4 Must-Do Bodyweight Exercises


If you read my latest exercise post Fitness Strategies Part 2: Exercise Tips & Tricks, I mentioned bodyweight programs…

So I decided to write a separate post on just bodyweight exercises to go a little deeper into the benefits of them and why a bodyweight program might be the one for you. I’m not a fitness instructor or anything, but I’ve tried a lot of programs and honestly if I wasn’t doing a lifting program I would definitely be doing a bodyweight program.

Not only are bodyweight programs extremely convenient, they’re also very effective!

If you are someone like me who really doesn’t want like to go to the gym… I tend to get overwhelmed by all of it, so I’d rather workout alone (or with my husband since he really pushes me). I feel like I can really focus on what I’m doing and tend to enjoy it more – it really is a personal preference. Gyms with all the bells and whistles can also get really expensive, which is an unnecessary expense when you have all the tools you need in the comfort of your own home, yard or even a local park, whichever you prefer.

Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

Convenience – You can accomplish a very effective and challenging workout in the comfort of your home, outside or even if your on vacation. You can easily make a bodyweight workout work in a hotel room.

Effective – Doing push-ups and squats are extremely effective since they work more than one muscle group so you get more of a workout.

Fat Burning – If you treat these exercises like a circuit, it keeps your heart rate up from changing the positions of each individual workout in such a short period of time; it can burn fat more effectively and also build your strength.

There are many more benefits from doing bodyweight programs, but the most important to me is… no excuses!

After all, you can do a workout pretty much anywhere, so you won’t have the excuse of “I couldn’t work out today”. All you need is your body and a water bottle (if you want) and you’re ready to start!

Below I have just a few bodyweight exercise that I really like and have found effective! There are 2 upper-body exercises and 2 lower-body exercises, just to give you a taste of what it’s like:

Lower-Body #1: Squats (Legs and Glutes)

4 Must-Do Bodyweight Exercises

No joke, squats are a killer… It’s that ONE exercise that every time I do it, I’m always super sore the next day (sometimes even that night!).

My goal with these is to always get as low as I can with still keeping good form. I do 3 sets of these, as many as you can do in 30 seconds… it’s going to burn, but it will be so worth it!

Upper-Body #1: Push-Ups (Arms)

4 Must-Do Bodyweight Exercises: Push-ups

Now to be perfectly honest, I can only do 1 – maybe 2 – “real” push-ups, haha… So I do the knee pushups until I’m strong enough to do the real deal (I’ve always had little upper-body strength, so I’m getting there!).

If you’re like me start with the knee push-ups and do 3 sets to failure (1-2 minutes rest in-between), as many as you can do. Once you’re able to start doing “real” pushups you can start to do one set of real pushups and then the other sets on your knees, depending on your strength. Just build up that way.

The goal is to get stronger so always try to do better each time with these. For example, if you’re doing 3 sets of 15, try to do 3 sets of 18-20 next time… Even if you’re just doing a few more each time, that means you’re getting stronger 🙂

Lower-Body #2: Lunges (Legs)

4 Must-Do Bodyweight Exercises: Leg Lunges

I feel like I tend to struggle with lunges – it’s the whole balance thing. In the weight program I’m doing, I do weighted lunges which definitely adds to the difficultly. But with lunges, it’s the same thing as squats where every single time I’m so damn sore, but thats whats supposed to happen, right? Lol.

Anyways, when doing this exercise try to keep good form; step outwards in front of you and when you kneel down make sure your knee doesn’t go beyond your foot (you want the knee to stay parallel to the foot). Do 3 sets of 8-12 on each leg.

Upper-Body #2: Tricep Dips (Arms)

4 Must-Do Bodyweight Exercises: Tricep Dips

This is one of my favorite arm exercises. You can do this outside using a bench or in the house (use a chair or coffee table – whatever you have that is going to give you a challenge).

Make sure when doing this exercise to fully extend your arms and then slowly lower into the dip, as low as you can go while keeping your legs straight. Repeat the exercise doing 8-12 reps for 3 sets.

You can also treat all these exercises like a circuit and go through them one after another. This will keep your heart rate up which will make the workout more effective and intense… For example, start with squats, push-ups, lunges and then tricep dips, then repeat until all 3 sets are done.

Add in some great ab exercises to the rotation of your circuit for more of full-body workout.

These are just a few of my favorite bodyweight exercises. If you’re interesting in a strength training program for more definition (and nutrition to go along with it), check this out!


EMILY NESS is a full-time food and lifestyle author who’s passionate about developing simple yet mouth-watering recipes that anyone can make. Since founding her website CookingUpHappiness.com in 2013, she’s went on to share her passion for cooking healthy and tasty recipes with the thousands of people around the world.
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Emily Ness - Cruise

Sharing a passion for food and fitness to live a healthy lifestyle - with the occasional hint of chocolate.