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- Can You Bench Press a Dinosaur??
- The Neuroscience of Genius And Increasing Intelligence
- How Caffeine Affects Neurotransmitters and Profoundly Changes Your Brain
- A Detailed Guide to Your Brain – So You Can Start Hacking It
- Almost Every Bodyweight Exercise Ever (150+ Moves)
Almost Every Bodyweight Exercise Ever (150+ Moves)
Bodyweight training is a fantastic way to get into awesome shape. Not only is bodyweight training free and easy to use anywhere, but it’s also a form of training that builds muscle while at the same time improving your agility, your proprioception, your balance and more. It takes perfect concentration if you’re going to do it right and that means it can almost be meditative. Just ask any martial artist about that one.
The problem is that most people severely underestimate what’s possible with bodyweight training because they only really know the few popular ones like press ups, sit ups and pull ups. To that end I decided to take it upon myself to create the most comprehensive list of bodyweight moves possible. I’ve gone to the extreme length of gathering over 150 different bodyweight exercises for you here, which should provide you with endless possibilities for your workouts. It’s not quite comprehensive of course, but I’m working on it – more will be added over time!
I’ve split these exercises into a number of categories which you can jump to by following the below links:
- Press Up Variations
- Sit Up Variations
- Lower Back Exercises
- Hand Balancing Moves
- Pull Up Variaions
- Bodyweight Leg Exercises
First though I’m going to go into a little detail on how to make bodyweight training work for you…
How to Get Big Muscle With Bodyweight Training Alone
When my YouTube channel was at its most popular, one of the most common questions I would get is ‘can you get strong using just bodyweight training’. The answer to that question is ‘yes’, but only if you do it right.
As mentioned, most people only really use push ups and pull ups when they do their calisthenics, which is fine, but it’s not enough alone to get you strong. These exercises both involve short explosive bursts of energy and don’t provide much resistance or isolation for the muscles. On their own they simply aren’t challenging enough to build muscle in the way you would do with weights.
What you need to do differently then is to a) increase your time under tension and b) make the exercises more difficult. Weight is weight, so it really doesn’t matter if you’re using bodyweight training or dumbbells. The difference is the way most people approach each of these workouts and if you approach bodyweight training the way you approach the weights then you can get amazing results.
What this means is first of all, using exercises that target specific muscle groups and that involve long movements that increase your Time Under Tension. TuT is pretty much the most important factor when it comes to muscle growth, so gradually moving yourself around the pull up bar will be tons more effective than performing quick chin ups. Likewise you need to get the full range of motion, so just hanging on its own isn’t enough.
At the same time though you also need to make sure you are going past failure by using all the same techniques you would do in the gym such as drop sets, negatives, supersets, pyramid sets etc. Pull ups on their own are a little bland, but if you perform pull ups to failure, then drop down to reverse push ups, then finish with some pull up negatives, you’ll have completely exhausted the lats and biceps much more effectively. Likewise you could perform push up typewriters, following by rocking press ups, followed by press ups, followed by clapping press ups to really work the slow and fast twitch muscle fibres.
And finally, make sure you’re challenging yourself enough. Decline press ups too easy for you now? Then up the challenge by doing hand stand press ups! Don’t over do it or run before you can walk, but do make sure you’re pushing yourself if you want to build muscle.
And to provide you with all the exercises you need to create those sorts of challenging workouts, here’s a list of 150+ bodyweight moves to get you started…
Almost Every Press Up Variation
You don’t need me to explain these: hands shoulder-width apart, feet on the floor, body raised and then ‘press’ your upper body.
Clapping Press Ups
Clap in the air between repetitions while doing press ups. You can clap two or three times to make life harder for yourself. This trains the fast twitch muscle fibres in your upper body which provide explosive power. You can also try clapping behind your back or your head.
Scorpion Push Up
A simple push up, but with one leg pointing upwards like a scorpion’s tale.
Uneven Push Up
A press up with one hand on a raised surface. Make sure to target both sides.
Crossover Push Up
This is performed with one hand on a skateboard/medicine ball/book, but in between each rep you will move your body over to the other side and switch which hand is on the raised surface.
Wall Press Ups
An easier one for those with dodgy wrists/poor upper body strength. Here you lean against a wall and do your presses rather than lying on the floor so you’re working with less weight.
Around the World Press Ups
Like clapping press ups, except you will spin 360 degrees (pivoting horizontally) between reps.
Perfect Push Ups
These are push ups using a product known as ‘perfect push ups’. They involve doing a press up while twisting the hands in and out to extend range of movement and to target the teres pronator and supinator muscles. Get them here: Perfect Pushup Elite
Rotational Press Ups
Here you swing up one arm and turn your body 90 degrees on each rep as though trying to touch the ceiling. Great for your obliques.
One Handed Press Ups
Like it sounds. Keep your legs wider apart for added stability.
One Handed/One Legged Press Ups
These are press ups where you have one hand on the floor and one foot. This should be the opposite hand and foot so you are forced to stabilise yourself with your abs and core.
Rocky Press Ups
This is so called because Rocky Balboa uses them in one of his training montages. The idea is to do a one handed press-up, and then swap hands at the top of the movement. Like a more plyometric version of a regular one handed press up.
Incline Press Ups
Press ups with your hands on something higher than your legs. This is great for beginners, for drop sets and for hitting the lower pecs.
Decline Press Ups
Press ups with your legs higher than your hands. This is the equivalent of an incline bench press and hits the shoulders and upper pecs.
Staggered Press Ups
One hand forward slightly to alter the angle on your pecs.
Spider-Man Press Ups
Press ups where you bring one knee up to the side like you were going to crawl.
Planche Press Ups
Bring your hands further down and closer together than a regular press up and then lift your legs off the floor so that your body is floating parallel to the ground. Now do push ups!
Pseudo Planche Press Up
Pseudo planche means getting your hands and feet in the position they would be for planche, but leaving your feet on the ground.
Maltese Push Ups
Here you will be performing essentially pseudo planche push ups but with your arms a little further apart and hands twisted slightly more outwards. It’s a more difficult pseudo planche that will train your pecs a little harder.
Rocking Press Ups
Rock down to one side during press ups. This is the equivalent of doing a one handed press up, except you’re keeping the other hand on the floor for balance and stability.
Diamond Press Up
Here your hands go together with your fingers and thumbs forming a diamond just below your sternum. Now you’ll bend your elbows out to the sides as you lower yourself to do press ups that focus much more on the triceps. You’ll also find that diamond press ups slightly work the biceps on the negative portion of the movement.
Wide Grip Press Ups
Simple this one: press ups with your arms a little wider. This targets the outer pecs a little more.
Extended Range of Motion Press Ups
These are press ups you can do on push up stands or on two chairs opposite each other. The point is you’re going to dip down lower than your hands in order to increase the range of motion.
Push Up Hold
A push up with an isometric hold at the middle of the movement.
Finger Tip Push Ups
Push ups on your fingers, great for increasing finger strength.
One Finger Push Up
This is the one handed push up taken to the limit. A favourite of Bruce Lee.
Knuckle Push Up
A push up on your knuckles with a relatively narrow grip. Useful if you have bad wrists (like me) and/or want to toughen up your knuckles.
Narrow Grip Press Ups
The opposite of a wide grip press up. Challenges the inner pecs more.
Tricep Push Ups
You start in regular press up position with your hands facing forward, and then you drop down onto your elbows and push back up by using your triceps.
Serratus Push Ups
The serratus muscles are the muscles over your rib cage at your side, and they’re also the ones you use when you extend your arm out further when it’s already straight (by rolling your shoulder). To train this area with press ups you start with your arms completely straight and then lower and raise your body without moving your arms at all. These are one of the only ways to train your serratus muscles with bodyweight.
Pike Press Ups
This is a press up you perform with your bum pointing in the air by having your feet closer to your hands. This in turn means you’ll be pushing downwards on your hands and thus engaging your shoulders more than your pecs.
Rocking Pike Press Up
This is the same as the pike press up, except you’re going to ‘rock’ forward and back rather than going straight up and down. It’s brilliant for targeting the upper chest.
Lower your body to one side as though you were doing a rocking press up, then ‘slide’ along to the other hand before pushing up.
Box Jump Press Ups
Another plyometric press up, this time jumping up onto a box in front of you with your hands and then down onto your hands on the floor.
In between repetitions you launch your whole body in the air and then touch your toes with your hands. It’s a showing off move and highly likely to break your nose…
Slider Push Up
On a slippery floor, or using something with wheels under one hand, you’re going to slide one hand forward each time you lower your body while the other hand bends normally.
This is a press up performed with your arms outstretched in front of you like superman. This is fantastic for the abs and the rest of the core and works your back as well as shoulders.
Press Ups on Knees
These are press ups performed on your knees – great for beginners or for drop sets.
Jack LaLanne Fingertip
Jack LaLanne is a legend of bodybuilding and a great entrepreneur. This press up he invented is basically a superman press up, but on your finger tips.
Falling Press Up
Simply a press up that you drop into from falling position. Requires a lot of ‘negative strength’ to slow you down and avoid a face plant.
Superman X-Jumps are press ups where you launch your whole body off the floor again, but this time splay your arms and legs out like a starfish. This is the ‘jumping jacks’ of press ups.
A press up in which you spin around 180 degrees to face the other way.
Inca Thigh Slap
Use when building up to the Aztec push up. This one involves jumping off the floor then touching your hands to your knees rather than your toes.
I’m not entirely sure this belongs in the press ups category, but it’s an oddity. This exercise is one of the only ways you can train your biceps without a pull up bar and is the closest to a ‘bicep press up’ we have.
Tons of Bodyweight Crawl Exercises
Crawls are fantastic at building your core and improving proprioception. For the bear crawl, you start on all fours, then move up onto your toes and crawl like a kid pretending to be a dog.
Start sitting on the floor, then lift yourself onto your hands and feet and scuttle forward, backwards and left and right.
The Spider-Man crawl is performed low to the ground as though at the bottom of a press-up movement. From here you then bring one knee forward at the same time as the opposite hand. Normally you raise the body up while moving forward.
The lizard crawl is like the Spider-Man crawl except performed lower with no bobbing up and down. It’s a great isometric exercise for the pecs.
The army crawl is a crawl on the forearms and toes like a commando.
Alligator Push Up
This is a push up where you bring your arms forward during each repetition (similar to a Spider-Man crawl) and gradually drag your legs along the floor.
Push Up Walk
As you repeat press ups you’re going to launch yourself into the air slightly and step out sideways with your hand and leg thus moving sideways.
The inch worm starts with your arms and legs straight, arms touching the floor (like a stretch). From here you then walk your hands forward until you’re stretched out forward, and then walk your feet forward until you’re back in the starting position.
Most Hand Balancing Moves
Lift yourself into a hand stand, then do press ups. Amazing for the shoulders. You can build up to this by leaning your legs against a wall.
Frog Stand Push Up
The frog stand (also known as the crow pose in yoga) involves balancing on your hands with your knees squatting up by your elbows. From here you can then do shoulder presses a little more easily than in a full handstand.
Leaning Tower Hand Stand Push Up
Lift yourself into a slightly leaning hand stand, then do presses.
Holding planche is a great isometric move. Full planche involves holding your body nearly or completely horizontal using just your hands with arms straight, generally planted on the ground around the level of your waist for stability.
Pseudo planche involves holding your hands further down your body (by your waist) and lifting your upper body. Your feet remain on the floor for balance as you build your way to full planche.
Plank is an isometric (static) hold with your arms resting on forearms and toes on the ground as though doing a press up. The shoulders should be directly above the wrists.
This is a plank move with the arms a little more forward – directly above the wrists.
The planche but with your stomach resting on your elbows/forearms. Feet off the floor. This makes it considerably easier (though not that much!).
Start sitting down, then lift your legs in front of you and your bottom off the ground. Your body should form an ‘L’ shape. This is great for your abs and your triceps. Add flutter kicks for added challenge.
V-Sits involve balancing on your hands in a seated position again, but this time holding your legs out straight at a steeper angle to form a ‘V’ with your body.
The tiger stand is a hand stand on your forearms. If you want a fantastic tricep exercise you can move from tiger stand to handstand and back.
One Handed Handstand
As you can imagine, this is a handstand on one hand. An insanely advanced shoulder exercise is to then perform presses from that position.
Walking on Your Hands
Walking on your hands builds your core and stabiliser muscles as well as using shoulder and pec strength.
Hand stand push ups performed a little more explosively so that you are launching your whole body off of the floor.
Tuck planche is similar to a frog stand but your legs are tucked up into your chest. You can also do tuck planche press ups.
Clapping Handstand Press Ups
Yup, this takes it to the next level. Launch yourself in the air, clap, then land back on your hands.
There are two types of headstand – those where you use your hands to balance and those where you balance purely on your head. The latter is tough as nails.
With one forearm on the ground, lean sideways against the ground with your feet resting against the floor and hold. This is an isometric hold that’s great for the obliques if you add some movement.
The human flag is an isometric hold in which you’ll be holding your body out sideways while gripping onto the bar. The secret to success here is to keep your arms wide apart, so that you can pull with the top arm and prop yourself up with the bottom arm. You can also build up to this move by tucking your elbows in to begin with.
Bodyweight Exercises for Lower Back
Lie on the floor with your arms and legs outstretched like the DC comic hero. Now raise your arms and legs straight up, curving your back as you do so, release and repeat.
Salute to the Sun
Lie flat on the ground, then raise just the upper body similarly to the Supermans but without the involvement of the legs.
Reverse Sit Ups
For this you’ll need two parallel bars. Now lie across those bars on your stomach, with your legs hooked underneath, let your upper body hang over the edge, and then raise it up in front of you again.
Lie flat on the ground with your arms by your sides and knees bent, then just raise your waist upwards into a bridge and repeat.
Lie your upper body on a flat surface such as a bench with your legs hanging off the edge. Then raise your legs straight up behind you, lower and repeat.
Inverted Hang Leg Raises
An advanced move. For this one you hang from the pull up bar with your arms behind you and your body pointing forward. Let your legs hang down, then lift them up behind you as with the hip extensions.
Nearly All the Sit Up Variations
Lie on the floor, keep your knees up and feet flat on the ground, then sit up with your upper body to bring your chest to your knees.
Lie flat on your back with your arms on the floor and head just slightly raised. Now lift your legs off the ground and ‘crunch’ them up to your chest by bringing your knees round to try and touch your face. This is an alternative version of leg raises.
Crunches are like sit ups but performed with more of a slight curl and squeeze rather than a complete movement up and down. Make sure to squeeze your abs at the top of each movement.
Lean sideways over the arm of a sofa or a bench, and then raise your body that way rather than forward and back.
Leg raises involve simply lying on the floor and then simply raising your legs up in front of you. This trains the lower abs.
Twisting Sit Up
A sit up with a twist at the top of the movement to engage the abs.
The bicycle crunch requires you to balance on your buttocks with legs and back off the floor and then to mimic cycling with your legs. As you do, you’re going to twist to bring your elbows to touch your opposite knee on each rep. This is great for training the obliques as well as the abs.
Decline Sit Ups
Sit-ups performed on a decline bench so that you can take advantage of a bigger range of motion.
Vertical Leg Crunch
Keep your legs pointing directly up, and then sit up in order to touch your toes.
For V sit-ups you’re going to keep your arms up straight over your head and legs flat, and then you’re going to bring your legs and your arms up at the exact same time so you’re folding your body in half and touching your toes with your fingers. This is the vertical leg crunch, except you’ll also be bringing your legs up from flat with each repetition.
These are like leg raises, except you keep your feet raised just slightly off the ground in an isometric hold then just lightly kick your legs up and down alternatively as though you were swimming.
Broom Sit Ups
A regular sit up, except with a broom between your hands behind your head. This prevents you from moving your arms and thus isolates the abs more. You can also perform twisting/decline/twisting-decline broom sit ups.
This is the exercise Stallone does in Rocky 4 but were actually invented by none other than Bruce Lee (Lee was a bit of a prodigy when it came to bodyweight training). For this you’ll need a bench so that you can grab the edge of it with your arms above your head. Now while holding on, you want to do leg raises except using your whole body from your shoulders down. You’ll need intense strength in your abs to keep your entire body straight.
Upside-Down/Hanging Sit Ups
Want to make your sit ups much harder? Then just hang from your feet and bring your body up as you go. You can also do crunches from this position.
Hanging Leg Raises
Hang from the bar and then simply raise your legs directly up in front of you. This is great for the lower abs.
Around the World Hanging Leg Raises
Hang from the bar and then draw a circle with your legs.
Frog kicks involve raising your knees up to your chest instead of raising your legs straight forward, again to train the abs. This is a great way to do a drop set from leg raises.
Take a roller in your hands and rest on your knees. Now roll it out forward in front of you, stretching your body out and really creating those muscle tears.
Here you will do sit ups on a bosu ball/across the arm of a chair, and you will use this to go back further than you normally could. This stretches the rectus abdominals which is the front plate of muscle on your stomach. In other words, it’s a quick way to get an awesome six pack. Get your BOSU Balance Trainer, Blue here from Amazon.
Exercise Ball Crunch
Dips and Almost All Variations
Dips are performed by suspending yourself between two bars then lowering and raising yourself between them. If you don’t have two bars you can use two chairs opposite one another.
Yup, you can of course make dips more explosive by jumping and clapping in between each repetition to get those fast twitch muscle fibres working.
180 Jump Dips
Dips performed with a 180 degree spin in between, so you’re facing the opposite way on each rep.
Also called the extended Russian leg raise, you will start in dip position and then roll back to raise your legs to point directly upwards while your arms lean backwards against the bars.
Tricep dips are dips performed with your hands behind you and your heels resting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. As the name suggests, these train the triceps primarily.
Extended Range Tricep Dips
Raise your legs by placing them on a raised platform opposite your hands, and you can then dip lower than ground level.
Here you swing your legs out behind you like a pendulum, and when they swing forward you dip down and repeat. Like kettlebell training, the constant momentum here trains all your supportive muscles.
Clapping Tricep Dips
Tricep dips with a little clap behind your back on each jump.
One Armed Tricep Dips
Tricep dips performed with one hand. Use wide legs to spread the weight and make it easier to balance.
Rocking Tricep Dips
Just dip further down on one arm each rep.
Typewriter Tricep Dips
With your arms starting wide apart, you’re going to slide slowly from left to right in a tricep dip position.
Single Bar Dips
Holding on to a single bar with your legs hanging beneath you will dip your body up and down. This is effective just the top portion of a muscle up.
V-Dips are like regular dips (dipping straight down the middle), except you are going to raise yourself on just one side, alternating with each repetition.
Every Major Type of Pull Up
Grab a bar with an overhand grip and arms about shoulder-width apart, then pull yourself up to the bar. Great for lats.
Chin ups are the version with the supinated (underhand grip) they target the biceps slightly more.
Around the Worlds
Hold yourself slightly away from the bar, and then slowly draw a circle with your upper body remembering to move in both a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. This is a great exercise for the lats which gives you a lot of ‘time under tension’ for maximum muscle growth.
Pull Up Front Lever
Here you don’t pull yourself up, but rather pivot at your arms to bring your legs and body directly up and parallel with the ground so you are horizontal. Here the whole body stays rigid, making is a highly demanding move for the core and the lats.
Lever Pull Ups
Get yourself into the lever position and then pull yourself up and down for more of a row movement.
Dead Hang Pull Ups/Chin Ups
A pull up or chin up with a complete dead hang at the bottom. Removes all momentum and ensures the full range of motion gets trained.
Reverse Push Ups
Here you perform a chin up or pull up with your feet on the ground out in front of you (resting on the heels). This requires the bar to be slightly lower, or you can lie underneath a table and grab onto that. This makes pull ups easier and thus allows you to perform more reps.
Bodyweight Tricep Extensions
With a low bar in front of you, hang forward with your body straight and head between your arms. Now you’re going to ‘push down’ with your triceps by hinging at your elbows to
One Handed Pull Ups/Chin Ups
One handed pull ups are simply pull ups you perform with a single arm. This is a fantastic demonstration of bodyweight mastery, and is also a great way to target the biceps more.
Kipping Pull Ups
Kipping pull ups are a form of pull up that involves swinging the legs to get momentum and then exploding up over the bar. This makes it easier to perform high volumes and is popular with Cross Fitters. Not all that useful for muscle growth, but potentially interesting for cardio/concurrent training.
Behind the Neck Pull Ups
Not one for those with shoulder, neck or back complaints, but if you’re healthy and want to mix things up this is a somewhat tough variation on regular pull ups.
Wrist Curl Pull Ups/Chin Ups
Here you are going to simply hang from your arms on a pull up bar with either an over hand or underhand grip, and then you’re going to lift yourself ever so slightly by curling at your wrists. An overhand supinated grip (pull up) will train your forearm extensors, while an underhand (pronated) grip will train your forearm flexors.
Rocking Pull Ups/Chin Ups
Rocking pull ups or chin ups involve pulling up on one side more than the other and then repeating on the other side. It’s a good way to build up to the one handed pull up and a great way to isolate the biceps.
Archer Pull Ups
Here you pull up on one side, then move one hand on top of the bar at the top of the movement.
Pull Up Type Writer
Here you hang from a pull up bar, then gradually move yourself left to right so that you move your weight onto that one side and return. This is a great pull up movement for increasing time under tension. You’ll see some ‘Bartendaz’ types using this movement above the bar in a muscle-up position.
Bartendaz and other guys often like to add a ‘bicycle’ movement with their feet while performing a range of pull up moves. The idea here is to train the abs, while at the same time looking a bit like a mime. I guess…
L-Tuck Pull Ups
These are pull ups performed with your legs in a position as though you were sitting in a chair with a 90 degree angle in your knees.
L-Sit Pull Ups/V-Sit Pull Ups
Pull ups or chin ups performed with your legs in the L or V-sit positions.
Inverted L-Pull Up
A pull up performed with your feet pointing at the sky.
Pull Up/Chin Up Negatives
These are pull ups or chin ups performed by holding onto the bar, jumping, and then letting yourself down as slowly as possible. This is a great way to build negative strength in your biceps, and also a great way to finish a set of pull ups when you can’t do any more.
Pseudo One Handed Pull Ups
A pseudo one handed pull up is a one handed pull up where you grab onto your forearm with the other free hand.
Muscle ups are pull ups where you go past the bar and then do a one-bar dip at the top of the movement, before dropping back down. This is a fantastic, explosive movement that trains nearly all the muscles in your upper body. It’s also a great move for traceurs hoping to learn to ‘mount’ onto walls.
Narrow Grip/Wide Grip
Narrowing or widening your grip on the pull up bar will target your biceps and lats more respectively.
It’s an old childhood favourite, but don’t knock it! The monkey bars can provide a great workout for your biceps and lats, as well as being a great way to build up to a one-armed pull up.
Climbing straight up a rope is a classic gym-class workout that’s fantastic for the lats, the forearms and the grip. Perform without using your legs for added awesome.
Tandem Grip Pull Ups/Comando Pull Ups
This time you face down the length of the bar, and clasp it above your head with both hands in the middle. Now you’re going to perform pull ups, pulling your head up on either side of the bar for each repetition.
Clapping Pull Ups
Do a pull up, launch yourself off of the bar, clap, catch, and repeat. Try not to bash out all of your teeth.
Grip Switch Pull Ups
Again throw yourself in the air at the end of the pull up, and this time catch the bar from the other side to reverse your grip. So you’re switching between pull ups and chin ups in each move. If you want to superset pull ups with chin ups, then you can perform a bunch of pull ups, grip switch, then perform a bunch of chin ups.
In and Out Pull Ups
This time you’ll be switching between wide and narrow grip pull ups by sliding your hands in and out.
Neutral Grip Pull-Ups
Neutral grip is ‘hammer grip’ for the bodybuilders out there. Essentially you’ll be holding two parallel bars with your hands facing inwards and then performing pull ups. For this you can use the Iron Gym.
Finger Board Pull Ups
Here you perform pull ups with your hands on a finger board or on a door frame in order to train your grip and forearm strength. Popular among climbers.
Finger Pull Ups
Pull ups hanging from your fingers. Some people can do one finger pull ups. Woah.
Human Flag Pull Ups
Even more awesome… do a human flag with arms extended then pull yourself in and out towards the horizontal bar. This is as advanced as they come…
Forward and Backwards Pull Ups
Hold onto the bar, keep yourself at bar height, and then move yourself towards and away from the bar.
Towel Pull Ups
Pull ups performed in a commando pull up position while holding onto a towel.
Mixed Grip Pull Ups
Here you have one overhand and one underhand grip while performing pull ups.
This is an isometric hold where you simply just hang from a pull up bar. Harder than it sounds. Interestingly, some studies on chickens suggest this could convert slow twitch muscle fibre into fast twitch muscle fibre.
Corn Cob Pull Ups
This time you go left and right like the typewriter pull up, then go in and out for a single rep. It’s essentially a complex, and when complete with a slow cadence it’s fantastic for time under tension.
Ring Pull Ups
Pull ups performed using gymnastic rings which adds challenge by requiring you to stabilise yourself.
Dyno Pull Up
Every Popular Bodyweight Leg Exercise
This is basically just a squat, except you aren’t carrying any weight. You can generally safely squat lower than you normally would with a weighted squat.
One-Legged Squat/Pistol Squat
A one legged bodyweight squat that effectively doubles the resistance. Use one hand to stabilise yourself to begin with, then build up to doing it without that hand for balance in order to train your fast twitch muscle fibres, balance and kinaesthetic awareness.
A sissy squat is a squatting movement made harder by altering your angle. Here you push your knees slightly forward and lean backwards at the same time so that your upper body is diagonal, then squat normally by bending the knees while balancing on the tips of your toes. This makes the squat considerably more challenging but is a little tough on the knees so go easy!
This is a squat with a jump at the top of the movement, if you perform the first portion of the squat slowly then add an explosive jump at the end you’ll be hitting both your fast and slow twitch muscle fibres.
Bodyweight Calf Raises
Toes on a step, heels on the floor, then raise so that you’re on tip-toes and repeat.
One Legged Bodyweight Calf Raises
The same as above, except you’ll be on just one leg. You can again make this harder by balancing yourself too.
Reverse Calf Raises
This time your heels go on the step and lower and raise the toes to the ground and up. This will work the tiabialis.
Seated Bodyweight Calf Raises
Sit on a chair or bench, then push down onto your knee hard with your hands to provide the resistance, now raise your toe to perform reps.
Lie flat on the floor with your arms by your side and knees bent, feet on your heels. Now push your body up to form a bridge, but using your legs rather than your back in order to control the movement. Push through your heels and you should feel this one in your hamstrings. This is the closest to a hamstring curl with bodyweight that you’re going to get.
Raised Hamstring Bridge
A raised hamstring bridge is the same as a hamstring bridge, except your heels will be balanced on the edge of a raised platform such as a bench, increasing your range of motion.
Hanging Hamstring Curl
Hang from a low bar (such as one you might use for a reverse push up) with your heels on the floor, and then use your hamstrings to go from hanging to a bridge-type shape.
One Legged Hamstring Bridge
Of course you also have the option to do one legged raised hamstring bridges.
Put one foot on a raised platform and keep the other one on the floor. Now ‘step up’ by pushing with the raised foot to raise your whole body. This is essentially a more challenging version of the pistol squat.
Box jumps are a plyometric movement that train the explosive fast-twitch muscle fibres in your legs. Perform by jumping straight up onto a high box and then jumping back down for multiple reps.
One Legged Box Jumps
If you want to increase the challenge then simply perform the same movement on just one leg. Be careful not to face plant…
In a lunge you step forward with one leg and then do a small ‘squat’ while in a split legged position, then swap and repeat on the other side.
You can perform lunges by stepping through into a lunge, and this way you can walk around a field or down the road. It sure looks odd, but it’s a great way to make lunges a little bit less boring and to keep up the tension.
Jogging backwards is surprisingly effective as a way to build leg strength in ‘muscles seldom used’ as well as to improve your kinaesthetic awareness.
Horse stance is essentially the stance you are in when you’re at the bottom of a squat. In a number of practices such as Tai Chi and Yoga, practitioners will simply hold this position in order to get an awesome burn on the legs.
Get into push up position, then jump your legs up under your upper body, before jumping them back out behind you again.
Jumping Jacks/Star Jumps
Jumping Jacks are also named after Jack LeLanne. Here you simply jump, splay your arms and legs like a star, then land normally.
Jack in the Boxes
This is a jumping jack from a squat foetal position, so it basically incorporates a lunge. This is a fantastic exercise for leg development and hormonal response.
Lunge Jumps/Split Squat Jumps
This is the same as the squat jump, except you’re jumping from a lunge position, switching legs mid air, and landing on the other side.
Tuck jumps are jumps where you tuck your knees up to your chest. Again if you go into these from a squatting position, then they can be a surprisingly effective muscle builder.
I enjoy holding a broom and jumping over the stick and back again. It’s like an alternative to a tuck jump or box jump that looks much cooler.
So there you have it… that’s nearly every bodyweight exercise ever! At least it’s certainly every common bodyweight move and a great basis to get you started with. My hope is you’ll dip in and out of this when you want inspiration for something new to do at home, and hopefully even pros will find one or two moves they didn’t know. I finished on the video above though just to demonstrate that there are many more options for things you can do with your bodyweight – don’t be afraid to experiment because any movement that provides resistance can be a great way to build muscle. It doesn’t have to be an ‘official’ move – just remember to keep that time under tension high and to use different techniques to keep on the intensity.
Over time I will be adding more moves and more videos to this guide. I’ll also be adding extra information and images to illustrate each move… but for now I need a lie down. This is 6,381 words, give me a break!