The Five Ultimate Bodyweight Exercises for Strength Gains

Failing to get the maximum results from your bodyweight training program is the reason that many people switch to weights. However, there are modificationsthat can be made to any resistance exercise to make the exercise more difficult or easier.
These modifications are known as progressions and regressions. A progression increases the intensity, while a regression decreases the intensity.

A modification to the exercise doesn’t have to be drastic. The change could be as simple as raising a leg off the ground during a push-up to increase intensity, or lowering to the knees to decrease intensity. It’s important that no matter the exercise being performed, good form is maintained throughout the entire movement.

Modifications also work well for people with injuries. An individual that can’t do a conventional bench press because of an injury can choose to complete push-ups instead. Push-ups can be performed from a variety of positions, and the ability to extend the range of motion by putting your feet on a chair can greatly increase the intensity. The result is a better range of motion and the engagement of additional muscle fibers.


The Benefits of Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training is free. There is no equipment needed and it’s not necessary to spend money on expensive gyms or free weights. Modifications to the exercises can also make everything much more versatile, and create variety to keep stimulating muscle growth.

Since these exercises can be completed anywhere, it’s possible to maintain your physique while traveling, taking a vacation or away from home. Bodyweight training also improves coordination, movement, relative strength and can improve reactive strength when completed properly.


The Top Five Bodyweight Exercises

1. Push-ups
Push-ups are the quintessential exercise for determining the general fitness of an individual. They build the chest, shoulders and triceps. They can also help to increase stability of the torso and lower back.

Body Weight Training

Complete push-ups using various hand, feet and levels of elevation. Incline push-ups put more emphasis on the shoulders. Diamond push-ups make the exercise much more difficult and bring in the arms. Military style push-ups work the traps, and fly push-ups put more emphasis on the shoulders.


2. Pull-Ups
Pull-ups are one of the most effective ways to build back muscle. There are also several possible positions and grips making this exercise extremely versatile.

Pull Ups

Modifying the Pull-Up
Modify pull-ups by varying the distance between your hands. Use a reverse grip, close group, extended grip or alternating grip to maximize the intensity and shock muscles into growth. Pull-ups can also be modified to perform the movement from side to side, or incorporate a leg lift with each rep to increase intensity. Add additional weight by holding a bag between your legs.

Use inverted rows to build the necessary strength when it’s too difficult to complete a pull-up successfully.

3. Squats
Squats can help increase the mobility of the ankle and hop. Completing squats regularly helps to condition the legs for advanced workouts.


Perform squats by using a wall. The wall helps to ensure good form and prevents doing the exercise incorrectly. Good technique is important to get the most benefits from squats.

Add in jumping, sprints, zig-zag hops and plyometric movements to make squats more interesting and develop power.

4. Bulgarian Split Squats
These movements are tremendous at building good muscle and leg strength. An additional benefit is the moves abilities to increase hip movement and stabilize the knee. This is an excellent exercise for people with knee injuries who want to get back in the game. To increase the weight when completing the split squats, hold a book bag, water or other object to make the movement more difficult.


Extend the range of motion for this exercise by elevating the front leg on a box. This increases flexibility and improves the overall range of motion. This position can also be used as rehab for people with hip and knee problems.

5. The Ab Roll-Out
No exercise routine would be complete without an ab routine. Ab roll-outs are a type of modification to the traditional plank. The movement in this exercises requires the torso to stay rigid to improve the movement required for compound exercises completed at the ground level. This movement also increases overall strength and stability.

The main difference between an ab roll-out and a plank is the way the upper body responds. In an ab roll-out, it’s important that the upper torso stays rigid. It’s also possible to use an ab roller to help improve form. For people without an ab roller, it’s permissible to use gymnastic rings.

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