Best Bodyweight Exercises – To Do At Home. Part 1

Best-Bodyweight-Exercises-To-Do-At-Home.-Part-1

This is the first article in the Best Bodyweight Exercises – To Do At Home series in which we will focus on Chest, Back, Legs and Glutes. I love going to the gym and lifting weights. Firstly its my favourite form of exercise, secondly its a great form of functional fitness and thirdly it builds strength, muscle and burns fat, however you can still do all this by using your own body weight.

From time to time I like to workout at home to take a break from the gym and my current routine. Exercising at home is something I have spent a lot of time doing over the years and where I started trying to build strength and size but home, like the majority of people is where we don’t have much equipment to get the job done.

In this article I’ll list a number of the best bodyweight exercises to do at home. Don’t be fooled by thinking they are easy or won’t produce results in strength and size though because with the proper form, consistency and nutrition, they will at least raise the heart rate, tone muscle and burn fat.

Body weight exercises that’ll get you significant results like you may get from using gym equipment have to be just as tough so because many of these utilise a large part or even all of your own bodyweight, trust me, these are just that!

With that said though, these aren’t all exercises for beginners but with practice, even attempting just 1 or 2 a day, anyone can learn to perform them.

For some of the exercises there is a conventional or easier version included that can be used as a way to build technique and strength enabling you to step up to the more advanced one.


Equipment

2 Chairs or a bench, 1 Broom stick, door mounted Pull-up Bar or similar (Optional).


Exercises

Chest 

Plyometric Push-ups – Place the two chairs with the seats facing each other, slightly wider than your shoulder width apart. Begin in the push-up position between the chairs with hands on the floor, placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Straighten your arms, and keep your back flat and your legs straight out behind you keeping back and legs in-line with each other, your toes on the floor and feet together creating a ‘wedge shape’ with your body. This is the start position.

To execute this exercise, slowly lower your body towards the ground and in one explosive movement, push your body up and away from the floor as quickly as possible using the motion to lift your body off the floor high enough to land your hands on the chair seats to catch yourself briefly, before pushing off the chair seats, hoping your body back down to the ground to repeat the process.

Difficulty – Hard

Muscles Trained – Chest, Triceps, Front Deltoids, Core


Press-up – Begin in the push-up position with hands on the floor, placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Straighten your arms, and keep your back flat and your legs straight out behind you keeping back and legs in-line with each other, your toes on the floor and feet together creating a ‘wedge shape’ with your body. This is the start Position.

To execute this exercise, slowly lower your body towards the ground keeping your elbows tight to your sides until your chest is as close to the floor as possible without coming to rest on it, and in one explosive movement, push your body up and away from the floor returning it to the starting position and then repeating the process until the exercise is over.

To make press-ups easier, place your knees on the ground forming a box shape with your arms, torso and upper legs and perform the same actions with your upper body. You can also do this after standard press-ups to increase press-up stamina and rep range.

Difficulty – Medium

Muscles Trained – Chest, Triceps, Front Deltoids, Core


Chest Dips – Place the two chairs with their backs facing each other, slightly wider than your shoulder width apart. Stand between the chair backs and with each hand, grip the centre top of a chair back. Brace your arms so that they are straight and while gripping the chair backs let them take the weight of your body by lifting your legs keeping your lower legs at right angles to the floor. This is the start position.

To execute this exercise start by beginning to lower your body, leaning your chest and shoulders forward as you do, allowing your arms to flare out slightly in the same motion, until your upper and forearms are forming a right angle at the elbow. Then push yourself up engaging your chest in the push motion, returning the to the start position and repeat the process keeping your legs off the floor at all times until the exercise is over.

Difficulty – Hard

Muscles Trained – Chest, Triceps, Core


Back

Inverted Row – Place the two chairs with their backs facing each other, wider than shoulder with apart. Place the broom stick perpendicular to, and across the top of the chair backs so the chair backs are supporting it. Get on the floor and position yourself under the broom stick so your shoulders are approximately parallel to it.

Reach up and firmly grip the broom stick with an overhand grip positioning each hand at least a few inches wider than shoulder width apart. Move your feet forward and lift your body, bracing it and forming a straight line with your back and legs. This is the start position.

To perform the exercise, slowly pull yourself towards the broom stick with your arms as if trying to get your chest to make contact with it. Try to hold the top position briefly, squeeze the engaged muscles in your back and then allow yourself to lower back down to the start position, maintaining the straight line between your back and legs at all times and repeat the process until the exercise is over. You can use variations of wider grips to increase difficulty and target the back muscles from different angles.

To make inverted rows easier, bend your knees bringing your feet closer to your body.

Difficulty – Medium

Muscles Trained – Upper Back, Traps, Rear Deltoids, Biceps, Core


Pull-ups – Use a door mounted pull-up/chin up bar or any bar with a diameter that can be gripped that is strong enough to hold a persons bodyweight. Stand under the bar (use a platform or step if necessary). Jump or reach up and grip the bar with an overhand grip positioning your hands comfortably wider than shoulder width apart and hang, allowing your grip and arms to take your bodyweight. This is the start position.

To execute this exercise use your arms to pull your body upwards as far as you can, aiming to bring your chin level with the bar. Pause briefly at the top of the motion and return to the start position and repeat the process until the exercise is over.

To make pull-ups easier use a rubber exercise band looped around the pull-up bar, and a bent knee to assist in the motion, reducing the weight you are lifting. This technique can also be used to increase your pull-up stamina and rep range.

If you are a beginner to this exercise firstly strengthen your grip and body enough to be able to hold your ‘hanging weight’. Literally grip the pull-up bar and hang for as long as you are able and repeat the process. When this is comfortably achieved, use the rubber band technique mentioned above.

Difficulty – Hard

Muscles Trained – Lats, Upper Back, Biceps, Forearms


Chin-ups – Use a door mounted pull-up/chin up bar or any bar with a diameter that can be gripped that is strong enough to hold a persons bodyweight. Stand under the bar (use a platform or step if necessary). Jump or reach up and grip the bar with an underhand grip positioning your hands shoulder width apart and hang, allowing your grip and arms to take your bodyweight. This is the start position. Using your arms, pull your body upwards as far as you can, aiming to bring your chin level with the bar. Pause briefly at the top of the motion and return to the start position and repeat the process until the exercise is over.

This exercise targets similar muscles to pull-ups but puts great demand on the biceps also making it a great bicep/arm exercise.

To make chin-ups easier use a rubber exercise band looped around the pull-up bar, and a bent knee to assist in the motion, reducing the weight you are lifting. This technique can also be used to increase your chin-up stamina and rep range.

If you are a beginner to this exercise firstly strengthen your grip and body enough to be able to hold your ‘hanging weight’. Literally grip the pull-up bar and hang for as long as you are able and repeat the process. When this is comfortably achieved, use the rubber band technique mentioned above.

Difficulty – Hard

Muscles Trained – Upper Back, Biceps, Lats, Forearms


Legs

Plyometric Bulgarian Split Squats – Stand in front of one chair 1-2 feet away from it with your back to the chair seat. Lift one leg up behind you bending at the knee, placing the top of your foot down on to the seat (if barefoot, use your toes to grip). Maintain your balance in this position with your opposite leg standing with foot firmly flat on the floor. This is the start position. Execute the exercise by firstly bending at the knee of the standing leg, squatting down low and then in one explosive motion straighten and jump upwards using the standing leg then landing absorbing the impact by bending at the knee once more, squatting down low and repeating the process until the exercise is over. This exercise should be done in one continuous motion.

Difficulty – Hard

Muscles Trained – Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves


Bulgarian Split Squats – The standard Bulgarian split squat is easier. Stand in front of one chair 1-2 feet away from it with your back to the chair seat. Lift one leg up behind you bending at the knee, placing the top of your foot down on to the seat (if barefoot, use your toes to grip). Maintain your balance in this position with your opposite leg standing with foot firmly flat on the floor. This is the start position. Execute the exercise by bending at the knee of the standing leg, squatting down low, then lifting yourself back up to the standing position. Repeat the process until the exercise is over. This exercise should be done in one continuous motion.

Difficulty – Medium

Muscles Trained – Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves


Glutes

Single Leg Glute Bridge Raise – For this you need no equipment. To perform the exercise, lay on the floor with your arms by your sides with both legs bent at a 90 degree angle at the knee. Keeping the knees together, straighten one leg pointing the lower portion in to the air keeping it in this position with the remaining leg unmoved with foot firmly flat on the floor. This is the start position. Execute the exercise by raising your glutes (backside) off the floor using the remaining bent leg and your upper back to stabilise your body. Aim to form a straight line with your back and the straightened leg and hold this ‘bridge’ position briefly, squeezing your glutes. Then slowly lower your body back to the floor, touching it with your glutes but not resting and repeat the process until the exercise is over.

This exercise can be done using repetitions or holding the bridge position for a number of seconds/minutes at a time.

To make glute bridge raises easier use both legs bent at a 90 degree angle at the knees with both feet firmly flat on the floor. Keeping knees together, symiltaneously raise your glutes (backside) off the floor using your legs and upper back to stabilise your body. Aim to form a straight line with your back and the upper legs and hold this ‘bridge’ position briefly, squeezing your glutes. Then slowly lower your body back to the floor, touching it with your glutes but not resting and repeat the process until the exercise is over.

Difficulty – Hard

Muscles Trained – Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Quads, Core


Conclusion

So hopefully this article has been of benefit to you and at least given you some inspiration to exercise elsewhere than the gym or even alter your routine temporarily for a change of pace. Please feel free to post any comments or suggestions below and why not check out the Best Bodyweight Exercises – To Do At Home. Part 2.

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