Shopping List

Best Bodyweight Exercises

iFIT Team

READ TIME:13 min.

Let’s be honest: Finding the motivation to work out isn’t easy, especially if you’re under the impression that you need to hit the gym to get in a good sweat. Thankfully, you can carry out a powerful workout just about anywhere, with no equipment required. What’s the secret to flexible workouts that go wherever you do? It’s having a few go-to exercises that leverage just your bodyweight, including iFIT’s extensive bodyweight exercise library!

We spoke to Bryn Knowles (NASM-CPT), an iFIT Trainer located in Logan, Utah, who has a BS in Exercise Science from Utah State University.

Bryn says, “Bodyweight workouts are a great way to shape and tone your entire body. With no gym or additional equipment required, you can work the body anytime, anywhere, with your own resistance. Bodyweight training is not only a great way to improve muscular strength but has also proven to be an excellent source of enhanced cardiovascular strength and endurance. It also allows for increased functional movement in day-to-day life with better balance, joint mobility, and flexibility.”

If you’re ready to dump the dumbbells and scrap the pilates ring, read on. All you need to conquer these 22 body-changing moves is YOU.

Woman does a pushup during her bodyweight class

Upper-body bodyweight exercises

Upper-body bodyweight exercises primarily target the arms, shoulders, upper back, and core. By integrating these functional exercises within your training, you will learn to move better and perform daily tasks with ease. These tasks can include pushing, pulling, and lifting. These four efficient exercises range from classic moves to personal trainer favorites, with a few modifications included to keep it interesting.

Push-up

Never underestimate the power of push-ups. Use this essential bodyweight exercise to energize your shoulders. They’ll also activate your chest muscles. Employ them when working out in your home gym or on the go.

How to: 

1. Get into a plank position. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, so your hands, elbows, and shoulders are stacked above each other.
2. Next, with your weight on your arms, lower your body in a straight line until your chest almost touches the floor. (Make sure that everything from your hips to your shoulders drop down as one solid, straight unit).
3. To avoid putting additional stress on your neck, be sure to look forward in front of your fingertips to help keep your neck aligned with your back.
4. Hold, then push yourself back up to your original position.
5. Repeat. 

Modification: Knee push-up

If a traditional push-up is challenging for you, take a knee. This game-changing modification gives you the same results while making it easier on your shoulders. 

1. Get into a kneeling position, placing your hands below your shoulders and knees behind your hips. Your back should be tilted at about a 45-degree angle.
2. Next, curl your toes under, and, with your weight on your hands, lower your chest until it almost touches the floor.
3. Hold, then push yourself back up to your original position.
4. Repeat. 

Pull-up

Few bodyweight exercises match the power of this move. Use pull-ups to target your entire upper body. This includes your laterals, biceps, triceps, forearms, and core. It can also improve your posture.

How to: 

1. Grab the pull-up bar, placing your hands shoulder-width apart.
2. Hang from the pull-up bar with your arms slack and your feet off of the floor.
3. Lift yourself until your chin is above the bar by pulling your elbows down.
4. Lower yourself until your arms are slack again.
5. Repeat.

Modification: resistance band kneeling lat pull-down

No, this isn’t a traditional pull-up (or the chin-up). That said, personal trainers love this move because it engages the same muscles as a pull-up. Complete this move often, and you’ll likely have no trouble pulling off a perfect pull-up soon enough. 

How to: 

1. Loop a resistance band over a bar or attachment point.
2. Facing the bar, grab both ends of the band with your palms facing away from your body.
3. Next, lower yourself to one or both knees while maintaining a straight back and neck.
4. Exhale, pulling the bands downward until your wrists are near shoulder height.
5. Repeat.

Tricep dips

Take a break from sitting through your workday and use your chair, a staircase, or any elevated surface to complete this move. You’ll activate your triceps and build shoulder strength!

How to:

1. Find a solid and sturdy elevated surface. You can use a chair, stair, bench, or rock—whatever is handy! 
2. Extend your legs with your knees bent and your heels hip-width apart. Press into your palms to lift your body, then slide forward just enough to move your glutes off of the chair. 
3. Lower yourself until your elbows are bent back between 45 and 90 degrees. Keep your back straight and close to the chair. 
4. After, slowly push yourself back up to the start position. Control the movement throughout the range of motion. 
5. Repeat.

Modification: Bend your knees 90 degrees.
Progression: Extend your legs forward with only a slight bend.

Man does a tricep dip during a bodyweight workout

Supermans

This move is a workout hero. It will help you improve your posture by activating your lower back muscles and glutes.

How to:

1. Lay down with your core and forehead flat on the ground. Keep your arms and legs outstretched.
2. Raise your hands and feet approximately four to five inches off of the floor. Keep your core on the ground.
3. Hold this raised position for three seconds, and then lower your hands and feet slowly back to the floor.
4. Repeat.

Total-body bodyweight exercises

Get in peak physique with these full-body exercises. These moves are designed to work your arms, legs, core, and everything in between. 

Burpee

This two-part bodyweight exercise lights up the entire body from head to toe.

“Not only are burpees a great exercise for developing muscular strength, but they’re a killer cardio move as well,” says Bryn.

How to:

1. Get into a squat position. Keep your knees bent, back straight, and feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Next, lower your hands to the floor in front of you, so they’re just inside your feet. 
3. With your weight in your hands, jump your feet back, so you’re on your hands and toes, in a push-up position. 
4. Do one push-up.
5. Do a frog kick by jumping your feet back to their starting position. 
6. Stand and stretch your arms over your head. 
7. Jump quickly into the air, so you land back where you began. 
8. Come back to a starting position.
9. Repeat.

Modification: Up-downs

Up-downs follow the same general guidelines listed above but omit some of the more challenging moves. This helps to make the sequence easier. Up-downs are gentler on your body, yet they still deliver a total-body burn.

1. Get into a squat position. Keep your knees bent, back straight, and feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Once in position, lower your hands onto the floor in front of you so they’re just inside your feet. 
3. With your weight on your hands, walk your feet back, so you’re on your hands and toes in a push-up position. 
4. Hold the plank position.
5. Do a frog kick by jumping your feet back to their starting position. 
6. Stand and stretch your arms over your head. 
7. Come back to a starting position.
8. Repeat.

Inchworm

This yoga-centric move will engage virtually all of your muscle groups. It will increase your strength and flexibility.

How to: 

1. Stand up tall with your legs straight. Trainer tip: Make sure your knees aren’t locked.
2. Next, hinge your upper body forward and walk your hands out in front of you along the floor, keeping your feet in place.
3. Once you’re in a plank position, begin taking tiny steps until your feet meet your hands.
4. Repeat.

Core bodyweight exercises

Consider your core to be precisely what it sounds like: your body’s center of power. Not only will a healthy core stabilize your body, but it plays a crucial role in allowing the rest of your body to function correctly. Use these bodyweight exercises to revitalize your core and keep your entire body operating at peak performance. 

Forearm plank

Activate your abs with this workout move. What’s the secret to a perfect plank? Try creating full-body tension. Tighten your shoulder blades, press your upper arms into the ground, tighten your core, squeeze your glutes, and firm up your quads to keep your knees straight.

How to:

1. Get on all fours. Once in position, walk your hands forward. You’ll want to straighten your body before dropping down onto your forearms.
2. Once your elbows are stacked directly above your shoulders, point your arms straight ahead and rise onto your toes.
3. Check your hip positioning. Make sure that your hips aren’t up in the air or sagging. Sagging hips can lead to excess pressure on your lower back.
4. Keep your core firm and look straight ahead.
5. Hold this position for 30–60 seconds.

Couple does planks during a bodyweight workout

Russian twist

Athletes tend to be big fans of this dynamic core move that assists with rotational movement.

How to:

1. From a sitting position, lift your feet off the floor, keeping your knees bent.
2. Next, lean back, creating a 45-degree angle between your back and the floor. Your only contact to the floor should be your glutes.
3. Reach your arms out in front of you. Clasp your hands together.
4. Engage your abdominal muscles and twist to the right, then back to the center, then to the left.
5. Repeat.

Modification:

Keep your feet on the floor.

Progression:

Extend your legs up and out into a v-sit position. You can also kick it up a notch by adding resistance to the move by using a dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, or even an object around your home.

V-sit

Rev up your core with this balance-building workout move. It echoes the classic yoga boat pose. 

How to:

1. Sit on the ground with your legs extended straight out.
2. After, lift your legs, creating a 45-degree angle with the floor.
3. Lean back, creating a 45-degree angle between your back and the floor. Your only contact with the floor should be your glutes.
4. Reach your arms straight in front of you, so they are parallel with your legs.
5. Hold this position for 30–60 seconds.

Trainer tip: Want a more challenging move? Turn your v-sit into v-ups!

Modification:

Keep your feet planted on the floor rather than elevated.

V-up

How to:

1. Lay on your back with your legs and arms extended straight out. Your legs and arms should be lifted slightly off the floor. 
2. Once done, lift your torso and legs as if you’re trying to touch your toes. 
3. Lower your arms and legs back down. 
4. Repeat.

Modification:

Alternate between your legs, rather than lifting them together.

Leg lowers

Don’t let the name’s emphasis on the legs fool you. This balance-enhancing exercise will accentuate your abs like nothing else.

How to:

1. Lay on your back with your legs extended straight in front of you, and your knees slightly bent. Place your hands on either side of your hips with your palms down.
2. Engage your abs and raise your legs. Make a 90-degree angle with the floor.
3. Press your lower back into the floor and lower your legs as close to the ground as possible.
4. Raise your legs back up to return to your starting position.

Mountain climbers

This bootcamp class favorite accelerates your heart rate and works your muscles simultaneously. To make the most of this bodyweight exercise, envision pulling your belly button toward your spine while you engage your legs and core.

How to:

1. Come to a plank position with your body in a straight line and parallel to the floor.
2. Following this, engage your core as you lift your right knee toward your right elbow. Return the right knee to the starting position, then propel your left knee up toward your left elbow.
3. Continue switching legs to create a fluid, running-like motion.
4. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Lower-body bodyweight exercises

Although the lower body doesn’t often get the same attention as the upper body, plenty of well-being benefits come from a powerful lower body. In addition to maintaining mobility, a well-toned lower body can aid in endurance and help make those upper-body exercises a bit easier to tackle.

Squat

The benefits of this body-building basic are endless when creating lower-body strength.

How to:

1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and toes pointed forward. 
2. Next, shift your weight onto your heels as you push your hips back into a sitting position. Make sure to maintain a strong, upright chest. 
3. Lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. At no point should your knees cave in or out, nor should they extend beyond your toes.
4. Pause at the bottom of the squat with all your joints in proper alignment.
5. Propel yourself back up into your starting position.

Hip raises

Work your body into an exhilarating stretch while simultaneously activating your glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, abs, and lower back.

How to:

1. Lay on your back with your knees bent, and your feet are flat on the floor with your toes pointing forward.
2. Place your hands at your sides for stability. 
3. Lift your glutes off of the floor by elevating your hips while bearing down through your heels.
4. While exhaling, elevate your glutes until your back, hips, and thighs are in a straight line. Tighten your core and squeeze your glutes. Hold for a few seconds. 
5. Afterward, return to your starting position by lowering your hips back to the floor. 
6. Repeat.

Progression:

Try elevating one leg at a time to challenge your stability.

Lunges

Lunges are so versatile—you can incorporate them anywhere! Try them during a walk or a hike. They’ll engage your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core.

How to:

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
2. Once in position, engage your core and take a swooping step forward with your right leg. Shift your weight forward onto this leg.
3. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Be sure that your knees do not extend out past your toes and that your chest is tall and upright.
4. Press onto your right heel to propel yourself back up into your starting position.
5. Finally, repeat with your left leg, alternating until you’ve reached your desired number of reps.

Woman does lunges during her bodyweight workout

Calf raises

If shapely calves are a must-have for you, simply integrate a few reps of this simple move into your routine. Not only will calf raises build your leg muscle, but they’ll also assist with better balance and reduce stress on your Achilles tendon (an excellent benefit for runners).

How to:

1. First, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then slowly lift your heels off the ground. Keep your knees tight but not locked. Pause for a second or two.
2. Slowly return your heels to the ground.
3. Repeat.

Fire hydrants

This cheekily-named bodyweight exercise takes its name from your puppy’s playbook. It packs significant results, including strengthening your glutes, staving off back pain, and lowering your risk for lower-back injuries.

How to:

1. Get on all fours with your shoulders stacked above your hands and your hips stacked above your knees.
2. Next, pull your navel toward your spine to straighten out your back and fix your eyes straight ahead.
3. After that, while squeezing your glutes and bracing your core, lift your bent right leg out so it’s away from your body. Do your best to maintain a straight back.
4. Lower your knee back down to the ground. Repeat.

Get started today with iFIT bodyweight workouts

Are you inspired to start a guided bodyweight workout routine now? Sign up for an iFIT account today and try a 12-minute bodyweight workout in Capri, Italy, consisting of just three movements. You can also take in stunning views of the Rose Hall aqueduct in Jamaica while you energize with a lower-body-focused flow that consists of stretching, strengthening, and stability. Try engaging in a moderate, full-body strength workout in Thailand that’s interrupted by a parade of playful elephants! Sign up for your free iFIT 30-day trial to start a bodyweight workout today!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.

iFIT requires an internet connection and Wi-Fi to function. You will be required to provide your credit card information upon sign-up for iFIT. Your Commitment Period may be month-to-month or twelve (12), eighteen (18), or thirty-six (36) months, depending on your agreement.

Terms shall apply to your iFIT use and subscription during your Commitment Period and any subsequent Renewal Term. Unless you cancel your account or notify us at least twenty four (24) hours prior to the expiration of your commitment period that you do not wish to renew your subscription, your iFIT subscription will automatically renew for an additional month, one (1) year, or two (2) year period, as applicable, for the same duration as your initial commitment period (“The Renewal Term”), and you authorize us to bill the then-applicable membership fee and any taxes to the payment method we have on record for you.


Discover More

You may also like

Live Race Calendar 2021

1 MIN.

READ MORE
HIIT vs. Bootcamp Workouts: What’s the...

9 MIN.

READ MORE
Introducing Dark Mode

1 MIN.

READ MORE