Who needs a gym when there’s the living room floor? Bodyweight exercises are a simple, effective way to improve balance, flexibility, and strength without machinery or extra equipment. From legs and shoulders to chest and abs, we’ve covered every part of the body that can get stronger with body resistance alone.
1. Inchworm: Stand up tall with the legs straight, and do like Lil’ Jon and let those fingertips hit the floor. Keeping the legs straight (but not locked!), slowly lower the torso toward the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps so the feet meet the hands. Continue bugging out for 4-6 reps.
2. Tuck Jump: Standing with the knees slightly bent, jump up as high as possible (pretend Jeremy Lin is watching!) and bring the knees in toward the chest while extending the arms straight out. Land with the knees slightly bent and quickly jump (on it) again!
3. Bear Crawl: Embrace that inner grizzly. Starting on the hands and knees, rise up onto the toes, tighten the core, and slowly reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left side. Continue the crawl for 8-10 reps (or until you scare your roommates off).
4. Mountain Climber: Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward. Next up? Everest.
5. Plyometric Push-Up: Ready to catch some air? Start on a well-padded surface and complete a traditional push-up. Then, in an explosive motion, push up hard enough to come off the floor (and hang ten for a second!). Once back on solid ground, immediately head into the next repetition.
6. Stair Climb with Bicep Curl: Turn those stairs into a cardio machine—no magic wand necessary. Grab some dumbbells (or household objects!) and briskly walk up and down the stairway while simultaneously doing bicep curls to work the whole body.
7. Prone Walkout: Beginning on all fours with the core engaged, slowly walk the hands forward, staying on the toes but not moving them forward. Next, gradually walk the hands backwards to the starting position, maintain stability and balance. (This dance comes next.)
8. Burpees: One of the most effective full-body exercises around, this one starts out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up portion of the show.
9. Plank: Nope, we’re (thankfully) not walking the plank. Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped. Extend the legs behind the body and rise up on the toes. Keeping the back straight, tighten the core and hold the position for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can hang).
10. Plank-to-Push-Up: Starting in a plank position, place down one hand at a time to lift up into a push-up position, with the back straight and the core engaged. Then move one arm at a time back into the plank position (forearms on the ground). Repeat, alternating the arm that makes the first move.
11. Wall Sit: Who needs a chair when there’s a wall? Slowly slide your back down a wall until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the knees are directly above the ankles and keep the back straight. Go for 60 seconds per set (or however long it takes to turn those legs to jelly). Need more fire? Add some bicep curls.
12. Lunge: Stand with the hands on the hips and feet hip-width apart. Step the right leg forward and slowly lower your body until the right knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg. Try stepping back into the lunge for a different variation.
13. Clock Lunge: Time for a challenge. Complete a traditional forward lunge, then take a big step to the right and lunge again. Finish off the semicircle with a backwards lunge, then return to standing. And all that’s one rep! Aim for 10 reps and then switch legs.
14. Lunge-to-Row: Start by doing a normal lunge. Instead of bringing that forward leg back to the starting position, raise it up off the floor while lifting the arms overhead. The leg should remain bent at about 90 degrees. Add weights to really bring the heat.
15. Pistol Squat: There may be no gun permit necessary for this one, but it’s still no joke. Stand holding the arms straight out in front of the body, and raise the right leg, flexing the right ankle and pushing the hips back. Then lower the body while keeping the right leg raised. Hold (have fun with that), then return to standing.
16. Lunge Jump: Ready to impress some friends? Stand with the feet together and lunge forward with the right foot. Jump straight up, propelling the arms forward while keeping the elbows bent. While in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Repeat and continue switching legs. Try to do 10!
17. Curtsy Lunge: Let’s show a little respect. When lunging, step the left leg back behind the right, bending the knees and lowering the hips until the right thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Remember to keep the torso upright and the hips square.
18. Squat: Stand with the feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees—whatever is most comfortable. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.
19. Single Leg Deadlift: Start in a standing position with the feet together. Lift the right leg slightly, and lower the arms and torso while raising the right leg behind the body. Keep the left knee slightly bent and reach the arms as close to the floor as possible. Raise the torso while lowering the right leg. Switch legs.
20. Squat Reach and Jump: Ready to add some pizzazz (and cardio!) to that squat? Perform a normal squat, but immediately jump up, reaching the arms straight overhead. Aim for 15 reps, taking a quick breather before the next set.
21. Chair Squat Pose: Stand with the feet hip-distance apart and squat until the thighs are parallel to the floor while swinging the arms up. Straighten the legs, then lift up the right knee while swinging the left arm outside the right knee. Return to standing and repeat on the other side.
22. Quadruped Leg Lift: Starting on the hands and knees, keep a flat back and engage the core. Raise the left leg straight back, stopping when the foot is hip-level and the thigh parallel to the floor. Balance for as long as possible, then raise the bottom right toe off the floor, tightening the butt, back, and abs (try to be graceful here!). Hold for up to 10 seconds, then switch legs.
23. Step-Up: This may be self-explanatory, but just in case—find a step or bench, and place the right foot on the elevated surface. Step up until the right leg is straight (do it for Channing!), then return to start. Repeat, aiming for 10-12 reps on each side.
24. Calf Raise: From a standing position, slowly rise up on the toes, keeping the knees straight and heels off the floor. Hold briefly, then come back down. Aaaand repeat. Try standing on something elevated (like a step) to achieve a wider range of motion.
Chest & Back
25. Standard Push-Up: There’s a reason this one’s a classic. With hands shoulder-width apart, keep the feet flexed at hip distance, and tighten the core. Bend the elbows until the chest reaches the ground, and then push back up (make sure to keep the elbows tucked close to the body). That’s one!
26. Dolphin Push-Up: Start out in dolphin pose (think: down-dog with elbows on the floor). Lean forward, lowering the shoulders until the head is over the hands. Pull up the arms and return to the starting position. (No ocean necessary.)
27. Contralateral Limb Raises: Sounds fancy, huh? Here’s the breakdown: Lie on your stomach with the arms outstretched and palms facing one another. Slowly lift one arm a few inches off the floor, keeping it straight without rotating the shoulders and keeping the head and torso still. Hold the position, then lower the arm back down, moving to the other arm.
28. Donkey Kick: It’s time to embrace that wild side. Start in a push-up position, with the legs together. Tighten the core and kick both legs into the air with knees bent, reaching the feet back toward the glutes. Just try to land gently when reversing back to the starting position.
29. Handstand Push-Up: Fair warning: This move is for the pros. Get set in a headstand position against a wall and bend the elbows at a 90-degree angle, doing an upside down push-up (so the head moves toward the floor and the legs remain against the wall). First timer? Grab a friend to spot you—safety first!
30. Judo Push-up: From a push-up position, raise up those hips and in one swift movement (Hai-yah!) use the arms to lower the front of the body until the chin comes close to the floor. Swoop the head and shoulders upward and lower the hips, keeping the knees off the ground. Reverse the move to come back to the raised-hip position. Try to repeat for 30-60 seconds.
31. Reverse Fly: For DIY dumbbells, grab two cans or bottles of water. Stand up straight, with one foot in front of the other and the front knee slightly bent. With palms facing each other and the abs engaged, bend forward slightly from the waist and extend arms out to the side, squeezing the shoulder blades. Repeat.
32. Superman: Want some superpowers? Lie face down with arms and legs extended. Keeping the torso as still as possible, simultaneously raise the arms and legs to form a small curve in the body. Cape optional.
Shoulders & Arms
33. Triceps Dip: Get seated near a step or bench. Sit on the floor with knees slightly bent, and grab the edge of the elevated surface and straighten the arms. Bend them to a 90-degree angle, and straighten again while the heels push towards the floor. For some extra fire, reach the right arm out while lifting the left leg.
34. Diamond Push-Up: Jay-Z would approve. These push-ups get pimped out with a diamond-shaped hand position (situate them so that the thumbs and index fingers touch). This hand readjustment will give those triceps some extra (burning) love.
35. Boxer: Time to make Muhammad Ali proud. Starting with feet hip-width apart and knees bent, keep the elbows in and extend one arm forward and the other arm back. Hug the arms back in and switch arms—like you’re in the ring!
36. Shoulder Stabilization Series (I, Y, T, W O): OK, it may look crazy, but stay with us. Lie down on your stomach with arms extended overhead and palms facing each other. Move the arms into each letter formation. (Gimme a Y, you know you want to!).
37. Arm Circles: Remember P.E. class? Stand with arms extended by the sides, perpendicular to the torso. Slowly make clockwise circles for about twenty to thirty seconds (about one foot in diameter). Then reverse the movement, going counter-clockwise.
38. L Seat: Take a load off (well not exactly). Seated with the legs extended and feet flexed, place the hands on the floor and slightly round the torso. Then, lift the hips off the ground, hold for five seconds and release. Repeat!
39. Rotational Push-Up: Standard push-ups not cutting it? For a variation, after coming back up into a starting push-up position, rotate the body to the right and extend the right hand overhead, forming a T with the arms and torso. Return to the starting position, do a normal push-up, then rotate to the left.
40. Flutter Kick: Start lying on your back with arms at your sides and palms facing down. With legs extended, lift the heels off the floor (about six inches). Make quick, small up-and-down pulses with the legs, while keeping the core engaged. Try to keep kickin’ it for a minute straight!
41. Dynamic Prone Plank: Starting in a standard plank position, raise the hips as high as they can go, then lower them back down. Continue this movement for as long as possible. Make sure the back stays straight and the hips don’t droop.
42. Side Plank: Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged, and hang tight for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can stomach!).
43. Russian Twist: Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet together, lifted a few inches off the floor. With the back at a 45-degree angle from the ground, move the arms from one side to another in a twisting motion. Here, slow and steady wins the race: The slower the twist, the deeper the burn. Feel like a fitness czar yet?
44. Bicycle: Lie down with knees bent and hands behind the head. With the knees in toward the chest, bring the right elbow towards the left knee as the right leg straightens. Continue alternating sides (like you’re pedaling!). Just keep the helmet in the closet.
45. Crunch: Before anyone’s crowned Cap’n Crunch, remember form is key. Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With hands behind the head, place the chin down slightly and peel the head and shoulders off the mat while engaging the core. Continue curling up until the upper back is off the mat. Hold briefly, then lower the torso back toward the mat slowly.
46. Segmental Rotation: Target those obliques. Lying on your back with your knees bent and core tight, let the knees fall gradually to the left (feeling a good stretch). Hold for five seconds, return to center, and repeat on the right side.
47. Shoulder Bridge: Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place arms at your side and lift up the spine and hips. Only the head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be on the ground. Then lift one leg upwards, keeping the core tight. Slowly bring the leg back down, then lift back up. Try to do 10 reps per leg, then bring the knee in place and spine back on the floor.
48. Single Leg Abdominal Press: Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet on the floor. Tighten the abs and raise the right leg, with the knee and hip bent at a 90-degree angle. Push the right hand on top of the lifted knee, using the core to create pressure between the hand and knee. Hold for five counts, and then lower back down to repeat with the left hand and knee.
49. Double Leg Abdominal Press: Two legs is twice the fun. Follow the same run-down for the single leg press (above), but bring up both legs at the same time, pushing the hands against the knees.
50. Sprinter Sit-Up: Want to be a speed demon without getting off the floor? Lie on your back with the legs straight and arms by your side—elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Now sit up, bringing the left knee toward the right elbow. Lower the body and repeat on the other side.
Originally published March 2012. Updated December 2014.