Pull Your Own Weight

How to train intensely with only body-weight resistance.


BICEPS Go underhand on pullups or inverted rows (and set the bar higher so you’re more upright), and you’ll work the biceps more and your back less.

TRICEPS Stay upright on your dips and do your pushups with narrow hand placement, and you’ll focus more on your triceps and less on your pecs. You can also do bench dips with your hands slightly behind you and your legs straight out in front of you. 

THIGHS Don’t think you can escape squatting. You can do squats with one leg at a time. (The nonworking leg is bent with that foot behind you and against a bench.) You can also work both legs simultaneously but go glutes-to-ankles on each of many, many reps. You should be able to crank out at least 30 reps. Wall squats and walking lunges are two more exercises that can be effective without weights.

CALVES Make the standing calf raise harder. Try going barefoot on a at floor and not holding anything to steady yourself. Rise up very slowly, squeeze hard, and hold each contraction. You can also do weightless calf raises unilateral, raising and lowering yourself with only one calf at a time.

ABDOMINALS Many ab exercises—leg raises, planks, crunches—can be very productive with only body weight. 


  • Body-weight workouts can be done almost anywhere.
  • The easiest way to use virtually all your body weight as resistance is to pull or push while suspended, as with a pullup or dip.
  • Because choices are limited, you may need to focus on a single exercise for eight or more sets.
  • Change hand or foot placements. 



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