Top 10 Bodyweight Exercises for Beginners

Your definitive ranking of the best body weight exercises from your friendly neighborhood fitness center!

Qualifier: Exercises are ranked according to their overall effectiveness in improving strength, conditioning, and overall functionality in your musculature.

10. Jumping Jack

Technique: Stand feet together, shoulders down and back, core engaged. Simultaneously hop spreading your feet to shoulder width and raise your arms overhead (like a standing snow angel) then return back to your starting position. Repeat with control and pace.

Purpose: Raise heart rate and agility in the lower body

9. Bridge

Instruction: Begin in sit up position lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Next raise your hips to parallel by press through your heels and create a straight line from your knee cap through your hips and to your shoulders.

Purpose: Strengthen glutes and hamstrings (back of legs) while staying neutral on the knees.

8. Heel Touches

Instruction: Begin in same position as Bridge (#9). Plant feet firmly into the floor but leave your hips on the mat/floor. Next squeeze your stomach and lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor. Once this is established, reach towards your left heel with your left hand. Then your right heel with your right hand. Your torso should be making a windshield wiper-like movement left to right. Stomach is tight throughout the movement, squeeze obliques (side stomach) on each shift.

Purpose: Core strength in rectus abdominus (6-pack muscles) and obliques (side stomach) and function with neutral low back. Great for clients with sciatic symptoms or any general low back pain.

7. Step Up

Instruction: Use stair, step, curb, or other elevated surface at least the height of half of your shin bone. Begin with good posture i.e. shoulders over hips and heels. Step up onto the elevated surface while maintaining posture, press through heel and put hips over the top heel. Step back down with control and switch feet.

Purpose: lower body strength and functionality.

6. Half Burpee

Instruction: Begin in a standing position in front of a bench, chair, or surface that is at least hip height. Bend down and place hands on that apparatus then either step back one foot at a time or hop back into a plank position. Next, hop or step back to the front and stand up to assume your starting position. Repeat with control and pace.

Purpose: Raise heart rate and agility in the lower body.

5. Plank

Instruction: Begin face down on the floor with elbows underneath shoulders and hips slightly above parallel with core and lower body engaged. Your 2 points of contact with the floor should be your forearms (or hands) and the balls of your feet. Hold position with tight stomach and shoulders engaged.

Purpose: Core strength and anterior (front) hip stability.

4. Seated Knee Raise

Instruction: Begin seated in a chair, on a bench, etc. Lean back until you feel your stomach tighten (abs engage). Once there, either raise one knee at a time or both knees simultaneously while maintaining intensity in your core.

Purpose: Strengthen front core and hip flexors.

3. Inverted Row (Ring Row)

Instruction: Requires either TRX, Olympic rings, or other inversion tool on a pull up bar or some other sturdy structure. Begin with one apparatus in each hand. While maintaining full control of your body weight, slowly lean back and walk your feet forward. You should be in what looks like a reverse plank position. Next, pull against your body weight and squeeze the muscles in between you shoulder blades. Extend to start position and repeat.

Purpose: Muscular strength and conditioning in back muscles, biceps, and posterior deltoids (rear shoulders).

2. Push Up

Instruction: Begin in plank position. Allow chest to lower to the floor while keeping your elbows at a 45 degree angle and pointing straight up. Next, push hard into the floor using chest and some front shoulder while body position remains constant. Keep hips over parallel and body straight.

Purpose: Strengthen front side upper body - chest, anterior deltoid (front shoulder), and triceps. Maintaining plank position helps to strengthen core.







and the NUMBER 1 body weight exercise according to this blog post is......








1. Squat (duh)

Starting Instruction: Begin in standing position with feet slightly wider than shoulder width - stance width will change based on anatomy (length of femur) - and shoulders and hips above heels. The first movement should be in the hips. Shoot the hips back and bend the knees slightly letting them track over the toes. Keep knees neutral but let your hips continue down right to or just past your knees.

Finishing Instruction: While keep even weight distribution in your feet, press through your heels and drive your hips forward. Finish by squeezing glutes at the top and keeping your core engaged. Repeat.

Purpose: Overall strength and conditioning. More specifically lower body but squats are the best exercise for overall body control.


For exercise guidance and more contact me at 251-751-3043 or go to the PERSONAL APPOINTMENTS page to book a session or a free orientation!


See everyone next week!

Thanks for reading!


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