FitEngine Picks The Top 10 Best Bodyweight Training Exercises

Exercising trends have come and go and it all seems to get even more ridiculous each year. Come on, we now have official twerking classes, animal flow movement workouts, beer yoga, this thing called “doga” (basically yoga with your dog), hula hoop exercises, and even running backwards!

Yes, running backwards is a thing.

How weird will the next trends be? Well, virtual reality is becoming a common thing so maybe one day we’ll all be in virtual group sessions.

Weird trends aside, there will always be love for workouts that have withstood the test of time and by test of time I mean workouts that probably existed even before weights were considered staples.

Body weight training has been with humanity ever since we’ve learned how to walk and climb. It’s also perhaps one of the safest ways to exercise since you’re literally only practicing with your own body weight. No heavy plates, no weird accessories, just you and the floor mat.

With all the great bodyweight workouts in existence, we picked the 10 best that are guaranteed to turn your body into that of a warrior even if you do it in the comforts of your own home.

1. Mountain Climbers

A staple of athletic training, mountain climbers are another great core exercise that really fires up your hip flexors and abs while also challenging your upper body to maintain balance. Try them with sliding disks under your toes, or perform them with your hands resting on a medicine ball to ratchet up the imbalance and increasingly challenge your core.

2. Squats

A fitness essential, the basic bodyweight squat (or “air squat”) is a vital exercise for maintaining lower-body strength throughout your life. Situate your feet about shoulder-width apart, and make sure you maintain a natural arc in your back and spread your weight through your feet as you hinge your hips and knees into the squat. When you raise yourself back up, make sure your knees are in line with your feet—not drawn inward—so the force hits your knees in their natural hinge.

3. Burpees

The No. 1 favorite exercise of any trainer who wants to help their clients burn fat, the burpee has become a staple in programs from bootcamps to CrossFit and everything in between (in fact, it was made popular by CrossFit). A full-body explosive motion that requires better cardio than hill sprints and more coordination than nearly any exercise, there’s no doubt that a steady diet of burpees will accelerate your progress toward a leaner, shredded body.

4. Push ups

This one’s a timeless classic. The pushup is essential for building a big chest, cannonball delts, and triceps that look like the wishbone you pulled out of the turkey on Thanksgiving. Master this move and it will yield the same benefits as the bench press.

5. Planks

Plenty of fitness experts think holding a plank for a minute-plus is a very impressive measure of fitness. The plank requires excellent shoulder stability and top-notch muscle endurance of the abs, lower back, shoulders, neck, and legs. Not only that, but it works well to develop an impressive six-pack (more time under tension = more muscle).

6. Pull ups

Another classic move. The pullup hits every muscle in the body and is underrated in terms of arm and abs development. It stands alone as the original biceps curl, and it’s definitely one of the best things you can do for your arms—not to mention the muscles in your back. Naturally, you either make use of an overhead bar at home, the monkey bar at your nearby park, and of course the gym to do this.

7. Dips

Many people think the dip is primarily a triceps exercise—and while that’s definitely true, dips also hit your chest and shoulders just as hard. Another underrated aspect of the dip is the core strength it takes to do them properly. Dips aren’t for the faint of heart (just try a few) but they can be your greatest ally in getting big pecs and overall upper-body strength. Dips can be done using a simple chair.

8. Roll out

Okay, this one’s not quite equipment-free—you’ll need an ab roller or a barbell. But the ab tension you feel in the rollout is similar to what you experience in a plank—just a notch more difficult. The farther you roll out, the harder the exercise becomes, leading to better results. (It’s also a great exercise for shorter guys for that reason.) Plus, you’ll look like a total badass. This is an underrated exercise that only needs to make use a cheap ab-wheel. If you have a barbell, you can also use that.


9. Overhead Lunges

The overhead lunge—basically just a lunge performed with your arms raised above your head—is a good way to strengthen your lower body and build up your balance. It might seem like an easy variation, but try enough of them and watch as that perfect touchdown signal becomes a flailing mess.

10. Bicycle Crunch

A notoriously tough core and cardio exercise, the bicycle crunch targets three major components of your core: Your main abdominus muscles (targeted by the main crunching motion), your obliques (the side-to-side rocking), and your lower abs (the “reverse crunch” motion). It’s also a good way to target muscles like hip flexors and even your shoulders as you work to stabilize your body.

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