — a daily function, most people don’t make use of the necessary muscles to perform it correctly. Work on improving your squat by adding pauses at the bottom to really open the hips and get your glutes working. From there, you can progress the exercise in all sorts of ways.
This looks just like the in-set image in this article. Keep focused on smooth movements. Aim your butt to go down just behind your ankles and keep your knees pointing out so you don’t get knock-kneed. With your head up, your spine should stay properly aligned, and you can squat freely.
Exercise #5 Bodyweight Romanian Deadlift
Everyone needs to master the hinge in order to prevent back pain. Hinging from the hips is a critical movement and one of the most commonly done incorrectly (ever hear of someone helping a friend move and they hurt their back?).
Learning to hinge from the hips ensures your back is not only protected but is also developing enough strength through the posterior chain to keep you strong and injury-free. Not sure how to hip hinge? Check it out here.
The bodyweight Romanian deadlift is an amazing exercise because it gives you instant feedback. If you’re not feeling it in the back of the legs, then something with form is wrong — it’s that simple.
Later on, once you master the movement, the bodyweight version is still an amazing exercise to use in warm-ups to get the body prepped for more loaded exercises.
Exercise #6 RKC Plank
Planks have become a staple in any at-home workout! Unfortunately, many people fail to engage their entire body while performing them. RKC (Russian kettlebell challenge) planks ensure that’s not an option. The point of this style of plank is to focus on squeezing and isometrically contracting each and every muscle from your head to your toe.
This plank is just like the one you see in the cover image for this article.
This isn’t the type of exercise you hold for long. In fact, small bursts of contraction are best and the hold should last no more than twenty seconds.
Exercise #7 Reverse Lunge
This exercise helps build strength and stability through the lower body. You can tweak the positioning of the torso to target specific areas of the legs or opt for walking lunges to focus on your aerobic capacity! No matter what you choose, you know this exercise will challenge you.
From standing, you’ll simply extend a leg backwards into a bent knee lunge position. Step back to start, switch legs, and repeat!
Exercise #8 Supine Hamstring Bridges
This exercise is similar to the glute bridge, but with more of a focus on hamstrings. Keeping your legs more extended and focusing on knee extensions (straightening your leg) will target hamstrings over glutes. It’s a great way to hit the back of the body when you don’t have access to any equipment.
Exercise #9 Plank With Shoulder Tap
Learning to stabilize through the shoulders and maintain the structure of your core is what this exercise is all about. It requires you to focus on anti-extension through the lumbar spine as well as anti-rotation when you remove a limb.
From the plank position, you will simply pick up one arm and ‘thread the needle’ below your body so you rotate your torso. Bring the arm back to the starting point and then do the same thing to the other side. Here’s another trap workout you can add to your plan.
Exercise #10 Deadbug
This exercise is a necessity for anyone looking to become stronger. It teaches you how to engage your entire core musculature while resisting the temptation to extend the lumbar spine.
Lie on your back on the floor with your arms straight out from their sockets and your knees at 90 degrees from the hip. You will then extend one leg and one arm, opposite of each other, and slowly switch them to activate your core. Stability is key here.
This exercise is necessary to master if you ever want to lift heavy weights.
Using your bodyweight to workout may seem simple at first. But mastering the basics and challenging yourself with just your body is anything but.
Once you feel like you can do them all with good form, there are endless ways to create workout routines using just your body (check out how to maximize bodyweight training for your goals here).