10 Best Body Weight Exercises

Published: September 5, 2014

Here are 10 of the best body weight exercises you can do at home or anywhere else you would like. These exercises are the best because of the ability to easily modify them and because you do not need equipment. 

  1. Tricep Dips

    Want to get rid of flabby arms? Then tricep dips are one of your best friends. Grab a stool or chair a couple feet off the ground and get to work. Lower yourself slowly and these babies will get your arms burning in no time. 

    For an easier version, keep your knees bent at 90 degrees. This takes the weight off of your arms. 

    For a harder version, keep your legs straight. Now your arms will be lifting up majority of your body's weight. 

    Try doing 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, twice a week. Don't worry about bulking up; it would take a million of these to do that. 

  2. Lunges

    Who does not know what a lunge is? Lunges are probably one of the most well-know leg exercises to all of man-kind. Okay, maybe not, but they are pretty dang popular. Just make sure to really use your car. Suck that belly button into your back. I like to come up beside my clients and gently push them. If their abs are engaged, no problem. If they were using their back, they fall! 

    Having trouble balancing? Remember to engage your abs. Also, consider widening your feet. Remember to keep both of your feet facing forward. Do NOT let your knee go past your ankle. 

  3. Planks

    Planks are probably on the most loved/hated exercises out there. While they are a great workout for the core, they are also really really hard and painful. It's all about endurance. If you are unable to hold your stomach up and do a plank correctly, place your knees on the ground. Get your muscles activated this way and after not long you will be able to do a full plank. 

    Hold a plank for as long as you can (a couple minutes). Want to make it harder? Do leg raises while you plank. 8-10 on each side. How's that for hard? 

  4. Chair Squats

    Chair squats are a killer workout for the legs and butt. You can use almost any chair or surface that is at a chair height. I like to use a dining room chair. Pretend like you are doing a squat, yet this time let your bottom lightly touch the seat. It does not count if you don't touch the seat with your butt! Try doing 10-12 reps of these. Remember to keep your knees tracking forward and bring in those abs. Same rule for the lunges applies here- if someone comes and bumps into you you should be able to take it!

  5. Push Ups

    Yep, of course we had to include push-ups. There have got to be hundreds of variations you can do with these. Narrow your hands and you work more of your triceps, widen your grip and you work more biceps. Make it easier by placing your knees on the ground. Still too hard? Use a wall. Place your hands on the wall and aim to touch the wall with your chest. Remember to exhale as you push up- breathing is very important! It is so simple, but one of the most forgotten things. 

    Try for 8-12 push ups for 1-3 sets. Good luck! 


  6. Pull Ups

    Remember doing these in middle school for a gym test? Unless you are practicing these daily, it will be darn hard to do even one for some of us. Good thing is your body has the ability to gain muscle as your work your muscles. Pull ups are great for working your arms and upper back. There are lots of variations you can do, including wide grip and narrow grip, palm up, and palm down. 

    Do as many as you can, and do not forget to breath! :) 


  7. Wall Angels

    This is my new favorite exercise. If you want to work on your posture and increase your back strength, but do not have a whole lot of muscle to start with, this is your exercise. With your back to the wall, stand a couple of inches away from a wall. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and place the back of your palms on the wall. You should feel your shoulder blades retracting and even a mild stretch in your upper back. Practice getting into this position 10 or 12 times. 

    After you have mastered getting into the wall angel position, keep your palms and elbows on the wall and try to have your hands touch. Try this 10-12 times for 1-3 reps. 

  8. Burpee

    Any retired High School athlete will know what these are. For a killer leg and core workout, this is your exercise. Start off doing a push up, then quickly bring jump and bring your knees to your chest, then jump up. Think of a burpee as a push up with a jump. The faster you go the harder it gets. Remember to breath!  Forgetting to breath is easy to do. Try to do 6-8 of these. 

    Burpees are great for your core and legs. Make sure to bring your belly button to your back and engage your core. If you feel any knee pain, stop. 

  9. Step Ups

    These are great for working for legs and cardio. Step ups are great for modifying. You can use a step stool and move slowly, or upgrade to a chair and move fast. Throw in some dumbells and you've got a really tough and rewarding exercise. 

    Start with just a 1 or 2-ft step stool and move up to something steeper. Go as slow or as fast as you need to. Make sure to bring your belly button to your back and use your core, especially as you push off and bring one foot into the air. You can find tons of videos of workout classes about step ups and with music. Get to it! 

  10. Single Leg Squat

    These are a challenge, but very rewarding. Try to do them just standing, and make them even harder by sitting down and then squating. You might find that you can only do a few at first. This is normal. By removing one leg from the equation you are making one leg work considerably harder. 

    A useful hint is to exhale as you push up. This will optimize your oxygen uptake and give you more endurance. Make sure you knees are not moving past your toes, and also make sure to keep your knees tracking forwards. 

One would be hard pressed to pick a favorite exercise from the above list. Push ups are probably my favorite because they work the core and arms and a bit of the legs. They have dozens of variations and as long as you change things up they stay fun and engaging.