This section provides written & video instructions for a huge list of bodyweight exercises. These bodyweight exercises help to build strength and physical fitness without adding lots of extra bulk. Bodyweight exercises (i.e. push-ups) are used extensively by most martial arts schools.
Many martial artists worry that excessive muscle mass will reduce their flexibility. Therefore, they focus on exercises that only use their own body weight and often involve multiple repetitions (i.e. 50 push-ups). In contrast, power lifting relies on limited repetitions with heavy dumbbells, barbells, etc. Martial artists who use bodyweight exercises exclusively prefer to be lean, flexible and strong. They would rather look like Bruce Lee than a bulky bodybuilder. Martial arts instructors also like bodyweight training because there is less danger of someone dropping a weight on their toes or damaging the dojo floor.
All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. If you have had an injury or are in pain, please see a doctor before starting any stretching or exercise program. For exercises using weights (i.e. dumbbells), please visit the main Strength Training section.
Demonstration of Various Bodyweight Exercises
Bodyweight Exercises – These pages have written instructions and/or videos
- Back Extensions
- Bear Crawl
- Bicycle Crunch
- Bridge (Single Leg)
- Bridge (Two Legs)
- Chair Dips – Triceps exercise
- Examples of Crunch Exercises
- Flutter Kicks
- Isometric Bicep Curl
- Isometric Triceps Extension
- Jumping Jacks
- Kick Outs
- Knee Drops
- Lateral Jumps
- Leg Drops
- Lunges – Without weights
- Lunge Jumps
- Mountain Climbers
- Pistol Squats – without weights
- Examples of Plank Exercises
- Plank – This is the basic plank exercise.
- Knee Planks
- One Legged Planks
- Plank Jacks
- Plank Shoulder Taps
- Reverse Plank – This plank exercise targets your lower back and abs.
- Side Plank – This plank exercise targets your obliques, etc.
- Superman Plank
- Upward Plank Pose
- Prone Superman
- Other Plank Exercises – This page lists a huge variety of plank exercises.
- Pulse Ups
- Examples of Push-Ups
- Traditional Push-Up – This is the basic push-up used in most exercise routines.
- Clapping Push-Up – A clapping push-up helps to develop explosive upper body strength.
- Eagle Claw Push-Ups
- Elevated Push-Up
- Incline Push-Ups – Incline push-ups are easier push-ups as you are doing a push-up against a wall, etc.
- Knee Push-Ups – This is an easy modified push-up used by people recovering from an injury or beginners who lack sufficient upper body strength for regular push-ups.
- Knuckle Push-Ups
- One Arm Push-Ups
- Plyometric Push-Up
- Single Leg Push-Ups – This push-up exercise will also help your core strength.
- T Push-Up – This advanced push-up exercise can be done with or without dumbbells.
- Triangle Push-Up or Diamond Push-Up
- Wide Grip Push-Ups – This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your chest muscles.
- Other Push-Up Exercises – This page lists a wide variety of different push-ups.
- Seated Russian Twist
- Side Lunges
- Squats – Without weights
- Squat Jumps
- Squat Thrusts – This body weight exercise builds strength and conditioning.
- Standing Opposite Knee To Elbow
- Tuck Jumps
- Walking Lunge
- Wall Sit
Bodyweight Exercise Questions
Can you build muscle mass with bodyweight exercises?
Bodyweight exercises can build muscle mass, especially if a person has not done much exercise in the past. However, for significant muscle mass gain, athletes often must use more weight than provided by bodyweight exercises in order to “overload” their muscles. Many athletes use bodyweight exercises in order to build strength without adding excessive muscle mass that might impede flexibility and/or some types of athletic performance. Bodyweight exercises are also useful because they can be done almost anywhere (i.e. at home or on vacation) and without any specialized gym equipment.
For more information on the theory of muscle progressive overload, you should read this Wikipedia article.
Are bodyweight workouts effective?
Bodyweight workouts are effective for building strength and muscle endurance. They can also improve an athlete’s power and speed. Given the wide variety of bodyweight exercises, people can use bodyweight exercises to work on their upper body, lower body and/or core strength. In addition, bodyweight exercises can provide effective workouts when a person does not have access to specialized gym equipment (i.e. when they are on vacation).
Can you lose weight with bodyweight exercises?
In order to lose weight, people need to expend more calories than they consume. This can be accomplished by dieting (consume less calories) and exercise (burn off more calories). Bodyweight exercises that focus on conditioning (i.e. mountain climbers and burpees) will burn more calories than less active bodyweight exercises. However, before starting any exercise program, please see your doctor to discuss your medical health, exercise goals and weight loss objectives.
How bodyweight exercises improve strength?
Bodyweight exercises improve strength by building muscle and enhancing muscle endurance. These resistance-based exercises focus on pushing, pulling and/or holding a person’s own body weight. Moreover, bodyweight exercises can be enhanced via increased repetitions and/or more advanced techniques (i.e. plyometric exercises). Popular bodyweight exercises include push-ups, planks, pull-ups, lunges and squats.
What are some advanced bodyweight exercises?
Advanced bodyweight exercises usually include an “explosive” plyometric component (i.e. clapping or jumping) or a more concentrated technique (i.e. one legged exercises). Examples of advanced bodyweight exercises include clapping push-ups, pistol squats, burpees, one arm push-ups, etc. Before starting any exercise program, please see your doctor to discuss your medical health and exercise goals.
What are the best bodyweight exercises?
All bodyweight exercises help to build strength. However, some of the best bodyweight exercises include push-ups, planks and squats. Push-ups work on upper body strength (i.e. chest, shoulder and triceps muscles). Planks are a key exercise for core strength (i.e. abdominal, oblique and lower back muscles). Squats enhance leg strength (i.e. thigh, glute and hamstring muscles). All of these are simple bodyweight exercises and can be easily modified if an athlete wants a more intense and/or focused workout. For example, more advanced versions of these bodyweight exercises include clapping push-ups, superman planks and squat jumps.
List of Bodyweight Exercises – Push-Ups
List of Bodyweight Exercises – Sit-Ups
Bodyweight Exercises Images provided by Wikimedia Commons