No access to a gym? You might think that building muscle and getting a good workout without any heavy weights is impossible. In fact, exercises using only body weight are a good way to improve coordination, flexibility, and, of course, strength. Read on to discover the nine best body weight exercises — no machinery or equipment needed.
- Push-ups. The push-up might be the perfect upper body exercise, since so many different muscles are involved. Your arms, chest, back, and abs all get put through their paces when you perform a push-up. While performing a large number of push-ups might be beyond you, even a few push-ups will do you good. Try one of the many push-up variations if you get bored with the standard exercise.
- Mountain climbers. An exercise that imitates the movements of scaling a rock face (but on the floor), mountain climbers are great for boosting agility, basic strength, and endurance. Start off in a push-up position. Now jump one foot forward towards you chest, landing it on the ground. Next, jump this leg backwards, while simultaneously bringing the other foot up to your chest. Repeat the pattern, so that both legs are in constant, fluid motion.
- Jumping jacks. The classic exercise of jumping jacks is one of the best ways to get in a cardio workout in a small amount of space — for example, if you’re stuck in a hotel room, or want to exercise while watching TV. Jumping jacks are also a good plyometric workout. Plyometrics exercises are those involving fast, intense movements, which increase your quickness and explosiveness.
- Squat. Simple exercises are often the best. Consider the squat, which effectively works almost your entire body. Your quads, hamstrings, and glutes are all crucially involved in a squat. Plus, squats work your core. The core muscles — perhaps the body’s most important muscle group — are the muscles contained in your abdomen, hips, and lower back. Your core supports your entire body, and is involved in almost all movements.
- Frog jumps. Frog jumps are both a good cardiovascular workout and a way to make your lower body (chiefly your quadriceps) stronger. Start by crouching with your hands behind your head, with your head held up. Now spring upwards and forwards as high as you can, landing so that you return to a squat position. Repeat immediately. This plyometric exercise will increase your agility.
- Burpee. Both an aerobic and strength workout, burpees are a multi-step exercise that help almost your entire body. From a standing pose, crouch down into a squat. Next, place your hands on the ground and jump your legs backwards, so that you are in position to do a single push-up. Jump your feet back up under you and body and then leap high into the air, returning to the starting position as you drop. Burpees are a famously tough exercise that have been used by militaries and top athletes to achieve a high level of fitness. Try seeing how many you can complete in ten minutes.
- Plank. Planks are another fantastic simple exercise. Complete a plank by descending into the starting position for a push-up — then hold yourself there, with your hips level to the floor, for as long as you can. If you’ve never attempted a plank before, you probably won’t last for long — don’t worry, that just means you have more room for improvement. Planks are one of the best abdomen workouts.
- Tuck jumps. Doing tuck jumps will increase your agility, explosiveness, and work the muscles of your lower body. Begin simply by standing with your hands held together in front of you. Now, quickly crouch down, then jump forcefully back up. While in the air, bring your knees up as high as possible towards your chest, with the goal of touching knees to hands. As you fall, put your legs back down so that they fully absorb the impact of landing.
- Bridges. This exercise is a valuable way to target the glutes and hamstrings while strengthening and stretching the lower back, which can easily be injured. Lie down on your back, bending your knees so that your feet are positioned directly underneath them. Next, tighten your core as you raise your hips upwards, so that your hips are on a line with your shoulders and knees. Hold this position for thirty seconds — if you can. Otherwise, start working your way up to a half-minute.
Clearly, you can get a quality full body workout without any extra equipment or gym membership. The nine exercises seen above are a good place to get started, though there are numerous other effective body weight exercises. Many of the exercises from this article also have variants you can try, in case your routine gets boring or tiresome.