The Best Bodyweight Exercises for a Perfect Workout Anywhere

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The Best Bodyweight Exercises for a Perfect Workout Anywhere

Crunched for time and can’t make it to the gym? No worries. You can still get an effective workout by just using your bodyweight. The following exercises can be done virtually anywhere and require no set-up time or equipment. So, whether you’re traveling, stuck at work, or simply don’t want to leave the house, give these eight moves a try for a killer muscle burn.

And, as an added bonus, you can use these exercises to create a circuit that can be done in as little as 20 minutes. Do each exercise for the desired amount of reps or time, moving from one to the next without a break. When you get to the end, take a 30-60 second break and repeat. You can cycle through the moves two or three times.

Bodyweight squats
Probably considered the king of all exercises, the squat helps strengthen the large muscles of the lower body.

To do: Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Extend arms out straight in front of you (palms down). Slowly bend your legs and squat down until thighs are parallel to floor or for an advanced move, go slightly lower than parallel. Keep your head up and look straight ahead. Pause at the bottom and stand back. Repeat. Variations: single-leg and sumo or pile squat)

One of the most well-known bodyweight exercises, push-ups strengthen your pectoral muscles, deltoids, triceps, and abdominal muscles.

To do: Assume a prone position on the floor with the knees fully extended and the toes pointed down to the floor. Place hands on floor, palms down, about 2 to 3 inches wider than shoulder-width apart, with elbows pointed outward. Keep body in straight line and toes in contact with the floor, push against the floor with the hands to fully extend the elbows. Pause at the top and then lower to starting position. Repeat. Variations: close-grip

Best known for increasing leg strength (inner thigh, hips, glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings).

To do: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Head up and looking straight ahead, engage your core muscles and take a big step forward with one leg. Lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Press foot into floor and come back to starting position. Switch legs and repeat. It’s important not to let your knee shift in or out—keep it stable. Variations: side, reverse, and curtsy

Nothing brings memories of elementary school PE rushing to your head quite like the burpee. This move is considered a conditioning exercise that challenges all parts of your body .

To do: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend knees and squat down while bringing hands to the ground. Jump your feet back into a plank position, with your core strong. Do a push-up, then jump feet forward to meet your hands, then jump up and off the ground. Repeat.

This exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles, as well as the muscles in your hips, chest, and shoulders.

To do: Lie down with forearms on the floor and elbows beneath shoulders. Feet should be flexed with toes on the floor. Rise up on your toes so that only your forearms and toes touch the floor. Your body should be a few inches off the floor in a straight line. Bring belly button to spine, by contracting your deep abdominal muscles and tighten your buttocks and upper body. Breath normally and hold for 30-60 seconds. Variations: side plank

Glute bridge
This move helps activate and strengthen your glutes and core and opens up your hips.

To do: Lie on your back with knees bent and spine in a neutral position. Push your feet into the ground and squeeze your glutes to extend the hips. Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from shoulders to hips to knees. Stay in this position for 5-10 seconds by contracting your glutes and then lower your body down to the starting position. Repeat.

Squat jumps Considered a conditioning and strengthening move, the squat jump gets your heart rate up and works the muscles of the lower body.

To do: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides. Squat down until thighs are slightly higher than knees. Swing arms overhead and jump up. Land with soft, bent knees, and settle back into the squat position. Repeat.

This exercise challenges the muscles of the lower back, glutes, and core. It also teaches your body to stabilize.

To do: Lie down on stomach with arms stretched out in front of you and legs extended. Draw the abdominals up and away from the floor and pull shoulders down away from ears. Squeeze your abdominals, back muscles and glutes to lift arms and legs off the floor (at the same time). Hold in this position, then relax and return to starting position. Repeat.

Photo: ThoroughlyReviewed, CC-BY

Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness and wellness.