Bodyweight (or bodyweight) exercises tone, firm and improve muscle strength by using only body weight as resistance, without the use of special tools. To be performed in the comfort of home or outdoors, they require a certain constancy and the right intensity.

They are an excellent solution for those who do not have the opportunity to regularly attend the gym, for reasons of time or money.

The advantages of bodyweight: bodyweight exercises

Push-ups, abdominals, lunges, curls, calf, hyperextensions, crunches and plank are just some of the many bodyweight exercises to increase muscle mass that you can perform at home to get back into shape, increasing the basal metabolism and reactivating joints and muscles a little. rusty.

Some are very simple to perform, while others require more effort. In any case, it is advisable to proceed step by step, based on your athletic preparation, without overdoing it in order to avoid serious repercussions on health.

An improperly performed exercise can create future neck, back or knee problems. To avoid making even trivial mistakes, it is useful to position yourself in front of the mirror. By observing your own reflected image, in fact, it will be possible to correct any errors, just like a personal trainer would do.

Bodyweight training takes just 8-10 minutes a day, so you don’t need to get tired, sweat more than necessary and overload your muscles. Only the regularity and correctness of execution will contribute to guaranteeing interesting benefits to the body. Bodyweight work-out brings the following advantages:

  1. it stresses all the muscles of the body, thus favoring the increase of lean mass over fat.
  2. It tones in the right proportion without excessively increasing the volume of the muscles.
  3. It allows you to burn calories and get back into shape in a short time.
  4. It does not stress the joints and on the contrary increases the musculoskeletal strength.

Furthermore, bodyweight exercises can be performed at any time of the day and wherever you are.

They are very economical and allow for a varied workout. They only require enough space, comfortable clothing and preferably a soft latex fitness mat, which can be replaced with any other available carpet (fringed or rubberized) or with a cotton bedspread. We do not recommend plaids or wool blankets because the fibers they are made of would make you sweat more than you should.

Exercise is useful for anyone wishing to stay fit or lose weight, but it is not recommended for pregnant women and the elderly with joint and heart problems unless a doctor recommends it.

For the correct execution of the exercises, in addition to the posture it is important to prepare the body with a good muscle warm-up useful for lubricating the joints, improving circulation by increasing the heart rate, increasing the body temperature by improving the performance of the muscles and preparing the mind for work. following.

The work-out lasts just 5 minutes and does not even require the use of tools or weights in this case. To prepare the muscles for more or less intense work, you can perform a few minutes of:

  • circ. arms forward (30 seconds). Draw a circumference with your arms counterclockwise.
  • Circ. arms back (30 seconds). Draw a circumference with your arms in a clockwise direction.
  • Lateral descent to the knee (30 seconds for both sides).
  • Shoulder rotation clockwise and counterclockwise (30 seconds).
  • Spine mobilization (20 seconds). Arch your back in and out.
  • High Skip (30 seconds). Lift one knee at a time as if to take steps.
  • Crossing of arms and legs (30 seconds). Flex the torso until the opposite hand touches the tip of one foot first and then the other.
  • Half squat (30 seconds).
  • Kick to the buttocks (30 seconds).
  • Lateral extension of arms and legs (20 seconds per side).
  • Swing of the leg up (30 seconds per leg).
  • Lateral shift (30 seconds per leg).
  • Stretch arms forward (20 seconds).
  • Squat (30 seconds).

1) Bodyweight exercises for pectorals and triceps: pushups

bodyweight exercises for chest and triceps

Also known as push-ups or push-ups, push-ups on the arms strengthen and increase the muscle mass of the pectorals and triceps, while also making the internal and external oblique abdominals and the transverse abdominal muscle work silently.

The different versions practiced in the gym guarantee more or less the same result, but playing on different intensities. The basic push-up consists of lifting the body from the prone position by pushing the arms, which then take on all the weight. To achieve the final position, the shoulder flexes and the elbows are fully extended.

– How to perform the exercise

Lying on the ground with belly and chest against the floor (prone), trunk, neck and pelvis in the same line, bend your arms and bring them close to your chest with your palms open. Then lift the body, until it forms a 90 ° angle, relying only on the arms and using the tips of the feet as the only support.

On the way up, contract your abs to avoid back problems. The body must remain perfectly aligned (the spine must not bend absolutely neither upwards nor downwards).

To do this, the arms must be fully extended and the pelvis raised without exceeding the height of the shoulders. This phase of the exercise is the most demanding and difficult, as the weight of the whole body is supported only by the strength of the arms. At this point, you can descend downwards but without touching the floor and keeping the body in tension.

– Repetitions

The number of repetitions varies according to physical fitness, but 3 sets of 8-12 push-ups, with 90-120 seconds of rest, might be fine to start with. On the other hand, those who did not have enough power in their arms could perform the exercise by placing the tips of the knees on the floor.

In addition to this type of push-ups on the arms, there are other variants with greater difficulty:

  • push-up with clap of hands
  • push-up with change of hands
  • one-handed push ups
  • cross push-up
  • push-up one leg
  • push-up in support

– Most common mistakes

The exercise can be easily subject to errors especially to the detriment of the back, so for a correct execution it is good to acquire a good technique.

2) Bodyweight exercises for the deltoids: Hindu push-up

bodyweight exercises hindu push ups

Hindu pushups (or pushups) are capable of training multiple muscle groups at the same time. In fact, during the session, the triceps, deltoids, pectoral and abdominals are involved. Being a closed kinetic chain exercise, it requires the synergistic work of all the muscles involved. For a correct execution of the exercise it is necessary to remain perfectly concentrated, especially on the movements, as well as on the breathing.

– How to perform the exercise

The starting position is very similar to that of the push-up. So, lying on your back with your hands placed at the sternum but your legs slightly apart, inhale and lift your hips slightly backwards to form a 90 ° angle.

This position is referred to in jargon as Pike. At this point, controlling the movement, exhale and descend downwards, bending the elbows and bringing the chest closer to the floor, as if to form a U.

During the descent phase, accompany the movements by retracting and lowering the shoulder blades so as not to have repercussions on the spine. It is also very important to keep your gaze straight ahead. As soon as your hips have reached the floor, fully extend your arms bringing your chest forward as far as possible. From this position, perform the movement backwards until you return to Pike’s position.

– Repetitions

To begin, perform a session of 3 sets of 8-12 Hindu push-ups, with a one-and-a-half minute break.

– Most common mistakes

One of the most frequent mistakes concerns the torso both in the ascent and descent phase. To perform the exercise correctly, the chest must remain still, pushed only by the pectorals and deltoids, in order to allow effective work of the muscle groups involved.

The arms should always be kept close to the line of the hips, so as not to put too much pressure on the shoulder joints. Breathing plays a fundamental role, also useful in controlling the two main movements.

The exercise is very versatile, so once you have acquired the necessary preparation you can intensify it by adding a half repetition in the initial phase or in the final phase, depending on the group of muscles you want to train the most.

In the first case, in fact, the triceps and lower pectorals will be stressed more. In the second, however, the shoulders, trapezes and high pectorals will work more.

3) “V” bends for the free body deltoids

body exercises the deltoid shaft v push ups

The V-bends are free body exercises that mainly involve the deltoids and only secondarily the large and small pectoral muscles, the triceps and the abdominals.

The advantages of these exercises is that we can do them where and when we want, even on vacation without maybe we don’t want to lose our line, another advantage is that they take up little time and space, in fact we can do them in any corner of the house without bothering anyone. and in a very short time we could have our backs like a cannonball.

– How to perform the exercise

Reproduce a sort of triangle with the bust well extended and the pelvis raised. Then form an angle of 90 °.

The arms must be perpendicular to the axis of the body, the hands shoulder-width apart, while the legs must be slightly apart and straight. To balance your body perfectly and avoid falling forward, it is important that your feet are firmly on the floor.

At this point, bend your elbows outwards and consequently lower your body so that your chin is almost in contact with the floor. Avoid curving the spine and pelvis.

To do this, contract your abdominal muscles and exhale as you descend. For the ascent, inhale and push on the arms straightening them up to recover the starting position. The pelvis and legs must be perfectly straight. For those who are unable to perform the exercise, it is possible to rest the knees on the ground.

– Repetitions

Perform 4 sets of 12 deltoid V-pushups with a 90-120 second pause. With experience it will be possible to increase the pace.

– Most common mistakes

Due to their simplicity of execution, they are easily subject to errors regarding breathing and to load on the back.

4) French Press on the wall for the triceps

Another good bodyweight exercise to focus work on the triceps (hence the back of the arm) is the Wall French Press or Skull Crasher.

There are several versions that can be performed sitting, standing or lying down. Many athletes complete the exercise with tools such as the barbell and dumbbells, but excellent results can still be obtained using a simple wall at home.

– How to perform the exercise

With your forehead to the wall, place your legs about three feet apart. Touch the wall with your hands, positioned at eye level. The fingers must be perfectly spaced and the two thumbs must touch.

At this point, contract your buttocks and flex your arms, so that your elbows touch the wall just below your hands. Then push hard against the wall and fully extend your arms.

– Repetitions

The exercise should be repeated at least 8 times in sets of 4 with one minute of recovery for each session.

– Most common mistakes

Due to its simplicity of execution, the French Press on the wall is subject to several errors, including breathing and the hunching of the shoulders.

Inhale with each flexion and exhale as you return to the starting position. Furthermore, to avoid bending the spine it is essential to keep the abdominals and buttocks perfectly contracted.

5) Bodyweight exercises for the abdominals, the crunch and plank

bodyweight plank exercises

Having a flat stomach is everyone’s dream. The best bodyweight exercises to train the abdominal muscles are undoubtedly the Crunch and the Plank. The latter, however, unlike the previous one, also tones and shapes other muscle groups. But let’s go in order.

– How to perform the Crunch

The basic version of the exercise is performed with the back on the ground, legs bent and arms around the neck (behind the ear or supporting the head).

Breathe out by lifting the shoulder blades off the floor (not the entire torso) and contracting the abdominal muscles. Stay suspended in this position for a moment, then inhale and rest your shoulders on the ground. Perform the exercise calmly, to avoid whiplash.

– Repetitions

Perform 4 sets of 8 Crunches with a one minute / one and a half minute break.

– Most common mistakes

Despite being very simple, the Crunch is also subject to several errors that compromise the well-being of the neck and joints. The most common one concerns the position of the hands. Placing them behind the neck forces the movements, not making the abdominals work properly but the cervical muscles which in the long term could cause great discomfort.

Another common mistake concerns breathing. The exercise should not be done in apnea nor should you exhale (throw out the air) while lifting from the floor. By expelling carbon dioxide when the shoulder blades are raised automatically the abdominals contract working more.

A third mistake is to take your back completely off the floor. This leads to problems in the lumbar and cervical area over time.

– How to do the Plank

The Plank is a complete and isometric exercise. It has no movement and is based only on suspension. Born in a prone position with closed elbows. The arms are perfectly perpendicular to the shoulders.

The buttocks are contracted, the legs straight and the feet well spaced (max 10 cm no more). The body must reproduce a sort of bench and therefore be perfectly parallel to the floor. The variant of the exercise is with outstretched arms.

– Repetitions

Maintain the position for at least one minute. With practice, gradually increase the suspension times.

– Most common mistakes

The most frequent mistake concerns the pelvis not aligned with the rest of the body. The weight in this case will overload the spine causing pain.

6) Hyperextension for the lower back

lumbar free body exercises

To tone the lumbar muscles, you can train with hyperextension (in English, hiperextension) which also involve the buttocks and hamstrings. Typically, the exercise is done in the gym with the support of a bench or even a fitball. However, it can be done safely from home free-body, without the use of tools.

– How to perform the exercise

From the prone position (belly down) with straight legs and hammer feet, the head in line with the spine and the arms extended forward with the palms resting on the ground, raise the tips of the feet and arms at the same time without bending at all the knees. Fatigue will affect the entire lower back.

– Repetitions

Perform 4 sets of 8 repetitions with one minute take.

– Most common mistakes

Typically, the most common mistake is about bending the knees during the hyperextension phase. Also, not infrequently, the exercise is performed in apnea, while you should inhale during the movement and exhale on the return.

The tears in the initial phase of the exercise compromise its success, as well as the health of the cervical and back muscles.

7) Exercises legs free body lunges for legs and buttocks

Lunges are bodyweight exercises designed to improve body elasticity and tone the buttocks and thighs. They are an excellent defense against osteoporosis and in the gym they are assisted by weights. To obtain satisfactory results they must be performed perfectly, without making any mistakes.

– How to perform the exercise

To perform lunges correctly you need to acquire a good starting position. So, standing with your back straight and your head in line with your body, bring your right leg forward, bending the left at the same time without resting your knee on the floor.

Maintain the position for a few seconds and then repeat the movement with the other leg, taking care to always have the torso erect, the buttocks and abdominals well contracted. There are several other types of lunges:

  • side lunges
  • Bulgarian lunges
  • forward lunges (same as frontal lunges, but continuing forward)
  • lunges with dumbbells
  • against lunges

They all contribute to improving the muscle tone of the buttocks and quadriceps but have a greater training intensity than traditional frontals. Only after having acquired the necessary practicality and strength on the legs is it possible to move to a higher level.

– Repetitions

Perform 4 sets of 12 repetitions with a 90 second break between one set and another.

– Most common mistakes

Not infrequently there is a tendency to lose balance due to an incorrect starting position, perhaps caused by an excessive width of the legs.

Furthermore, the knee of the straight leg must never touch the floor but only approach it.

The knee of the bent leg should never go beyond the line of the foot to avoid putting excessive strain on the joints and tendons.

8) Leg curl exercises

bodyweight leg curl exercises

The Leg Curls for the hamstrings are free body exercises that are generally performed in the gym using the appropriate bench and a barbell.

However, in the absence of specific tools, it is possible to train the hamstrings and secondarily the buttocks and calves, strengthening the entire back of the legs even from home.

– How to perform the exercise

The domestic alternative of the Leg Curls is carried out by lying on the floor, in a prone position and squeezing a weight or even a two-liter bottle of water between the ankles. Bend the arms under the chin and then flex the knees bringing the heels as far as possible to the pelvis, without lifting the thighs. Return to the starting position and start the exercise again.

– Repetitions

Perform 4 sets of 12 repetitions with a one minute break between sessions.

– Most common mistakes

The home version of the Leg Curls is very simple, however the most frequent mistake is to raise the thigh while flexing. Anyone who has difficulty or pain due to an injury can also work without a weight or a bottle of water.

9) Exercise for legs free body the calf for the calves

calf bodyweight exercises

Calf calf exercises are free body exercises studied to strengthen and grow the soleus and gastrocnemius, two elements that make up the calf muscle group.

By itself this section of the leg is constantly trained, in fact, it performs the important task of bringing the foot up and down while supporting the weight of the body. Typically the exercise is performed in the gym with the support of a specific platform (standing) or a barbell (sitting). Depending on the type of training, different results can clearly be obtained.

The standing calf only trains the gastrocnemius muscle, while the sitting calf strengthens the soleus muscle. Clearly, anyone who wants to improve and grow both muscles at the same time should practice both exercises. To train the calves even from home, it is sufficient to take advantage of a simple step, as long as the exercise is carried out in safety conditions.

– How to perform the exercise

The execution is very simple. Stand on the edge of a step, with your heels facing out. Then, when you have achieved the right balance, raise your heels as much as possible and slowly return to the starting position.

– Repetitions

It takes a lot of exercise to develop your calves, so start with 4 sets of 10 or 15 repetitions, with a 45-second deadlift.

– Most common mistakes

The most common mistake concerns the starting position. In fact, you should not put your foot too on the toe as you risk easily losing your balance and getting hurt. Another mistake is to avoid overloading the calf. The muscle is used to efforts, as it supports the body daily, so it is prepared for anything.

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