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The 21 Best Bodyweight Exercises to Lose Weight and Burn Fat

Fire up your body’s metabolic engine with these flab-shredding, muscle-building moves.

Any fit guy will tell you that abs are made in the kitchen. But while losing fat will always be a function of eating right—make sure you know our 21-Day Shred Exercise and Diet Program and opt for these ultra-fit foods—it also takes a dedicated gym routine of high-intensity, calorie-incinerating exercises to make those love handles go away.

And when it comes to getting shredded, sometimes the best thing you can do is set down the heavy iron and go for all-out, bare-bones bodyweight exercises.

To get the skinny on doing exactly that, we talked to Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., a Los Angeles-based trainer and the creator of the Extreme Burn workout series. He put together a quick cheat sheet of his top seven bodyweight exercises in three different categories: strength, cardio, and core.

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You can do a handful (or more if you're feeling intense!) of these moves en masse—and that means revving up your heart rate in quick, efficient workouts. They’re pretty much equipment-free, which means you can do them just about anytime, anywhere. The best part? You can switch these up with almost endless variations, to make sure you’re always challenging your muscles in new ways.

And for when you’re ready to kick ass, Donavanik put together four bodyweight-only workouts designed to kickstart your fat loss. Happy shredding.


Strength-Intensive Bodyweight Exercises

1. Bar Muscle-Ups

2. Pullups
(palms facing away, aka pronated grip)

3. Chinups
(palms facing you, aka supine grip)

4. Burpees

5. Pushups

6. Lunges

7. Squats

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Cardio-Intensive Bodyweight Exercises

1. Mountain Climbers

2. Squat Thrusts
Squat thrusts are essentially burpees without the pushup: From a standing position, drop into a squat, kick your legs out behind you into a plank position. Bring your legs back toward you, then jump back to your feet.

3. Donkey Kicks
You'll probably want to do this on a mat. Start on your hands and knees. Extend one leg out behind you, making sure to fire your glutes and hamstrings, and then bring it back down. Repeat with your other leg.

4. High Knees
The classic high-step drill. Make sure to pump your arms to get your knees at maximum height.

5. Drop Squats
These are similar to standard unweighted squats, except that at the bottom of the squat, you'll quickly bring your arms behind you. Keep your arms straight. Make sure not to let your knees go too far over your toes.

6. "1-2-3 Heismans"
These are like high knees, except you'll also be stepping side-to-side with each step. Start by moving to the right. Lift your right leg into a high-knee step, then take three quick steps to the right, and pause with your left foot raised. Repeat the steps back to your left. Make sure to land on the midfoot and try to land with quick, soft steps. (Here's a video reference.)

7. Speed Skaters
Start in a ready position. Jump to your left with your left leg, and bring your right leg behind your left leg, mimicking the motion of a speed skater. Then jump to your right, and bring your left leg behind your right leg.

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Core-Intensive Bodyweight Exercises

1. V-Ups
Lie on the floor with arms extended overhead and legs straight in front of you. Tuck your chin to your chest and raise your upper body off the floor while you raise your legs. Your body should form a V shape in the top position. Slowly lower your torso and arms before you begin the next rep.

2. Hollow Hold to Rock
Lie on your back on the floor and reach your arms overhead while extending your legs in front of you. Point your toes and pull your ankles together so they touch. Engage your abs so your midsection hollows and your lower back rounds a bit. Lift your legs off the floor while you raise your shoulders at the same time. Now rock yourself back and forth. Make sure you maintain the hollow-body position.

3. Scissor Crunches
Lay down on your back. Fire your abs and raise one leg to a 45-degree angle above the floor. Keeping your head and neck neutral with your spine, lift your torso off the ground and touch your leg with your opposite hand. Return to the starting position—the slower, the better—and then do the same with your other leg and arm.

4. Glute/quad-Contracted Plank
Start in a plank position, except with your arms placed further away from your body, so your elbows are vertically even with your ears. Put your elbows close together. Contract your quads as intensely as possible, and then contract your glutes as intensely as possible. Hold this position for time.

5. Side Plank
Lie on your side on the ground, posting on the same side elbow. Stack your legs, then lift your hips off the ground so your body forms a straight line.

6. Butterfly Sit-ups
Sit with the soles of your feet together, making sure to bring your torso up as tall as you can. Perform situps, making sure to touch the ground in front of your feet at the top of each rep.

7. Bicycle Crunches
Lay on the ground with your legs raised and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Cycle your legs back and forth. Don't twist your neck as you do the reps.

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Read on for the WORKOUTS >>>



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