When it comes to fitness, we’ve all got a set of goals. And, a popular fitness goal is to get a lean and toned body. Celebrities and fitness experts make it look easy. But, they generally have a team of experts dedicated to the task of making them look good. And, gyms that promise similar results tend to be a little too expensive.
Here’s where bodyweight exercises come in. These exercises use your weight as resistance against gravity. This makes them a great option for people who want to get toned. Here are nine of these exercises that you should incorporate into your workout routine.
If washboard abs are on your list of goals, then planks are the way to go. This exercise engages all of your core muscles (front, back, and sides) and are easier on the back. Here’s how you should go about a plank.1
- Lie on your stomach with your palms on the floor, fingers facing forward, and elbows close to your shoulder.
- Bring your elbows close to you so they are in line with your shoulders.
- Tighten your core and slowly lift your torso and thighs off the floor.
- Adjust the position of your neck so it’s in line with your back and hips, as if you were a plank of wood.
- Move your shoulders away from your knees and make sure that they’re positioned right above your elbows.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds and slowly lower yourself down, without breaking your form.
Gradually increase the amount of time that you hold the plank for. To make this exercise easier to get through, play your favorite song before you go into the position.2
2. Jump Squats
Squats are a part of most exercise routines. This is because they build strength in your legs and your hips and tone them up. An easy way to increase the intensity of squats and work on your endurance at the same time is to add a jump to your squats.3 Here’s how you can go about it.4
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart. You could either have your arms next to you or in front of you.
- Bend your knees and hips, and lower your buttocks about 8 inches down. Make sure to keep your back flat as you do this.
- Shift your weight slightly on to your heels and make sure that your knees don’t go beyond your toes.
- From this position, jump up and reach your arms overhead.
- As you come down, go back to a squat position.
Initially, you could try doing as many repetitions as you can. You could then work your way up to 8–12 repetitions.5
This exercise tones your abs, obliques, deltoids, hamstrings, and triceps. It also improves your flexibility and shoulder strength. Although this exercise can seem deceptively easy, it’s important to pay attention to your form so as to avoid any injuries. Here’s how you can do the walk out.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend over and place your hands on the floor right in front of your feet.
- Shift your weight onto your hands and begin to walk them forward. Tighten your core, squeeze your glutes, and keep your back flat as you do this.
- Walk out until your hands are beneath your shoulders, in a plank position. At this point, your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet.
- Walk your hands back until you’re back on your feet.
Repeat this exercise as often as you can and work your way up the repetitions as it gets easier. Be sure to not let your hips sag at any point during this exercise.6
4. Mountain Climbers
This exercise is challenging and makes for a full body workout. Specifically, mountain climbers tone your deltoids, biceps, triceps, pectoralis major, obliques, rectus abdominis, lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip adductors, and hip abductors. Here’s how you can go about doing this exercise.
- Assume a plank position and ensure that your hands are directly under your chest, at shoulder width apart.
- Make sure that your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Lift your right foot off the floor and bring your knee close to your chest.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
- Quicken your pace and continue alternating.
As with the other exercises, start with an easy number of repetitions and work your way up. To increase the intensity of the exercise, place your hands on a block or an elevated platform.7
5. Push Ups
When it comes to exercising, push ups are classic. And, this is because they work on your chest, legs, shoulders, hips, arms, and core. In order to get the most out of this exercise, it’s important for you to pay attention to your form throughout. Here’s how you can go about a push up.
- Begin in a full plank position with your arms extended. Your palms should be flat on the floor and in line with your shoulders.
- Place your feet 12 inches apart and stay on your toes. Keep your weight evenly distributed and your back straight.
- Look down and lower your body with your elbows close to your chest, until your elbows are at 90 degrees.
- Push yourself back up to complete one push-up.
Start off with 5 push ups and work your way up. To simplify this exercise, place your knees on the floor and keep your back straight as you lower yourself down and push yourself back up.8
This exercise compliments all the exercises in this list that target the abdominal muscles. It strengthens the entire back and glutes. Here’s how you can do this exercise.
- Lie face down on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Simultaneously lift your arms and legs towards the ceiling to form an elongated “u” shape with your body. Be sure to not lock your arms and legs and to keep your torso stationary.
- Keep your back arched slightly back arches. Arms and legs must be a few inches off the floor.
- Hold this position for a few seconds and lower back down to complete one repetition.
Do this exercise for 8–12 repetitions. If you feel any pain in your lower back, stop immediately and consult a professional.9
A regular exercise regime that incorporates all of the above exercises will help you shed excess fat and gain lean muscle in no time. However, be sure to warm up before working out and cool down after. It’s also important that you wear comfortable clothes and good quality shoes to avoid injuries.
|↑1||Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑2||Front Plank. The American Council On Exercise.|
|↑3||Hoffman, Jay R., Nicholas A. Ratamess, Joshua J. Cooper, and J. I. E. Kang. “Comparison of loaded and unloaded jump squat training on strength/power performance in college football players.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 19, no. 4 (2005): 810.|
|↑4||Squat reach and jump. Queensland Government.|
|↑5||The 4 most important types of exercise. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑6||AlaskaCare Employee Wellness Program Exercises. State Of Alaska.|
|↑7, ↑9||AlaskaCare Employee Wellness Program Exercises. State Of Alaska.|
|↑8||The rise of push-ups: A classic exercise that can help you get stronger. Harvard Health Publishing.|