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13 Bodyweight Exercises That Will Transform Your Body

a woman with a nutrisense patch doing a yoga pose in the park
a woman with a nutrisense patch doing a yoga pose in the park

Bodyweight exercises are a type of strength training that use your body weight as resistance instead of external weights or equipment. Bodyweight workouts can have many benefits, like increasing your strength, working several muscle groups at once, and improving overall cardiorespiratory fitness

One of the key benefits of bodyweight exercises is that they are accessible to everyone, regardless of their fitness level or access to a gym. They can be performed anywhere, anytime—no equipment or specialized gear required.

This makes them a great option for beginners who are just starting a fitness journey or for those who want to get in a workout at home, while traveling, or in other situations where gym access may be limited.

To get you started, here are 13 of the best bodyweight exercises to help you out on your fitness journey:

1. Push-Up

a person with a nutrisense patch doing a push up

Push-ups are a classic bodyweight exercise that primarily target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, while also engaging the core and hip muscles.

How to do Push-Ups:

  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your fingers pointing forward. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your body should form a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides and your core engaged.
  3. When your chest is about an inch from the ground, push through your hands to lift your body back up to the starting position and repeat.

2. Squat 

a man with a ns patch doing a squat

When it comes to bodyweight training, squats are a must! A squat is a compound exercise that primarily targets the lower body, and can help build strength in the glutes, quads, calves, spine muscles, and abs.

How to do Squats:

  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, with toes pointing forward.
  2. Driving your hips back, bend at the knees while keeping your heels and toes on the ground.
  3. Continue lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as low as you can comfortably go.
  4. Push through your heels to lift your body back up to the starting position and repeat.

3. Step-Ups With Knee Raises

a class of people doing step ups in the gym

Step-ups with knee raises primarily target the lower body, including the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, while also engaging the core. Step ups are also a great single-leg exercise.

How to do Step-Ups With Knee Raises:

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy step, bench, or elevated surface with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Step up onto the elevated surface with your right foot, driving through your heel to lift your body up. Bring your left knee up towards your chest as you lift your body up.
  3. Step back down with your left foot, then your right foot, returning to the starting position and repeat. 

4. Dips

a man doing tricep dips

Dips are a compound bodyweight exercise that target the triceps and chest, while also engaging the shoulders and core muscles.

How to do Dips:

  1. Place your hands behind you on a steady chair or weight bench, with your legs extended.
  2. Lower yourself until your elbow is bent, ideally somewhere between a 45 degree and 90 degree angle.
  3. Slowly push your body back up until your arms are straight, without locking your elbows and repeat.

5. Planks

a man with a ns patch doing a plank

Planks primarily target the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques, while also engaging the lumbar muscles. Side planks are a similar movement that you can also combine with a standard plank to add more variety to your workout routine.

How to do Planks:

  1. Start facedown with your pelvis and lower body on the ground, your forearms and toes on the floor, and your torso slightly lifted so you are parallel to the ground
  2. Engage your core to maintain a straight line from your ears to your toes
  3. Hold the position for your desired length of time, from 10 seconds up to 1 minute.

6. Spider Crawls

a man with a ns patch doing spider crawls

Spider crawls, also known as spiderman push-ups, are a compound bodyweight exercise that target the triceps, chest, and shoulders, while also engaging the core and hip flexors.

How to do Spider Crawls:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your toes on the ground.
  2. Lower your body down towards the ground by bending your elbows, while bringing your right knee towards your right elbow.
  3. Push through your hands to lift your body back up to the starting position, while returning your right leg to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the movement with your left leg, alternating legs with each repetition

7. Burpees

four photos of a woman doing a burpee

Burpees are a full-body, high-intensity bodyweight exercise that work multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, glutes, and core. This exercise can be used as a form of cardio and is a handy full-body workout movement to get your heart rate up.

How to do Burpees:

  1. Begin with your knees bent in a squat position with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place your hands on the floor between your feet.
  3. Kick your legs back into a plank position, bend your elbows, and do a pushup.
  4. Rise back into a plank and jump your legs forward back into the starting squat position.
  5. From the squat position, jump into the air with your hands above your head.
  6. Land from the jump with your knees bent, and return to the squat position and repeat.

8. Superman

a woman doing a superman exercise

Supermans primarily target the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, while also engaging the core, shoulders, and upper back.

How to do a Superman:

  1. Lie face down on a mat with your arms extended in front of you and your legs straight.
  2. Engage your core and lower back muscles to lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground simultaneously.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your arms, chest, and legs back down to the starting position and repeat.

9. Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups

a man doing a pull up in the gym

Chin-ups and pull-ups are upper body compound exercises that primarily target the back, shoulders, and forearms, while also engaging the core. To make this movement easier, you can use a resistance band to help reduce some of the load of your own bodyweight.

How to do Chin-Ups and Pull-Ups

Chin-ups and pull-ups are performed very similarly, with the main difference being the placement of your hands on the bar.

To Perform a Chin-Up:

  1. Stand facing the pull-up bar and grab onto it with an underhand grip, placing your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your feet off the ground.
  3. Pull your body up towards the bar, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  4. Continue pulling until your chin is above the bar.
  5. Slowly lower your body back down to the starting position and repeat.

To Perform a Pull-Up:

  1. Stand facing the pull-up bar and grab onto it with an overhand grip, placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your feet off the ground.
  3. Pull your body up towards the bar, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  4. Continue pulling until your chin is above the bar.
  5. Slowly lower your body back down to the starting position.

10. Glute Bridges

a woman doing glute bridges at home

Glute bridges target the glutes, while also engaging the lower back, hamstrings, and core.

How to do Glute Bridges:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart, and your arms flat on the ground beside your body, palms down.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground, pushing through your heels, until your body forms a straight line from shoulder to knees.
  3. Slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position and repeat.

11. Mountain Climbers/Bear Crawls

a man doing a mountain climber

Mountain climbers and bear crawls are bodyweight exercises that primarily target the core, while also engaging the shoulders, chest, and legs.

How to do Mountain Climbers/Bear Crawls:

To Perform Mountain Climbers:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bring your right knee towards your chest, keeping your left leg extended.
  3. Quickly switch legs, bringing your left knee towards your chest and extending your right leg.
  4. Continue alternating legs, moving at a fast pace as if you are climbing a mountain. 

To Perform Bear Crawls:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, bending your knees and coming into a bear crawl position.
  3. Move forward by taking small steps with your hands and feet, keeping your hips low and your core engaged.
  4. Continue crawling forward for your desired distance or number of repetitions.
  5. To reverse, lift your hips up and move backwards in the same manner.

12. Lunges

a woman doing lunges at a track

Lunges are a bodyweight exercise that primarily target the hips and knee extensors.

How to do Lunges:

  1. Stand with your hands on your hips, both legs straight, and your feet staggered, with your right foot about 2 to 3 feet in front of your left
  2. Bend your knees and lower your body straight down until your back knee is a few inches from the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the ground
  3. With your weight on the heel of your front foot, push back up to the starting position and repeat with your left foot in front and your right foot behind

13. Handstand Wall Walks

a man doing handstand walks

Handstand wall walks are a bodyweight exercise that primarily target the shoulders, arms, and core, while also engaging the back and legs.

How to do Handstand Wall Walks:

  1. Start in a high plank position with your feet facing the wall and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly walk your feet up the wall until your body is in an inverted position and your feet are resting against the wall.
  3. Engage your core muscles and slowly walk your hands towards the wall, bringing your body closer to the wall.
  4. Continue walking your hands towards the wall until your nose touches the wall or you cannot walk any further.
  5. Slowly walk your hands back out to the starting position, keeping your body in a straight line throughout the movement and repeat.

It is important to approach this exercise with caution and only perform it if you have adequate strength and experience with handstands. You may want to consult a personal trainer for further guidance with these types of bodyweight moves and other more advanced forms of exercise.

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Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Reviewed by: Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Heather is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN, LDN), subject matter expert, and technical writer, with a master's degree in nutrition science from Bastyr University. She has a specialty in neuroendocrinology and has been working in the field of nutrition—including nutrition research, education, medical writing, and clinical integrative and functional nutrition—for over 15 years.