5 Bodyweight Moves For Killer Results

Fitness, Strength Workouts, Total Body Workouts, Training Advice, Training Tips, Workouts

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // February 20, 2014

No gym? No gear? No problem. If you are looking for real results that change your body, look to bodyweight moves! Bodyweight exercises are simple, do-anywhere moves that will burn fat, build muscle, and improve stability with absolutely no machinery or money required. I promise! Plus, boredom will be busted; you can easily mix and match moves to keep each workout fun and fresh.

Why focus on bodyweight moves? Here are some good reasons!



Anytime and anywhere – what’s more convenient than that? The beauty of bodyweight moves is you don’t need to get things ready, purchase any items, or head into the gym. Learning quality moves like this can be done in your home, hotel room, or even incorporated into your outdoor walk or run. There’s no equipment to wrangle up and nothing to prepare. Simply plant your hands or feet where they belong and move!


Free.  That’s pretty inexpensive, right? Seriously, what could be easier on your pocketbook? First you read below and get the free description on how to do these moves properly, then you use your own body with no equipment or cost involved whatsoever. Taking it one step further, we have lots of bodyweight-only workouts already written for you to try!  Check out our 15-Minute Bodyweight Workout To Start Your Day or The 30-Minute Anywhere Bodyweight Workout.


Here’s the thing about strength training– it’s crucial to be able to move through a full range of motion for every exercise before adding weights into the picture.  For instance, putting a 100 pound barbell on your shoulders for a squat is great ONLY if you can sit deep into the squat and use good form to push back up. Too often, however, the weight gets added and the range of motion gets shortened. Now, not only are you lessening the results of the move, but you are shortening your muscles and your own flexibility suffers. When you can sit into a deep squat – weighted or unweighted – you not only strengthen your leg muscles, you also increase the range of motion in your hip flexors and other connective tissue to avoid getting tighter and stiffer as you get older.


Lunges, push-ups, squats…these are multi-joint movements. The compound nature of these moves gets you to work more than one muscle group at a time. Example:  Look at the list of muscles used in a push-up:

*Upper back

Yes- that’s a big bang for your buck! One simple move = a whole lot accomplished!


Bodyweight moves are NOT just for beginners. In fact- some of the toughest exercise programs around are built on bodyweight-only moves. The exercises below give you the basic set up for our most common bodyweight moves. Once you learn them, however, a tiny little change can take the entire move and blast it up into an advanced level.  Here are a few examples:

Squats:  Take the basic squat shown below and make it intermediate by holding the squat at the bottom for 10 seconds then pressing up and down 5 times, then holding 10 seconds, then pressing up and down 5 times, etc.  Now- make it advanced by adding a jump to the squat.  Squat jumps are a killer move based on a basic squat.

Push-Ups: Take the basic push-up and make it intermediate by adding a leg lift at the top of the push-up. Want more?  Make it advanced by doing push-up jacks.  Killer!

Now that you know the benefits of bodyweight moves and that you can tailor them for your level, let’s look at the best and most common bodyweight moves around and learn to do them properly. We’ve rounded-up our favorite bodyweight exercises to work and strengthen your muscles. Your living room, hotel room, or office is waiting!  Say goodbye excuses and get ready to work that body weight!

1) Lunges

BENEFITS OF LUNGES:  Lunges are the ultimate lower body move. They strengthen your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves and help you work on balance and stability. By using proper form as shown below, you are increasing the range of motion in your hips and keeping your lower body healthy.

MAKE IT HARDER: Learn this basic lunge then make it harder by trying the walking lunge. When you’re ready to kick butt try some jump lunges and boost your body fat burning big time!

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2) Push-Ups

BENEFITS OF PUSH-UPS: Push-ups are the ultimate upper body strength move.  If you never pick up a weight in your life, you could still have a strong upper body by doing of push-ups. The push-up strengthens your chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and core. Proper form, however, is ESSENTIAL! Learn it here the right way to avoid injury.

MAKE IT HARDER: Push-ups are hard on their own but if you’re looking to mix it up try the shoulder tap push-up. When you want advanced work, check out the push-up jack.


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3) Squat

BENEFITS OF SQUATS: Squats are the most basic of lower body moves. They give you most of the same results you get from a lunge, but with less pressure and weight on your knee. With both feet planted, you’ll have a bit more stability while you work your glutes, quads, hamstrings and core.

MAKE IT HARDER: Squats are amazing on their own but once you get the range of motion and you’re able to do 15-20 well, you can make them harder. Try changing your tempo first. For instance, go down for 4 counts and up for 4 counts, or try lowering for 4 counts, holding for 4 counts, then pressing back up.  When you are ready to blast some calories and get your heart rate up, try squat jumps.


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4) Plank

BENEFITS OF PLANK: The plank is king of all exercises to strengthen your core. It’s often surprising to people that you don’t have to move in order to work your muscles. Holding a plank engages your transverse abdominus and rectus abdominus as well as your lower back muscles. In the mean time, you are strengthening your shoulders, arms and back too!

MAKE IT HARDER: Holding a plank is going to give you amazing results for your core, but once you can hold it with good form for 60 seconds you can add on to make it harder. Take it up a notch by trying Plank to Single Arm Reach.  Want to boost your heart rate? Try plank jacks!

bodyweight exercises

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5) Full Body Roll Up 

BENEFITS OF FULL BODY ROLL UP: The full body roll up is an abdominal move that comes from the method of Pilates. This move strengthens your transverse abdominus and rectus abdominus, while stretching your hamstrings and lower back.

MAKE IT HARDER: The full body roll up is pretty challenging just the way it is. However, once you can accomplish 10-12 repetitions, keeping your feet on the ground, try taking twice as long to lower onto the ground as you do to come up. In other words, come up on 4 counts and take 8 counts to lower back down. If you want to add a small weight in your hands you can try that as well!

bodyweight exercises

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READ THIS NEXT: Bodyweight Circuit

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