Bodyweight exercises to build muscle – If you want a toned body like Henry Cavill’s, but you are too lazy to hit the gym or it’s closed because of the pandemic, you can get the same results by working out at home. Sounds too good to be true?
Well, all you need to do is use your body weight to build muscles. With bodyweight exercises, you don’t need any fancy gym machine. Let’s dive into the realm of bodyweight exercises without further ado!
What Is Bodyweight Exercise?
Bodyweight exercises are workouts that don’t need the use of any gym equipment or weights. Instead, you use the weight of your body as the source of resistance.
The Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises
- Saves money
- Can be done anytime, anywhere
- Gives better body balance
- Builds muscles without injuries
- Improves stability
- Protects joints
Varieties of Exercises
Sit on the floor and keep your feet apart and your knees bent. Put your hands on the floor behind your back. While pushing up your hips, crunch your core tight. Move your opposite arm and leg to start crab-walking without your buttocks touching the ground.
Place a mat on the floor and stand on one edge with your feet slightly apart. Breathe in, and while you breathe out, bend forward from the waist to place your hands on the mat.
With your hands before your feet, inhale and start walking your hands one after the other. Your heels should be off the floor as your hands walk to a plank position.
Go beyond the plank position, walking your hands until they are stretched out in front of you.
Once your body is in a straight line, use your feet to start walking until they reach as close to your hands as possible. You can bend your knees but only slightly.
Come back to the original standing posture by slowly raising your upper body.
Place a mat in front of you and get down on your hands and knees. Lift your knees so that they’re an inch off the ground. Keep your legs hip-width apart and your hands at a shoulder-width distance. Make sure your back is flat.
Keeping the same distance off the ground, move one arm and the opposite leg at the same time to move forward. Repeat with the alternate arm and leg.
Take a push-up position and keep your hands and legs shoulder-width apart. Put your upper body close to the floor as if you were doing a push-up.
To start crawling, bring your leg very close to your elbow. If you’re starting with the right leg, then bring it close to your right elbow. At the same time, move forward by bringing the opposite arm forward.
Keep moving forward by repeating with the alternate hand and leg and keeping your upper body close to the floor.
Assume the plank position. Make sure your toes and hands are taking your body weight evenly to maintain a good balance.
Keep your back straight, your arms at a shoulder-width distance, your abs pulled in, and your head in line with your straight body.
Bring your right knee close to your chest. Then pull out your right knee while you bring your left knee close to your left chest. Make sure not to raise your hips.
Increase the pace of pulling in and out your knees so that you start running. Breathe in and out in tandem with switching your leg.
Put your hands on the floor beside your toes, aligned with your shoulders, and spread your fingers wide. Put your knees next to your elbows, on the outside. Now bend your elbows a bit.
Lean your knees on your elbows and slowly raise your feet, keeping your focus on the floor.
The planche needs to be mastered step by step.
Step1: Holding on to the parallel bars, lift yourself off the floor by bending your knees at a 45-degree angle.
Keeping this position, push your shoulders a bit forward while stretching your back. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 2: Pull out your legs as far as possible. As the gap between your knees and abdomen increases, you will feel more tension in your shoulders. Try to hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 3: Pull back one leg at a time while keeping the other one close to your abs. Try to hold this position. Alternate with your other leg. Then go back to the position in step 2.
Step 4: The Straddle Planche is when you extend both your legs and spread them wide. Then choose either step 2 or step 3 positions to continue for a while.
Step 5: To come to the full circle of planche, just bring your spread legs back together.
You will need access to a bar.
Step 1: While hanging on the bar, raise your legs so that your knees come close to your chest. Continue to move your knees over your head and lift your hips so that you complete a flip. Do the reverse to come back to the original position.
Step 2: Lift your legs to get into an upside-down hanging position. Keep your body straight by using the support of the bar. Try to hold this position for 20 seconds.
Step 3: Now tuck in one leg while keeping the other straight and come down slowly until your body is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for as long as you can before lowering yourself to the floor. Repeat with the alternate leg.
Step 4: Repeat step 3 with both legs parallel to the floor.
It’s similar to the back lever but in this case, your body faces upwards to the ceiling instead of facing the floor.
Start by hanging upside-down from a bar, keeping your body straight. With your face toward the ceiling, lower your body so that it’s parallel to the floor. Hold this position for as long as you can.
You need a bar that’s above your head. With your hands holding the bar, raise your body as high as your groin or waist. Your legs should be hanging. Hold this position as long as possible and come back down.
You need a vertical pole for this exercise. Use an overgrip for the upper hand. The bottom hand should grip the pole in a way that your elbow faces the ground. Your upper hand position should be the opposite of your lower hand one.
Step 1: The Support Press step uses a vertical and a horizontal bar. Keep your lower hand on the vertical bar and your upper one on the horizontal pull-up bar above your head.
Place your foot at the bottom of the vertical pole and push with your bottom hand while pulling with your upper hand to move your body off the ground and away from the pole. Try to hold this position for 20 seconds.
Step 2: In the Chamber Hold step, your hands should be above each other directly. Raise your hips in the air by kicking your feet off the ground. Your hips must be above your shoulders.
Put your knees close to your abs, and while you pull with your top arm, push with your bottom arm. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds.
Step 3: From step 2, gradually pull out your legs. Make sure your body is closer to the vertical pole. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
Step 4: Slowly put your hips down from step 3. You can keep either one or both knees bent.
Step 5: Keep both legs extended without bent knees.
Shoulder – Chest – Triceps
Start from a position where you are bent from your waist and slightly at the knees. Keep your shoulders above your hips. Your hands must be on your sides with your thumbs pointing outwards. Crunch your shoulder muscles and raise your arms to pass your ears and form a Y. Bring down your arms and repeat 5 times.
Keeping the same bent-over position and your thumbs pointing out, keep your arms extended and open them wide to form a T. Bring your arms back together and do 5 reps.
To form a W, stand at the same position with your waist and knees bent. Raise your arms over your ears and bring them down while pulling your elbows out. Your shoulders must come down to your waist. Repeat 5 times.
Start in the original position with your waist and knees bent. Raise your arms at a 90-degree angle, bent at the elbows to form an L. Keeping your shoulders and upper arms in the same position, bring your forearms down and move back up to the L form. Do 5 reps.
Stand with your legs a bit apart and your face toward a wall. Place your palms flat on the wall with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Start leaning toward the wall by bending your elbows. Your heels should be off the floor and you should be on your toes. Hold this position for a second before pressing your palms and going back until your arms are straight.
Get down on your hands and knees. Lift yourself using your hands, keeping them shoulder-width apart, and extend your legs behind you.
With your legs straight, lower yourself until your chest almost touches the ground. Hold for a second and press back up through your hands.
You need a bench where you can sit with your hands at your sides and your fingers hanging off the bench edge.
Press on your hands to raise your buttocks off the bench. Bend your elbows to lower yourself to the ground in front of the bench and come back up.
Get on all fours on the ground with your hands aligned with your shoulders. Extend your legs with your toes on the ground. Lower yourself so that the chest almost touches the ground.
Instead of pushing up by pressing on your hands and toes, push back. Then push forward and repeat.
Assume the push-up position with your arms straight, your palms flat on the floor, your legs extended behind you, and your toes on the mat.
Bring your right knee near your right elbow and lower your body to almost touching the floor. Come back up and repeat with the left leg.
You can use a bottle of water as a weight. With feet hip-distance apart, stand straight. Hold the water bottle with both your hands. Raise your hands straight over your head.
Lower your arms to the back of your shoulders by bending your elbows. Make sure your elbows are not pointing to the side. Go back to the position with your arms raised straight to complete one rep.
Take the push-up position with your feet resting on a table and your palms on the floor. Keep your elbows near your body and lower yourself so that your torso almost touches the floor. Press on your hands to get back to the original position.
You need parallel bars to do this exercise. Place your hands on the bars and raise yourself by pressing down on your hands.
Your hands should be parallel to your body and your knees bent with your toes pointing out. To work your chest muscles, your body should be at a slight angle so that there is more tension in your chest than in your triceps.
Breathe in and lower your body so that the shoulders reach below your elbows and no farther than that. Keep the elbows pointing outward from the body to ensure the chest muscles are working.
Breathe out and go back to the raised position.
Get down on your hands and knees. Lift your buttocks with your legs extended. Keep your eyes on your feet.
Now lower your head and push your body forward until it touches the floor. Look up to the ceiling. Push back to get into the position where your buttocks are high. Repeat.
Get on your knees and hands and keep your back straight. Place your hands right under your face. Form a diamond shape with your thumbs and forefingers.
Stretch your legs behind you and lower your torso so that your chest touches the diamond your hands have formed. Make sure your elbows are pointed inward. Raise your body back to the original position and repeat.
Get into a push-up position with your palms flat on the floor, your arms and back straight, your legs extended behind you, and your toes on the mat.
Make sure your hands are placed wider than your shoulders but not wide enough to put pressure on your shoulders. Lower your body to almost touching the floor. Then go back to the original position to complete a rep.
Assume the classic push-up position but with your hands placed wide. Put some distance between your feet too. As you lower your body and almost touch the floor, shift yourself from one side to another. Return to the middle and push yourself up.
Feet-Elevated Pike Push-Up
Place a bench or a sofa behind you and get on all fours on the floor. Place your feet on the bench, resting on your toes with your hands flat on the floor.
Form an inverted V with your body. Press through your hands and bend your elbows outward to bring your head close to the floor. Push back up and repeat.
Assisted One-Arm Push-Up
Put one hand on a bench at an arm’s length and the other one on the ground. Assume the push-up position. Lower your body without touching the floor by bending the elbow of the hand that’s on the ground.
You can keep your feet a bit apart. Press back on the hand to go to the original position and repeat.
Wall Handstand Push-Up
Put your hands on the floor at a distance of 6 to 12 inches away from the wall. Your arms should be at least shoulder-width apart.
By kicking up, get into a handstand position. Your feet should be against the wall. With your elbows angled, lower yourself so that your head touches the mat. Raise yourself back by extending your elbows. Repeat.
Instead of the classic push-up where you use both your hands to lift yourself off the ground, here you use one hand that’s centrally aligned to your chest. Keep the other hand behind you, close to your lower back. Make sure your back remains straight as you lower yourself on the floor and push yourself back up.
Back and Biceps
Stand near a door and hold the doorway with your hands at the height of your chest. Lower yourself by keeping your body straight. Raise yourself to the door and repeat.
You need a bar that’s the height of your waist. Lie down under the bar with your face toward the ceiling. Grasp the bars with your palms facing inwards and your knees bent. Raise yourself and pull your head up in front of the bar.
Keep your knees bent and your back straight. Repeat.
You need a waist-height bar for this workout. Lie down under the bar, your face toward the ceiling.
Grip the bar and pull yourself off the floor until your chest touches the bar. Your heels should be on the ground and your back straight. Lower yourself back to the floor and repeat.
You need a bar for this workout. Stand on a box and hold the bar with your palms facing toward you. Step off the box while hanging on the bar.
Pull yourself up so that your chin crosses the bar. Then slowly lower yourself with your arms fully extended. Raise yourself and repeat.
Hold the bar with an under-grip and your hands at shoulder-width distance. Extend your arms, bend your knees, and cross your ankles.
Keeping your body straight, pull yourself up so that your chin is at the bar level. Hold for 2 seconds before lowering yourself back on the floor. Repeat.
Stand underneath a bar and with your arms extended, hold the bar with an overgrip, that is, your palms facing away from you. Your arms must be at a shoulder-width distance.
Bend your elbows and lift yourself until your chin crosses the bar. Then extend your elbows to lower yourself to the original position. Repeat.
Feet-Elevated Inverted Row
Start by laying under a waist-high bar with your heels placed on an elevated surface like a bench. You should face the ceiling.
Grab the bar with an overgrip and keep your arms shoulder-width apart.
Raise yourself to the bar level, keeping your body straight. Then lower yourself back to the ground with arms extended. Repeat.
Use a pullup bar for this workout. Stand in front of it and hold the bar with a wide over-grip.
With your back slightly arched and your chest thrust a bit forward, raise yourself with your arms as you breathe out. Shift toward the right until your chin is at the bar level.
Lower yourself back on the ground and repeat with the alternate side.
One-Arm Inverted Row
Access a bar that’s the height of your hips. Go below it and grab the bar with one arm in an overgrip. Keep the other arm at your side. Your back should be in line with your heels on the floor.
With the arm extended, pull yourself up to the bar level and touch the shoulder of your free arm to the bar. Repeat on the other side.
Stand below a pull-up bar and extend one hand to get an overgrip. Keep the other by your side or behind near your lower back.
Raise yourself off the ground until your chin is at the bar level. Lower yourself back on the ground and repeat.
Lie on the mat with your face toward the ceiling. Keep your knees bent and your heels on the floor.
Raise your torso slowly off the floor and to a sitting position while tucking in your abs. Put your arms at the side of your head. Ease yourself back on the floor and repeat.
Lie back on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat. Your hands should be touching your head near your ears.
Slowly raise yourself to a sitting position while twisting to one side so that your right elbow touches your left knee. Go back to the original position and repeat with the alternate side.
Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat. Keep your back slightly arched and put your hands behind your head.
Exhale as you lift your upper body off the floor by a couple of inches. Go back to the starting position while inhaling. Repeat.
Facing the ceiling, lie down on the mat with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat. Put your hands on the sides and your palms down on the mat.
Breathe out and lift your legs while keeping your knees bent. Your knees should come close to your face without raising your middle back off the floor. Go back to the starting position while breathing in and repeat.
The only difference between a side crunch and a crunch is that in the former, you turn your neck to one side as you raise your upper back. Then you alternate the sides and repeat.
Lay on the mat and bunch up your fists to place them under your buttocks. Raise your neck above the floor. Lift your legs about 3 inches from the floor and alternate moving them up and down.
Start from a sitting position on the floor. Put your hands behind your thighs and ease onto the mat with your back flat.
Raise one knee in a bent position while extending the other leg. Both legs should be off the mat.
Place your hands on your sides. Extend your bent leg while crunching up your extended leg to a bent knee position. Switch and alternate.
Lie flat on your stomach on a mat. With arms fully extended before you, raise both hands and legs about a foot off the ground. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Get on your hands and knees on the floor with your palms flat on the surface.
Extend one leg behind you and extend the opposite arm in front of you. Hold this position. Repeat with alternate limbs.
Dead Bug Plank
Lay flat on the ground with your legs raised off the floor and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your hands should extend toward the ceiling.
Extend one leg and lower it to almost floor level. Return to the starting position and continue with the alternate leg.
With your face toward the floor, put your elbows on the mat right under your shoulders.
Stretch out your legs behind you and place your feet on a raised surface such as a bench while keeping your body straight.
Engage your core to hold this position. Come back to the mat and repeat.
Lie on the mat on your side and put your elbow beneath the shoulder to raise one side of the body so that it’s straight from the shoulder to the feet.
Hold this position with your other arm akimbo. Switch to the other side.
Feet-Elevated Side Plank
This is the same as the side plank except that your feet are placed on a raised platform instead of on the floor.
Assume the standard plank position with your elbows below your shoulders and your forearms on the mat. Extend your legs behind you with your toes on the mat and your back straight.
Lock your hands together and squeeze them and the toes toward each other. Keep your glutes squeezed. Hold the position as long as you can.
Lying Straight-Leg Raise
Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides. Breathe in as you lift one leg without bending the knee. Hold the position and repeat with the alternate leg.
Hang from a bar by extending your arms and keeping them shoulder-width apart. Your legs should be extended. Without swinging your body, bring your knees up near your chest. Lower them and repeat.
Jump up to grab a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Your legs should be hanging.
Put your feet together and raise your legs with your knees bent.
Oblique Hanging Leg-Raise
This is the same as a hanging leg raise except that you twist your knees toward one side when you raise your legs.
Lay flat on a mat with your arms extended at your sides and your knees bent. Raise your legs from the hips and just by using your hips, turn to one side and then the other. Your upper body should not move.
Sit on the floor with the legs extended and the hands by your sides but slightly away from your hips.
Press on your palms to lift your hips away from the floor while keeping your heels on the ground and your shoulders down.
Lay down flat on the ground and put your arms back over your head to hold on to a pole or bench.
Lift your torso, feet, and legs off the floor and keep them in a straight line for 10 seconds.
Hold milk gallons or dumbbells of the same weight in both hands while keeping your arms extended.
Raise your heels while keeping your feet at a shoulder-width distance. Come back to the starting position and repeat.
With your feet at a shoulder-width distance, stand on the mat. Slowly lower yourself so that your buttocks are parallel to the mat.
Get back up by pressing down on your heels and when you reach the standing position, stand on your toes before lowering yourself again.
Stand on one leg near a wall so that you can hold it for balance.
Raise your heel off the ground slowly. Then come back down.
Stiff-Leg Ankle Hop
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and keep your legs and knees stiff. Using your ankles, start hopping on your toes. Keep your hands akimbo.
With your back flat and straight against the wall, slide into a sitting position. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle. Put your arms by your sides, slightly away from your body.
Stand with your feet 6 to 12 inches farther than shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be pointing out and your feet at a 45-degree angle.
Lower yourself to a sitting position, keeping your back straight and your hips parallel to the floor. Use your heels to push back to the standing position. Continue.
Air Squat Step-Up
Stand near a box. Get into the squat position. Keeping your feet hip-distance apart, lower yourself so that your hips are parallel to the floor and your back straight.
Go back to the standing position and step on the box one foot at a time. Step back to the floor using one foot and then the other.
In alignment with your hips, stand with one foot forward and the other back. The front foot must be flat on the floor.
Lower yourself by keeping your back straight and pressing on the toes of your back foot. The knee of your back leg should be a few inches above the floor.
Raise yourself to the starting position by pressing down on the heel of your front foot and the ball of your back foot.
Stand with your feet together and your back straight. Take a long step forward with one foot and put it flat on the ground.
Lower to a squat position. Press on the heel of your front foot to come back to the original position with your feet close together. Continue.
This is a static lunge in reverse. Instead of putting one foot forward, you step back and bend the knee to almost touching the floor. The knee of the front foot doesn’t move. Bring your back foot to the starting position by pressing on the ball of your foot to get back up. Repeat.
Put a bench behind you and stand with your feet together. Place your front foot flat on the floor while raising your back leg and putting your foot on the bench behind you.
Keeping your back straight, lower yourself so that your back knee almost touches the floor. Raise yourself by pressing down on the heel of your front foot. Continue.
Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip-width. Extend your arms in front of you. Lower yourself to a sitting position with your hips parallel to the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. They should remain behind the toes.
Slowly raise yourself back to a standing position and repeat.
Single-Leg Box Squat
Stand on the floor with your feet hip-width apart. Put a stool or box 6 to 12 inches behind you. When you sit on this, your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
Raise your extended non-dominant leg 6 inches from the ground. Bend the knee of your dominant leg and sit on the edge of the box while keeping your other leg raised.
Press down on the heel of your dominant foot to get back up. Continue.
Stand with your feet slightly apart and a cushion behind you. Extend your arms in front of you.
Lower yourself by bending the knee of your front foot and tucking the other leg behind you so that the knee is bent and touches the cushion behind.
Press on the heel of your front foot to get up. Repeat.
Stand on the floor and bend your non-squatting knee so that you can hold it by the ankle behind your back. Keep the other arm extended in front of you for balance.
Lower yourself by bending the front knee until your back knee touches the floor. Get back up by pushing down on the front foot. Repeat.
Stand with your feet close together. Raise one leg to extend it while fully extending your arms before you. Keep this foot off the floor.
Keep your back straight as you lower yourself by bending the knee of the leg that’s on the floor. At the same time, keep the other leg out in a straight line.
Continue to a sitting position with your hips just above the floor with your extended leg parallel to the ground.
Press hard on the foot that’s flat on the floor to raise yourself. Repeat.
Are Bodyweight Exercises To Build Muscle Legit?
With hard work and dedication, you too can have the body of your dreams without piling up hefty gym membership bills.
Plus, bodyweight exercises are easy to do anywhere, anytime—even when you’re traveling. You just need enough space to move around.
Get also more flexibility and stability with regular bodyweight exercises to build muscle. You can face each day feeling mentally and physically energized and on top of the world!
Jay always had a passion for fitness. A former skinny guy, he built himself 35 lb of lean muscle over the years using different training strategies, going through failures and eventually succeeding, and now wants to share his knowledge with those who value fitness as a way of life.