You might have experienced at least for once – that disappointment feeling when you get to see no free bench and machine in the gym. All you can do is either wait for your turn or get back home.
Well, not anymore! It’s your workout time, and you rightfully earn every minute of it. So, don’t wait for your turn, rather find a small spare corner for yourself in the gym and blast off your workout with these top bodyweight exercises that will keep you ahead in the race of gains!
Let’s do it.
Primary Muscles Targeted: Lats and Arms
HOW TO PERFORM A CLASSIC PULL-UP –
- Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing outwards
- Pull yourself up slightly over the bar by keeping a slight arch in your back and torso puffed out.
- Slowly lower down yourself until your arms are fully extended.
- That’s rep one. Do as many strict reps you can do.
PRO TIP – The key to getting more out of every pull-up rep is by considering forearms as a hook used to pull back muscles to and fro. Minimise the use of shoulders throughout the motion for better results.
Primary Muscles Targeted: Pectoral muscles, Delts, and Shoulders
HOW TO PERFORM A PUSH-UP –
- Begin with a high plank position with your hands firmly placed on the ground, right beneath your shoulders.
- Now keeping a neutral spine, lower down your body until your chest is just above the floor.
- Push yourself back up to complete one rep.
- For better activation of triceps, keep your arms tucked to the side while you lower down your body.
PRO TIP – Like every other chest exercises, contraction of chest muscles remains the important factor in push-ups too.
Primary Muscles Targeted: Chest, Triceps, and Delts
HOW TO PERFORM DIPS –
- Grab the parallel dip bars and jump up.
- Now lower down your upper body by bending your arms.
- Work your way down until your shoulders are either in line or just below your elbows.
- Lift back up by straightening your arms.
- A beginner should at least do four sets of 8-10 strict reps of dips, and an intermediate should look forward to doing more reps or use weight chains.
PRO TIP – Make sure that you are in full control throughout the exercises.
4) Bodyweight Squats
Primary Muscles Targeted: Quads, Hamstring, and Hip Flexors
HOW TO PERFORM SQUATS –
- Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Keep your hands clasped together in front of your chest.
- Begin the downward motion by flexing your knees and hips. Sit back with your hips and keep an upright torso.
- Go full depth and return to starting position to finish one rep.
- Perform 4-5 sets of 10-15 reps as warm-ups and three sets of 15-20 reps as a finisher on a leg day workout.
PRO TIP – As you work your way down in the rep, make sure that have an upright torso and natural arc in the back. Work your way upwards with knees in line with your feet – not drawn inwards.
Primary Muscles Targeted: Rectus abdominal (abs) and Transverse Abdominus
HOW TO PERFORM PLANKS –
- Begin with a press-up position.
- Rest your body weight onto your forearms by bending your elbows.
- Maintain a neutral spine and make sure that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles.
- Suck your stomach and thereby engage your core.
- Hold this position as long as you can.
PRO TIP – The key to staying longer in plank lies in the high-class stability of shoulders along with ultimate strength in abs, lower back, and legs. Planks are your ‘shortcut’ to building super core strength.
Primary Muscles Targeted: Chest, Triceps, Delts, Quads and Hamstring
HOW TO PERFORM A BURPEE –
- Start off with a standing position with hands on the side.
- Drop down to a squat position but with your palms on the ground.
- Kick your legs back while keeping your arms extended.
- You will be now in a high plank position.
- From high plank position, immediately return to squat position.
- Jump from this position to finish the first rep.
PRO TIP – Make sure that you extended your feet simultaneously and not one by one. To make a burpee more challenging add a push up to the high plank position.
7) Box Jumps
Primary Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings and Glutes
HOW TO PERFORM A BOX JUMP –
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place the box at a comfortable distance.
- When you are ready to jump, swing your arms back, and drop quickly into a quarter squat, then swing your arms towards the front to push the ground with your feet and jump onto the box.
- Land lightly on your feet.
PRO TIP – Extend your hips while you swing your arms forward to get that extra momentum.
8) Walking lunges
Primary Muscles Targeted: Quads, Glutes, and Hip Flexors
HOW TO PERFORM WALKING LUNGES –
- Start with a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on the side.
- Step your right leg forward, flexing your knees and drop your hips.
- Go down until your rear knee grazes the floor.
- Stand back up and take another step forward with left leg.
- Repeat this for as many times you can.
- You can also grab weights with your hands to make this exercises even tougher.
PRO TIP – Don’t step your legs either way too forward or way too short. You should also maintain an upright torso throughout the exercise.
9) Plank Push-ups
Primary Muscles Targeted: Deltoids, Shoulders, Chest, and Abdomen
HOW TO PERFORM A PLANK PUSH-UP –
- Start with a forearm plank position.
- Press yourself up with your right forearm while keeping left palm on the ground.
- Then return to push-up position and repeat for the desired number of reps.
PRO TIP – To engage more of abdominals, keep your core sucked in all round the exercise. Maintain a steady pace through the exercise.
10) Jump Squats
Primary Muscles Targeted: Quads, Glutes, and Hip Flexors
HOW TO PERFORM A JUMP SQUAT –
- Begin with a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Perform a normal squat.
- As you complete the downward motion, jump in the air.
- As you land, lower the body back to normal squat position to finish rep one.
PRO TIP – Landing softly in each rep and thereby allowing the muscles to take maximum work both in positive and negative half of the rep is the only way to get the max out of this exercise.
11) “Superman” aka Prone Back extensions
Primary Muscles Targeted: Lower Back And Abdomen
HOW TO PERFORM A PRONE BACK EXTENSION –
- Lie flat on the ground with your arms on either side and your toes touching the ground.
- Now slowly raise yourself up the ground by simultaneously pulling your shoulders back and lifting your feet above the ground as far as possible.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
PRO TIP – Try to get much as a deep contraction in the lower back to see better results.
12) Close grip push-ups
Primary Muscles Targeted: Triceps, Chest, and Delts
HOW TO PERFORM A CLOSE GRIP PUSH-UP –
- Start off in a normal push-up position but with your hands closer than shoulder width.
- Keeping your body straight, lower body to perform a pushup by bending arms.
- Push back up until arms are fully extended.
PRO TIP – Keep your palms as close as possible and engage more of triceps and less of shoulders in the lift. Add them as workout finishers on Chest and Triceps day and feel the real burn.
13) Mountain climber
Primary Muscles Targeted: Thighs, Hip Flexors, Hamstring, and Abs
HOW TO PERFORM A MOUNTAIN CLIMBER –
- Start with extending out yourself in the push-up position.
- Drive your left knee towards your chest while stretching out the right leg.
- Then stretch out left leg and bring right knee just below the chest.
- Repeat in rhythm as fast as possible.
PRO TIP – Keep your elbows locked out to help you maintain a perfect posture through the exercise. Moreover, bear in mind that your body should form a perfectly straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
14) Jumping lunges
Primary Muscles Targeted: Quads, Calves, and Glutes
HOW TO PERFORM A JUMPING LUNGE –
- Start with the standard lunge position and then lunge forward with your left leg, explode up and jump, immediately lunge with your right leg.
- Continue to and fro without stopping. You may feel the burn now.
PRO TIP – land lightly on your feet so as to ensure that you don’t stress your kness way too much.
15) Flutter kicks
Primary Muscles Targeted: Quads, Hamstring, Hip abductors and Abs
HOW TO PERFORM A FLUTTER KICK –
- Lie flat on the ground with your face towards the ceiling and your arms on either side.
- Now lift your heels about 10 inches from the ground.
- Kick your feet up and down explosively in a scissor-like motion.
PRO TIP – While performing flutter kicks, keep in mind to continue breathing throughout the exercise duration. Also, keep your abs tight and don’t let your feet touch the ground. Pretty easy, isn’t it?
16) Hanging Knee Raises
Primary Muscles Targeted: Hip flexors and Abs
HOW TO PERFORM HANGING KNEE RAISES –
- Grab an overhead pull-up bar with a shoulder width overhand grip. Keep your arms fully extended and your legs off the ground.
- Now engage your core in raising your knees towards your shoulders.
- Your final position is when your thigh nearly touches your chest.
- Return back to starting position. Do three sets of at least 15-20 reps per set.
PRO TIP – Hanging knee raises are very effective when done with proper contraction and control. Don’t unnecessarily make use of momentum and swing back and forth. Keep your focus solely on the contraction of the abs throughout the entire motion.
17) Twisting push-ups
Primary Muscles Targeted: Chest, Shoulders, and Abdomen
HOW TO PERFORM A TWISTING PUSH-UP –
- Start with a regular push-up position.
- Then lower down, and as you press up, twist your body and extend your right hand in the air while supporting your body with the other hand.
- Lower down and repeat for another side.
PRO TIP – Get a full stretch at the top of the motion to ascertain that maximum oblique muscles are recruited.
18) Reverse Rows or Inverted Rows
Primary Muscles Targeted: Lats, Rear delts, and Arms
HOW TO PERFORM A REVERSE ROW –
- Position a bar in a smith machine to about waist height.
- With a wide grip, position yourself under the bar.
- Now pull up with your elbows so you use your arms and upper back.
- Go back to starting position to finish one rep.
PRO TIP – Your legs should be almost stationary throughout the exercise. Remeber to puff out chest while performing this exercise to enenage more of upper back.
19) Standing calf raises
Primary Muscles Targeted: Claves
HOW TO PERFORM A STANDING CALF RAISE –
- Rise up on the toes from a standing position while keeping the knees and straight and heels off the floor.
- Hold the position for a couple of seconds and slowly come down.
- Repeat for desired counts.
PRO TIP – For a wider range of motion, stand on something elevated like a step.
20) Glute Bridge or Hip thrusts
Primary Muscles Targeted: Glutes, Abs, Obliques
HOW TO PERFORM A GLUTE BRIDGE –
- Lie on your back with your hips on the floor and knees bent at 45 degrees. Try to bring your feet as close to your butt as possible.
- Then in the next step, powerfully thrust your ass in an upward direction while squeezing your butt on the way up. This way your body should form a flat bridge between your knees and shoulders.
- Hold the bridge position for a couple of seconds and slowly return to the bottom and repeat.
PRO TIP – For best results, trigger this exercise with the glutes.
21) Side Planks
Primary Muscles Targeted: Abs and Obliques
HOW TO PERFORM SIDE PLANKS –
- Lie on your left side with your body in straight line from head to feet resting on your forearm.
- Make sure that your elbows are right below your shoulder.
- Now contract your abs and lift your hips off the ground while still maintaining the straight line.
- Hold the position for desired time period.
PRO TIP – Like every other ab exercise, the form is the key to getting the max out of side planks too. To hit muscles as hard as possible keep your hips in line with your body.
22) Bicycle crunch
Primary Muscles Targeted: Abs and Obliques
HOW TO PERFORM A BICYCLE CRUNCH –
- Lie flat on the floor with your abs drawn in and lower back pressed to the ground.
- Put your hands behind your head and bring your knees towards your torso while simultaneously lifting your shoulder off the ground.
- Perform the motion as if you were pedaling a bicycle.
- Do it for at least 15-20 reps on each side for 3 to 4 sets.
PRO TIP – Don’t unnecessarily pull your neck with your arms. To make this exercise more challenging, hold a light weight behind your head as your perform the exercise.
23) Handstand Push-up
Primary Muscles Targeted: Chest, Triceps, and Deltoids
HOW TO PERFORM A HAND STAND PUSH-UP –
- Start off with a stable hand stand position and begin the push up.
- Slowly lower down yourself until your nose is just about and inch or two from the ground.
- Push back up with the help of shoulders and arms.
- Repeat for as many times you can.
PRO TIP – To master a hand stand push-up, learn to balance yourself properly in a headstand position so that you can get controlled push-up while doing handstand push-ups.