By Mark Weeks
You already know that daily exercise is essential not only for your overall fitness and physique, but that it is also excellent for your brain health and memory, lowers your risk of developing chronic diseases, boosts energy levels, and aids in weight loss goals. The great news is you don’t need a gym membership or even access to a ton of weights to get a great full-body workout in! Check out this list of the 5 Best Bodyweight Exercises that anyone can do to strengthen their entire body!
5 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Full Body Strength
Here are the best exercises that anyone can do at home for full-body strength and conditioning, in no particular order. The great thing about these exercises is that they can all be made easier or more difficult and can be tailored to your current fitness level by simply switching up some of the training factors, like: weight used, adding resistance bands, doing more reps, less rest time, etc.
- Bridges / Hip Thrusts
Bridges and Hip Thrusts are amazing for glute activation and strength work, and there are so many variations that you can be sure you will never get bored. Bridges and hip thrusts work the hamstrings, core, lower back, abs, obliques, and hip flexors. The classic glute bridge will find you laying flat on the floor, feet planted about hip-distance apart, pushing through your heels to raise your hips to the ceiling and squeezing your glutes at the top. Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top position, keeping a neutral spine, and lower back to the ground. You can intensify this exercise in a variety of ways from adding weight, adding a resistance band at the knees, using a single leg, adding more seconds to the top hold, or altering your tempo in how fast you raise/lower your bridge.
An excellent move to work on both mobility and stability, as well as strength, is the lunge. The lunge is a part of any well-rounded lower body routine. Since lunges are a unilateral exercise, you can focus on equal strength on both legs. You can perform static lunges (no movement involved), walking forward lunges, reverse lunges, curtsey lunges, step down lunges from an elevated platform, and more.
The squat is truly a full-body exercise, working everything from legs to core and back again. You can perform regular bodyweight squats, toss in a mini band for extra tension, or add weight in a variety of ways, from dumbbells at your sides, at shoulder height, or even pushed up overhead for a major core challenge. Once you’ve mastered the classic bodyweight squat you can also switch up the time under tension, or how many seconds it takes you to lower to the bottom of the squat position, how long you hold it there, and how quickly you drive back up.
There’s a reason push-ups are such a classic exercise, they truly work almost every muscle in your body. If you’re not able to complete one perfect push-up yet, do not to worry. Try getting stronger with Incline Push-Ups as opposed to on your knees. Simply elevate the push-up by placing your hands on a bench or chair. When you’re ready for the classic push-up, start at the top of a high plank, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Press your toes into the ground, brace your core and squeeze your glutes. While holding your body stable, bend your elbows so that your body lowers toward the floor until your chest just touches the ground. Your elbows should remain close to your body as you think about keeping your hands pressed into the floor. Core still strong, exhale as you push back up the top.
The classic plank is an excellent abdominal and core exercise that also works to strengthen your back, chest and shoulders! Plus, planks are a more effective (and safer!) alternative to crunches when it comes to building core strength and stability. If traditional planks are too challenging, come onto your knees or try incline planks to begin. If you’re ready to challenge yourself, there are a multitude of variations to make planks more difficult, like adding more time to your plank holds, trying a leg or arm lift, or transitioning from forearms to palms and back down again.
- Bonus: Step Ups
Steps Ups are an excellent and super effective lower body exercise for glutes and quads and, depending on the tempo used, can be a great cardio workout as well! You will need a bench or stair for this simple exercise. Start by placing one foot on the elevated platform, and push through your heel to lift your entire body from the ground up onto the bench or stair. Using a slow and controlled movement, lower your body back down to the ground and to the starting position. You can complete the required number of reps on one side before switching to the other leg, or you can alternate legs as you go.