October 19, 2016

11 best bodyweight exercises

Today I will share my favorite bodyweight exercises.  I picked these exercises because they cover the most of the fitness modalities depending on how you use them.

Advantages of Bodyweight Exercises

  1. They require no equipment.
  2. You can do them practically anywhere.
  3. Easy to scale to your fitness level.
  4. Doing these can give you the confidence when you're ready step up to free weights.
  5. Most are low injury risk.
  6. Adaptable to hit multiple fitness modalities.


  • Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Warm up completely before doing an exercise.
  • Know how to perform good form.
  • Keep good form during the exercise.

11 Best Bodyweight Exercises

Note: There is no sound in the bodyweight exercise videos to facilitate you watching the video while you listen to the podcast.

1. Bodyweight Squat

This is my favorite bodyweight exercise. It builds strength and mass in the thighs and butt. Hold on to something if you have issues with balance or squat depth. Add a jump to the end to add intensity and power.

2. Push Up

This works the chest and triceps. Start with your knees on the ground and progress to a full push up. Elevate your feet for intensity or add a clap at the top to work on power.

3. Sprints

Sprints are a great exercise to build metabolic capacity and endurance.  Sprints should go for 20 – 30 seconds.  Note: This was hard to demonstrate in my yard, but I hope you got the gist.

4. Hollow Hold

This is a great, low risk-high reward core exercise. Be sure to breathe during the hold. Go longer for more intensity or add a rocking motion, which would make it a hollow rock.

5. Bear Crawl

The bear crawl works your shoulders for strength and improves mobility in the hips (both great for us desk jockeys).

6. Burpee

Anyone that has done burpees, hates burpees. But they keep doing them because they work. A full body exercise that helps build endurance and strength.

7. Bicycle Crunch

This is another core exercise that allows you to work core strength more dynamically across multiple core areas (front and sides). The abs are a set of muscles, so hitting them from multiple directions helps keep them strong and balanced.

8. Carioka

One of the main reasons elderly people lose independence is from a fall that results in a broken hip. Many times the fall is to the side and they are unable to respond in time to stop it.  The carioka forces you to maintain balance as you move sideways.  It does provide some endurance benefits as well (especially when part of a circuit where you're already metabolically taxed).

9. Side Lunge

I like the side lunge because it is one of the few bodyweight exercises that isn't front or back.  Like the squat, it builds strength and muscle mass in your thighs and butt, but from a different angle.

10. Mountain Climber

This exercise builds strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps and is metabolically challenging (endurance).  Be sure to work through the full range of motion.

11. Sampson Lunge

This is another good exercise to help with hip mobility as you build strength, in your legs this time.  Do this slow and controlled to get a really good hip stretch during each lunge.

As you can see, my dogs had as much fun with this as I did.  For the dog lovers, the German Shepard is Angel, the Chihuahua is Joe Joe, and the Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix is Baby. Of note, I did all of these exercises in a circuit and it was quite taxing. I could see doing three rounds of this, with a short rest between each round as being a great workout for even the most fit individuals.

Are there any bodyweight exercises I missed that you think should have made the list?  If so, let me know in the comments below. 

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Jill - October 22, 2016 Reply

I enjoyed this podcast and it was great to be able to come and see the videos on the ones I wasn’t sure on. Thank you.

    allan - October 23, 2016 Reply

    Jill, Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the bodyweight exercises. I’m running a squat challenge during November, you should check it out: https://www.forever.fitness/30-0101/. Have a happy and healthy day!

Leonard Wass - January 31, 2017 Reply

Bodyweight exercises are actually harder than working out (and I work out).

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