6 challenging bodyweight exercises for a full-body home workout
One of the best things we can do for both our mental and physical health during lockdown is to get our bodies moving. Even though for many of us, light exercise such as a simple walk outside can do just the trick to get our heads feeling clearer and bodies refreshed some days, others days there is no doubt that many will still be seriously missing those more hardcore sweat sessions we loved back in our beloved gyms post-lockdown.
Remember, having no gym and no equipment does not have to mean this is the end for your exercise regime – we just need to adapt! Now is a great time to reinvent the way we see fitness and our personal routines.
While it is important more to have balance in our life and listen to our body and mind when they don’t feel up to exercise, recognise that getting moving can also most certainly be the thing that transforms you from being in a bad mood, into a good mood.
So with this in mind, why not pull out an exercise mat and give these exercises a go? No equipment is needed for these six spicy full-body moves…
1. JUMPING LUNGE
The jumping lunge is a great plyometric exercise to strengthen all the major muscle groups in your lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. If done properly and for long enough, this one will really get that heart rate up and add a nice cardiovascular element to your workout too – making it an ideal move to add into any HIIT or general circuit training that you might already be doing. Make sure you have mastered the basic lunge before attempting this one.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, chest wide and head facing forwards.
- Take a big step forward with the right foot and keep arms by your side.
- Transfer your weight into the right leg and lower until it is parallel with the floor and back knee is hovering. Now in a lunge position, keep the right knee tracking slightly outwards, in line with the right foot – make sure the knee does not cave inwards during this movement.
- Jump in an explosive movement upwards and quickly switch legs so that the left leg comes out in front of you and right leg comes behind – adopting the same position as before but now on opposite legs. Propel your arms into the air while you jump for extra momentum in the upwards movement.
- Gently land back to the ground with your left leg now in front and right leg behind.
- Repeat the movement.
2. PRESS UPS (NARROW INTO WIDE PRESS)
No doubt most people will have attempted a press up at some point in their life, but it is one of those moves, nine times out of ten, that a lot of us could do with checking back in our form to make sure we’re getting the most out of this fundamental upper body exercise. This fun variation of the press up switches between a narrow and wide hand positioning, really helping burn out those triceps, pectorals and shoulders!
- Begin in a prone position on the floor with your hands under you and in-line with your shoulders. Hands are placed narrow distance apart – closer to each other than shoulder width.
- Core is braced and glutes activated to keep a straight line from heels all the way to your head as you take a big breath in and lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest is an inch or two above the ground – elbows are tucked in towards your torso throughout.
- Exhale and push your torso away from the ground back into starting position. Now, quickly move your left hand wider, pivoting from your toes out to the left, so that hands are now directly below the shoulders.
- Repeat a press movement again and when back at the top, move hands back into a narrow stance and press up and down again.
- For the next press, move your right hand slightly wider, so that hands are again directly below shoulders. Press up and down, and once at the top, move back into a narrow hand position.
- Keep repeating this sequence – changing from narrow to wide presses – alternating between moving the left and the right-hand positions.
3. BACK WIDOW
Our back has some of the most difficult muscle groups in the body to target at home without equipment. But, no sweat! This exercise, in particular, will help to strengthen the traps and rhomboids, which can help achieve better posture if you’ve been sitting on the sofa or at a desk a lot at home during lockdown.
- Lie down on your back with arms by your side.
- Bend elbows with clenched fists facing directly upwards towards the sky and elbows placed just below shoulder height.
- Drive your elbows into the floor, squeezing shoulder blades towards each other and raise your upper back off the floor – making sure you keep your chin tucked in and jaw relaxed.
- Squeeze and hold in the upper part of this movement for 2 seconds before you lower your upper back slowly to the floor into your starting position.
- Repeat the movement.
4. ROLLING SQUAT
This intermediate variation of the classic squat is not only perfect to work your cardiovascular fitness, but will help strengthen the lower body muscles, including your quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes – with the added benefit of pushing the abdominals more than you would with your standard squat. The move also helps improve balance and mobility in your hips, knees and ankles.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides and start to bend your knees and hips – weight staying in the hips and knees tracking slightly outwards, in-line with the feet until your bum is lowered down behind your heels onto the ground.
- Begin to roll from your bum back towards your shoulders keeping your core muscles firm and stable throughout, with knees tucked towards your chest.
- Keeping the momentum, roll back in the opposite direction until you are back onto your feet again.
- Now in a squat position, quickly jump in an explosive movement up into the air, propelling your arms upwards and clapping them together above your head at the peak of the jump. As gravity brings you back towards the ground, begin to bend at the hips and knees to soften the impact and this will take you back into a squat position.
- Repeat this movement straight from the squat position.
5. PIKE PRESS
This exercise is harder than it looks, but this all hinges on making sure you’re doing it properly! If it feels easy, then you may need to check back in with the steps. The pike press will help build shoulder strength, whist targeting the arms and chest too. Not to mention, it will also improve core, shoulder and pelvic stability whilst you balance your weight.
- Start in a press-up position with your hands below your shoulders.
- Begin to walk your feet towards your shoulders by bending at the waist, lifting your heels off the floor onto your toes and sending your bum into the air – make sure you keep your spine neutral and legs straight, taking your body into an upsidedown V-shape.
- Now with your shoulders stacked above the hands and head, inhale and start bending at your elbows – keeping them tucked in towards the torso. Lowering your head towards the floor in a controlled movement, you will start to make a tripod shape with the head and hands. You want to imagine you’re trying to send your hips over your shoulders, which of course you won’t be able to do, but this is just to encourage you to keep your weight into the hand and sending the body over so that you really feel it working the shoulders and triceps.
- Gently lower until your head to just an inch above the ground, hold for 2 seconds, and push back up explosively to the start position.
- Repeat the movement.
6. PLANK ROTATIONS
Powered by the core muscles, this particular variation of the popular plank move will help strengthen your abdominals, targeting them from several different directions and engaging the lower, upper and lateral abdominals – also helping strengthen the shoulders, quads, lower back and triceps. This exercise will also help improve balance, stability and endurance.
- Get into a high plank position by placing your hands on the ground beneath your shoulders and lifting hips and knees off the floor, creating a straight line from your head to your toes – legs are approximately shoulder-width apart. Really tighten the abdominals and glutes to solidify your plank – you want these muscles engaged enough that if you were to imagine someone was trying to push you over whilst in this position that you can easily stay solid and still in your stance.
- Now, exhale and rotate right through your entire torso by pivoting off the toes and sides of the heels moving towards the ground as you send your right hand up towards the sky, taking your gaze towards that right hand – core and glutes remain solid throughout this movement.
- Hold at the top of the position for two seconds, and then breath in as you slowly rotate the body back to your starting position.
- Repeat this same movement on your left-hand side, and carry on repeating the exercise evenly on both sides for the desired number of reps.
There are many ways you can put these moves together to create a full workout. Perhaps you may want to just slip a few of these into your current routine, or if you’re lost for inspiration, why not do these moves as a circuit? Not only is this super time-efficient, but it will also help you improve your cardiovascular health as well as challenging your muscular endurance and strength.
Try this: Three (or four, if you’re feeling up to it) rounds in total, with 45 seconds active on each move, 15 seconds rest in between each set and a one-minute breather after each circuit.
Remember to start with a five-minute warm-up – for example, sets of simple bodyweight movements such as walk-outs, air squats and chest-openers to begin, and raising your heart rate with some quick feet on-the-spot and high knees. Finish the workout off with a lighter cooldown, stretching the muscles and easing the body back into a pre-workout state. You can check on my Instagram for further ideas on warm up and cooldown exercises. Enjoy and good luck!