Body-weight workouts are gaining in popularity as they appeal to beginner and veteran exercisers alike. They require minimal equipment and can be done just about anywhere. The following six body-weight exercises provide a unique workout that challenges all the major muscle groups. Perform a circuit of 10 repetitions of each exercise for an effective routine that promotes mobility and strength.
Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Fold forward at the hips and reach the hands to the floor, keeping the spine neutral and a slight bend in the knees. Shift some of your body weight into the hands and then lower the hips to end in a deep-squat position. Work to keep the heels down in contact with the floor. Hold for a few seconds, and then reverse your movements to return to the standing position (lift the hips first, keeping a slight bend in the knees as you lift up the torso).
Lunge forward, lunge to the side and lunge backward using the same leg. Focus the work on the leading hip and thigh during the forward and side lunges; switch the emphasis to the hip and thigh of the stationary leg during the backward lunge. Repeat the sequence on the opposite leg.
Adopt a plank position on the hands and toes with the hips elevated (similar to the downward-facing dog in yoga). Slowly lower both elbows to the floor at the same time (now you’re in an elbow plank position with the hips still elevated). Push into the floor with the palms of the hands and straighten the elbows to return to the starting position.
Hold onto either a suspension-training device (like a TRX or gymnastic rings) or onto a bar locked in place in a Smith machine. Position the body at a 45-degree angle from the ground. Keep the feet planted on the floor and perform pull-ups by bringing the chest to the hands.
Sit at one end of a mat and tuck the knees up to the chest. Staying in the tucked position, balance on the sit bones by bringing the feet up off the floor. Work to keep the spine flexed in a “C” shape by strongly contracting the abdominal muscles. Roll onto the back until the shoulder blades touch the mat and then roll back up to the starting position. Keep a C shape in the spine throughout the exercise and try to not let the feet touch the floor once you begin.
Oblique Mountain Climber
Adopt a plank position on the hands and toes, keeping the hips level with the shoulders (similar to the top of a push-up position). Alternate pulling one knee toward the opposite shoulder. Keep the hips low and level with the shoulders throughout the exercise.