More and more people have been recognizing the benefits of body weight exercise. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine ranked it as the number one fitness trend for 2015. Although it topped the list of trends, it’s certainly not new and it will continue to have a place in the fitness world. Not only is it an effective form of training, it’s easy to do anywhere.
Here is a guide to 10 of the best body weight exercises that will work the entire body at once or focus specifically on your core and upper or lower body.
Squat – This exercise is perfect for working muscles in the lower body including glutes, quads, and hamstrings. It even works the core. Pull your shoulders back and engage your abs while you lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, raise yourself back to the starting position.
Lunge – This is another triple threat move for working the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. With your upper body straight and your shoulders back, step forward with one leg. Lower your hips until both knees form a 90-degree angle, without allowing the back knee to touch the floor. Push back to the starting position while keeping the weight in your heels.
Push-up – This will work your upper body and abs and strengthen your chest and back. Tuck your elbows to your sides and align your wrists with your shoulders for the best form. Lower your hips and chest as much as possible without touching the floor.
Pull-up – This is one of the best upper body exercises that will work your shoulders, back, and arms, while strengthening your core. There are a variety of ways to do it, but one of the most popular is to keep your palms facing away from you on the bar as you raise yourself up so that your chin is higher than the bar. You’ll know you’re ready for more reps when you are able to lower yourself with control. If you’re unable to do this exercise now, almost anyone can get it with practice, so don’t give up.
Burpee – This is an excellent total body exercise that will keep you conditioned. It combines squats and push-ups from earlier on in the list. Start in a standing position and move into a squat with your hands on the floor in front of you. You then transition into a push-up as you kick your feet back and lower your body. Tuck your feet back under you and then jump up to start all over again. They may sound a bit complicated but they are definitely worth it.
Bicycle – This can be a more effective way of focusing on the core than the standard crunch. While lying on the floor with your hands behind your head, bring your knees towards your chest. Move your left elbow to your right knee as you straighten the other leg. Continue to alternate sides in a pedaling motion.
Mountain Climber – This is another move to work out your entire body at one time. Start by getting down on your hands and knees. Bring one leg forward under your chest as you straighten the other leg. Jump to switch leg positions while tightening your core and keeping your hands to the ground.
Plank – This move will also give you a full body workout. Lie face down on the floor, supported by your forearms and clasped hands. Your legs should be extended behind you as you rise up on your toes. Engage your core and tighten your back to hold your position for about 30 – 60 seconds. If you’re more advanced, you can extend your arms straight out beneath you instead of resting on your forearms.
Bridge – This will work the hamstrings and glutes, while strengthening the inner thighs, abs, and back. Lie on your back with your arms at your side and knees bent while hip-width apart. Keeping your head, shoulders, arms, and feet to the floor, raise your hips and then slowly lower them down.
Side Lunge – It’s a lower body move that’s friendlier on the knees and challenges your body in more than just a forward and backward motion. While standing with your feet together, take a step to the side and lunge toward the floor while keeping the other leg straight. Push back up to return to your starting position.
While all these moves can be done with little or no equipment, exercise mats can provide added comfort, especially with the ones that you have you working on the floor. All you need is your own body weight but weighted fitness balls, kettlebells or dumbbells can be added to most of these moves to take them to the next level and continue to challenge you. Plus, there are numerous variations to keep your routine fresh!