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Bodyweight Training

The Best Bodyweight Exercises to Get You Ripped

Ditch the weights and try these body resistance moves to accelerate muscle gain and fat loss.

Did we just say ditch the weights? Yes, but before you start calling for blood, hear us out. We know that when it comes to adding slabs of muscle, nothing beats hoisting a thick stack of plates. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve impressive gains without a daily dose of iron.

“In many cases, bodyweight is all you need to build muscle, burn fat and improve balance, flexibility and strength,” says William Garcia, CPT, at Arena Fitness in Northridge, California. “From your legs to your shoulders, every part of your physique can get bigger, leaner and stronger with body resistance movements alone.”

There are countless bodyweight exercises from which to choose — some good, others good for landing you in the emergency room. Garcia’s list contains practical and functional moves designed to safely get you stronger and ripped. And because no machines or weights are needed, you can pretty much do them anywhere, anytime. Just make sure you master the basic (A) move before giving the more challenging (B) version a try.

1a. Push-Up

Primary muscles targeted: Pecs, triceps, anterior delts

Proper Form: Keep your body in a straight line with hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Slowly lower until your chest almost touches floor. Breathe out and press back up to start position, keeping body straight throughout the move.

1b. Knee-to-Opposite-Elbow Push-Up

Proper Form: Assume a push-up position with knuckles flat against the floor. Bring your right knee to your left elbow, and pause for a second before returning your leg to the start position. Do standard push-up, and repeat the movement with opposite leg and arm.



2a. Squat

Primary muscles targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

Proper Form: Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and bend your knees to slowly lower the torso. Keep your back straight and head up while looking forward. Extend your arms for balance. When thighs are parallel to floor, slowly stand back up to start position.

2b. Tuck Jump

Proper Form: Standing with the knees slightly bent, jump up as high as possible and bring the knees in toward the chest while extending the arms straight out. Land with the knees slightly bent and quickly jump again.

3a. Lunge

Primary muscles targeted: Glutes, quads, hamstrings

Proper Form: Stand with the hands on your hips and feet hip-width apart. Step the right leg forward and slowly lower your body until the left knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.

3b. Split Jump

Proper Form: Stand with the feet together and lunge forward with the right foot. Jump straight up, propelling the arms forward while keeping the elbows bent. While in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Repeat and continue switching legs.

4a. Pull-Up

Primary muscles targeted: Lats, biceps

Proper Form:Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width, overhand grip. Pull your body up until chin clears the bar. Slowly lower body down until arms and shoulders are fully extended.

4b. Muscle-Up

Proper Form: Extend beyond the basic pull-up level by transitioning body over bar so you’re in position to perform a dip. Engage your shoulders and triceps to lock out your elbows. Return to the start, bringing your chest to the bar and then lowering yourself to a dead hang.

5a. Forearm Plank

Primary muscles targeted: Erector spinae, abs

Proper Form: Get in a push-up position, but bend your elbows and rest the weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Keep your body in straight line. Contract abs and squeeze glutes while holding position for as long as you can.

5b. Plank with Alternate Arm & Leg Raise

Proper Form: Start in plank position then extend right arm and left leg off the floor and straight out. Hold for 3 seconds then return to start position and repeat movement with opposite arm and leg.


Bonus Move: Lateral Plyo Push-Ups

If you are looking to go a little more extreme with something as simple as a push-up, here’s one of Garcia’s favorite bodyweight moves where he combines a plyo push-up with a speed and agility ladder.