This 15-Minute Body-Weight Workout Is Surprisingly Hard

Challenge yourself with this 15-minute body-weight workout that tests your entire body.
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There tends to be a stigma around body-weight exercises, but the truth is, you can get stronger and build muscle with just a 15-minute body-weight workout — and if you challenge yourself enough, build as much strength and muscle as you can with a barbell.

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Science proves it: In a small August 2023 study published in ‌Scientific Reports‌, sedentary young women who trained with a body-weight squat program for six weeks were able to build similar muscle as another group that trained with a barbell.

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And in a randomized controlled trial published March 2018 in the ‌Journal of Strength and Conditioning‌, moderately trained men were able to grow their chests about as much with push-ups as another group did with the bench press.

The key to body-weight greatness is making each workout a true challenge: In both of these programs, study participants didn't just go through the motions. They performed exercises that got harder and harder over the course of the study — the same way someone training with barbells or dumbbells would add more weight as they progressed.

Another way to amp up the body-weight pump (and to get stronger and healthier in new ways) is to do exercises you've never done before, says Greg Pignataro, CSCS, owner of Never Past Your Prime.

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"My philosophy is that the wider variety of movements you can perform, the healthier you probably are," he says. Challenging the body in new, unusual ways also has another benefit: "It leads to feeling good."

So instead of a traditional body-weight workout loaded with lunges and squats, let's get unusual: Strengthen your body from your feet all the way up to your shoulders with this seven-move workout from Pignataro.

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In the spirit of new, novel movements that can build new, novel strength, it's made up of six exercises you've probably never tried before plus the push-up, the undisputed king of body-weight upper-body moves.

15-Minute Full-Body, Body-Weight Workout

Perform one set of each exercise, then move to the next exercise in the workout. Rest as little as possible between exercises. Try to get through at least two rounds of each exercise in 15 minutes.

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1. 90-90 Hip Switch

Reps 15
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Sit on the floor with your hands behind you for support. Place your left leg on the ground so that your thigh extends out to your left side, the outside of your leg is on the floor, and your knee is bent 90 degrees. The outside of your left thigh, knee, shin and foot will all be on the floor in this position.
  2. Extend your right thigh in front of you so that the inside of your thigh faces the floor, and your knee is bent 90 degrees. The inside of your right knee, calf and foot will be on the floor. This is the starting position.
  3. Keep your feet touching the floor and your knees bent 90 degrees as you rotate both your hips to the right so that your legs switch positions: Your right thigh will now be out to your right, with the outside parts of the leg on the floor. Your left thigh will now be in front of you, with the inside parts of your left leg on the floor.
  4. Rotate back to the starting position. Rotate back and forth for 15 to 20 repetitions on each side in each set.

2. Tibialis Raise

Reps 15
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Stand with your back leaning against a wall, your feet about hip-width apart. Walk your feet away from the wall slightly to create an angle between your body and the wall.
  2. Keeping your heels on the ground, lift your toes towards your knees. You should feel a flex in your anterior tibialis, the muscles on the front of your lower legs.
  3. Hold for a beat, then slowly lower to the floor. Repeat.
  4. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions.

3. Standing Hamstring Curl

Reps 20
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Stand with a wall or chair on your right side. Hold onto the wall or chair lightly with your right hand for balance.
  2. Lift your left leg off the ground and bend your knee about 90 degrees. Keep the thigh of your left leg behind the thigh of your right leg. Place your left hand on the back of your left thigh so you can feel it working.
  3. Slowly, and under control, lift your left heel up to your left butt cheek. Then lower back to 90 degrees.
  4. Perform 20 to 30 repetitions on each side. Do each repetition under control.

Ready to make this move harder? Attach a small resistance band to your planted foot, and stretch it with the leg you’re lifting.

4. Seated Straight-Leg Leg Lift

Reps 10
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, pressed together. Point your toes. Drop your chest forward and place your palms flat on the ground.
  2. Keeping your leg straight, lift your right leg up off the ground as high as you can, then slowly lower it.
  3. Repeat with the left leg.
  4. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each leg.

Tip

If you find your quadriceps are cramping up during this move, lean back a little more. Over time, try to move your chest forward over your legs for more challenge.

5. Obtuse Angle Plank

Time 30 Sec
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Assume a classic forearm plank position, with elbows directly beneath your shoulders, your body forming a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  2. Now walk your elbows forward slightly so that instead of a 90-degree angle, the angle between your forearms and your torso is greater than 90 degrees.
  3. Hold for time: Beginners should aim to 15 to 30 seconds per set; more advanced plankers can go for 30 to 60 seconds.
  4. Once you can do 60 seconds, make the angle even more extreme, moving your elbows further in front of you.

6. Doorway Face Pull

Reps 10
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Stand in front of a door jamb with your feet around hip-width apart. Hold your arms up at your sides like football goal posts, with elbows bent 90 degrees.
  2. Place the back of each forearm on one side of the door jamb behind you.
  3. Keeping your feet on the floor and your legs and torso straight, let your your body fall back into the doorway, supporting yourself with your forearms. To do this, your shoulders will rotate forward slightly, separating your shoulder blades. This is the starting position.
  4. Press your forearms against the doorway to pull your body back up to standing, bringing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Lower back to step 3, and repeat.
  6. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

To increase the challenge, move your feet further from the door frame.

7. Tempo Push-Ups

Reps 10
Activity Body-Weight Workout
  1. Assume a classic push-up position, with hands directly beneath your shoulders, your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Maintain this rigid body line as you bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor. Lower for a count of 3.
  3. At the bottom of the move, hold for a count of 1.
  4. Press explosively back to start, maintaining the straight body line.
  5. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.

To increase the challenge, elevate your feet on a step or chair. To make it even harder, try performing push-ups with your feet pressed against a wall, off the floor.

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