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The 20 Best Body-Weight Exercises

author image Susy Sedano
Susy joined LIVESTRONG.COM at its inception in 2008. Focused on all things food, fitness and health related, her daily contributions as the LIVESTRONG.COM community manager is an asset to the site and the millions of community members. She has a M. A. in Clinical Psychology.

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The 20 Best Body-Weight Exercises
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You don't need a gym to get a great workout. These 20 exercises recommended by fitness expert and celebrity trainer Amy Dixon will hit every single muscle in your body and slash fat -- without any equipment. So, what are you waiting for? All you need are these exercises and YOU!

1. Squats
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1 Squats

One of the best exercises is also one of the most natural (just watch a baby sit). This movement works all of the muscles in the lower body including the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It also provides an extra kick for the core as you need your deep abdominal muscles and back to keep your torso upright and perform this exercise correctly.

Related: 10 Exercise Variations for Greater and Faster Results

2. Push-Ups
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2 Push-Ups

This is one of the best upper body exercises because it works everything -- your chest, your back, your arms and even your abs! Make sure your shoulders line up with your wrists and you tuck your elbows in toward your side (so don’t flare your elbows out wide). Try to get your chest and hips as close to the floor as possible without touching.

Related: 10 Push-Up Variations for a Stronger Body

3. Lying Hip Raises
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3 Lying Hip Raises

The lying hip raise (also called a bridge) will strengthen your glutes and hamstrings, while also working your abdominals, back and inner thighs. For a fun variation, lift your hips with your feet flat on the floor and slowly extend one leg up the sky.

Related: 15 Exercises Every Woman Should Do to Improve Her Sex Life

4. Lunges
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4 Lunges

Start with your feet together and arms resting comfortably by your sides. Step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your front knee is at 90 degrees and your back knee is not touching the floor. Then, to complete the exercise, push off your front right foot while straightening your left leg. Keep your right foot off of the floor and balance with your right thigh parallel to the floor.

Related: 6 Gym Exercises You Are Doing Wrong -- and How to Fix Them

5. Planks
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5 Planks

The plank has become one of the key go to exercises to define your core. If you are struggling to maintain the arms straight position try this exercise on your forearms. Be sure to align your elbows and shoulders and keep your hips, heels and shoulders at the same height.

Related: 13 Exercises Every Man Should Do to Improve His Sex Life

6. Crab Walk
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6 Crab Walk

This exercise targets your triceps, core and glutes, as well as challenging your coordination. If you find that you have wrist discomfort, try turning your hands slightly to the side or take breaks to roll out your wrists. Make sure you keep your hips lifted off the floor for the duration of the exercise.

Related: A Quick Workout to Tone and Tighten Your Triceps

7. Single-Leg Squats
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7 Single-Leg Squats

This is one of the best exercises for you quads, hamstrings, glutes and core, and it's one of the most challenging balancing exercises. Stand on one leg with opposite foot in front of you, and without setting the front foot on the floor, bend the standing leg and lower down into a squat. You can have your arms straight out in front of you for balance. Pause, then return to the start. Do all reps, and then switch legs and repeat.

Related: Top 15 CrossFit Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do at Home

8. Spinal Balance
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8 Spinal Balance

Come into a table-top position on your hands and knees, making sure that your head and neck are a natural extension of the spine. Extend your right arm out directly in front of your shoulder. With your palm facing in, slowly extend your left leg back behind you with your heel lifted and leg in alignment with your hips. Return to the starting straight position and repeat on the other side.

Related: These 12 Moves Will Get You Washboard Abs - We Show You How!

9. Bicycle Crunches
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9 Bicycle Crunches

Bicycles create fire in the core because they require deep abdominal stabilization and rotation. They have also have been proven to activate more muscle fibers in the rectus abdominus and obliques than a standard crunch.

Related: The 7-Minute Workout

10. Double Leg Lifts
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10 Double Leg Lifts

This lower abdominal exercise can help you build a stronger back and make you less prone to injury. Keep your low back pressing into the ground the entire time and lower your legs as close to the floor as possible without allowing them to touch. To make this exercise easier, bend your knees. Or for more of challenge, keep your legs straight.

Related: 10 Body-Sculpting Exercises You Can Do While Watching TV

11. Side Lunges
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11 Side Lunges

Most people only exercise in two planes: up and down or forward and back. That’s what makes side lunges so effective -- they train you laterally. This lunge variation is a great addition to any conditioning plan because it will challenge your muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments in a different movement pattern. To make this exercise more challenging, add a side leg lift to the equation and feel your core kick in, too.

Related: The Top 15 Moves to Tone Your Glutes

12. Burpees
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12 Burpees

The great thing about burpees is that they combine cardio and strength into one exercise. A burpee is a complex, total-body exercise that will work your upper and lower body at the same time with a strong focus on the core. For an added cardio punch, add a tuck jump into the mix before the squat.

Related: 15 New Burpee Variations That Will Kick Your Butt

13. Squat Jumps
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13 Squat Jumps

It's a simple but challenging way to tone and strengthen your entire lower body: quads, hamstrings and glutes. Bonus: It also works the core and will help you jump higher and improve your power.

Related: The 15 Toughest Do-Anywhere Workout Moves

14. Sit-Ups
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14 Sit-Ups

Performing a sit-up correctly is one of the most challenging body-weight exercises, as it requires extra abdominal strength to get all the way up without the help of your arms and legs. If you can’t do a standard sit-up, try a crunch variation.

Related: Get Six-Pack Abs With Zero Sit-Ups

15. Jumping Jacks
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15 Jumping Jacks

Sometimes jumping gets a bad rap, but when it comes to increasing bone density it is a great thing. A jumping jack is one of the best plyometric exercises out there and it is a fantastic cardiovascular drill. If you are looking for a way to improve your quickness, this is the exercise.

Related: 10 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises to Prime You for Your Workout

16. Mountain Climbers
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16 Mountain Climbers

One of the best core exercises you’ll find. This exercise combines the difficulty of a plank, deep core stabilization and alternating knee drives towards your chest. The knee drives also increases your heart rate, which is the perfect way to flatten your abs and burn calories. It’s crucial that you maintain proper alignment throughout the exercise and keep your shoulders and wrists perfectly stacked.

Related: Mountain Climb Away Your Holiday Calories

17. Tuck Jumps
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17 Tuck Jumps

The tuck jump is an extremely powerful and fun exercise that will help you strengthen your entire body including your heart. It is also a wonderful way to improve your agility, power and increase your ability to jump higher.

Related: 10 No-Gym Plyometric Moves for Explosive Strength

18. Butt Kicks
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18 Butt Kicks

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart then start jogging in place. The difference here is that you'll be bringing your heels behind you to tap your butt (or get as close to it as you can). This drill stretches your quadriceps as well as giving you a quick cardio boost.

Related: 5 Hamstring Stretches From Football's Most Flexible Athletes -- Punters

19. Frog Jumps
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19 Frog Jumps

This exercise adds an element of power in the lower body that will get your heart rate up for a cardiovascular benefit and define the muscles in your lower body. Start in an athletic squat position and swing your arms back behind your hips. Push off of your heels and jump forward, land, and immediately sink back down into a squat position and jump again.

Related: 17 Exercises to Shape and Tone Your Booty

20. Plie Squats
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20 Plie Squats

For this lower-body blaster, start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed outward. Lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push back up to a standing position.

Related: 3 Moves for a Strong and Toned Lower Body

What Do YOU Think?
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What Do YOU Think?

What are your favorite bodyweight exercises? Have you tried the ones on the list? What other ones do you incorporate into your workout routine? Tell us how you work out without a gym in the comments section below!

Related: 2 No-Excuses Workouts for When You're Stuck Indoors

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