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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

25 Creative Bodyweight Exercises

No access to a gym? Confined to a smaller space? Give these best bodyweight exercises a go anytime and virtually anywhere!

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No access to a gym? Confined to a smaller space? If you find yourself stuck in this corner but itching for a workout, it is time to get creative.

Implement these best bodyweight exercises anytime and virtually anywhere!

25 Creative Bodyweight Exercises

1. Invisible Jump Rope

Jump rope required? No. Imagination encouraged? Absolutely.

Simply hop over an invisible jump rope by gently jumping from the toes, along with mimicking the twist of the wrist much like flicking the rope.

2. Jump Squats

Jump squats help strengthen the lower body while encouraging calorie burn related to the powerful, explosive movements it ignites.

Get to jumpin' by ducking down into regular squat position with feet shoulder-width apart, engaging the core, and jumping explosively. Land as controlled as possible and lower the body back to the squat position for one rep.

3. Tuck Jumps

Continue jumping to fitness with the tuck jump!

Stand comfortably with a slight bend in the knees. Place hands out in front of you, palms facing down, with fingertips together at chest level. Drop to a modest squat and explode upward, in which the knees should attempt to touch the palms. Try to land lightly then jump back up.

4. Yoga Squats

Namaste meets bodyweight exercise with the yoga squat, or better known as malasana in the yogi world.

Stand tall, with toes pointed out, and spread feet shoulder distance, or enough to where the pelvis can be dropped as low as possible. Bend the knees in which the pelvis is significantly dropped and the knees are spread open. Press the elbows into the knees, stretching the hips while keeping a strong core and posture. Hold pose as long as possible.

5. Crab Walk

This bodyweight exercise is sure to prevent from a crabby mood!

Sit with the feet and hands on the ground, then raise the hips and chest to the ceiling. While balancing weight on the palms of the hands and legs, start to walk backwards. Reverse the movement by walking forward and returning to the starting position.

6. Bear Crawl

Break out of that workout hibernation and crawl like a bear!

Simply get down on all fours with the arms straight and hands below the shoulders. Bending the knees at a 90° angle and keeping the back flat, walk forward and backward in unison (right hand and left foot, left hand and right foot) on the hands and toes.

7. Skaters

A cardiovascular and leg strengthening exercise without skates needed!

Start in a semi-squat position and leap sideways to land on the right foot. Immediately push off in the opposite direction and land on your left foot. Make sure you perform these continuously and in a swift manner.

8. Inchworm

While the inchworm may not appear as intense as some of the other bodyweight exercises, it works the entire body and pace can be adjusted as preferred.

Standing with the feet hip-width apart and planted, bend from the hips and place hands on the ground in front of you. Start walking the hands forward while keeping the legs straight. Once arrived in a plank, walk the hands back to the feet, stand tall, and stretch the arms to the ceiling. Repeat to keep inching.

9. Planks

Since planks do not demand much active movement, they are extremely effective in targeting core muscles with limited space.

Start by getting into plank form (similar to a push-up) with wrists under the shoulders and feet hip-width apart. The entire body should form a stable, straight line. Activate the core by contracting the ab muscles and assume the position as long as you can.

10. Plank Shoulder Taps

Do not give this bodyweight exercise the cold shoulder, as they are sure to provide that muscle burn!

Start in the plank position then touch left shoulder with right hand. Return to plank position then touch right shoulder with left hand. Continue alternating sides.

11. Plank Jacks

Planks meet jumping jacks for quite the strength-building, heart-revving bodyweight exercise!

Start a plank jack by getting into plank form, with elbows bent rather than stabilizing on your hands. Activate your core by contracting the ab muscles. The entire body should form a stable, straight line. While keeping the upper body tight, jump the feet outward as if you were doing a normal jumping jack. For a modified plank jack, step one foot in and out at a time. Return feet to the starting position, or the common plank, for one rep.

12. Butt Kicks

This stationary exercise will kick your butt… Literally.

Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and arms bent at the sides. Flex left knee and kick left heel to the glutes. Bring left foot down while simultaneously flexing right knee and kicking right heel towards the glutes. Swing arms as if you were running in place.

13. Marching Glute Bridges

March to fitness with this twist on a standard glute bridge.

Lying with the face and chest upward, lift the hips to the ceiling with the feet remaining flat on the floor. While holding the bridge, lift the right knee toward the chest until the hip reaches a 90° angle. Return to the starting position then left the left knee. This is one rep.

14. Mountain Climbers

Climb to your goals with this exercise commonly incorporated into a bodyweight workout!

Assume a pushup position with arms completely straight onto the floor, in which the body should form a straight line from the head to ankles. Tighten the core and hold it that way for the duration of the exercise. Lift one foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can without changing your lower-back posture. Repeat with other leg and alternate back and forth for 30 seconds. Place hands on the floor or on a bench for a modified version.

15. Pushups

While pushups may not be so original, they are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises in the book. Besides, they can be virtually completed anywhere and come in numerous variations for all fitness levels that may be a little more creative!

Start by getting down on all fours, with hands flat on the ground and slightly wider than shoulders. Extend the feet behind you, straighten the legs, and slightly bend at the elbows. While keeping the core tight and back straight, lower yourself to the ground. Pause at the bottom then push yourself back up. Repeat.

16. Flutter Kicks

Fly like a butterfly, kick like a fitness beast! These flutter kicks are excelling for targeting the core.

Lie faceup on your back with navel pulled toward spine. You can slide both hands under the curve of low back for added support. Using your core, lift both feet 3 to 4 inches off the ground and kick feet up and down several inches, keeping core engaged throughout. If you feel any discomfort in your low back, skip this exercise.

17. Donkey Kicks

With a mat or softer surface, get on all fours with the hands flat. Keep the right knee at a 90° angle and lift into the air, keeping the toe pointed to the ceiling and shoulders and knees forming a straight line. Return to the starting position for one rep. Alternate between legs.

18. Donkey Whips

Like the bodyweight exercise above, but with a donkey whip!

Get in starting position of the donkey kick, but as the leg extends behind you, swing it from side to center for set number of reps then repeat with other leg.

19. Bird Dogs

While the bird dog may be challenging, tackling and refining the bodyweight exercise is sure to improve balance, postural muscles in the back, and the shoulder strength.

Start by getting into all fours like the donkey kick. While extending out the right leg, reach out forward with the left arm. Return back to starting position then extend the left leg and right arm.

20. High Kicks

Kick your way to a high and mighty, stronger lower body!

Standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart, kick one leg as high as possible in a swift motion. Return to starting position repeat with other leg, and continue alternating legs.

21. Doorway Rows

This bodyweight exercise is perfect for those devoted to both their work in the office and in the gym!

Grasp the frame of a study doorway with one arm. While holding on, slowly sit back into an upright, seated position. Once resistance is present in the arm, pull the body into the doorframe for one back. Repeat with the same arm then move to the other after a set is completed.

22. Wall Sits

Whether working in the office or while cooking in the kitchen, wall sits can be completed just about anywhere bearing a structured wall. They are excellent at targeting the lower body while being low-impact and not requiring full range of motion.

Lean and slide the back down a cleared wall until the hips and knees reach a 90° angle. Keep the shoulders, upper back, and back of the head flat against the wall while evenly distributing weight throughout both feet. Hold for 20 seconds, or as long as you are able to while sustaining a sturdy position.

23. Windshield Wipers

Clean up your fitness repertoire with one of the best bodyweight exercises to target the core.

Lie on the back, raise the legs to a 90° angle, and spread arms out straight to the side for support. Rotate legs from side-to-side as a "windshield wiper," stopping short of touching the floor. Increase difficulty level by bringing arms closer to the body to reduce added support.

24. Bicycle Crunches

(No bicycle required!)

Start by lying with the back flat on the ground and the shoulders and head slightly lifted. Place hands on the sides of your head and lift and extend right leg from the ground. Lift and bend the left leg so that the knee moves toward the chest, while naturally bringing the right arm to the knee. Lower the left leg to the ground, twist the torso, and repeat motion with the right leg and left elbow. Place the focus on the rotation and contraction of the core.

25. Superman

This exercise is a super way to strengthen both the core and lower back (and maybe gain superpowers in the process)!

Lie face down with arm and legs extended. While keeping the torso still, raise the arms and legs to form a gentle curve then lower back down for one rep.

Example Bodyweight Workout

For the bodyweight workout detailed below, complete exercises 1 through 6 for 30 seconds each and rest for 30 seconds in between. Go through the list of exercises two or three times:

1. Flutter Kicks (30 seconds)
Rest (15 seconds)

2. High Knees (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

3. Plank Shoulder Taps (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

4. Skaters (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

5. Butt Kicks (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

6. Windshield Wipers (30 seconds)
Rest (30 seconds)

Feel free to shake up your workout routine! Simply select from the list of exercises and complete for a designated time or for a number of sets and reps.

Also have fun experimenting with movements if a new creative exercise comes to mind. The most important is not how you choose to get active, just that you are!

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on January 23, 2019.

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