These 5 Body-Weight Exercises Will Strengthen Every Muscle — No Burpees Required

Compound movements are a great way to strengthen your total body in one exercise.
Image Credit: klebercordeiro/iStock/GettyImages

What gets all your muscles firing and heart pumping so that you can burn lots of calories in just a few minutes? Nope, it's not burpees — well, burpees will do that, but who wants to rep out a bunch of burpees when there's another solution?


Compound moves — ones that combine two or more exercises you're likely already familiar with — are an efficient way strengthen your entire body. These movements are relatively easy to learn, but they'll activate multiple muscle groups at once — no burpees needed. So, instead of sweating through a much-dreaded exercise, give these five body-weight moves a go.

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1. Squat to Overhead Press

  1. Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
  2. Sit your hips back and bend your knees, keeping your shoulders back and chest up.
  3. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  4. Then, on an exhale, press into your heels and push your hips forward to return to standing.
  5. As you stand back up, raise your arms up overhead.
  6. Bring your arms back down and move into your next squat.


To make this exercise a little more challenging, you can either hold a pair of dumbbells or soup cans (whatever you have available) at shoulder height. Then, press those weights overhead as you come to standing, says April Whitney, certified personal trainer. No weights? No problem — add a jump as you press your arms overhead.

2. Reverse Lunge to Knee Drive

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, spine in a neutral position.
  2. Shift your weight into your right leg and step your left leg about three feet back, landing on the toes and raising your arms overhead.
  3. Bend your left knee and lower until it just hovers above the ground.
  4. Simultaneously, bend your right knee to about 90 degrees, keeping your chest up, shoulders back.
  5. Exhale and press into your right heel and straighten the right leg as you push the hips forward.
  6. At the same time, drive the left knee up toward the chest, bringing your hands down as though you're slamming something on your left knee.
  7. Bring the left foot back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.


3. Inchworm to Push-Up

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
  2. Fold forward to plant your palms on the ground.
  3. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, walk the hands forward to a high plank — hands in line with the shoulders, body flat from head to hips to toes.
  4. Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle from the ribs and lower the body toward the ground.
  5. When your chest hovers just above the floor, press into your palms and spread the shoulder blades apart, straightening your arms back to the high plank.
  6. Then, keeping your legs straight, walk your hands back to your feet and return to standing.



Can't do a push-up? Make this move easier by dropping to a knee push-up, keeping a flat back throughout the motion. Or take out the push-up element entirely, Whitney says.

4. Marching Glute Bridge

  1. Begin by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the floor, knees up toward the ceiling.
  2. With your arms at your sides, press into your heels and lift your hips up until you form a diagonal line from knees to hips to chest.
  3. Keep the hips elevated throughout the motion by squeezing the glutes. Actively press your arms into the floor.
  4. Raise your right foot a few inches off the ground, then place it back down.
  5. Then, raise the left a few inches off the ground and bring it back.
  6. Continue marching here, keeping your glutes active and hips elevated.


5. Standing Knee Bicycles

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands behind your head and elbows flared out.
  2. On an exhale, raise your right knee up toward your chest, shifting your weight into your left leg.
  3. At the same time, crunch your abdomen and reach for the right knee with your left elbow.
  4. Pause in the crunch for a moment, then return to the starting position.
  5. Then, raise your left knee and tap it with your right elbow.
  6. Alternate sides, keeping good form and squeezing the obliques with each crunch.



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