The Top 5 Body Weight Exercises

Over the last decade or so, body weight training has become significantly less popular. For example, next time you go to the gym, count the amount of people doing some type of body weight exercise. You could probably count all of them on just one hand. Try it!

Every exercise whether it is weighted or not, comes with progressions and regressions. Whether you are a beginner who just begun training, or you are an athlete who has been lifting for over 10 years, everyone can benefit from body weight training.

These are my top 5 body weight exercises:

1.) Lunge variation

The lunge is one of the most important exercises someone can do for improving unilateral strength, correcting muscle imbalances and even to improve your balance.

Progression: Bulgarian split squat with rear foot on bench

Regression: Body weight reverse lunge

2.) Plank

Some people swear the plank is the best exercise known to man and they just might have a point. Their are too many benefits to name all of them but some of the major ones are: improved overall core strength, reduced low back pain and improved posture. Not many other exercises will produce those benefits!

Progression: Side Plank

Regression: Push-up hold

3.) Push-up

I think we all know that this one was coming eventually, but it 100% deserves to be on this list. The push-up should be a staple in everyone’s training program. For some people, performing the bench press hurts their shoulders, elbows or even wrists. The push-up is a great alternative and can provide just as much bang for your buck. But don’t get me wrong, it is definitely still fun to throw some weight around on the bench press once in awhile.

Progression: Feet elevated on a bench or band resisted push ups

Regression: Push up on knees or hands on a bench

4.) Squat

Nowadays, you will rarely ever see someone performing a body weight squat, which is actually very sad to say. I say this because most people are either not ready to add weight or their technique isn’t quite there yet. It is possible to build strength without adding any external weight, just ditch your ego.

Progression: Squat jump

Regression: Box squat or TRX squat

5.) Pullups

The KING of body weight training! I claim this to be the KING because it simply is the hardest of all of them to perform. For most people, it takes quite some time to build up to their first pull-up and it should because it definitely is not easy. Out of all these 5 exercises, I would have to say that this one requires the most practice to perfect the technique. It is RARE that I ever see someone perform a good looking pull-up. Usually you will either see them swinging their body to use momentum, jumping off the ground to get above the bar or something like that. Here are my steps to performing a perfect pull-up: 1) grab onto the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. 2) Retract scapula and engage the lats 3) Pull yourself up while maintaining a retracted scapula 4) Lower yourself in a controlled manner. Simple, right? No, not simple at all actually.

Progression: Controlled eccentric pullups

Regression: Band assisted pull-up

Published by Jonathan Valentini,

B.A. Exercise Science, Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach, Former NCAA athlete, CSCS, CSAC, CPR/AED

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