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10 Best Bodyweight Exercises – Part 1: Mastery of the Exercises

10 Best Bodyweight Exercises – Part 1: Mastery of the Exercises

Can you gain strength, body awareness, and self-esteem, improve your physique and feel like a million bucks with one category of exercises?

Yes.

Whether you’re looking for improvements in your physique, increased strength, conditioning and fat loss, or exercises that can challenge you mentally and build your inner strength you can’t underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises.

Bodyweight exercises can be done everywhere, and they can be progressed and regressed to fit everyone. You can use them for strength gains and muscle gains, and you can put them together to form a circuit for conditioning and fat burning. They translate well over from the gym to real life as you’ll increase your relative strength; how strong you are relative to your own body weight. The best part about it is the increased self-awareness and how you can better move your body.

Narrowing these down to 10 is extremely difficult, but by becoming a Master in these exercises and variations of these you will be guaranteed to experience benefits like:

  • Increased strength
  • More muscle
  • Lower body fat
  • Increased self-esteem and well-being
  • More energy as a by-product of increased relative strength
  • Increased coordination, body awareness and athleticism
  • Positive correlations to strength gains in other gym exercises

pushups

    The 4 Essentials that form the out-spring for most variations:

    1.Pull-Ups

    Mastering the Pull-Up exercise is a goal most people set themselves when they step foot in the gym. Why? On an a physiological level there isn’t much that beats the feeling of pulling yourself up on a bar. You feel totally in control of yourself. Do not feel bad or ashamed if you can’t do them—it’s your willingness and determination to do something about it that matters. Whatever you’ve done so far, or haven’t done in order to not be able to do them is because of something you’ve created yourself, which is a positive thing because you have the power to create the change necessary to master a pull-up.

    Level 1: Negative Pull-Ups. Jump up and hold for as long as you can. Do not lose motivation when each repetition feels worse than the former, but compare your first repetition with the first repetition the next day or next week. A good shoot is to be able to hold for 30 seconds in the lowering phase.

    Level 2: Band-Assisted Pull-Ups: Attach a band to the bar and pull it under your foot or knee. Work up to sets of 10 repetitions

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    Level 3: Pull-Ups: You’ve now mastered the pull-up, so it’s time to explore a world of endless possibilities and variations to become a Master. Going from 0-1 is harder and takes longer than from 1-3 repetitions.

    2. Push-Ups

    As with pull-ups, push-ups are great to be able to master—whether you’re working on your 1st, 10th or 30th

    For mastering the first using this approach is a powerful method:

    Level 1: Incline Push-Ups: Do push-ups against a bench; work up to 3-4 sets of 10 repetitions, then decrease the angle of the incline with a lower bench.

    Level 2: Negative Push-Ups: As with pull-ups, we’ll go for negative. You’re much stronger in the eccentric, or negative, phase of the lift, so take advantage of it. Pull yourself down to the ground on a 3-count and hold the bottom position for another 3-count, then set your knees to the floor and push yourself up.

    Level 3: Pushups: Stay commited to these variations and there’s not a doubt in the world that you will master the first push-up. And like the pull-ups, going from 0-1 is much harder than 1-3, or even 5. From there is a trip in wonderland with tons of variations to accomplish.

    3.Squats

    Known as one of the “Big 3” in strength training, just mastering the movement of squatting has become problematic in today’s day and age. With all the sitting and working on computers we become tight and get restrictive movement in places we don’t want. This can be a cause of a lot of your back and knee problems. Taking the appropriate steps to becoming a master of the squat can give a whole wonder of benefits:

    • Increased flexibility and movement
    • Less back and knee pain
    • Ability to increase overall body strength

    To master the squat, start with these two steps:

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    1. Stretch: At least once a day, stretch calves, hips, quads, hamstring and lats for 45-60 minutes on each side for each muscle group. Frequency trumphs as key. 1 minute each day is better than 10 minutes once a week.

    2. Squat in your warm up: Practice makes perfect? Perfect practice makes perfect. Always include squatting in your warm up: not only will you get better in the move itself, but it’s actually a great way to increase body temperature and increase your movement before taking on more vigorous tasks.

    4.Lunges

    The last of the 4 essentials is lunges. The Squat is a great move to master, but it can lead to some problems if movement is restricted. The beauty of lunges is the use of one leg at the time. Not only does it increase the time you have to work, but it allows for better movement and easier to use good form. If you’re looking to build leg strength, build muscle and lose body fat, lunge variations are a must. Much like squats, just by doing lunges you will increase your flexibility.

    Reverse Lunges: Doing lunges backwards feels much more natural for most people, than the standard Forward Lunge. Take a long step back, you’ll most likely feel a great stretch on the front side of your rear leg (increases flexibilty and movement). Make sure your front heel is always on the ground and your shin is vertical at all times. Slowly touch your knees to the floor, or close to, and explode up by pushing your front heel against the ground. Master with bodyweight for sets of 10 reps then move on to the dumbbells.

    These were The 4 Essentials for Bodyweight Mastery. No matter what level you’re at, you can make them fit your need and challenge yourself to become better.

    climbing-stairs

      Here are six other exercises you should include or work on for developing a stronger body.

      5.Bulgarian Split Squats

      Put your rear leg on a bench, drop straight down, and make sure your front heel always stays in contact with the ground to avoid excess stress on the knees. Retain a tall posture throughout the whole exercise. To advance you can pick up a pair of dumbbells.

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      They will work quads, glutes and abs, and let’s not forget your ability to stabilize.

      3 sets of 6-10 reps will do the job.

      6.Burpees

      For conditioning and decreasing body fat this exercise might be one of the most effective ones out there, and most intense. And you need zero equipment. This is done for either time or reps.

      Stand erect, squat down and place your hands on the floor. Kick your feet back to a pushup position, and depending on strength levels you can do a “push-up” by laying your body flat on the floor. This might go for a correct Burpee, but for speed and intensity purposes it’s more efficient to go for a push-up position, then jump back to the squat position and do a jump in the air.

      3 sets of 10-12 repetitions with 20 second rest between sets or go for time: 4-6 sets of 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest.

      7.Sprints

      One of the most underrated forms of bodyweight training is sprinting. You’re basically throwing your body forward, which is a test of relative strength. Can be done for short duration, high intensity, short rest for conditioning and fat loss purposes or longer rest periods, high speed and short durations for explosiveness and increase your potential to increase strength. By working on sprint technique you’ll be more aware of how to move your body in space. Mastering the art of sprinting is one of the most athletic skills.

      The last 3 exercises are more advanced variations

      8.Handstand Pushups

      Want to take pushups to a new level for building muscle and increasing strength? Try handstand pushups. Start in a pushup position by a wall. Walk back up the wall until you stand erect. The worst thing, and biggest fear for most people in the beginning, is the uncomfortable feeling of standing so close to the wall. You feel like you’re about to fall over. Get used to just standing there first. Then progress towards slowly lowering yourself to the ground. Once you start feeling comfortable start cranking out reps.

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      Do 3 sets of as many reps as possible

      9.L-sits

      A foundamental move from gymnastics, L-sits can be done from the ground or on handles. The handles will make it easier as there’s more room for movement. Sit on the floor, or handles, and lift yourself up from the ground. Legs straight out. Hold for sets of 30 seconds. Your triceps, shoulders, abs and hip flexors will be on fire the whole time.

      10.Muscle-Ups

      The best measure of upper body athleticism may be the Muscle-Up; also a basic exercise from the gymnastic world. This is basically a pull-up into a dip. The transition is the hardest part. Get strong in pull-ups, then work your way up towards 20 reps and get strong in pull-ups with additional weights. While you’re on that mission start with grip training for the muscle-up. You need something called a false grip (see picture to the right), which enables you to make the transition easier. With the false grip practice just hanging there, and progress towards doing pull ups. One great way to get better at mastering the transition is to lower the rings, or stand on a bench if you use a bar, and jump up and get the feeling of going from a pull into a dip.

      As you get stronger, be careful, they can be stressful for the shoulders if done with high frequency.

       

      There you have it: 10 bodyweight exercises to form a foundation for mastery to not only gain strength, build muscle, and lose body fat, but also reveal the great secrets and benefits you get from bodyweight training. Increased coordination, athleticism, self-awareness, and self-esteem team up with the truly great feeling of mastery you experience once you are able to do exercises and variations with your own body that you were not able to do before.

       

      In Part 2 of the series we’ll spread these 10 exercise into 4 training templates to use in:

      • Gym routine/strength training
      • On vacation – The Vacation Body with zero equipment
      • Conditioning and Fat Loss Routine
      • Advanced Bodyweight Training

      What’s your favorite bodyweight exercise?

      More by this author

      Eirik Forlie

      Consultant, Coach and Business Owner based in Norway.

      3 Keys to Success in Life (That Will Change You in 2019) Bodyweight Workouts Part 2: Inclusion of the Exercises 10 Best Bodyweight Exercises – Part 1: Mastery of the Exercises

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      Last Updated on May 22, 2019

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

      One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

      In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

      Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

      1. Cat Camel Stretch

      Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

      Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

      Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

      Here’s a video to guide you through:

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      2. Go for a Walk or a Run

      This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

      Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

      The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

      Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

      Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

      3. Jumping Jacks

      Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

      Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

      4. Abductor Side Lifts

      Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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      Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

      5. Balancing Table Pose

      This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

      Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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        6. Leg Squats

        Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

        Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

        The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

        7. Push Ups

        You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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        An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

        Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

        This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

        8. Bicycle Crunches

        There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

        Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

        9. Lunges

        Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

        Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

        This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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        10. Bicep Curls

        You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

        Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

        Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

        Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

        Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

        These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

        You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

        Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

        More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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