You may have heard that body-weight workouts are best for beginners or don't build much strength. And while they can be beginner-friendly, they can be just as challenging as a weighted strength workout.
No matter your fitness level, body-weight exercises are effective and can produce real results. A well-planned routine can help you build strength, endurance, power and, when done correctly, can help prevent injuries caused by poor form.
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The biggest win of a body-weight workout? You can do it anytime, anywhere. And this upper-body workout with no equipment is proof. Do each exercise for 45 seconds with a 10-second rest between exercises. After you've completed the whole circuit, take a 60-second rest and do 3 rounds total. But rest as often as you need (your upper-body will feel the burn).
- Start in a high plank, hands in line with your shoulders, body in a straight line.
- Bend your elbows at a 45 degree angle from your ribs, pull your shoulder blades together and lower your body until your chest almost reaches the floor.
- Push through your palms to press back up to your starting position.
To make your push-ups easier, you can drop down to your knees and do a modified version. For extra challenge, place your feet on an elevated surface.
2. Y-W Pull-Down
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance, arms relaxed at your sides and palms facing each other.
- Push your hips back and soften your knees to lean your torso forward until it's nearly parallel with the ground and your weight is centered in your heels.
- Brace your core and think about keeping your back completely flat.
- Leading with your back and shoulders, lift your arms straight out in front of you creating a Y shape.
- Once your arms reach the height of your ears, engage the your, pinch the shoulder blades together and pull the elbows back down toward your ribcage to form a W shape.
- Press the arms back out in front of you to the Y shape, then drop them down to their starting position.
3. Walking Plank
- Start in a forearm plank position, elbows in line with your shoulders and hips neutral.
- Keeping your hips in a neutral position, press up away from the floor one arm at a time into a high plank.
- Hold here for a moment and return to the starting position.
- Make sure to alternate the arms and keep the hips stable and neutral during the exercise.
Although it's a core-focused exercise, the walking plank gives your shoulders plenty of attention. To get the most out of this plank exercise, stabilize your hips and avoid rocking side to side. Slow the motion down and focus on your form.
4. Triceps Dip
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your hands on the floor behind you. Make sure your shoulders are stacked on top of your wrists and your fingertips are pointing toward your heels
- Engage your glutes and lift your hips up off of the floor, keeping your arms straight.
- Keeping your shoulders down and back, bend your elbows and lower down toward the floor until your glutes gently graze the ground.
- Press away from the floor engaging your triceps and return to your starting position.
5. Back Extension
- Lay on your stomach on the floor with your arms outstretched and your forehead resting on the ground.
- Keeping your arms outstretched and your toes on the floor, lift your chest off of the ground.
- Pinch the shoulder blades together, engage your upper back as you hold for a brief moment.
- Slowly release your forehead down to the floor and return to the starting position
Need a little support getting up from the ground? If you're doing this upper-body workout at home, you can do this exercise near a sturdy chair or couch for extra balance.
6. Rotating Side Plank
- Start in a high plank with your shoulders stacked on top of your wrists and your hips in a neutral position.
- Shift your weight to your left palm. Rotate your right shoulder toward the ceiling, lifting your right arm straight to the sky.
- Look up toward the ceiling as you rotate until you’ve stacked your shoulders and created a line from the top of your right fingertips to the palm of the left hand on the floor.
- Rotate your right shoulder down toward the floor, returning to the high plank.
- Repeat on the opposite side and alternate.