Focused on building lean muscle?
Both old-school bodybuilders and trending Youtube fitness queens tend to agree on this one point: few tools are more effective than body-weight resistance exercises.
Here are three quick reasons why:
- Two words: core strength. As in body-weight resistance exercises all work to stabilize the one area of the body most critical to your overall strength gains—your core. Developing a strong core enables you to avoid relying too much on your lower back, which in turn helps to prevent injury.
- Working with your own body weight also forces other, smaller stabilizer muscles besides your core to get in on the action, leading to greater overall body strength.
- Since body-weight resistance exercises like the ones below allow you to bypass the pricey gym equipment, convenience is also a key benefit to performing them.
Not to mention how these exercises can be performed just about anywhere, from the neighborhood park to your garage or office.
So now you’re probably wondering which particular exercises we recommend.
We got you covered.
Here are five of our best body-weight resistance exercises that are guaranteed to produce results in gym rats and novices alike.
1) (The Dreaded) Rope Climb.
When it comes to the degree of difficulty, our first entry ranks fairly high.
But don’t let that be any reason to avoid it.
This shoulder-blasting exercise should never be limited to high schoolers in musty school gyms laboring under the cruel tutelage of whistle-blowing taskmasters.
The equipment you’ll need to perform your rope climb is simple enough: one durable 10-20 ft. rope *bolted securely to the ceiling*.
(We also recommend chalking your hands in order to avoid rope burn and keeping plenty of padded mats handy for potential crash landings).
- Begin from either a seated or standing position.
- Get a secure grip on the rope.
- Lead with your shoulders and forearms as you pull yourself
skyward (maintaining a tight core throughout the entire process).
Finally—assuming that you reach the top—let yourself down gently in order to avoid rope burn.
Oh, and never stop breathing, because you would never want to pass out while 20 feet off the ground.
2) Glutes, glutes, glutes.
If pressed to boil down the goals of women as it relates to fitness (besides boosting their overall health/self-esteem) to just one phrase it would be this one: building a better booty.
Trust us, we get it, and we think this goal makes perfect sense!
But did you know that in order to achieve it you’ll need to incorporate exercises that involve moving your own body weight?
Youtube personality and fitness queen Heidi Somers demonstrates this in her helpful booty-building video.
While her video is a blend of body-weight resistance exercises, machines, and free weights, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the body-weight basics she goes over.
These tried-and-true staples include exercises like free squats, lunges, glute bridges, and many more.
Plus, Heidi has a perky attitude that’s kinda infectious.
Just remember to keep your back straight, your feet firmly (and flatly) planted, and your core tight to get the most out of these basic body-weight resistance exercises.
Pull-ups have been a fitness staple since the golden age of bodybuilding and if awards were being handed out for versatility, this exercise would win it.
That’s because you can develop just about any part of your upper body with these types of movements—it just depends on the grips and angles you use.
Want to isolate your biceps? Use an underhand grip and lead with your arms.
Looking to train upper back? Try an overhand grip instead.
You can even train those hard-to-hit serratus muscles (or the top part of your six pack) with pull-ups; all you need to do is throw a small towel over a pull-up bar, ball the bottom of it up in each fist, and pull.
4) Abs of… Pain! (The good kind though.)
Remember the emphasis we placed on core strength earlier? This quick ab workout video by Sami Bossert will help you build it.
Time for some abssss ⠀ ⠀ *Beginner modifications – keep knees bent for all moves ⠀ ⠀ 1. 10 reps ⠀ 2. 12 reps ⠀ 3. 15 reps each leg ⠀ 4. 10 full reps ⠀ 5. 8 reps each way ⠀ ⠀ Perform 1 set of 1-5 and then repeat 3-4 more times !! ⠀ ⠀ Always keep your stomach tight, pull it toward the floor, focus on keeping your lower back on the ground as much possible. Go slow with each rep. ⠀ ⠀ Enjoyyyyy everyone!! ☺️♥️⠀ ⠀ Outfit by @ptulaactive
In fact, Bossert—better known as @Leanmachine21 in Youtube circles— makes for a perfect example of the type of body control needed to perform grueling body-weight resistance exercises in general.
So pay attention.
Notice how she keeps her back and legs straight, and her movements smooth and controlled throughout the entire ab workout.
By watching this routine, as well as her many others, you’re sure to improve upon your lean muscle-building prospects.
We close things out with a classic mass building exercise—dips.
Another bodybuilding staple, this movement is versatile (it can be used to hit either your triceps or chest) and also requires more athleticism than it seems at first glance.
This is because to perform a proper dip, you need to coordinate both your upper and lower body, as multiple time Mr. Olympia champion Jay Cutler demonstrates here.
Note that you also have the option of performing triceps dips on a bench as personal trainer Michelle Trapp shows us here.
Just remember: To become a lean, mean, dipping machine you need to keep a tight grip for stability, rotate your shoulders to your side (in order to avoid a rotator cuff injury), and lead with either your chest or triceps—depending on which area you’re looking to target.
And if it starts to hurt—stop!