Back to Basics: the Best Bodyweight Exercises


Getting into the best shape of your life is easy, right?


With all the different “styles” of fitness out there now, it’s easy to feel like you have to try the “newest” and “coolest” exercises all the time. But what about the basics?

We see it time and time again: You join the gym, hop on the bench press (or even worse—*gulp*—the machine chest press), and you start pushing away. But can you even do a proper pushup? If you can’t do a good pushup without the help of your knees, then you really shouldn’t load up the barbell to max out every week.

Or how about the guy who loads up the leg press and has his friend hop on top, even though he can’t do a regular barbell squat, because of his “bad knees.”

Here’s the fact: If you never spend time building your foundation then you will max out your results prematurely. We incorporate pushups into every upper body routine. A pushup, done correctly, will work your entire body from your fingertips to your toes.

Bodyweight exercises aren’t just for beginners, either. Don’t dismiss them just because you can do 15+ reps. So whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned gym veteran, there are plenty of variations for the following exercises to build that solid foundation you missed or that addition you’ve been dreaming of.

You can do these exercises anywhere to get more balanced and increase your max lifts by working the smaller stabilizing muscles in your body.

  • Target muscles: Full body
  • Workout level: Beginner to advanced
  • Frequency: Perform this workout up to five times per week
  • Time needed: 30-45 minutes
  • How to do it: Do this workout three times a week, or incorporate some of these movements into your current routine.

For a real challenge: Do 1 rep of each exercise (in a circuit), then 2, 3, 4….up to 10. Then go back down. Time yourself to see how long it takes.

The moves to know:

Basic move / Advanced move

  1. Chinup or pullup / Muscle-up
  2. Dips / Ring Dips or Dips using Fat Gripz
  3. Pushup / Divebomber pushup, Handstand pushup
  4. Bodyweight Squat / Squat Jump
  5. Inverted Row / Inverted row hanging from two towels or ring row
  6. Lunge / One-legged “pistol” squat
  7. Plank / Plank on BOSU ball

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