A lot of people believe they need a gym membership and exercise equipment to get in a good workout, but those people are wrong. You can get a GREAT workout in at home with some simple bodyweight movements, and if they feel too easy there is always a way to make them more challenging!
A great workout starts with a great mindset. The mindset that you are going to crush your workout and make the best of the resources you have! Don’t think just because you are jumping around in your living room instead of at a gym that it makes a difference. Your body and muscles don’t care where they are, they just want to get your heart pumping and the sweat flowing! Even those who are further into their fitness journey than a beginner can still benefit from a high intensity workout at home now and then. 21 great bodyweight movements are as follows, but does not mean exercises on this list aren’t beneficial as well, these are just my favorites!
The easiest, and most effective exercise! Because the squat is working such big muscles, it tends to burn a lot of calories. When squatting, remember to start with your feet shoulder width apart and keep the weight in your heels as you sit your butt back and when you drive up make sure to squeeze your glutes at the top. If that seems too easy you can always try single leg squats, or add some weight to it! If it’s too hard, try sitting onto a chair and standing up again. All are great ways to work the lower body muscles.
Again, another movement that everyone knows about. This exercise is targeting the upper body, and specifically the chest muscles. There are several different variations to the pushup. You can make them easier by starting from your knees and lowering yourself down, or putting your hands up on a chair or bench to incline yourself. To make them harder you can put your feet up on a bench or chair to add a decline, rotating side to side by moving an arm out and back in. You could even just use one arm or lift one leg up at a time to engage your core and assisting muscles more as well!
A lower body exercise to burn that booty! While lying on the floor, bend your knees up so your feet are flat on the floor. Pick your hips up off the floor and squeeze your glutes. It is a simple hip hinge movement that can later be progressed into a deadlift. To make the bridge harder, you can elevate the legs on a ball or bench, lift one leg completely into the air or even add a hip to your core to add extra resistance.
These can be very challenging for some people, and possibly even maybe cause some pain in the knees, so be careful! When lunging, remember that you aren’t actually shifting your weight forward, you are stepping and dropping straight down and standing straight up. You can do these stepping forward and then back to starting position, stepping backwards and back to starting position or do them walking in a forward motion. Make sure you are keeping the weight in the center of gravity and don’t let the knee go over the toe.
Holding a steady position either from your heads or your elbows! You can even add in some leg/arm lifts to challenge you, or drop down to your knees to make it easier! You should be a straight line from you head to your toes, so make sure that core is engaged!
6. BIRD DOG
Grab a mat, or even a towel or blanket and get down on all fours. Keep your core nice and tight and lift right arm, then left arm, then left leg, then right leg. OR you can lift opposite arm and opposite leg at the same time. This is a great exercise for core stability and also works some of your posterior (back) chain of muscles as well.
Again, on a mat/towel/blanket, but this time on your back. You want to lift your arms straight in front of you, and your legs up in the “table top” position. Opposite arm and opposite leg are going to extend to reach close to the floor (without touching) and come back up to the starting position. Another great core exercise. To make it more difficult you can try holding a yoga ball between the steady arm and leg or a medicine ball.
8. LEG LIFTS
Lying on your back with your legs straight up in the air. Slowly lowering them towards the floor (without touching) and then using your core to pull them back up into the starting position. You can also put your hands
under your tailbone if it is painful for you not to.
9. LATERAL LUNGES
Standing in an upright position, step wide out to the side and drop your butt backwards. You want to make sure your knees and toes are both facing forward and that your knee does not go over your toe. This movement is going to be working the inside and outside of the legs, so that pull in your groin area is okay! These can be made more difficult by doing them holding dumbbells.
Probably the most hated exercise of all time. Burpees tend to get a bad rep for being terrible, but they are a great exercise to get your heart pumping! Start in a standing position, drop your hands to the floor and jump your feet back into a high plank position, jump your legs back into a crouching position and then jump straight up into the air hands over head. There you go, a simple yet tough exercise. To make it easier you can step back and in instead of jumping, and to make it harder….well no one really wants to make a burpee harder than they already are.
11. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
In a high plank position on your hands, you want to drive one knee to your chest at a time. You can keep your foot off the ground the whole time or you can set the foot down and do them as though you are jumping to switch feet rather than constantly having one foot off the ground.
12. JUMPING JACKS
Back to the basics. Jumping jacks are sure to get your heart rate up and get you breathing heavier! Make sure you don’t get lazy and start just jumping in place, you want to make sure your feet are jumping to the sides and your arms are going all the way overhead.
13. FROG JUMPS
Just like they sound. Get into a “frog” position aka a crouching position with knees out and hands on the floor. Jump up and forward and land into that same position and then jump up and backwards landing in that same position. That’s 1 rep. If you have bad knees or hips I would not suggest doing this exercise as sometimes it can irritate the joint because of the starting position, so just be mindful of that.
14. BROAD JUMPS
It’s like a long jump in track and field! Your goal is to jump as far as possible while landing in a position that is soft on the knees and feet. Start in an athletic stance with knees bent and arms back, use your arms for momentum as you jump forward and land with soft knees and lightly on the feet. This movement uses your whole body, so it too is going to make you very tired, very quickly!
15. CURTSY LUNGES
This exercise is great for the glutes and hard to target leg muscles. Just as a lady would curtsy after a speech or performance….step your leg back behind the other and squat. Make sure to keep the kn
ees and toes aligned with each other and engage the glutes.
16. TRICEP DIPS
All you need is a chair/bench/couch/coffee table. Hold onto the edge of it facing backwards. You can either bend your knees with your feet on the floor or straighten your legs and rest on your heels. Drop yourself straight down (keeping your body close to whatever you’re holding
onto) and push up through your hands, not your hips. This is going to BURN the backs of your arms, like really burn. But embrace it, that’s where strength is gained.
An upper body blaster! Start in a plank position on your elbows. Walk up to your hands and perform a pushup. Then lower yourself back down to your elbows. You are going to want to switch which arm walks up first each time so that one doesn’t get overworked. Make sure the core is engaged so there is no sagging of the hips.
18. LOG JUMPS
In a high plank position on your hands with your feet together, jump both legs to the right and then to the left. Jump as though you are trying to get up and over a log or something underneath you! These will knock the wind out of you quick, so just keep working.
19. BEAR CRAWLS
These are a little rough, so if you are a beginner I would skip these for now. Bear crawls are just on all fours crawling down a distance and then back. You want to keep your butt low and stay level! They don’t sound very difficult, and you may feel like a fool doing them, but your heart will be racing and your muscles burning!
Start in a standing position, drop your hands to the floor (keeping your legs as straight as possible), walk your hands forward into a plank position and then back towards your feet and stand up. This movement uses both upper body and lower body muscles, so you will tire quickly again. If you are one who gets dizzy easily, focus on one spot as you are doing these, as the change in elevation from plank to standing can sometimes cause light-headedness.
21. HIP DROPS
A great exercise for your abdominals! Get into a plank position on your elbows. Slowing drop the right hip close to the floor (without touching) and raising it back up to neutral plank. Continue to the left side and go back and forth until you can’t pick your hips up anymore. Be sure not to let the back sag so you don’t end up using your lower back instead of the abdominal muscles.
From a personal training stand point, I would use a muscle focused exercise, followed by a cardiovascular one when making a workout. This will create great work and rest in-between exercises for maximum results! PLEASE make sure you properly warm up and cool down before attempting any of these exercises! Refer to our dynamic warmup blog for great insight on the benefits!