We don’t need fancy equipment to get a great workout. Bodyweight exercises make it easy to squeeze in a workout, regardless of ability level, time limit, or location. Each of these exercises uses your own bodyweight as resistance and they are an effective way to add strength training to your fitness routine.
We’ve put together a few examples of bodyweight exercises, beginning with warm-ups and ending with some relaxing stretches at the end. These can be mixed and matched to suit your daily fitness needs. When a gym is not available, these moves can help keep you fit and strong.
Essential Bodyweight Exercises
High knees are a great way to work your muscles and your lungs, as they become a cardio burst as well as a way to strengthen your hip flexors and glutes. Your hip flexors are part of the group of muscles that you lift your knee up. This muscle group is especially important to runners, as it helps to develop the quadriceps muscles as well as increasing stride length.
The motion itself is pretty simple and does require some balance. Start slow if necessary, lifting one leg at a time. If you’re feeling a little more advanced, pick up the pace and lift those knees with more speed, and the higher the better! You’ll not only work those all-important hip flexors and quadriceps, but you’re also hitting your calf and glute muscles. Add an arm swing to the motion to increase the benefits of high knees. Hip strength is important for all of us, as this muscle group helps keep us balanced.
Butt kicks are a great way to warm up our major muscle groups and start burning calories. Whether you do these as a stationary move or across a short distance, adding butt kicks to your warm up is a great way to add cardio and strength to your workout.
Stand straight with arms at your side. Begin the movement by raising your heel, kicking it back until it hits your glutes. Bring that heel back to the ground and switch to the opposite leg. Stay on the balls of your feet, keep your abs tight and your back straight. Add arms for more cardio. This is a great way to strengthen your hamstrings and to get your heart rate up in preparation for your workout.
Squats are great for the obvious exercise benefits; they’re great as a warmup, increasing blood flow to these major muscle groups (glutes, quads, hamstrings) and they also, when done with proper form, can help strengthen the knees. Squats are also a functional movement; think of how often we are bending or squatting down – picking up toys or a dropped cell phone, helping a friend move, or (ahem!) even going to the bathroom. We squat far more often than we might realize, and doing it properly will have health benefits from increasing strength to preventing injury.
This move is simple and it comes with a number of variations, which we recommend as a part of a well-rounded routine. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the knee, pushing your buttocks back and lifting your hands to center. Go down as far as you can, placing the majority of your weight on the center and heel of your foot. Do not lean forward as this will put a strain on the knee. Pause briefly to hold the position then return to standing, tuck in your pelvis and squeeze your glutes tight as you come back to a standing position.
Take a quick breather, and click the NEXT PAGE button for more great bodyweight exercises!