12 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Building Muscle & Losing Fat

Aaron Westbury
Written By: Aaron Westbury
June 7th, 2018
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Training
53.3K Reads
12 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Building Muscle & Losing Fat
Trying to build muscle and lose fat, but don't have the means to get a gym membership? Work out literally anywhere with these 12 bodyweight exercises!

Gyms are expensive.

Not only is there a significant financial commitment involved with gym memberships, but there is an even bigger time commitment required.

Sometimes, it can be hard to find the time to get ready, make the ten minute drive to the gym, spend an hour working out and then spend another ten minutes driving home.

Home workouts are much more practical. However, home workouts have their own issues as proper equipment can be expensive.

That’s why I decided to take things one step further in this article, looking beyond gym workouts and the traditional home workout ideas. Instead, I will lay out the 12 best bodyweight exercise you can do.

Those opposed to bodyweight workouts usually have the notion that you need weights, and you can’t possibly get a good workout without weights. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You can burn calories and gain strength with a bodyweight workout the same as you can using weights, if you do the right exercises.

And that’s where this list comes in!

Related: 5 Calisthenic Exercises Every Lifter Should Master

1. Burpees

Burpees are a great exercise that help you work your entire body as your lower body, upper body, and your core are all involved.

For this exercise, you will start standing straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart. As you begin, you will go straight into a squat position by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.

From the squat position, you will push your feet back, leading you to land in a plank position. From here, you will jump back to a squat position and jump explosively in the air. When you come down, land back into a squat position and repeat the process.


2. Mountain Climbers

Although many think of mountain climbers as a core workout, they can target every single muscle group in your body indirectly.

To perform a mountain climber, you will start in plank position. You will then pull one knee up towards your midsection. As your knee extends back towards the ground, prepare to bring the other knee up towards your midsection.

Repeat this process as long as desired. Mountain climbers are meant to be performed at a fast paced, so go as fast as you comfortably can.

3. Pull Ups

Pull ups are a great way to build upper body strength without needing any weights. You may need to get creative in finding a place to do them, but they will definitely help you burn some calories.

To perform a pull up, you will need to find something that you can pull up on. This can be a door opening at your house, a front porch roof, or playground equipment if you live close to a park.

After you find a place to do pull ups, you will start with your hands just above shoulder width apart above your head, and then pull until your chin is above the bar. If you struggle to get your chin above the bar, think about pushing your elbows down as your chin approaches the bar.

4. Dips

Dips are another great exercise to use to strengthen the muscles of the upper body and are perfect to pair with pull ups in a full body bodyweight workout program.

To perform a dip, you need to find a place that has two stable bars on each side of you. Once you find a good place, you will grab the dip bars, jump up and straighten your arms out. You will then lower your body until your shoulders are below your elbows, and then push yourself back up.


5. Push Ups

Probably the most popular bodyweight exercise, push ups are a great way to improve your upper body strength while training the horizontal press movement pattern.

To perform a push up, you will start in a plank position with your hands around shoulder level. Slowly lower your body until your chest is just barely off the ground, and then push yourself back up into plank position. Repeat this process for the desired repetitions.

Push ups are the most popular bodyweight exercise for a reason; They work and almost everyone can perform them.

6. Tuck Jumps

Tuck jumps are an explosive exercise that can really build your leg muscles. They also work well in helping you to burn calories and improving your overall cardio.

To perform a tuck jump, you will start standing straight up in an athletic stance with your feet just slightly wider than your shoulders. As you begin, slightly bend your knees and lower your body quickly into a squat position then explode, tucking your knees into your chest. After you land, start right into your next jump, making sure you aren’t taking breaks in between.

7. Lunges

Although lunges are much more challenging when you are holding weights, they are still a foundational movement pattern and a great lower body exercise without weights.

To perform a lunge, you will start standing straight up in an athletic stance. From there, you will lunge your left foot forward and squat down, keeping your right knee from touching the ground. After this, explode back up into a standing position, and then put your right foot forward and repeat the process.


8. Squats

Similar to lunges, bodyweight squats are another way to train a foundational movement pattern and work your lower body with only your bodyweight.

To perform a squat, stand straight up in an athletic stance. From this point, you will bend your knees and squat, lowering your lower body until your legs are at a 90 degree angle. After this, explode up back into a standing position. Repeat the process as many times as you can.

9. Step Ups

Bodyweight step ups are a great bodyweight exercise that even beginners can use to burn calories and build leg muscles.

To perform a step up, you will need to find a sturdy, durable box that you can step up on. If you don’t have one, then consider using the steps on your front porch.

You will start in a standing position and as you begin you will lift your left leg onto the box and push yourself up with the leg that is still on the ground. After you explode up, you will come back down and reset before repeating the process with your right leg.

Step Ups

10. Stair Climbs

A more cardio based bodyweight exercise, stair climbs also are a great way to target your lower body muscles.

To perform a stair climb, you will first need a flight of stairs. If you live in a two story house or an apartment that has a set of stairs, then problem solved. If not, then you will need to find a football stadium or a steep hill for this activity.

Related: Workout(side) - 4 Outdoor Muscle Building Activities

Once you find a good flight of stairs, you will do exactly what the name of the exercise indicates - climb stairs. Be sure to start slow so you don’t trip and fall, but as you get comfortable improve your pace for the best possible exercise.

Stair climbs are probably the most demanding exercise on this list, but the most rewarding when it comes to losing weight. So if you don’t mind a challenge, try adding stair climbs to your bodyweight workout.

11. Wall Sits

Wall sits are another great way to target your lower body by utilizing nothing more than the weight of your body.

All you need to perform a wall sit is, well, a wall. For this exercise, you will get into position by standing straight up and leaning your back against the wall. After this, slowly lower your body until your legs are at a 90 degree angle and hold it for as long as you can. I would recommend keeping a timer of how long you last, so you can measure your progress as you get in better shape.

Wall sits are very simple and somewhat easy for the first thirty seconds. After that, it can become quite challenging and a tough test of how well you can endure a burning pain in your legs.

12. Lunge Jumps

The last lower body exercise on the list, lunge jumps are a fantastic way to improve both your lower body strength, explosiveness, and your cardio endurance.

You perform a lunge jump similar to how you would perform a regular lunge but with a slight variation at the end. You start the same way as if you were to do a normal lunge, lunge the same way, but at the point of returning to a standing position, you are going to explode straight up into the air, jumping as high as you can.

If you are new to bodyweight workouts, I would suggest starting with the step up, progress to the basic lunge, and work your way up to lunge jumps.

1 Comment
Posted on: Sun, 02/24/2019 - 20:04

Great info I will add these to my work out