Bodyweight exercises are moves that use only your body’s weight as resistance, such as pushups and lunges — no equipment needed. They’re a staple in many high-intensity circuit training (HICT) workouts. HICT workouts are intense and quick — like crazy quick. Like, you do them in less than 30 minutes quick. That means you can get in great shape without going to the gym, spending hours working out, or using any workout equipment at all. (Seriously; it’s science.) You’ve just gotta know the right moves.
We reached out to personal trainer and exercise physiologist Albert Matheny, C.S.C.S., founder of SoHo Strength Lab, and asked him to come up with a list of 12 exercise moves that are essential for anyone who wants to be able to do a workout anywhere and anytime. He also came up with nine different workouts that are various combinations of these moves. But you can think of these 12 moves as the building blocks for tons of variations of quick, do-anywhere HICT workouts.
Some of these moves have instructions for how to make them easier and others don’t. For the moves that don’t have “make it easier” instructions, just perform the movements as well as you can. Know that it’s better to do just a few reps of each movement perfectly, rather than doing many reps of the movements wrong. Cool!
Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Position your feet hip-width apart. Maintain a plank position; your body should be in a straight line from from the back of your head to your hips. Keep your neck neutral, keeping it in line with your shoulders. As you lower, keep your elbows close to your body.
Let your butt sag or stick up.
Tilt your head up or tuck it in.
Allow your shoulders to come towards your ears.
Make it easier
Widen the distance between your feet for better stability.
Or perform the pushup as described above, but rather than starting in and returning to a plank position, do the pushup with your knees touching the ground. Just make sure to keep your back and thighs in a straight line.
Plant your hands under your shoulders, or slightly wider apart. Squeeze your glutes. (That would be your butt.) Keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head through your feet. Tighten your core. Tuck your chin. Fix your gaze on the floor, either between or just beyond your hands.
Let your butt lift or sag.
Lift your head.
Hold the position if your form is suffering — the only good exercise move is one that you do right.
Make it easier
Hold the position for a shorter period of time.
Lie on your back. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, with your knees bent. Contract your abs. Push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor.
Stop contracting your abs.
Push your hips so high that the neutral position of your hips and back becomes compromised.
Start in the top of a pushup position. Bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand.
Land with a flat foot. Bring your foot back to the starting position. Repeat on other side.
Maintain a strong plank position throughout.
Allow your shoulders to move away from directly over your hands.
Allow your hips to sag.