Muscle building and toning don’t always require extra weight. Sometimes, your own body weighs a lot, especially when you increase your reps and focus on tiring your muscles.
There are tons of bodyweight workouts that you can easily do anytime, anywhere without taking up a lot of space. Whether you’re in a hotel, the beach, or on a plane, this provides you with the perfect opportunity to exercise. Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises you can do to help build muscle.
You can’t go wrong with squats. As one of the main exercises in every possible exercise program, simple bodyweight squats can do a lot to activate and tone your leg and gluteal muscles. They work your entire posterior chain, but also require active quads and glutes. This makes them the perfect exercise for your lower body, even when you’re brushing your teeth.
Start in a standing position with your feet hip-distance apart. Extend your arms in front of you, level with your chest, and activate your core. As you inhale, slowly begin to lower your hips as if you were trying to sit on an imaginary chair behind you. Tilt your pelvis forward so you don’t over-arch your back. The bottom of the inhalation is as close to parallel to the floor as possible.
Once you start exhaling, start extending your legs and return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes at the very top. Repeat 25-30 times, rest for 30 seconds, then do two more loops.
You can strengthen air squats by adding small pulses to your deepest squat and burning your glutes, or turn them into air squat jumpexplode at the end of your lift to maximize activation of your legs.
Another major exercise that can be performed in a number of ways is the lunge. You can do fronts, backs, knee bends, sideways, or a combination of all movements to really work all your leg muscles until exhaustion.
If you are new to lunges, start with the basic reverse lunge, as it requires the least stability and has the lowest risk of injury. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Put your hands on your hips to activate your core muscles.
Inhale, take a step back with your left leg, bend your knee, and land on the ball of your left foot. The goal is to form two 90-degree angles: one with your front ankle-knee-hip and one with your back ankle-knee-hip. Exhale and return to the starting position, squeezing the buttocks at the top.
You can repeat 20-25 times with the same leg, then do the same with your right hand, or alternate each time you return to the starting position. Repeat the entire cycle twice for a total of three series of 20-25 reps per leg.
Push-ups are rarely actually done with added weight. You can sometimes see people challenging themselves with a weighted plate on their backs, but that’s reserved for the more adventurous gym-goers, as the setup itself isn’t the most comfortable.
Regular basic push-ups are more than enough when it comes to challenging and toning your chest and shoulder muscles. Combined with the plank, your upper body is really good for body weight.
Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Activate your core and push the ground away from you, flexing your upper back slightly and creating space between your shoulder blades. Extend your legs and raise your feet high.
Now, if you’re a beginner, you can place your knees on the floor, forming a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Inhale, bend your elbows and spread them slightly, keeping your body an inch off the ground. Aim to keep your chin on the floor so your chest stays elevated. Exhale and push yourself back to the plank.
If you are familiar with push-ups and the knees are easy for you, start with a full plank. Once your body is an inch off the floor, as you exhale, you push your entire body up like a plank. Make sure your quads are active and your body really feels like a solid, solid plank.
Do as many repetitions as possible until you fail for maximum results. Take a break and repeat two more times.
Another bodyweight exercise that really challenges the upper body is the push-up. They can easily be performed on a bench on the floor or on an elevated surface that lifts your entire body off the ground, allowing you to lift your entire body weight. These may seem easy, but after the third repetition you will struggle.
If you are a beginner, start with a bench. Place your hands on the ends of the bench with your fingers facing forward. Bend your knees and lift your hips to line up with the bench. Activate your core muscles, inhale, begin to bend your elbows, and stop when they line up with your shoulders. Exhale, push your body up and stretch your arms.
You can strengthen by stretching your legs in front of you and digging your heels into the ground, or try using bar or elevated surface You’ll hang on it, with your feet crossed behind you, and you won’t hesitate to pull your entire body weight up as you stretch your arms.
Whichever option you choose, repeat until you fail. Rest for 30 seconds, then do two more loops.
Pull-ups are one of the hardest bodyweight exercises you can do and take years to master. They require a lot of upper body strength and are very effective at building muscle. That being said, there are plenty of modifications to get started.
The basic pull-up starts with a suspended, stable barbell, holding the bar in both hands, arms outstretched. Activate your body, and as you exhale, begin to pull your body up, bringing your elbows close to your torso, trying to get your chin over the bar. Your movements should be slow and controlled, avoiding any jerking movements or pulling from your lower back. You can keep your legs extended or bent and your ankles crossed. There is basically no set count for pull-ups. You do your best. Then rest and repeat twice.
If this is not possible for you, use reverse planks or inverted, hold the barbell in front of your chest with both hands. Extend your legs in front of you and dig your heels into the floor. Inhale, and as you exhale, pull your straight body up toward the bar. Repeat 15 to 20 times and really try to isolate your arms so you can feel them lift your entire body. Rest and repeat two more cycles.
Add these bodyweight exercises to your next muscle-building routine and get stronger with each repetition.If you want to really focus on your legs, check out These hamstring exercises You can also avoid walking into the gym.