5 Essential Bodyweight Exercises

Exercises using your body weight are extremely effective in building muscle and functional strength - so important if you're an athlete! This is mostly because they are multi-joint, compound exercises So you're working many muscle groups with one exercise... we like that efficiency!

Body weight exercises can be done with many progressions, regressions and variations– meant further challenge and to reduce boredom from your workout.

1. PUSH-UP The push-up builds the chest, shoulders and triceps and is a great stabilizer for the torso and lower back. Complete a 1 minute max rep test monthly to see how many repetitions you can complete in one minute. Track your progress. When adding push-ups to your body weight routine, be sure to use variations such as changing hand or feet position or elevating the body.

2. SQUAT There are so many benefits to the squat when done correctly. It primarily builds the quadriceps and the gluteus muscles, but also works to improve ankle, hip and stability through the thoracic spine (upper and middle back). Use variations to make a squat workout more effective, modifying both speed, depth and technique. Also consider using the squat as a conditioning tool by adding jump squats to your routine.

3 PULL-UP or BENT ROW As a compliment to the push motion of the push-up, the pull up or bent row utilizes a pull motion to build the muscles of the back. If you do not have access to a pull up bar, instead do a bent row with weights.

4. LUNGES OR SPLIT SQUAT Similar to the squat, lunges and split squats primarily target the muscles of the leg and hip/glutes; quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, adductor magnus (inner thigh), soleus and gastrocnemius (calves). The split squat and the lunge are slightly different though, and the major difference is the position of your rear leg. In a split squat, the rear leg is primarily at rest, and your front leg gets the brunt of the work. In a lunge, the rear leg is engaged and working equal to the front leg. The Bulgarian split squat is a great variation that elevates the back leg.

5. PLANK A total body strengthener with emphasis on the core. Contract your abs to prevent your behind from sticking up or sinking. Consider some great progressions for your plank; single leg, single arm, walk-ups, side planks and body saw planks.

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