Workout Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Training

Push your muscles to their limits — with just your bodyweight as resistance.


Swiss ball exercise for abs

Bodyweight workouts? You may already be thinking, how tough could that be ... and can they really build any muscle?

Set aside your skepticism, gym rats, because the answer is absolutely. The secret isn't so much in doing calisthenics-type exercises like the ones you probably did in junior high, but rather in making such moves as difficult as possible to brutally challenge your strength and stamina.

Add the following tips and tricks to your regular gym routine. You don't need nice new dumbbells and the latest in Hammer Strength machines because you can stay fit with nothing more than your own bodyweight and just a few pieces of basic equipment.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Bodyweight Workout for Bodybuilders >>


Going Weightless

Just because you have a travel pass for every gym chain in the world or a complete home setup doesn't mean there won't be times and circumstances when doing bodyweight training makes sense. In fact, you're probably already familiar with many of the basics including pull-ups, dips, hanging leg raises and crunches. That's because bodyweight moves offer a number of advantages.

Improve Core and Stabilizer

This may not sound as sexy as building bigger bi's, but if you've been neglecting core work, you could be holding back your ultimate potential on demanding exercises that require your midsection to be strong, such as the squat, deadlift or even the bentover row.

Adjust Your Ability Level

Although some of the moves may seem oriented to beginners, you can increase the intensity by modifying the technique, speed and rest periods. Push-ups too easy? Tack on a set with your feet elevated at the end of a set of heavy chest presses. Now we're talking pec pump!

No Need for Special Equipment

Many exercises require nothing more than a comfortable pair of sneakers. This makes the moves ideal to do on the road when you don't have access to a gym or simply don't have time to go. In fact, you can do a complete headto- toe workout with just bodyweight moves. If you have access to a chair, chinning bar, parallel bars or a couple of soup cans or gallon jugs (which weigh about 14 pounds when filled with sand), you can easily increase the number of exercises.

While standard bodyweight moves are effective for improving muscle strength and endurance, we won't try to convince you to ditch your freeweight workout — bodyweight-only training does have limitations. To minimize the common problem of staleness, try changing some aspect of your exercise program to switch things up and keep your muscles growing.