No equipment? No problem! Use this list of bodyweight exercises to improve strength, balance, lose weight and boost your fitness level all in the comfort of your own home! They're simple, effective, and require no equipment!
Because a bodyweight workout allows you to work out anywhere it's an ideal choice for busy lifestyles. Learn more about the best bodyweight exercises for beginners, how to make them harder, and grab one of the bodyweight workouts to get you started!
Benefits Of Bodyweight Exercises For Beginners
Being able to use your own bodyweight as resistance allows you to:
- Workout anywhere
- Save time
- Challenge yourself to control your movements
- Improves your strength
- Corrects muscle imbalance
The biggest perk for moms though is that bodyweight training allows moms to get in a workout at the park, at home or anywhere else she can squeeze it in.
How To Use No Equipment Exercises
There are a lot of different ways to train, work out, and achieve your goals. However, when it comes to exercise for women I always strive to work posterior chain exercises more than anything.
Just like any other workout, bodyweight workouts can be scaled to your particular goals (learn how to maximize training for your goals). And, once you know how to make at-home exercises harder without adding weights, there's no stopping you!
So, choose 5-6 exercises from the list, make them into a circuit, and get started!
Important Tips About Bodyweight Training
Form matters for all training however when using just your own body weight, you don't have anything else to challenge you. There's no external load if you don't create it.
The reason that these exercises can be so effective is that the more you perfect your form and the ability to engage the necessary muscles, the harder the exercise (and the better the results).
I always tell my clients to slow it down. Just going through the motions will get you nowhere with bodyweight training. You need to really activate the muscles.
Best Bodyweight Exercises For Legs
There's more to a bodyweight workout than squats -so much more! Learning to work the back of the legs is especially important and adding variations to your squats will help develop many stabilizing muscles (like your hips!).
Use these leg exercises by learning first how to control the movement before moving towards a harder variation.
Bulgarian Split Squats
When it comes to bodyweight training, this lovely unilateral exercise is a doozy! It is super challenging all on its own and will have your legs on fire.
I love it because, depending on the angle of your torso, you can fit it to work more anterior muscles (like your quads) or posterior muscles (like your glutes and hamstrings).
Check out this video on a fun split squat challenge!
- Set up in lunge position with the left leg elevated on the bench and the right knee over the heel.
- Hinge forward slightly (to create more tension on the back of the body: glutes) as you push backward and drop the left knee towards the floor while keeping the right knee facing forwards.
- Squeeze the glute of the right leg as you push through the heel to reverse the movement and extend the hips to the starting position.
There are few exercises better than the glute bridge for beginners! I am a huge sucker for glute training (learn why you should hit glutes) and truly think everyone should be targeting them. You can even peep my favorite at-home glute exercises!
Not only does this exercise work the glutes but it can be done with a focus on pelvic floor engagement - perfect for mamas. Some fun variations include:
- single-leg glute bridger
- feet elevated glute bridge
- paused rep, single-leg glute bridges
- Here are my favorite 15 glute bridge variations
To perform it:
- Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring your heels close to your bum with feet hip width apart. Feet shoulder-width apart roughly.
- Push through your heels and lift your hips by squeezing the glutes. Do not excessively arch the lower back.
- Pause at the top for three seconds with a maximum glute squeeze before releasing the tension and bringing the hips back to the starting position.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
This exercise is perfect when learning how to hip hinge as it gives you instant feedback. The hip hinge is a movement pattern we need as moms as it is a big step in reducing injury risk.
- Standing upright keep the knees slightly bent, Raise the left food behind you as you hinge from the hips and shift the weight backward.
- Your hips should remain facing the floor and the left glute should be engaged. You should have a flat back and feel a stretch in the right hamstring.
- Pause briefly and bring the left foot back toward the floor.
Reverse or Sliding Lunge
Who doesn't love lunges?! This sliding lunge is a great bodyweight exercise for the legs. So long as you ensure you're not arching the low back you'll feel those glutes and hamstrings!
This exercise does work best on the floor with socks or towels. That said, walking lunges work amazingly too if you're at a park and have some room!
- Stand in an upright position with your right foot on a slider.
- Start to bend the leg knee and push the right foot back as you drop into a lunge.
- Use the front foot to pull the leg back up into the starting position.
Supine Heel Slides
Grab a towel or wear socks on a hardwood floor. This exercise hits the hamstrings hard.
If you're a beginner, my advice would be to start with a single-leg variation to take the resistance off a wee bit. From there you can progress to using both legs and finally, raising one leg in the air.
- Lay on your back with your heels on a pair of sliders.
- Lift your hips to hover above the floor with the knees slightly bent and pull your heels in toward your bum.
- keeping the hips off the floor, push the feet back out straight.
A classic exercise. While bodyweight squats are amazing, you can easily switch them up to provide more of a challenge once you've mastered the form and can engage the glutes and not allow the knees to cave.
If you need help with the knees, here are some drills you can do to strengthen the knees.
Squats are an awesome hip opener and are one of the most functional exercises for day to day life. Below are a few great variations when you're ready for them:
- Squats with abductions
- Single leg squats
- In & out squats
The Hip Thrust
Elevate your back on a table, couch, whatever you can find, and give your glutes a bit more range of motion!
To perform it:
- Begin by placing your mid to upper back (right about the bra strap line) on a bench (or table, or couch).
- Feet hip width apart roughly and flat on the floor roughly with the hips dipped towards the floor. The feet will be slightly outside of your hips.
- Begin to push through the heels, squeeze the glutes and lift the hips towards the ceiling.
- At the top of the movement, “lockout” with a big glute squeeze. Reverse the movement leading with the hips breaking and moving back toward the floor.
Learn more about how to do a bench glute bridge.
Make sure you're performing hip thrusts flawlessly and truly activating your glutes. Check out one of my favorite exercise demos on how to hip thrust here.
Bodyweight Leg Extension
This one is a double whammy because it opens up the hip flexors, requires the glutes to support the low back all while targeting the front of the legs.
- Come into a kneeling position
- Squeeze your glutes as you start to lean backward keeping a flat back.
- Go as low as comfortable and then use your quadriceps to help reverse the movement and pull the body back up.
Unilateral strength at its finest!
- Find a bench, stairs, or very secured chair. Place the left foot on the bench and hold dumbbells at your sides. The right foot should be very close to the bench. Do not push off the right foot but instead pull your body up with the left foot and unbend the knee.
- Bring the right foot onto the bench. Stand tall.
- Reverse the movement by bending the left knee, leaning forward slightly and slowly lowering the right leg to the floor.
Step Out Lunge
A great way to boost unilateral leg strength and to pump up your quads. It can be done with a dumbbell too.
- Stand upright.
- Step out laterally (to the side) with you right leg. Once the leg touches down, hinge toward that foot by bending the right knee and sinking the hips down until they’re in line with the knee. The left leg remains straight.
- Pause briefly and push up through the right foot, unbending the knee and bringing the foot back to the start.
This leg exercise requires some mobility in the ankles and it burns so well!
- Hold a dumbbell horizontally at chest height.
- Sink into the bottom position of a squat with your feet shoulder width apart. Feel your hip stretch out.
- Hold the parallel squat and begin shuffling forward by moving one foot at a time while you stay in the low position.
Wall Glute March
Fire up the glutes and your balance with this wicked exercise!
- Lay with your back on the ground and feet planted on a wall. Knees bent. Lift the hips up into extension as if you were performing an elevated glute bridge.
- Keep the glutes engaged, the hips squared and high as you raise the left foot and then the right foot (as if you're marching).
Another one that requires some mobility but it can be done with a support of a bench or TRX straps.
- Stand with your feet much wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep the right leg straight as you push your hips back and start to bend the left leg and sink down.
- Keep the left foot fully on the ground and aim to touch your bum to the back of your calf. While doing this, the right leg can rotate so that the toe points up.
- Reverse the movement and come to the top of the position.
Bodyweight Exercises For Upper Body
When it comes to bodyweight workouts for women, one of the biggest struggles is targeting the back muscles (which are important in posture, back pain, and carrying kids).
It's for this reason, I normally recommend most moms grab a set of resistance bands. However, there are a few fun ways to get around this, which you'll see below!
A staple in many of my no-equipment workouts for busy moms. Inverted pikes are a great bodyweight exercise for the shoulders and reinforce the pushing movement.
You do need some thoracic mobility and shoulder mobility for them as well as hamstring flexibility. If you're a beginner, start by learning these with your feet on the floor and using a cushion under your head as a target.
Once you get strong at them, elevate the feet for more intensity.
- Come into a downward dog position with your feet wide.
- Drive the elbows back as you bend them and bring your head toward the floor.
- Press back up to the top of the movement by shrugging your shoulders and straightening your arms.
The push up is a classic. And there are so many ways to perform it.
Find the push up variation that best suits your skill level and get to it. But first, make sure you master the basics which include:
- a natural neck
- engaged core (belly shouldn't touch first!)
- shoulders away from the ears
- back muscles utilized
Here's a blog post on how to get better at push ups in just four steps.
Finding a way to row without equipment can be a challenge- but not impossible! I've been known to use doorways and the underside of tables.
That's how important this exercise for the upper body is! Get creative and make use of what you can.
Isometric Doorway Pushes
Isometric training is underutilized. But when you have no equipment it's a wonderful tool. Isometric means using all of your force without actually moving.
- Stand in the middle of a doorway and place your palms onto the doorway (this can be at waist height with fingers up or down or head height, fingers up).
- Press as hard as you can.
Towel Pull Up
A great way to train the upper back and arms without a pullup bar!
- Lay your torso on a towel on a hardwood floor.
- Stretch your arms overhead keeping them a bit wider than shoulder distance apart with the palms down.
- Push your palms into the ground as you drive the elbows back and bring the chest and torso up to your palms.
- At the top of the movement, pinch your shoulder blades together.
Core Bodyweight Exercises For Women
There are so many ab exercises out there it's impossible to keep track of them all. I'm a fan personally of training the core to do its job (resist movement) as a baseline.
This means, the beginner exercises below are geared towards anti-extension primarily but also anti-rotation.
From there, there are lots of ways to scale your core training. But the bodyweight exercises below are the starting point!
The deadbug is a classic exercise to teach stabilization and muscle engagement. It's one of my favorites for new moms and any lifters as it teaches you to control unwanted extension.
- Lay on the ground and come into a pelvic tilt (tuck ribs to hips) with arms straight out from hips and shoulders.
- Keep your pelvic tilt as you move an opposite arm and leg away from the body.
- Bring them back to the body and repeat.
Most people butcher planks on a daily basis making them useless. The RKC Plank is different.
This variation teaches you not only to engage but hold and contract every possible muscle.
If you can hold this for more than twenty seconds, you're probably doing it wrong. Here is a really awesome demo on how to perform it.
This exercise is classic bodyweight training for any gymnast! And while you may have no acrobatic goals, this is still an amazing exercise for a bodyweight workout.
It challenges your core and you'll probably only be able to hold it upwards of ten seconds.
- Lay on the ground and raise your arms above your head.
- Come into a pelvic tilt so that your low back is pressed into thr ground.
- Raise your legs up while maintaining the low back position so that your body looks like a boat.
- Squeeze the inner thighs together and hold.
While a traditional plank is a great move, the reverse is almost better!
This exercise uses your core but also targets the glutes with an isometric hold.
Plus, it's a great exercise for expecting moms (check out these ab exercises for pregnancy!).
- Begin with your hips on the ground, legs straight out in front of you and your hands with fingers pointed out a few inches behind your hips.
- Squeeze the glutes and raise the hips high into the air coming into a posterior pelvic tilt. Open up the chest and hold.
- Come onto all fours and find a neutral back (not arched, not rounded, core engaged).
- Keeping the hips squared and facing the floor, extend the left leg and right arm away from the body slowly.
- Make sure not to arch the back.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the movement (keep to the same side for all repetitions before performing the ab exercise on the other side).
How To Make The Exercises Harder
Once you master the core movement, you may be wondering how to challenge yourself further.
Not to worry, you don't need to add weight. Instead, learn more about how to progress exercises and implement one of the techniques below:
- Add a pause (here's how to use pause reps)
- Focus on the eccentric part and use a tempo
- Try a single limb version
- Add a jump
How To Create A Bodyweight Workout
If you're struggling with how to make use of these beginner bodyweight exercises, check out my at-home, full-body workouts. I have over 50 at-home workouts for woman and many of them require no equipment.
If you need a bit more guidance, my YouTube channel has lots of follow-along at-home workouts for women in which I give form and technique tips as we go along.
That said, you can create your own bodyweight workout by choosing 5-6 exercises and performing them for 8-12 repetitions each back to back. Rest and repeat that for a total of 3-4 rounds.
This kind of bodyweight workout is a great start for beginners!
Frequently Asked Questions About Bodyweight Exercises
Building muscle mass comes from a strategic plan in which you target mechanical tension, metabolic intensity, and muscle damage (in addition to nutrition). So long as you are progressing your exercises and following a well-laid-out plan, you can definitely build muscle without equipment.
Bodyweight training requires you to work against the weight of your body. It's an effective form of strength training and when done correctly can help build muscle, lose weight, and boost strength.
You want to use a variety of exercises in a bodyweight workout for the best results. Exercises like squats, rows, glute bridges, and deadbugs are all good beginner exercises for a bodyweight workout. The important thing to remember is to constantly progress your bodyweight workout and focus on mastering proper form.