Best Bodyweight Exercises for Any Fitness Level

Check out a list of the best bodyweight exercises for athletes of any level from STACK expert James Overton.

Dwight Howard Mountain Climber

Don't let excuses like lack of space, time or equipment get in the way of a quality workout. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to increase endurance, burn fat, build muscle and increase flexibility. All they require is an able body! These movements are beneficial to people of all ages and ability levels who want to stay active and healthy. Keep in mind: even "beginner" exercises can be made more challenging for advanced athletes.

Check out STACK's Bodyweight Exercise Guide for more of the best bodyweight exercises for your workout.

Beginner Movements

Push-Ups

This classic exercise involves most of the muscles in the upper body and can be performed in a variety of ways. Beginner Push-Ups can be done on the knees; standard Push-Ups on hands and toes; and advanced Push-Ups by crossing the feet, elevating the legs, or adding extra weight.

Planks

Another gym favorite, this is great exercise to strengthen the abs and overall core. Front planks are the standard, but you can make the movement harder by performing side planks to work more of your obliques.

Squats and Lunges

Build stronger legs without stepping into a squat rack or leg press machine. Using just your bodyweight may be challenging enough at first. Before adding weight, you can place your hands behind your head or elevate your arms over your head to make the exercise more difficult.

Intermediate Movements

Mountain Climbers

Get your heart pumping with this one! Start in a standard push-up position and drive one knee at a time between your arms. Start by performing this exercise for a few seconds and work your way up to a few minutes.

Burpees

My favorite bodyweight exercise! This is a real butt kicker. If it's good enough for our elite military forces, it's certainly good enough for you. If you want to make these even more difficult, wear a weight vest or add another type of resistance. Begin by squatting down and placing your hands on the ground just in front of your feet. Quickly kick your feet back into a push-up position, then hop them forward again to your hands. Stand up and quickly jump straight up with your hands in the air before immediately repeating.

Advanced Movements

These exercises are for more advanced athletes and could require additional equipment.

Pull-Ups & Chin-Ups

Many people call these the kings of upper body strength and development. They can be done with many different hand positions, but they do require a bar or a beam.

Dips

If Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups are number one for upper-body strength and development, dips are right behind.

Rope Climbing

This used to be a gym class favorite (like most of the exercises in this article), but it has now become one of the most popular bodyweight exercises around.

Handstand Push-Ups

Exactly what they sound like. While leaning against a wall in a handstand position, perform a Push-Up. Even most advanced athletes struggle with this one.

Animal Crawling

I wanted to give these their own section. As a health and PE teacher, I use them all the time as a great overall warm-up. Since they work a lot of the stabilizing muscles in the body, you will feel them in places that don't usually get fatigued.

Bear Crawls

These are a great way to warm up or finish at the end of a workout. All you need to do is simply walk on your hands and feet.

Tiger Walks

An advanced version of the Bear Crawl. Start on your hands and feet and lower your chest to the ground. Take a step with your right arm and left leg, then bring your right leg to your right elbow. Continue walking in this fashion.

Panther Walks

Similar to Tiger Walks, but walk with left arm and leg, and then right arm and leg. This provides an additional challenge to your core.

Crab Walks

This is a great exercise to build endurance. With your torso facing the ceiling walk on your hands and feet.


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