Now you know what you need to do and we’ve gotten the awkward subject of biceps out the way, it’s time to look at some of the actual moves you can use!
Of course there are many more bodyweight exercises and there’s nothing to stop you creating your own bodyweight moves either. Just use this as a starting point…
Push Up/Dip/Handstand Variations
You know this one! Lie flat on the ground, hands shoulder width apart and push your upper body upright.
Clapping Push Up
Our first variation, just perform push ups but clap in the air once.
You can also perform:
Claps behind the back
Maltese Push Up
We touched on this already: this is a push up with your hands slightly further down your body and facing outward.
Uneven Push Ups
Push ups with one hand on a medicine ball or another raised platform.
Wall Press Ups
For those who can’t do press ups, lean against a wall and push yourself away.
Knee Press Ups
Press ups on your knees.
One Handed Push Ups
Like they sound. You can also do them ‘Rocky style’ and switch from one hand to the next mid-air.
Incline Press Ups
Hands on something higher like a sofa. Makes it a little easier and is useful for drop sets.
Decline Press Ups
Moves the pressure to the shoulders slightly more and the upper pecs.
Rocking Press Ups
Push down more on one side and then more on the other.
Diamond Press Ups
Have your fingers form a diamond shape in the middle of your chest on the ground. This is a good way to focus more on the triceps.
Wide Grip/Narrow Grip
Moves the focus to the outer pecs and the triceps respectively.
Extended Range of Motion Press Ups
Put both hands on something a little raised from the ground so you can do press ups further down than you normally would.
Dips can be performed on any two surfaces of the same height just opposite each other.
This is a dip but with your hands behind you on a sofa or another raised platform and feet touching the ground stretched out in front.
Pike Push Up
Push up with your body pointing down towards the ground. This works the shoulders more once again.
Handstand Push Ups
With or without support!
Sit Up and Lower Back Variations
Lie on the floor with your arms outstretched and then raise both your hands and feet off the ground. Hold for a second, lower and then repeat.
Salute to the Sun
The same movement but without lifting the legs.
Lie flat on the ground with your feet on the floor and then raise your body up, propping your upper body up on your shoulders.
You know this one! Lie flat, then sit yourself up. Make sure to roll your stomach, not fold at the hips. The latter will only work your hip extensors, not your abs!
This is even more of a rolling motion. Your abs should ‘crunch’ before you make it all the way up.
Twisting Sit Ups
Sit up and touch one elbow to the opposite knee (hands behind your head) and then repeat on the other side. Note that your hands should never ‘pull’ your body up, they’re just there to prevent you from cheating. Twisting like this will help you to involve the obliques, which are muscles on either side of your abs.
Lie flat on the ground and raise your legs slightly to train the lower abs.
Hanging Leg Raises
Hang from a pull up bar and then raise your legs straight up in front of you. This is similar to the ‘captains chair’.
Hang from the pull up bar then just bring your knees up to your stomach. This is an easier version of hanging leg raises and is ideal for mechanical drop sets targeting the abs!
V Sit Ups
Lie on the ground then raise your upper body with hands outstretched to touch your toes, with legs outstretched.
Rest on your hands and hold your legs directly up in front of you.
Like twisting sit ups except you also ‘cycle’ your feet as you touch your knees to your hand. Upper body stays raised and never touches the ground.
Pull Up Variations
Grab the bar with an overhand grip and pull yourself up. Arms should be fairly wide apart.
The same but with an overhand grip. This targets the biceps more.
Around the Worlds
Use an overhand grip and move your body in a circular motion in front of the bar!
An advanced move: hold the bar and then raise your legs up straight so that your body will become parallel with the ground!
Reverse Push Ups
Here the bar is attached closer to the ground so your legs can be outstretched and touching the floor. Take some of the weight on your heels but pull your upper body up towards the bar. (Like an ‘upside down’ pull up.)
‘Kipping Pull Ups’
From CrossFit, this involves swinging your legs slightly to build momentum to get you over the bar. It allows you to perform pull ups in a more ‘cardio’ like manner.
Assisted Pull Ups
Use anything to assist you while performing pull ups. At the start of this book, we suggested using a chair!
One Handed Pull Up
You can also use rocking pull ups to build up to this.
If you have a bar with nothing above it, you can perform a pull up and go past the bar to then push yourself up with your pecs and shoulders.
Neutral Grip Pull Ups
Pull ups where you hold onto two parallel bars with palms facing inward toward each other.
Towel Pull Ups
Pull ups holding onto two ends of a towel draped over something. Great for building grip strength!
Lower Body Variations
A simple squat using only bodyweight.
A one legged squat performed with your heel on the ground and all the way to the floor. You can do a simpler one-legged squat to build up to this.
This is a squat where you are on tip toe and you ‘lean back’ while bending your legs.
Step out to one side and plunge deep into the movement.
Step forward and lunge deep on one leg with the other behind you.
Lunge, jump and land in the reverse lunge.
Jump and tuck your knees up to your chest mid-air.
Squat all the way down from a ball shape and then jump up into a starfish shape. Star jumps are an easier form of this.
A bodyweight squat with a jump on the end.
Stand on a step or somewhere else so that your heels are hanging over the edge. Raise yourself up with just your calves.
One Legged Calf Raises
The same thing but with just one foot. You may need to use a free hand to support yourself.
Equipment Worth Investing In (And Getting Creative)
Want to take your training further? There is some cool equipment out there that you can use to make your bodyweight workouts more intense.
One great example is to get gymnastic rings. These can hang from any pull up bar and will let you perform ring dips and even the iron cross from home!
Push up stands are also great for doing press ups through a longer range of motion.
But really, why not get a bit more creative? We’ve already seen that two chairs can make a dipping station. Three can be used to do some really deep push ups. Likewise, you can do pull ups and muscle ups from tree branches or you can hang onto a rope and tie it around a tree.
Or how about taking cans of Coke and using them as push ups stands?
Get inventive – it’s part of the fun of bodyweight training.