Let’s be honest, 2020 and 2021 have been a time of limited training options for a lot people. Worst case scenario is that gyms are shut in your area and you’re stuck at home with no access to any equipment.
To help you with this, we’ve put together a list of the 5 best bodyweight exercises that you can do at home to get a well-rounded, challenging full body workout.
The humble press-up (or push-up if you prefer) has been a staple of bodyweight training for decades, and with good reason. If you can blast out 5 sets of 20 strict press ups with less than a minute’s rest in between, we can almost guarantee that you’re going to have an insane burn in your chest, shoulders and triceps. Plus you can make things harder with challenges like maximum repetitions in 1 minute. Or you can make things easier by keeping your knees on the floor.
To perform the movement, place your hands directly underneath your shoulders, brace your core and aim to keep your body in a straight line as you bend and then straighten your elbows. Aim to keep your arms flared in a 45-degree position (not super close to your body but also not directly out to the side) For most workouts we recommend 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
2) Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat is an absolute leg destroyer. It’ll hit your quads and glutes hard, whilst simultaneously challenging your balance and lung capacity!
To perform the movement you’ll need to elevate your rear foot on a chair, sofa or box. Make sure that your stance is wide enough so that you don’t ‘tightrope’ yourself and make it too hard to balance. This is also a great exercise because you can change your body position to change which muscles get the most focus. If you use a short stance with an upright posture, you’ll shift way more work onto your quads, whereas if you use a longer stance with a bit of a forward lean, you’ll shift more of the work onto your glutes and hamstrings.
Aim to start with 2 sets of 10-12 reps per side, adding extra reps each time you repeat the workout.
3) Feet Elevated Glute/Hamstring Bridge
Not many people know about this exercise, but it’s popular within strength and conditioning circles. As its name would imply, the feet elevated hamstring bridge is designed to target your hamstring muscles with laser precision, as well as providing some secondary stimulus for your glutes.To perform the movement, lie on your back and place your heels onto an elevated box, chair or sofa. From there, drive your heels through the elevated surface to raise your body off the ground.For maximum effectiveness, make sure that you’re tucking your pelvis and squeezing your glutes BEFORE initiating the movement. This will ensure your hamstrings (rather than your lower back) have to do the most work.Trust us, 3 sets of 12-20 reps will have your hamstrings screaming at you.Or, if you want a much harder variation, perform single leg feet elevated bridges.
Next up we have the dip, which is one of the most versatile bodyweight exercises that you can perform. The exercise targets your triceps and well as your chest to varying degrees depending on how you perform the movement.
The simplest version of the movement essentially involves a modified seated position, in which you use a chair, box or sofa to elevate your hands as you reach out with your legs slightly further forward. From this position you’ll extend and then flex your triceps to move your body up and down.
The movement can be made more difficult by straightening your legs, or more difficult again by raising your legs onto another box, chair or sofa. Last but not least, dips can be performed with no leg or foot support at all, so that your bodyweight is fully supported by your chest, triceps and shoulders. It’s a hard movement and can be quite humbling even for fairly strong gym-goers.
We recommend 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 20 reps, progressing through the different exercise difficulties as you get stronger.If you get to the point where you can perform 5 sets of 20 full, unsupported dips, you’ll have some serious muscle and strength in your chest, triceps and shoulders.
*Pro-Tip: You can perform full, unsupported dips using wheelie bins, stacked boxes, tables, tall ‘barstool’ type chairs, or any combination of the above.
5) Table Inverted Row
Your back is one of the hardest muscles to train at home. Some people are lucky enough to have pull-up bars (and a door that can support them) but for most of us we’re left looking for alternatives.
Enter the table inverted row, a bodyweight only movement that requires no special equipment and yet lights up your lats like a christmas tree.To perform the movement lie on your back directly underneath your (sturdy) dining table, garden table or work desk. Reach up and grab the desk, aiming to keep your body in a straight line by bracing your abs and squeezing your glutes. From there, bend your elbows to pull or ‘row’ your chest up towards the table, really aiming to feel the squeeze in your back muscles.
Most people find that performing the exercise with straight legs is slightly harder, whilst performing it with bent legs is slightly easier. Give it a try and see what works for you.We recommend 3-4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Bodyweight Exercises Challenge – Can You Beat This Circuit?
If you’re feeling especially strong, why not try to beat this circuit that uses all five exercises. You’ll need to complete 3 rounds of…
• 20 Press-Ups
• 15 Bulgarian Split Squats Each Side
• 20 Feet Elevated Heel Bridges
• 15 Tricep Dips
• 20 Table Inverted Rows
As fast as possible.
We think anything under 15 minutes gives you bragging rights.