12 Challenging Bodyweight Exercises You Have To Try!

Don't have time to hit the gym? Don't fret! Check out these 12 challenging bodyweight movements that can be done anytime, anywhere!

Dips, push-ups, deep knee bends, and pull-ups have one thing in common. Well, actually two. They're all terrific bodyweight exercises that anyone who trains at home or at the gym can easily and effectively do, but they can get old really fast—especially in the sense that it's difficult to increase the load over time.

If you're already a big fan of bodyweight exercises or are just getting started with this particular training style, I've got a dozen reasons you've come to the right place—twelve brand-new bodyweight exercises you've never done before.

If you're already a big fan of bodyweight exercises or are just getting started with this particular training style, I've got a dozen reasons you've come to the right place.

Besides adding variety to a stale routine, these movements:

  • build full-body strength better than isolation exercises that compose most workouts
  • reduce the risk of overuse injuries when the same movements are done for too long
  • provide a new stimulus for your brain, improving brain health
  • help you beat burnout, keeping you motivated and engaged

Just because you don't have added weight in your hands doesn't mean you have to be stuck doing the same old moves. Get on the bodyweight exercise bandwagon with these exercises!

Upper-Body Exercises

1

Helicopter


Helicopter Exercise
Watch the video - 00:12


By rotating your body in this exercise, you shift the focus of the work throughout the shoulder girdle, covering all parts of the region quickly. It's also a super-effective exercise for the obliques. The key for this movement is to avoid cheating at all costs. Allow your elbows to swipe the floor on every rep, even as you grow fatigued.

2

Dolphin Push-up


Dolphin Push-up
Watch the video - 00:21


By bucking your body up into the air, you'll not only work your upper back and shoulders, but you'll also fire up your core muscles in a unique way. Make the most of this exercise by lowering down slowly to more effectively engage your core musculature.

3

Leaping Frog


Leaping Frog
Watch the video - 00:12


This fun, shoulder-strengthening exercise is a great foundation for learning to handstand. Try to hover in the air for a least a second or two. Breathe slowly and steadily, and back off if you start to feel pain in your shoulders.


Lower-Body Exercises

4

One-Legged Bird Squat


One-Legged Bird Squat
Watch the video - 00:16


This challenging balance exercise engages your core and lower body in unique ways. Try to maintain the "bird-like" position as you squat, going as low as you can. Do your best to keep your back leg as straight as possible.

5

Falling Tower


Falling Tower
Watch the video - 00:25


By using an unusual body position, this exercise creates an exciting new challenge for your legs. Be careful to hinge only at the knee, not at the hip, and really squeeze your glutes on the way up.

6

Bear Squat


Bear Squat
Watch the video - 00:15


While most leg exercises work your legs from a standing position, this unique lower-body exercise moves from all fours. It's effective because it's a completely new movement pattern for your lower body, and it's great for targeting your glutes. Be sure to keep your arms steady, with very little movement in your upper body.


Core Exercises

7

Kissing Under the Arch


Kissing Under the Arch
Watch the video - 00:14


This exercise engages the core from two angles. First, it recruits a number of stabilizer muscles just to hold your body up. The second angle comes with the cross crunch, which provides a unique engagement of the upper and lower abdominal muscles, even the obliques. Focusing on your balance here is key.

8

Horse Push-up


Horse Push-up
Watch the video - 00:14


Elevated push-ups like this one refocus the weight of the body to increase the difficulty of the movement—in this case, by placing greater emphasis on your core muscles. Tighten your abs and try to use a little speed when performing the upward part of the movement. And yeah, your chest gets some work, too.

9

Hip Dip


Hip Dip
Watch the video - 00:17


By moving through a full range of motion throughout this exercise, you'll work the full length of the obliques. The closer you get to the ground and the higher toward the sky you take this movement, the more effective it'll be. End the set if you feel strain in your shoulder. Don't forget to work both sides.


Full-Body Exercises

10

Spider Crawl


Spider Crawl
Watch the video - 00:25


Hovering above the ground without touching it distributes your weight in a dynamic way, creating incredible full-body engagement. It's critical to keep your nose and pelvis close (but not touching) the ground as you work through this movement.

11

Bridge Push-up


Bridge Push-up
Watch the video - 00:10


You'll find yourself in unfamiliar territory fast with this exercise! It's hardly a normal movement position, which is one reason why it's so effective—you're encouraging your body to rise to a new challenge. Be very careful of your shoulders and wrists here, especially if you have a pre-existing injury or weakness.

12

Boat


Boat Tutorial
Watch the video - 00:13


The key here is to extend your legs rather than arch your back to lift your body off the ground. If you start to feel any hyperextension in the lower back, it's time to back off and refocus on extending your legs.