Think that bodyweight exercises are just for beginners? Think again! Many people are quick to head straight to the weight room and pick up the heaviest set of dumbbells they can handle, to do a few reps of an exercise, often with poor form. Although weight training is inevitably important to building muscle mass, many of us neglect the bodyweight exercises that play a crucial role in building strength! Bodyweight exercises are an efficient way to gain overall strength and functionality throughout your body and typically work more than just one muscle group at a time. Mixing in bodyweight exercises throughout your workouts will challenge your muscles in an efficient way to gain muscle and stability. Here are a few of the best bodyweight exercises you can do to build overall strength.
One of the best exercises to improve your upper body strength is push-ups, which target not only your chest, triceps, and shoulders, but also require core activation. There are many different variations of push-ups that you can try, which you can modify to make more challenging or easier. Elevating your feet (decline push-ups) will elevate the difficulty, while dropping your knees to the floor will take a bit of pressure off your upper body, making them easier. You can also play around with hand positioning, making them close-grip to target triceps, or wider to focus on the chest. Once you’ve mastered these variations, you can even aim for a one-arm push-up or spiderman push-ups.
While you’re working your “push muscles” (chest, triceps, and shoulders) it’s important to contrast with a “pull” exercise, meaning that you’re working the opposing muscle groups (back and biceps). Pull-ups are a challenging bodyweight exercise that is effective in building your back and bicep muscles, more so than any free weight or machine exercise. If you’re just getting started, we recommend starting with chin-ups, facing your palms to you with a closer grip. This will allow you to use the strength of both your biceps and back to lift your body until your chin is higher than the bar. As you progress, you can advance to pull-ups with your palms facing away from you and a wider grip. This helps to target the back and lats.
If you’re looking for a lower-body burn, squats should be your go-to! Starting with bodyweight squats will allow you to prioritize and learn proper form, which is essential for your success. Proper form helps to prevent injuries, and also ensure you are using the intended muscles throughout the duration of the exercise. As you master the squat, you can add a jumping squat to increase your heart rate, and eventually workout up to weight squats.