The Best Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do at Home

You can do some of the best exercises without a gym membership or any equipment.

For most people, at-home solo workouts mean bodyweight-only exercises rather than studio classes and gym sessions that call for weights and other gear. 

While it might seem like a setback for some, using your body weight to exercise can be efficient. Some of the best bodyweight exercises test your form and allow you to perfect it, requiring zero equipment and little space. 

Here's what you need to know about some of the best bodyweight exercises to help you get a total-body strength training workout at home. 

Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

Some of the benefits of bodyweight exercises include some of the following:

  • You can do them anywhere.
  • No equipment is needed.
  • You can work the whole body.
  • You have the freedom to exercise whenever you want.
  • It's free.
  • You can customize your workout to your fitness level.

"It's understandable to think that a bodyweight workout might not be challenging enough for you, especially if you're used to lifting weights. But you might be surprised," Adam Rosante CPT, CSCS, a strength and nutrition coach, told Health. "From adjusting reps and sets to tweaking the tempo of the moves to creating timed challenges and changing the angle of your body, there are plenty of ways to ramp up the difficulty of bodyweight exercises or dial it back if you're just starting."

When trying a new workout, you want to first focus on nailing your form on each move, added Rosante. Performing bodyweight exercises allows you to tune into body alignment and what you should be feeling. So, pay attention to the muscle groups you're working on as you go. Once you master each exercise, it's time to take them to the next level.

12 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do at Home

To get you started on a bodyweight workout at home, Rosante broke down the form of 12 of the best bodyweight exercises. Also, Rosante explained how to regress and progress them and the ideal way to turn them into a sweaty exercise session.

Air Squats

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your hips down and back like you're sitting in a chair. Go as low as you can without losing the natural curve of your lower back.
  • Drive through the feet to return to standing. Think about pressing the floor away from you as you stand up, keeping your weight in your heels.
  • Repeat the exercise. Make sure your chest stays tall, and your core stays tight. You should feel your entire lower body and abs working.

Turn it down: If you're new to squats, try standing in front of your couch or a chair. Tap the chair with your butt at the bottom, then stand back up.

Turn it up: To make the move more challenging, increase the tempo. Make sure you maintain strong form as you go fast and still drop it low—don't cut the movement short.


  • Start in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, creating a straight line from shoulders to heels, core engaged.
  • Bend elbows back 45 degrees and slowly lower toward the ground.
  • Then, press yourself back up, maintaining strong plank form. Repeat.
  • Make sure your elbows hit that 45-degree angle, and avoid sending them out to the sides like a goal post—that's rough on the shoulders, said Rosante.

Turn it down: Perform the same movement, but with hands on a couch, chair, or the edge of a table to elevate your upper body.

Turn it up: Perform a regular push-up, but slow the lowering phase. Aim to count to five or six before you touch the floor.

Bulgarian Split Squats

  • Stand a little less than a leg's length in front of a bench, chair, box, or couch. Place the top of your right foot on the bench behind you. Keep weight on the heel of your left foot on the floor.
  • Bend your left knee and lower down until your back knee touches the floor or the front knee bends 90 degrees.
  • Drive through the front left foot to stand back up. Repeat.
  • Make sure to engage your core throughout the entire move and press through your front foot's heel and big toe to stand back up—like you're driving the floor away. Those glutes and quads should be on fire by the last rep.

Turn it down: This move challenges the legs, glutes, and feet and requires good balance, so if you need to keep it shallow, do so—go as low as you can, said Rosante.

Turn it up: Add a half rep by lowering down, coming up halfway, then lowering back down before you stand all the up to the top.

Superman Pull

A superman pull is one of the best bodyweight exercises to work your back—perfect for counteracting hunched-over posture. 

  • Lie face down on the floor with arms extended out in front of you.
  • Squeeze the upper back muscles to raise your arms and chest off the floor. Lift your feet and engage your glutes.
  • Holding this position, pull the elbows down by your sides to form a W with your upper body, engaging your lats. Then, punch your arms back out in front of you. Repeat.
  • Make sure to engage your core, keep your shoulders down and away from your ears, and maintain a neutral spine by looking down and slightly forward. Also, make the mind-muscle connection by consciously squeezing and focusing on the back muscles.

Turn it down: Lower down after each W pull or leave the feet on the floor to focus on the upper body.

Turn it up: Hold the W for 20 to 30 seconds to increase the time under tension.

Bird Dog

Tom Corbett
  • Start on all fours with the shoulders directly over the wrists and knees under the hips.
  • Extend your right arm and left leg straight, in line with your shoulder and hip. Hold for a few seconds and place back down to the all-fours position.
  • Then, extend the left arm and right leg straight out. Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Continue alternating.
  • Make sure the shoulders and hips stay square to the ground. Bird dog is a core exercise, so engage your midsection and maintain a flat back. Also, flex your feet, pressing through your heel to extend the leg.

Turn it down: Extend one arm and one leg at a time instead of an arm and a leg together.

Turn it up: Do the same move but from a plank position. You'll lift the opposite arm and leg, hold for three to six seconds, then place back down and switch sides.

Mountain Climbers

  • Start in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, forming a straight line from shoulders to the heels.
  • Maintain strong form as you drive one knee toward your chest, then immediately step back to plank. Then, drive the other knee toward your chest and immediately step back to the plank. Continue alternating as fast as possible.
  • Don't let your hips pike up or drop, and keep your shoulders over your wrists to maintain a solid support base as you push the floor away from you with your upper body.

Turn it down: Keep it slow if you need to maintain a strong plank.

Turn it up: Pick up the speed like sprinting in the plank position. Elevate your heart rate by increasing the speed, but don't let your quickness wreck your form.

Pistol Squat

  • Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Shift your weight to your right leg, flex your left foot and extend your left leg in front of you, so your heel is a few inches off the floor.
  • Brace your core and squeeze your quads, hips, glutes, and upper back. Sit back into a squat. As you lower, raise your arms to counterbalance and maintain a slight forward lean.
  • Lower as far as you can, then, maintaining tension in your body, drive up through the right foot to stand up. Repeat, then switch sides.
  • You can always squat on a chair, bench, or couch if you're working on the move.
  • Focus on keeping your knee in line with the second toe (the one next to your big toe). Keep pressure on the heel of the standing leg and the big and pinky toes. Think of your foot like a tripod, with three points of contact, said Rosante.

Turn it down: Keep the move on two legs. Or if you have that down, start by sitting on a tall chair, bench, box, or couch, with one foot planted and the other extended in front of you, a few inches off the floor. 

Extend the arms in front of you. Lean back and rock forward to create momentum as you drive your arms down and your planted foot into the floor to stand up. Just make sure to only send some of your weight to the ball of the foot. Lower back to the seat and repeat. Remove the rocking when you're ready for the next progression.

Turn it up: If you have your pistol squat down—and you can come back up—grab some weight, like dumbbells if you have them. You can also slow the move down and focus on control as you lower and stand.

Plank Up-Downs

  • Start in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, forming a straight line from shoulders to heels.
  • Lower one forearm to the ground, shoulder over the elbow. Repeat on the other side. 
  • Then, place one palm back on the ground, arm extended, and the other. Continue alternating.
  • Keep your shoulders stacked over the wrists or elbows the entire time—your hands are just replacing the elbows and vice versa as you go. Also, keep your hips in line with your shoulders—don't pike them up or drop them down. 
  • Your abs and shoulders should work overtime, but remember to squeeze your glutes and activate your legs.

Turn it down: Place your knees on the ground in a modified plank position to complete the move.

Turn it up: Increase the speed as much as possible without breaking form. You can also place a small pillow or yoga block on your back, making sure you don't let it fall, to test your stability.

Alternating Side Lunge

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward.
  • Step right foot out to the right, to the three o'clock position. Bend your right knee as you sit your butt back and lower down, keeping your left leg straight. 
  • Drive out of the right heel to return to standing. Repeat on the left side and continue alternating.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and keep the weight primarily in your heel as you lower into the lunge. Think about sitting your butt back on a chair behind you—you want your hips to go straight back as you lower into the lunge. 
  • Avoid pushing your weight to the side, even though you're stepping in that direction.

Turn it down: Don't go quite as low in the lunge.

Turn it up: Stick to one side at a time and add a hop at the top of the move, driving your knee toward your chest. Or try skaters, hopping from side to side as you stay low in a lunge position.


  • Lie face down on the floor with legs extended straight out and arms out in front of you, thumbs up.
  • Contract the muscles in your upper back, legs, and glutes to raise your arms and legs a few inches off the floor. Hold, then lower. Repeat.
  • Bring your chest and legs as far off the ground as you can, keeping your shoulders relaxed away from the ears, and gaze toward the ground and slightly forward to keep your spine neutral. Make sure to engage the entire back of your body.

Turn it down: Raise your opposite arm and leg, hold for a few seconds, lower, and switch sides. Continue alternating.

Turn it up: At the top of the move, sweep your arms around and behind your back, interlocking your fingers or clasping one hand over the opposite wrist. Squeeze your upper back, then return to the starting position. That one requires some shoulder mobility.


  • Face up on the floor, legs extended straight out, and arms extended overhead.
  • Lift your torso and legs into a V as you lower your arms to finish parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly lower back to the floor. Repeat.
  • Try to come up to your tailbone, like a boat pose in yoga. Sit nice and tall at the top. Control your movement as you lower back down to the floor to add more fire to your abs.

Turn it down: Instead of keeping the legs straight the entire time, bend your knees at the top, bringing them into a tabletop position.

Turn it up: Hold the top of the movement—the V-shape—for 10 seconds and slowly lower back down before repeating.


  • From a standing position, squat down and place your hands under your shoulders. Then, jump your feet back to land at the top of a push-up position.
  • Lower your body to the floor, and then push back up. Immediately jump your feet back up to your hands.
  • Drive up through your heels and jump straight up, clapping hands overhead. Land softly. Repeat.
  • The key to a good burpee is not arching or rounding the back—keep your core tight and spine in a neutral position. 

Turn it down: Eliminate the jumps. Step backward and forward in the burpee, and come to your toes at the top instead of a hop. You can also keep your chest off the floor, hitting a plank at the bottom of the move.

Turn it up: Go for speed without wrecking form. You'll test your strength and, even more so, your cardio capacity.

Turn Those Exercises Into Workouts

These 12 moves make two separate workouts, which Rosante suggested alternating on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

Warm up before you jump in with active stretches. Perform each move back to back for 30 seconds, maintaining strong form and only resting when you need it. After the last exercise, rest for 45 to 60 seconds. Then, repeat from the top for three to four rounds. 

Here's a breakdown of the two workouts:

Julia Bohan

A Quick Review

Working out at home without equipment and only your body weight can be very effective. Bodyweight exercises are free, can be done anywhere, and work your whole body. And the best part? You can customize bodyweight exercises to meet your fitness level.

So whether you need to tone them up or down, try incorporating some of these bodyweight exercises into your next at-home workout.

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