The Best Bodyweight Exercises For Women To Get Strong
No equipment? No problem! Bodyweight training is not only simple but effective for moms. It allows us to fit in full-body workouts no matter where we are (learn more about how time for exercise). These bodyweight exercises for women are geared towards helping moms get STRONG, lose weight, and be able to do the things they love without injury. Using bodyweight exercises allows busy moms to workout anywhere – a major perk when time is an issue!
Benefits Of Bodyweight Training
I truly believe that every mom should master the basic bodyweight exercises before moving on to anything else. 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 work out at the park, at home or anywhere else she can squeeze it in.
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Using Bodyweight Exercises For Women
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.
These exercises target the back of the body (the back, glutes, and legs) in a way that helps improve posture and ease low back pain. Moms need to be strong in the posterior chain to keep up with day to day life! And a nice set of glutes never hurt anyone 😉
Just like any other workout, bodyweight training can be scaled to your particular goals (learn how to maximize training for your goals).
Plus, if you ever want to progress to more advanced types of workouts, you need to have mastered your own body to start. Bodyweight exercises really help nail down the mind-muscle connection which is crucial for results.
Form Matters With Bodyweight Exercises
Form matters for all training however with bodyweight exercises you don’t have anything else to challenge you. There’s no external load if you don’t create it.
The reason that bodyweight exercises for women 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.
Bodyweight Exercises For Legs
There’s more to bodyweight workouts 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 the bodyweight exercises for legs by learning first how to control the movement before moving towards a harder variation.
Bulgarian Split Squats
When it comes to bodyweight exercises for women, 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).
That said, most people despise it- and rightly so! But it is insanely effective and you can use a stair, table, bench, or box to elevate that leg. Check out this video on a fun split squat challenge!
Exercise #3 Glute Bridge
There are few exercises better than the glute bridge for brand new mamas! 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!
Strong glute muscles keep you strong, injury-free, and proper glute activation makes your booty look good!
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
Bodyweight Exercises For Women: The 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.
This exercise makes a great warm-up but you can also progress it to a single leg variation once you master it- thus increasing the difficulty. It is one of my favorite bodyweight exercises for women because we use the movement so much (picking up kids!)
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!
Supine Heel Slides
Grab a towel or wear socks on a hardwood floor. This exercise hits the hamstrings and 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.
A classic bodyweight exerice. 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!
This glute bridge variation is a fun one because it gives a bit more range of motion. Switch up your stance and go narrow or wide to keep progressing. When it feels easy- opt for a single leg variation.
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 Exercises For Upper Body
When it comes to at-home 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.
This bodyweight exercise is just classic. And there are so many ways to perform it (check out 82 ways to do a push up here). Find the variation that best suits your skill level and get to it. But first, make sure you master the basics which include:
- an natural neck
- engaged core (belly shouldn’t touch first!)
- shoulders away from the ears
- back muscles utilized
Note: as a new mom I wouldn’t advise performing a lot push-ups. They work a lot of anterior (front of body) muscles and most mamas need more work on their backs (another reason we need to train posterior chain exercises). But, don’t omit them, the push-up really is a classic badass exercise.
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 bodyweight 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 doorways 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.
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 it’s job (resist movement) as a baseline.
Which means, the bodyweight exercises for women 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. Eric Cressey gives an amazing demo of the deadbug exercise.
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.
Bodyweight Exercises NOT Covered In This Blog Post That Are Worth Mention
- Bodyweight knee extensions
- Reverse planks
- Side Planks (and side planks with abductions)
- Crossack Squats
- Plank To Push Up To Squats
Don’t forget to pin these awesome bodyweight exercises for women!
How To Create A Workout From Bodyweight Exercises
If you’re struggling with how to make use of these bodyweight exercises for women, 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.