Bodyweight exercises are absolutely amazing for building muscle and strength.
You can also add additional weight to many of these body weight exercises.
There have been many people that are absolutely toned, ripped, and muscular from using only body weight exercises.
Some of the best overall weight lifting exercises are movements that are done only with bodyweight. For example, several of the 7 core weight lifting exercises that are used with the WLC System are body weight movements: Squat, Push Up, Chin Up, and Dip.
And to build muscle and strength, these exercises can be done starting out with just a few reps and you can work your way up to very high reps. Even high reps build muscle and strength (contrary to the so-called experts that say 6 to 15 reps).
High reps with just your body weight will absolutely 100% without a doubt build an amazing body.
Adding extra resistance to bodyweight exercises, though, will build an amazing body too. Let's see what I have on this page for you.
On this page, you'll find:
- A huge list of exercises you can use with just your body weight
- I'll give you bodyweight exercises for back muscles
- Several bodyweight exercises for biceps to build amazing arms
- Bodyweight shoulder exercises that build strong and healthy shoulders
- Muscle building bodyweight exercises for chest muscles
- I'll also tell you about good body weight exercises for beginners
Here's a secret of mine that will really help you if you put this into action:
Exercises that move your body through space are the absolute BEST exercises in existence. For example, squats move your body through space. Bench press moves the weight (and NOT your body) through space. Push ups move your body through space so push ups are a SUPERIOR exercise compared to the bench press (not even close).
So all of the bodyweight exercises you find on this page are going to move your body through space! This makes this list of exercises very powerful. Use it accordingly.
Here's A Huge List of Bodyweight Exercises You Can Start Using Right Now
I doubt you will find a better list anywhere. Yes, this is a huge list so take your time and read through the exercises. You might find an exercise that absolutely explodes your lean muscle growth.
1. Chin Ups and Pull Ups
Chin ups and pull ups of ANY type are one of the best upper body exercises in existence. If you are looking for bodyweight exercises for back, chin ups and pull ups are the number 1 option your have!
If you aren't able to do a pull up or a chin up right now, don't worry! If you start using the WLC System, you will be adding weight around your waist and doing multiple reps very soon.
You can also use resistance bands to assist you with pull ups. Just get some different size bands and wrap them around your leg. Here's a quick video showing you how to do this:
What's a chin up versus a pull up?
Chin ups are done with your palms facing towards you while pull ups are done with your palms facing away from you. That's the difference.
Here's a list of different types of chin ups and pull ups:
- Chin ups (palms facing towards you)
- Pull ups (palms facing away from you)
- Parallel or neutral grip
- Wide grip
- Close grip
- Plyometric (clapping is one type)
- Horizontal pull ups
- Mixed grip (one palm facing and one away)
- Ring pull ups
- L-Sit pull Ups
- Muscle ups
- Chest to Bar
- Rope chin ups
- Walking pull ups
As you can see, there are a huge number of chin up variations. You can start with the easiest bodyweight exercise variations and work your way up as you get stronger.
If you get a hip belt or weight belt, you can start adding weight to supercharge your results.
If you're looking for bodyweight exercises for biceps, pull ups and chin ups are FAR SUPERIOR to any curl movement. Bicep curls don't have a prayer if they are put up against pull ups and chin ups.
One of my personal secrets to building biceps: Use a close grip on pull ups and chin ups and focus on using your arms to “pull” you up. Usually, you would focus on using your much bigger and stronger back muscles, but instead focus on your arms. It works wonder if you need bigger biceps!
Squats just might be the KING of all exercises and especially bodyweight exercises. I can make arguments for a few other exercises, but I can tell you that you should be doing some type of squat movement all the time!
Squats are a powerful exercise that will 100% change your body for the good. You will also become more mobile and flexible while doing squats.
You can always start with just your body weight and a few reps. To make progress, add a rep or two each workout. Before long, you will be doing 100 body weight squats. Let me tell you this: “If you start out with 1 body weight squat and work your way up to 100, your body will go through some awesome changes!”
Just like with chin ups and pull ups, there's a huge number of squat variations:
- Narrow stance
- Wide stance
- Sumo squats
- Prisoner squats
- Plie squats
- Split leg squats
- 1-legged squat
- Jump squats
- Pistol squats
- Hindu squats
- Squat holds
- Overhead squats
- Wall squats
- Rolling squats
- Side squats
- Sissy squats
- Goblet squat
- Frog squats
- Pulse squat
- Squat walk
- Lateral squats
- Cossack squats
- Curtsy squats
And that's not even close to all of them. This is a reason I love exercise so very much! There are so many different exercises you can do.
Once you're ready to graduate from bodyweight exercises, start adding small amounts of weight with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, sandbags, or anything you have around the house or home gym.
Remember, squats should always be in your workout program!
3. Push Ups
Push ups are one of the best upper body exercises you can do. I HIGHLY recommend push ups over the bench press. The best thing about push ups is you can do them anywhere. See if you can do 10 of them right now.
I personally don't like doing them with my hands flat on the floor because this can be tough on your wrists, and I've had issues with them before. I do push ups from my power rack with my hands on a barbell and my feet on my weight lifting bench.
Here's how I do push ups (except I would move the bench back a little):
As with all bodyweight exercises, there are also a huge number of push-up variations:
- Traditional push ups
- Close grip push ups
- Wide grip push ups
- Clapping push ups
- 1-legged push up
- 1-arm push up
- Incline push ups
- Decline push ups
- Negative only push ups
- Spider Man push up
- Standing push ups off wall
- Knee push ups
- Hand tap push ups
- Rotational push ups
- Single arm raised push up
- Knuckle push ups
- Staggered hand placement
- Super slow
- Knee to chest
- Pseudo planche
- Tiger push up
- Divebomber push ups
The list of different body weight push up variations can go on and on and on. There are around 100 variations of push ups.
Tip: closer grip push ups with your arms close to your sides will work the triceps really well. The triceps makes up about 67% or 2/3 of the upper arm. If you want to build bigger and more muscular arms, the triceps and biceps should be your focus. Many people think it's the biceps, but the triceps are MUCH larger!
Push ups don't just work your chest. Yes, the bodyweight exercises for chest are push-ups BUT push ups also work the shoulders, triceps, abs, biceps, back, and more!
4. Inverted Rows
Inverted rows are not a very popular bodyweight exercise when comparing the popularity to pull ups, chin ups, push ups, and squats. Some people that have done those have never done inverted rows.
If you want a great bodyweight exercise for back, this used along with pull ups and chin ups will build an overall amazing back. If you really want an even stronger back, though, you should add in a deadlift exercise too.
Here's an example of an inverted row:
When compared to the Pendlay Row or Barbell Bent Over Row, the inverted row is a much better exercise because you are moving your body through space. I HIGHLY recommend the inverted row over barbell or dumbbell exercises.
You can also start adding weight to inverted rows with a hip belt or weight belt and elevating your feet on a bench while placing the barbell higher in the power rack. It takes some practice, but you'll be able to do this and get even better results.
IMPORTANT: the first step is to start doing inverted rows properly. They can be difficult at first if you have never done this bodyweight exercise.
Common errors people make with the inverted row:
1. Forward head posture
2. Hips sag and body doesn't stay in a straight line
3. Elbows drift behind the body so the scapula doesn't retract
There are also a good number of inverted row variations you can do. This includes variations that change the grip type, holds at the top, elevating the feet, adding weight in different forms (chains are an example or wearing a weight vest), 1-arm variations, and more. See below:
- Incline inverted rows
- Decline inverted rows
- Single-arm anti rotational
- Rack chin ups
- Suspension trainer inverted rows
- Wide grip
- Narrow grip
- Overhand grip
- Underhand grip
- Isometric holds at top
- 1-arm inverted rows
- Towel inverted rows
- Stability ball feet rows
- 1 foot off floor
- Super slow inverted rows
- Mixed grip inverted rows
- Moving hands while rowing
When you first start doing inverted rows, the exercise might be difficult for you. The difficult exercises are the ones you really need to focus on. If you stop doing them, you're missing out on some amazing gains that you could have made.
Remember, rows are one of the 7 core weight lifting exercises here at Weight Lifting Complete. This means they are very important and highly recommended as they work your overall back very well. Inverted rows are the at THE TOP of the list for rows.
Inverted rows are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can choose for your workouts!
5. Handstand Push Ups
Handstand push ups are a great bodyweight exercise but an advanced exercise.
First, I recommend getting really strong on the overhead press or to start with easier versions of the handstand push up. Once you can do these without any assistance, though, it's pretty cool indeed! People will be amazed when you show them your handstand push ups!
There are a large number of handstand push up variations that will even help you work your way up to a full handstand push up:
- Full handstand push up
- Wall walk to push up hold
- Pike pushups
- Inverted wall pushup
- Wide grip handstand push up
- Narrow grip handstand push up
- Push up with knees on a box
- Push up with toes on a box
- Handstand holds
- Handstand negatives
- Freestanding handstand push up
*** TIP: I personally like to use push up stands instead of placing hands directly on the floor.
Push up stands make this 10x better on your wrists. As I said earlier, I have had issues with my wrists due to heavy weights in the past so anything I can do to make a great bodyweight exercise easier on the wrists, I will do.
Stands also will give you an even greater range of motion on bodyweight exercises.
If you want to start working on handstand pushups, see the progression video below:
The strength gains you make on the handstand push up will definitely increase your strength on the overhead press as shown in the awesome video above.
The handstand push up is an exercise you need to start using. This is one of THE top body weight exercises in existence. Your upper body will explode with new muscle mass growth.
Sometimes dips are called the “upper body squat” and for good reason.
I have been doing dips since the year 2000, and they have always given me great results. I have been able to get much stronger on dips than pull ups since then and have used well over an extra 100 pounds added to a body weight of 240 pounds.
If you're looking for bodyweight exercises for chest and triceps, WOW, this is one you need to be doing regularly in your workouts.
There are also a decent number of dip variations you can do:
- Full bodyweight dips
- Band assisted dips
- Jump-up dips with full negatives
- Bench dips
- Weighted dips
- Weighted bench dips
- Band resistance dips
- Suspension ring dips
- Bulgarian dips
- Pronated grip dips
- Supinated grip dips
- Korean dips
- Gironda dips
- Counter dips
- Planche dips
- Russian dips
- 1-arm dips
Wow, that's a huge number of dip variations! You first need to start out with just normal body weight dips and get really strong on those before trying some of the more advanced versions in the list above.
Here's a video showing how to do dips and what the movement looks like:
To do the standard dip, you can place 2 barbells in a power rack on opposite sides and do dips between them. To be safer, though, so the bars don't move: I recommend a set of dip bars as shown in the video above. Or, they are sometimes called a dip station.
Dips are a top bodyweight exercise especially for building the chest and triceps.
The Top 6 Bodyweight Exercises and a Huge Number of Variations are Given Above
Now that the top 6 exercises have been discussed in great length, I want to continue giving you a huge list of exercises.
All of these lead to greater muscle strength and will lead to building lean muscle mass while giving you an overall more fit body.
So let's continue the list:
7. Foot Hand Crawl
Mobility should be a goal of yours. Have you ever had trouble getting up off the couch, or toilet, or moving out of a chair? If so, you've got to get more fit and more mobile. Your life really does depend on it.
People stop moving so often in their life and may sit on the couch and watch TV too much or sit in a chair at a desk for work all day long. This is not good.
Try this awesome exercise to help you get more mobile:
The foot hand crawl is something I have used before, during, and after weight lifting workouts to help with mobility.
Try adding this as a warm-up exercise before you start your actual body weight workouts.
8. 1-Legged Deadlift
I use the 1-legged deadlift for myself in many of my WLC System based workout programs because I love it that much.
This exercise helps greatly with balance by working all of those awesome stabilizer muscles throughout your body. They are very important muscles.
Here's a good video showing the 1-legged deadlift:
And you don't have to use weights for this until you can do many reps with your bodyweight. Small loads are recommended, though.
This is still a great body weight exercise.
Lunges are another one of the best bodyweight exercises and one that I use as a substitute for the squat as needed.
The lunge should be higher on the list, but I wanted to mix things up a bit to keep you interested as this is a huge list of bodyweight exercises. I didn't want to put all of the best at the top of the page!
If you get really strong on the lunge, you will be rewarded with so many new things! Seriously, lean muscle explosion in your lower body: your quadriceps, hamstrings, butt, calves! You will also increase flexibility and mobility with the lunge.
You are moving your body through space when you perform this awesome bodyweight exercise so this tells you the results you receive are also superior than other exercises.
There are a good number of lunge variations:
- Bodyweight Lunge
- Lateral or Side lunges
- Reverse lunges
- Walking lunges
- Curtsy lunge
- Static lunge
- Elevated lunges
- Jumping lunges
- Overhead lunges
- Stationary Lunges
Lunges are one of my personal favorite exercises that have really helped in many different ways over the years. Lunges will help increase the amount of weight you are squatting.
Here's a video showing 7 different types of lunges:
Tip for the video above: the range of motion she uses for lunges is not very good. Make sure you use a full range of motion and don't cut that motion short. Go all the way down.
Over time you can start adding weight to lunges in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells.
Tip for Making Progress: I highly recommend striving for more reps or more resistance each workout. If you're going to stick with just bodyweight exercises, work on adding reps each and every workout. Barbell lunges are an amazing exercise in which you can add heavy weight over time. Lunges can be an explosive movement too which builds power.
10. Step Ups
Step ups are an exercise that hasn't been given much credit in weight lifting over the years.
Going up steps is tough for many people but it's great exercise and conditioning for your body. Step ups mimic that same exercise.
All you do is find something elevated and step up and down over and over.
I have used step ups with a barbell and dumbbells in the past and they work very well for building muscle. You can make the platform higher and higher to make the exercise even tougher.
The video above shows a progression for step ups and different variations.
12. Glute Bridge
The glute bridge is a good body weight exercise but heavy weight can also be added to this exercise with a barbell placed on the floor.
Have you ever done the glute bridge?
If you haven't you are missing out on a great exercise. If your glutes are a weakness, this is an amazing exercise that will help you to make them a strength instead of a weakness over time.
Glute bridges can also help to increase your strength on other exercises like the squat and deadlift.
13. Calf Raises
Calf raises are one of my favorite exercises because I had small calves in the past.
Over time, I have been able to greatly increase my calf size so that it matches with the rest of my body.
Body weight calf raises can help get you started on the same path if you need to build your calves.
I am a calf-building expert and know a huge number of calf raise variations:
- Standing calf raises
- Seated calf raises
- Reverse calf raises
- Donkey calf raises
- Squat raises
- Single leg calf raise
- Tiptoe walking
- Jumping calf raise
- Leg press calf raise
There are also a ton of ways to add variations to the calf exercises listed above.
You should always work on adding reps to any body weight calf exercises. If you start adding weight in some form, such as a barbell on your upper back, your lower back can get stressed too much with all of the other exercises in your program.
TIP: To counter lower back fatigue due to heavy weights in a workout program, I do all of my calf exercises with a cable system and a hip belt. For example, I do standing calf raises with the hip belt attached to the cable system in my power rack. This takes away all of the lower back stress and allows you to limit lower back fatigue.
Bodyweight Exercises for Back
I wanted to add a couple of bonus sections to this page as many people ask me about bodyweight exercises for the back.
Here are the 2 BEST body weight exercises for back muscles:
- Pull Ups and Chin Ups
- Inverted Rows
If you incorporate these 2 exercises, you will build an amazing back.
And remember, I have listed a huge number of variations of each of those exercises on this page.
Bodyweight Exercises for Biceps
There is only 1 biceps exercise you will ever need to build an amazing set of biceps:
The Close Grip Chin Up
When you do the close grip chin up, FOCUS on using your biceps and not your back to lift yourself to the top of the rep.
And make sure you return to the very bottom of the rep to get a good stretch under load for the biceps.
You should also do a weighted stretch after doing close grip chin ups. See this page: Biceps Stretches. You will only need your body weight to put extra force on your biceps for these weighted stretches.
Bodyweight Exercises for Chest
The absolute best body weight exercises for the chest are very easy to name:
- Push Ups
I have listed a huge number of variations of those chest exercises too right here on this page.
You really won't need another exercise movement to build an absolutely amazing chest.
Conclusion for Bodyweight Exercises
Body weight exercises include some of the top overall weight lifting exercises.
– Chin Up and Pull Up
– Push Up
– Inverted Row
– Handstand Push Ups
Any muscle building or weight lifting expert will immediately tell you that the exercises listed above are THE absolute best for building muscle and strength.
You just can't get any better than those bodyweight exercises.
The only BIG TIME exercise missing is the deadlift, but that's difficult to do without adding any weight. The deadlift moves both your body and the weight through space so it also works very well.
Those exercises hit each every one of the 11 major muscle groups very well.
If you need any help with this huge list of bodyweight exercises, just let me know. I am more than happy to help at any time. I wish you the best in your efforts! You can do this.