12 Bodyweight Exercises For Home Workouts

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12 Bodyweight Exercises For Home Workouts

In every fitness club and gym, we've all seen those behemoths that bench press hundreds of pounds more than we can--basically walking slabs of muscle. But how fit are those people really? If it came down to it, are they as fit as someone who can handle their own bodyweight?

Make no mistake: muscle mass = raw power. But for the average person, power isn't as important as functional strength. Functional strength is defined as "the strength that gets us through daily life and survival".

Think about it: if you were running from a zombie apocalypse, trapped on a narrow ledge, or trying to swim to safety, would you want to be weighed down with hundreds of pounds of muscle? In these cases, most of us would prefer to have a lot of lean muscle mass capable of handling our body weight.

Strength is just ONE of the four pillars of fitness. If you don't have good muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility, you're nowhere near as fit as you think. Functional strength training that uses your body weight is the key to improving your overall fitness. Once you can handle your bodyweight, you're truly in amazing shape.

Look at some of the things truly "functionally fit" people can do:

Pretty impressive, right? You can bet your boots that they lifted weights to build that strength, but most of their work was done using their body weight (at least initially).

Functional training has a lot of pretty epic benefits:

  • You train your body to move, not just at the gym, but at home as well! Your exercises focus on overall body movement rather than isolating muscles, leading to more mobility and versatility all day long.
  • You burn a lot more fat than you'd think! Functional training engages all of your muscles, leading to energy consumption (ergo fat burning) from your entire body.
  • You correct your posture. This is very important if you spend all day sitting down.
  • You build muscles that aren't just big and showy, but which have actual strength.
  • You enhance your core stability and overall strength, rather than just building bulging arms and pecs.
  • You improve your performance in all sports and activities. Functional training enhances the relationship between your skeletomuscular and nervous systems, leading to better movement overall.

If you're serious about getting in shape, read on to discover THE BEST bodyweight exercises for home workouts that you should be doing regularly…

The 12 Best Bodyweight Exercises For Home Workouts

Push Ups

Image Source: WorkoutLabs

Push-Ups

When it comes to building "push" strength, nothing beats the good old-fashioned push-up! The prime mover (muscle of focus) may be the chest, but your shoulders, triceps, forearms, and core also get a great workout at the same time. It's the best way to get a strong, well-muscled upper body.

The Classic Push-up is always the best way to start out:

However, once you master the basic Push-Up--and can perform at least 3 or 4 sets of 10 to 15--it's time to move on to the harder variations.

These variations will help you to target more muscles at once, leading to serious upper body and core strength. For those who want to get ripped, the Push-Up is always the way to go!

Pull Ups

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Pull-Ups

For your upper body "pull" strength, nothing can beat a Pull-Up. It's also one of the hardest exercises around, as it engages your shoulders, arms, forearms, and back muscles to lift all of your body weight off the ground. The prime mover is the upper back musculature, but all of your upper body "pulling" muscles are engaged.

The form of the basic Pull-Up is easy to master, but it takes a lot of strength:

Once you master the Pull-Up, you can add in a number of variations to enhance your upper body and core strength even more.

If you want the strength for rock climbing, parkour, or any other activity that involves lifting your body weight, Pull-Ups are the best exercise for you.

Chin Ups

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Chin-Ups

Chin-Ups are one of the most basic variations on the Pull-Up. However, instead of placing the emphasis squarely on your upper back musculature, it engages your shoulders and biceps more. It's one of the best bodyweight exercises to build bigger arms. Make no mistake: it's not much easier than Pull-Ups, but it will do wonders to help you sculpt those arms.

The secret to building bigger arms using Chin-Ups is to keep your form tight. You want to maintain control through both the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement. This will help you to build serious arm strength, all while working your shoulders, forearms, and back.

Squats

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Squats

For raw lower body power, nothing is more effective than Squats. There is no forward or backward motion; you are simply using the raw power of your legs to lower and raise weight in place. The prime mover is the quadriceps muscles (your thighs), but the exercise engages your core, glutes, and hamstrings at the same time.

Performing a Squat with proper posture is easier said than done! Most people tend to lean forward as they squat, increasing the strain on their lower back. To Squat properly, you have to keep your upper body straight and do all the work with your legs.

To really double down on your workout, do Jump Squats. They combine your basic lower body workout with explosive training and cardiovascular exercise:

Lunges

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Lunges

For lower body workout, Lunges are as good (or better, in many opinions) as Squats. Instead of keeping the leg muscles immediately beneath the body, Lunges spread the leg muscles out, placing more emphasis on the glutes, hamstrings, and calves. The thighs are still the prime mover, but the other secondary muscles get a better workout with Lunges.

Performing Lunges is all about keeping your upper body straight and letting your legs do the work. Easier said than done, right?

The beauty of Lunges is that there are many variations you can perform even with just your bodyweight. Rear Lunges focus more on the quads and glutes, while Jump Lunges build explosive force. Once you master the form of the simple Lunge, you can mix things up for a more well-rounded lower body workout.

Planks

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Plank

Don't listen to anyone who tells you to do Crunches for stronger abs! Planks are the far better exercise, and a much safer choice! With Crunches, you run the risk of straining your lower back and neck as you move up and down. With Plank, there is no movement, so your core muscles (abs and back) are consistently engaged, leading to a better burn.

It's important that you master the proper Plank form:

Seems like a pretty easy exercise, right? It is at first, but once you reach the 30 to 45-second mark, you'll feel the burn! It's one of the best exercises to help you develop serious core strength and endurance.

Burpees

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Burpees

Burpees are a combination of Push-Ups, Jump Squats, and Planks, making it one of the best full-body movements around. This is by far one of the best bodyweight exercises for home workouts, as it works your mobility, your cardiovascular endurance, your muscular strength, AND your muscular endurance--all four pillars of fitness at once.

Here's how to do Burpees the right way:

It's a simple exercise, but once you start your set, you'll soon realize just how tiring it is to perform even 10 to 15 reps. Definitely a killer bodyweight exercise for your home workout!

Dips

Dips are the "next-level" exercise for building stronger "pushing" muscles. It uses the same muscles that work when you do Push-Ups, but without your feet resting on your floor to take the weight off your arms and chest.

There are two basic types of dips:

Chair Dips -- These focus on your triceps. The fact that your feet are resting on another chair or the floor takes some of the weight off your arms, and it changes the angle of the movement. Your chest and shoulders are engaged, but the prime mover is the triceps muscle.

Chair Dips

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Bodyweight Dips -- This exercise also focuses on your triceps, but your chest is engaged at the same time. You are lifting ALL of your body weight using just your arms and chest, giving you a wicked upper body workout.

Bodyweight Dips

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Hip Bridges

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Bridge

The Bridge is one of the best movements to work your posterior core muscles--ergo, the core muscles along your backside.

A lot of people emphasize their abs, but the lower back and glutes are just as important. They are the muscles that keep you standing upright and support your spine as you lift or carry heavy weights. The two variations of Bridge will guarantee stronger spinal erectors:

Bridge -- The normal version of Bridge will place the emphasis on your lower back, working the muscles that keep your spine erect as you walk, sit, work, and train. It's an easy exercise, but you'll feel the burn in no time!

Glute Bridge --­ This exercise also works your lower back, but the prime mover is now your glutes, or butt muscles. The Glute Bridge will help to improve your posture for Squats, Lunges, and other lower body movements, as well as strengthen the muscles that grow weak when you spend hours sitting down (an 8-hour day at the office).

Handstands

Image Source: WorkoutLabs

Handstands

We all remember those days as children when we used to do Handstands. It's even better to do them as adults, as Handstands help to work your shoulders, triceps, forearms, and core.

The basic Handstand is actually a lot easier said than done, as it takes a great deal of strength and balance to stay upright. Most people start out performing handstands against the wall. That way, you can focus on the strength component of the workout as you work on your balance.

However, if you want to take things a step further, it's time to add a Push-Up to the handstand. This places all the emphasis on your shoulders and triceps, giving you a killer upper body workout while engaging all of your core muscles.

Even if you don't do Handstand Push-Ups, this is one of the best exercises to work on your upper body and core strength, coordination, and balance.

Spiderman

Image Source: WorkoutLabs

Spiderman

Yes, this exercise is as cool as it sounds! Here's how it's done:

Also known as the "Spiderman Plank Crunch", this is one of the best intermediate/advanced exercises for a wicked core. Your upper body (chest, triceps, and shoulders) and back muscles get an awesome workout by virtue of having to hold you in place. Your obliques (side muscles) and abs get a good workout when you bring your knee to your elbow. It's brilliant to build a solid core and upper body strength.

To double down on the difficulty of this movement, throw in a Push-Up between each rep!

Image Source: Alive.com

Bear Crawl

The Bear Crawl is a movement that looks easy, but it's a lot harder than you'd think. Basically, you're crawling along the floor on your hands and knees, but your knees never touch the ground (you walk on your feet).

Here's how it's done:

The movement works the same muscles as a Push-Up, as your chest, triceps, and shoulders are constantly engaged as you crawl forward. And yet, as you fight to keep your knees off the ground, it hits your core at the same time. It's as safe as the Plank (no strain on your back), but a whole lot more effective--and a lot more challenging as well!

These 12 bodyweight exercises for home workouts are everything you need to train every muscle in your body. Start out with a few sets of each movement, and you'll start to see progress in your strength, endurance, and cardio conditioning. As you grow stronger, add in variations on the exercises to double down in difficulty. It will take time, but you'll see progress in every area of your fitness--leading to much better functional fitness than any amount of weightlifting could yield.

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