Best Body Weight Exercises. Which Work? ..And Which Are a Waste Of Time?

 

When you just can’t get to the gym, when you’re traveling, when you want a change of routine, or if you just HATE going to the gym but still want to work out, there’s always BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES.  

You can do them in your living room, hotel or AirBnB room, backyard or local park.

I’m a gym guy, but I have often used some of these exercises when traveling internationally and don’t have access to a gym.  (Gyms are not ubiquitous worldwide like they are in this country.)

What I’m going to do in this article is give you a list of exercises that will get you closer to your goals and then give you a list of those not to bother with.

CATCH:  You have to do them in almost perfect form for them to do any good.

 

PURPOSE

Certain body weight exercises can be real muscle builders.  Others not so much. Since our goal here is to add muscle, we’ll concentrate on body weight exercises that will help you gain muscle and help you get in great shape.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

Since we’re gonna stick to body weight only exercises, you won’t need any weights, but some exercises will rmuscular guy doing crunchesequire a piece of equipment or two.  Such as:

Doorway Bar – for one of the exercises.

Chair – a sturdy chair

Ab Roller – not essential

Exercise Ball – a useful piece of equipment for body weight exercises

Exercise Mat – for both indoors and outdoors – kinda need this unless you’re really tough skinned.

If you want to exercise inside, you’ll need an area large enough to put your mat – room enough to lay down  and be able to spread your arms out from your side, so about 8′ x 4.’  If you want to exercise outdoors, the same applies, but you probably don’t have to think about this if you have a yard or a park nearby. Most hotel and Airbnb rooms will work.

If you want to exercise outdoors, the same applies, but you probably don’t have to think about this if you have a yard or a park nearby. Most hotel rooms and Airbnb rooms will be large enough.

 

EXERCISE MAT

exercise mats are necessary for home exercisesIn both situations (indoors and outdoors), you probably want a nice sturdy Exercise Mat. You can find them on Amazon, at your local sporting goods store or even Walmart.  They come in a variety of sizes and thickness.  Here’s what you want:

  • Make sure it’s a least 6′ x 2′ in size
  • Make sure it’s at least 1/2″ thick

A good one that I recommend is here on Amazon.  It’s simple and not expensive and does the job. Don’t fall for the ones that advertise to be 3/4″ thick.  They’re not, and you don’t need one that thick.

 

DOORWAY BAR

Depending on what exercises you choose to do, you may also want a Doorway Bar.  There are several good exercises that will require a stationary bar, and a bar designed to be secured in a doorway is a good and inexpensive alternative.  If you’ll click here, you’ll go to the one that I think is the best for the money. It cost a little bit more than some of the others, but it is simple and secure, and that’s all you need.

Don’t buy a cheap one.  They don’t do the job.

EXERCISE BALL

An Exercise Ball can be useful, but not essential. They’re good for developing your core strength and balance.  They can make an easy exercise hard.  We’ll include two (2) exercises using an exercise ball.

Here’s a good one to try.

You can make an entire program out of exercise ball exercises, but our focus here is to build muscle and get fit.  Exercise balls are geared more for stretching and toning exercises and not sufficiently geared toward gaining muscle.

 

CHOOSE FROM THESE GOOD BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES

There are a lot of body weight exercises that you can do.  Some are better than others.  Here are some that I recommend as being more useful for getting and staying in shape.

 

CLOSE GRIP PUSH UP

 

Position yourself face down and put your hands together so that they’re almost touching.

Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor.

Using your triceps and some of your pectoral muscles, push back up to the starting position.

 

 

 

CRUNCHES WITH STABILITY BALL

Lie flat on your back with your feet resting on an exercise ball and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
Place your feet on the ball a few inches apart so they almost touch.
Place your hands lightly on either side of your head keeping your elbows in.
     Now, raise your upper body without using your hands to pull your        head up.

 

 

SIDE PLANK

Lie on your right or left side with your legs straight.

Prop yourself up with your right or left forearm so your body forms a diagonal line.

Rest your left hand on your hip.

Hold for 30 seconds to start with and add 15 seconds each time you do it until you work up to 2 minutes.

Be sure your hips and knees stay off the floor.

 

 

BRIDGING

Lie flat on the floor on your back with the hands by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be placed shoulder width apart.

Pushing mainly with your heels, lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. …

 Lift as high as you can until your torso is in a  straight line from your knees to your neck.

 

 

BENT KNEE HIP RAISE

Start on your back with bent knees and palms down at your sides or under your butt.

Raise your hips up and off the floor so that your knees are over your chest.

Contract your abs for a moment before lowering.

 

 

 

 

BENCH DIP

Sit on the front of a chair or side of a bench.
Place hands on edge of chair or bench.
Straighten arms, slide rear end off of the edge of a chair or the bench, and rest heels on the floor with legs straight.
Lower body by bending arms until slight stretch is felt in chest or shoulder. Raise body and repeat.

 

 

 

CROSS BODY CRUNCHES

Lie on your back and bend your knees.

Position your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands loosely behind your head.

Bring your right elbow and shoulder across your body. At the same time, move your left knee toward your left shoulder. Try to touch your knee with your elbow.

Move back down to the starting position

Repeat the movement with your left elbow and your right knee.

 

 

EXERCISE BALL PULL IN

Lay down as if you were performing a pushup.

Place your feet and shins over an exercise ball.

Keeping your back straight and support your weight on your hands

Pull your knees towards your chest, so the ball rolls forward under your ankles.

Crunch your abs and then roll the ball back to starting position straighten your legs.

Keep your back straight as you perform this exercise.

 

LEG RAISES

Lie on your back, legs straight and together.
Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor.
Slowly lower your legs back down till they’re just above the floor.

 PULL UP

Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing forward.

Create a curvature in your lower back and stick your chest out.

Pull your body up until the bar touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back.

Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.

 

 

 

 

WHICH EXERCISES NOT TO DO

Here’s the catch.  Almost any body weight exercise will some benefit for you.

The ones that WILL NOT have benefit for you are ANY that you do incorrectly. If you are not strict with how you perform any exercise, you will not gain the full benefit as a result.  If you do almost any exercise with strict form and pay attention to the muscle or muscle group that you’re working, you’ll gain some benefit

 

SUMMARY

Body weight exercises are not exercises that will help you gain  a great deal of muscle, and thus the maximum benefits for the time invested, but they are useful for traveling, at-home workouts when you can’t or don’t want to go to the gym and for that impromptu exercise in the park.

I suggest that body weight exercises not be what you do all the time.  Weights are the best for getting you the benefits that we’re looking for.

See you at the gym

4 Comments

  1. Hey W!

    These are nice exercises, and look really easy to incorporate on my routine.

    I usually do plank, crunches and push-ups at home, so I could definitely add these. It’s better than having to find time to go to the gym, and pay for it.

    Thanks a lot for the advice!

    • good to hear that you find these useful.  These are most of the ones I use when traveling.  I think these are some that everyone could use at some time or another.  

  2. Glad I stumbled upon this article, great job.

    Kudos for including pull ups and dips (even if it’s the bench dip). For me pull ups followed closely by dips are what builds real upper body power and muscle.

    What’s your take on steroids btw? I see that older folks are starting to use them as well these days.

    • Simon, thanks so much for the comments.  Yes, bench dips don’t really challenge anyone who’s worked out much.  I used to do them with weights in my lap, but that seems silly.  i think pull ups are by far the best compound exercise for lots of muscles 

      I do know folks who use steriods, but they’re all in their 30s.  I can see the allure of using steriods as you get older becuase its harder and harder to gain muscle.  You have to be a workout fanatic for sterioids to be of the most use. 

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