Bodyweight exercises are not only simple and convenient, but also a great way to improve strength, balance and flexibility in one shot. You won’t even need to leave the house to get in a solid workout.
“One of the best parts about bodyweight training is that you don’t need specialized equipment,” says Matt Basso, a personal trainer and president of the New York-based Iron Lotus Personal Training. “It’s a great way to exercise when you’re traveling, or even if you’re too busy to hit the gym.”
Here are some of Basso’s favorite body weight exercises, no gym required. For beginners, he suggests cycling through the exercises (10 reps each) as a circuit, repeating the whole circuit three times. If you’re more experienced, crush the exercises to failure.
Balance on one leg and fully extend the opposite leg out in front of you. Squat down as deep as possible on the planted leg and return to starting position. Complete 10 reps for each side.
Basso says: Since one leg is out in front, you’re getting both core activation and quad activation. By putting all of your body weight on one leg, you’re loading as much as possible onto the hamstring and glute.
Get into a traditional push up position. When you move toward the floor, bring your right knee to your right elbow, keeping it off the ground. Press back up to starting position and alternate sides.
Basso says: You’re getting a crunch while also doing a pushup. By moving your knee to your elbow, it forces that side—and all of core muscles—to fire even more. Plus, when you deload one side, it adds extra workload to your arms and chest.
Start standing with legs straight and wider than shoulder-width apart (about a foot and a half from heel to heel). Bend your left knee to squat down onto that leg laterally, keeping right leg straight. Squat down laterally onto your left leg. When you rise out of the lateral squat, step behind your right leg and sink into a squat while keeping the your right leg straight. Then push back up and through the starting position.
Basso says: This two-for-one exercise works both legs, even though one of your legs stays straight the whole time.
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Start in a split squat position. Explosively bring your back knee forward as if you were kneeing someone standing in front of you. As you stand up, touch your knee to your opposite elbow using a hard rotation through the core and extension of the front leg. Return to the start for the next rep.
Basso says: This move mimics how a martial artist or fighter would throw a knee. You’re getting rotation and forcing your abs to work as hard as they possibly can. The power of torque (rotation) will fire abs more than any other exercise.
Start in a prone plank on your forearms. Press yourself up away from the ground one arm at a time into a push-up, while maintaining perfect plank position. Press first with your left forearm, keeping your right palm on the ground, then return to prone position. Press with your right forearm while your left palm remains on the ground. Alternate. If you want to make it more challenging, lift a leg (hip extension).
Basso says: Planks alone are spectacular, but when you add a dynamic movement to the exercise, such as pushing up, you're taking things to the next level. It’s great for the core. Plus, your triceps and chest have to work harder, as they must lift and lower your body at a controlled pace.