woman doing crunches

20 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Try at Home

Unlike many other workout types, bodyweight exercises do not actually require any special equipment, and can easily be carried out at home. By using nothing else but the weight of your body and the power of gravity, these 20 bodyweight exercises will help you to build muscle and burn fat, while giving yourself such a satisfying workout.

1. Squats

squats

Squats are not only one of the most effective of bodyweight exercises, but are also the most natural, as this is the same way in which a baby would sit down.

While this may seem like a simple exercise, a squat works out all of the muscles in the lower body, and gives your core a boost as well, since you will be using your abdominal muscles to keep yourself upright.

However, make sure that your technique is correct when doing this exercise, otherwise you may cause more damage than good…

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Use your heels to help you to stand back up straight again, squeezing your buttocks in and keeping your core tight while you do so.

 

2. Burpees

While burpees are quite intense, many would argue that this is the single most effective exercise in the world, as it works out almost every muscle group, combining cardio and strength into one exercise. 

To do a burpee, these are the four steps that you must follow:

  • Stand with your feet together, and then drop into a deep squat position with your hands on the floor
  • Kick your feet backwards so that your body is in a plank position
  • Jump your feet back into a low squat position
  • Jump back up, with your arms reaching overhead

If you want to make this exercise a little easier to begin with, take out the last jump, and simply stand up at the end instead.

Or, if you want to make this exercise a little harder, add in a tuck jump just before the squat.

 

3. Push-Ups

push ups

Push-ups are great as they work out just about every muscle group in the upper body, from your back to your arms to your abs.

They are also easy to do, but you need to ensure that your position is correct…

Your shoulders should be lined up with your wrists, while your elbows should be tucked in towards your side. You should also be trying to get your hips and chest as close to the floor as possible while doing this exercise, without actually touching the floor.

 

4. Calf-Raise

The calf-raise is an extremely simple exercise, but can be adapted to suit your needs.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Stand up straight and slowly rise up on your toes, until your heels are off the floor, but make sure that you keep your knees straight
  • Hold the position briefly before coming back down and repeating

Wondering how to make this exercise a bit more challenging?

Try standing on a step while doing it, or bounce up and down quickly so that you get more reps in.

 

5. Step-Up

This is an exercise that requires a raised surface, such as a step, low chair or bench.

All you need to do is place one foot onto this surface and then step up on it, until your front leg is straight.

Hold this briefly before returning to your starting position, making sure that you step down rather than jump down.

 

6. Plank

plank

When it comes to defining the core, the plank has become one of the most popular exercises.

Here are the steps to follow to correctly carry out a plank:

  • Lie face down with your forearms touching the floor and your hands clasped
  • Extend your legs behind you and rise up on your toes
  • Tighten your core, and hold this position for as long as you can, making sure that your back is kept straight

 

7. Feet-Elevated Plank

Once you have mastered the standard plank, you can then move on to trying some of the many plank variations that are out there.

The feet-elevated plank is one of these, and is basically the same as a standard plank, but is carried out on a raised surface to make it more challenging.

Try it on something like a chair or low table first, as you do not want the surface to be too high.

 

8. Side Plank

side plank

Another plank variation, the side plank requires you to lie on your side, with just one foot, and one forearm, touching the floor.

Once you have done this, raise your body up slowly, making sure to keep it in a straight line.

Hold this for as long as you can before gently lowering yourself back down. Make sure that you do this exercise using both sides of your body.

 

9. Handstand Push-Up

Handstand push-ups will give your body a great workout, and are especially effective at building up the shoulders.

Haven’t yet mastered the handstand?

Use a wall to help you, placing your feet against this.

Once you can do this for 60 seconds, you can then begin incorporating push-ups into this.

 

10. Donkey Kicks

donkey kick

The donkey kick, also known as the back kick, works out a number of different muscle groups:

  • The core
  • All three muscles in the buttocks
  • The lower back
  • The legs

Here is what you need to do:

    • Begin on the floor on all fours
    • Bring your right knee in towards your chest, keeping your foot flexed
    • Kick your right leg up behind you, and then bring it back down, keeping your knee bent while doing so
    • Repeat this with the other leg

 

11. Crab Walk

The crab walk targets your triceps, glutes and your core, while also improving your coordination. While it may take a few days to master this move, it will not be long before you are speeding across the floor…crab-style, of course!

All you need to do is sit on the ground in a comfortable position, with your palms behind your hips. Then, pull your body up off the ground, so that your weight is resting on your hands and feet.

Use your left foot, and your right hand, to move yourself one step forward or backward, before repeating with the other hand and foot.

TOP TIP: Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles engaged, and your hips lifted off the floor for the entire duration of the exercise.

 

12. Bicycle Crunches

bicycle crunches

Unlike regular crunches, bicycle crunches require deeper abdominal rotation and stabilization, which gives your core an intense workout.

They are also easy to do, with only a few steps to follow:

  • Lie on the ground with your knees bent and hands behind your head
  • Lift your legs off the ground and slowly make a pedalling motion, just like riding a bicycle
  • Keep your hands behind your head, and, as each leg comes towards you, bring the opposing elbow over to meet it

 

13. Dragon Flag

Looking for a serious challenge?

Then the dragon flag is the exercise for you.

If you have not heard of this one before, here is what you need to do:

  • Lie on your back and hold on to something behind your head
  • Keeping your upper back on the floor, raise the rest of your body off of the floor
  • Brace every muscle that you can in order to keep your body in a straight line

 

14. Side Lunges

side lunge

When it comes to the majority of bodyweight exercises out there, these tend to move your body in one of two ways; up and down, or forward and back.

This is exactly why the side lunge is such a good exercise to incorporate into your workout, as it gets your body moving in a different way. This means that it will challenge your muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons in a way that the rest of your workout does not.

To do this exercise, begin by standing with your feet apart, and then take a large step out towards your right. Bend your knee and push your buttocks back, while keeping your core tight and your chest lifted.

Return back to your starting position and then repeat on the other side.

Want to give your core even more of a challenge?

Try adding in a side leg lift with each lunge.

 

15. Sit-Up

Sit-ups are quite a popular exercise, and this is because they are also one of the most challenging of bodyweight exercises.

Why?

Since you are not able to use your arms or legs to help you to sit up, you end up using a far greater amount of abdominal strength.

Simply lie on the ground with your knees bent, and then contract your abs to lift your body up off the ground. Make sure that you limit the amount of movement that your lower back does.

Finding standard sit-ups too challenging?

Try doing a crunch variation instead, until you build up some abdominal strength.

 

16. Twisting Sit-Up

twisting sit up

If you are bored of regular sit-ups, try giving the twisting sit-up a try instead, which is an advanced form of the standard version.

For those of you who are already familiar with sit-ups, this exercise will be easy to do. The only difference with this one is that at the top of each movement, you need to bring the opposite elbow towards your knee.

Make sure that you do not over-rotate your body, as this can cause quite a bit of damage over time.

 

17. Jumping Jacks

When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, jumping often gets a bad reputation. However, there is nothing quite like it when it comes to increasing bone density, so, if this is one of your aims, you may want to give this exercise a try. 

Here are a few of the other benefits that jumping jacks can bring:

  • One of the best plyometric exercises there is
  • Provides a great cardio workout
  • Will improve your speed and quickness

Ready to give it a go?

Simply jump up, spreading your legs to the side while lifting your arms at the same time. Once you land, jump back up and do it again.

Jumping jacks are also a great one to warm up with, so consider adding this to the start of your workout.

 

18. Squat Jacks

jumping jack before squat

Squat jacks take jumping jacks to the next level, by throwing a squat in there too.

Here are the steps to follow:

    • Stand with your feet together and your hands at your chest
    • Jump so that your feet go outwards, but sit into a small squat at the same time
    • Jump your feet back together to bring yourself back into your standing position
    • Repeat

 

19. Tuck Jumps

Everyone has their own individual goals when it comes to working out, and if yours include improving your agility and power, while working on jumping higher, then tuck jumps are the way to go.

This is a powerful, yet fun, exercise that has been proven to strengthen just about every single part of the body, and is especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.

To begin with…

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent, and then jump as high as possible.

Now for the tricky part…

While you are in the air, bring your knees in towards your chest, while extending the arms straight out, almost as though you are tucking your knees in.

Bend your knees slightly as you land, and then repeat the exercise.

 

20. Wall Sit

wall sit

The wall sit works out a number of different muscle groups, including your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and your core. 

To do this exercise, follow these steps:

  • Slide your back down a wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knees are directly over your ankles
  • Keep your back straight, and hold this position for 60 seconds, before returning to standing position.
  • Try to repeat this five times, although you may need to build up to this gradually.

If you want to give yourself an extra challenge, try adding in some bicep curls while you are “sitting”.

 

When it comes to working out, it is important to make sure that you do not push yourself too hard to begin with, as this may only end up deterring you. Instead, set yourself some realistic goals, and take the steps necessary to ensure that you stick to them. 

woman doing some exercise

Ideal Amount of Exercise

Humorist Dave Barry once said, “Albert Einstein discovered that a tiny amount of mass is equal to a huge amount of energy which is why you have to exercise for a week to work off the thigh fat from a single Snickers.” Although this may be a bit of comedic hyperbole, looking at the calorie burn exercise time ratio can be quite disheartening. For example, according to an infographic, a 490 calorie Big Mac will take the average women over an hour of weightlifting to burn. Wash it down with a soda and that’s about two hours of cardio. With those kinds of figures, you could spend the next few years in a never ending cycle of eating and exercising. So where do we draw the line? How do we decide how much exercise is enough and how much is too much? Here are some hard and fast guidelines that will help you find out the ideal amount of exercise for your body.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should be getting thirty minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. But the American College of Sports Medicine says that if you’re are doing a high intensity workout, you can cut that number down to 75 minutes a week with strength training and stretching 2 -3 days a week.

For Weight Loss
If you are looking to drop pounds, a study in JAMA Oncology found that 300 minutes of physical activity each week was the best way to obtain the greatest loss of weight and body fat. However, if that number seems a little out of reach to you, there may be other ways of achieving weight loss goals. Lisa Cadmus- Bertram, Ph., assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin explains, “… for most people, there is more room to cut calorie intake than to expend very large numbers of additional calories.” In other words, the key to success is burning more calories than you are taking in, so if you cut down on food intake, you may be able to avoid spending half a day at the gym.

To Tone Up
To add additional tone, incorporate resistance and strength training. This will help to build muscle and also increase the basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories your body will burn calories when it is resting. Also, try to engage in a variety of exercises to challenge your body in different ways.

For Longer Life
By engaging in the 150 minute minute of activity per week with 2 to 3 days of resistance training, you are not only ensuring a fit body, but you are also working to strengthen the lungs and heart, to avoid inflammation and to prevent insulin resistance from developing.

woman sleeping
For Better Sleep
A study of over 2,600 adults found that those who did their recommended amount of physical activity reported a 65% improvement in quality go sleep, were 68% less likely to have leg cramps at night and were 45% less likely to have difficulty focusing when they were tired as compared with individuals that did not get the recommended amount.

In short, aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week and double that if you want to see weight loss results, but in the end it is most important to balance your exercise with food intake and maintain a schedule that works for you. Let us know how you do it. Eat happy and be healthy!

getting in shape at home

Live Well: Get In Shape Without Leaving Home

If you want to get fitter and are totally against joining a health club because of the distance, the time taken or the cost factor, you don’t need to fret. No one ever said that it is not possible to get fit without going to a gym. After all, people were fit long before these things were invented. You wouldn’t believe it, but you can easily stay fit without having to leave the house.  All you need to understand is that consistency and the fact that you actually do something on a regular basis is the key to staying fit. There are a number of inexpensive things like dumbbells, fit balls, exercise bands and push-up bars that you can use to stay fit at home. But, you should be able to do so even if you don’t have any of these props or machines. Resveralife  discovered that all you need to stay fit is to understand the five basic elements of fitness – warm up, cardiovascular workout, resistance exercises, flexibility moves and cool downs.

All you need for a warm up is a treadmill or an easy walk. For the cardiovascular routine, you can do brisk walking or step aerobics or use a jump rope. The resistance portion is as simple as abdominal crunches, weight bars, squats, small dumbbells, push ups, tubing or bands. You need to increase your body flexibility with things like yoga poses and floor stretches. And the cool down always needs to be similar to the warm up. It is possible to do the strength work and the aerobic work in the same workout, but you need to ensure that you warm up your body and cool it down every time you exercise.

If you’re pressed for time on particular days, all you have to do is to increase the intensity of your fitness routine. For example, instead of the usual 40 minute exercise routine, you can opt for a harder 25 minute routine. You can also step up the pace of your strength workouts by doing compound exercises, exercises that work on multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Getting started with at-home exercises  

If you’re a beginner, try to aim for about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times a week. Add 20 – 30 minutes of strength work at least 3 times every week into this equation. This should be more than enough to start off with. Irrespective of your exercise routine or the type of exercise you do, make sure that you start off slowly and increase the intensity and the time gradually. And, always listen to your body. Try to focus on the muscles that need more attention and determine if you feel it there. Working out at home has its obvious advantages, but there are a few obstacles as well. One of the main obstacles of working out at home is those frequent distractions that can derail your routines. Therefore, it always helps to exercise early in the morning because these routines are more likely to stick.

Tips for people who exercise at home

  • Try to make things interesting so that you don’t end up getting bored of your routine. Use pictures or videos as a guide for your form and technique.
  • Find a partner to exercise with. You are more likely to continue with your workout routines if you have someone to exercise with.
  • Have a fixed time for your workouts and put it on your daily schedule.
  • Set specific goals that are not too difficult, and not too easy either. They should be things that are within reach, but cannot be achieved immediately.
  • Finally, make exercise an integral part of your life. You need to look at exercise as a lifestyle change, a change that needs to become a constant in your everyday life.