Whether you’re at home, traveling, or just want to mix things up, bodyweight workouts are there for you, because, rather than dumbbells or machines, your own body is the most versatile tool in your arsenal. That means that there’s no shortage of bodyweight exercises at your disposal. You could independently target your lower body, upper body, and core, but if you can turn your bodyweight routine into a full-body workout, well, even better. This not only saves time, but it recruits more muscles, which results in a greater calorie burn than isolated training.
There are plenty of great reasons to add full-body bodyweight workouts to your regimen. With the help of Aaptiv Trainer Jessica Muenster, we’ll cover the benefits of doing just that, plus suggest a handful of exercises to try for yourself.
The Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises
“A major benefit of doing bodyweight exercises is that they can be done anywhere because it only requires your body,” says Muenster. So, if you’re stuck in a hotel room or don’t want to venture out into the cold to visit the gym, no problem. Also, no excuses. You can still get in a great workout—all you need is yourself and a little room to move.
Muenster also notes that the likelihood of getting injured is much lower when doing bodyweight exercises as opposed to lifting heavy weights or using intricate machines. This doesn’t mean that you should put down the weights for good, swear off the cables, or skip your favorite HIIT class. But, if you’re new to working out, or just want to incorporate some lower impact training into your regimen, bodyweight exercises are a great option.
Full-body exercises give you more for less.
According to Muenster, full-body exercises give you the most bang for your buck. “When you don’t generalize a muscle group, you work more muscle groups at once, therefore maximizing the burn capability in the same amount of time,” she says. She also provides this handy example: “If I do just squats, I’m only working the lower half of my body, and burning fewer calories at a time than if I add a push-up at the bottom.”
Six Full-Body Exercises
Okay, we’ve established the reasons for doing bodyweight exercises and why it’s helpful to perform full-body workouts. Now, let’s actually do some. Here are six great full-body exercises that you can do anywhere.
“Burpees are a tried-and-true go-to that exhausts your whole body,” says Muenster.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and lower down to a squat. Put your hands on the floor, kick your legs back into a plank, and do a pushup. Then, jump your legs back in so that your feet land just outside of your hands, and stand up (or jump up). That’s one rep.
This move looks a bit funny, but it’s worth it. The bear crawl activates multiple muscle groups and provides serious cardio.
Crouch down onto all fours, with your hands on the floor in front of you, your feet behind you, and your hips up in the air. Your knees should be off the floor. Keeping your head up and eyes forward, crawl straight ahead. Once you’ve moved ten steps or come to a stopping point, perform the same crawling motion, but backward.
This classic cardio move also works your core, chest, and arms.
Start in the high plank position. Pull your right knee into your chest while keeping your abs tight. Quickly switch legs, returning your right leg to the starting position and moving your left knee into your chest. Continue switching legs, simultaneously moving one knee in while the other goes back, similar to a running motion.
Plank to Push-Up With Jacks
Muenster likes this multi-movement exercise for its ability to target your upper body, lower body, and core. “The challenge is in your upper body, as you move from your elbows to your palms, and then you get in your legwork and an increase in cardio with your jacks.”
Start in a low plank on your elbows. Raise up onto your palms, one arm at a time. Then jump your feet out to the sides and back in. Return to the starting position.
Squats to Swim
This full-body move will have your arms, legs, and back burning—no weights required.
Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width and your arms straight out in front of you. Squat down and, keeping your arms straight and at shoulder height, rotate them behind your back like you’re trying to touch your palms together. Perform as one fluid motion rather than two separate movements. Once your legs are parallel to the floor, stand back up and return your arms to the starting position.
Crab Walk Dips
Not to be confused with the delicious crustacean-based food, this exercise works your triceps, shoulders, core, and legs.
Start on the floor in a dip position, the way you would while crawling backward. Your stomach and face should face the ceiling, your hands are slightly behind and outside your hips, your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your hips elevated a few inches off the ground. Lower and raise your body to perform a tricep dip. Then, keeping that same raised position, crab walk forward on your hands and feet. Perform another dip, then crab walk back. Repeat.
Add these full body bodyweight moves into your weekly workouts for total body toning that you can do anywhere.