8 Challenging Bodyweight Exercises for When You Can’t Hit the Gym

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Many people love going to the gym, spending hours each week making use of the abundant collection of weights and equipment. Others prefer to build their own fully equipped gyms, investing in dumbbells and other gear to replicate the experience at home.

But those aren’t your only options.

If your membership has grown dusty with neglect (or never existed to begin with), and you don’t have the extra money or time to purchase your own fitness equipment, you have everything you need to get a full-body workout in the comfort and privacy of home—and you’re already carrying it everywhere you go.

With bodyweight exercises, you can work all of the major muscle groups without a single piece of gear. If you don't have the time or interest to go to the gym, these exercises allow you to still get a challenging and intense workout. Best of all, you can do them anywhere—from your living room floor to a hotel room to your backyard.

Certified Fitness Trainer Trudie German, founder of Body Envy, shares these eight effective moves that use your own body resistance to build strength, balance and flexibility, while burning calories and raising your heart rate. Just grab an exercise mat, your favorite playlist and get started! (And go ahead and wear your pajamas, we won’t tell.)

As these exercises engage the entire body, you will feel the benefits everywhere, but each one targets specific muscles.

“For a full-body workout, it’s best to do the same number of reps for each exercise, but it’s fine to cut down the number of reps until you can do the move comfortably [and correctly],” German notes. “For an optimal workout, each exercise should take 20 seconds with a rest of 15 seconds, repeating [one to] three times.”


Target muscles: Glutes, hamstrings
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lower into a squat position.
  3. Jump up, then kick your legs back into a plank position.
  4. Step or jump back up to the starting position.


Jump Squats

Target muscles: Abs, quads
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lower into a squat position, engage your core and jump up explosively.
  3. Land lightly and move back into the squat position.


Mountain Climber Crossovers

Target muscles: Glutes, hamstrings
  1. Start in a plank position with your hands and feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Bring your right knee across to the left side of your chest.
  3. Return and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides.


Pushups with Alternating Leg Up

Target muscles: Deltoids, pecs and triceps
  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart.
  2. Center one foot and lift the other leg up, keeping it straight.
  3. Move into a pushup, bending at the elbows and coming down 90 degrees, keeping your core tight and your extended leg straight.  
*Keep your spine straight and don't lock your elbow in the extended position.



Target muscles: Abs, obliques, shoulders
  1. Start in a push-up position.
  2. Contract your abdominals to keep your spine in a neutral position and prevent your glutes from sticking up or sagging down.
  3. Keep your back flat — picture your body as a long straight board.
  4. Hold for 30-60 seconds or as long as you can.


Lunge Hop

Target muscles: Calves, quads
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Step back with your right leg and lower into a lunge position. 
  3. With your core engaged, jump up explosively. Land back into a lunge position on the opposite side.



Target muscles: Glutes, abs
  1. Start with on your back on the ground with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent with arms at your sides.
  2. Push your hips up to the sky, keeping your core tight without arching your back, and then come back down to a hover, just above but not touching the ground.
  3. Extra credit: Squeeze and hold at the top for two seconds.


Plank Jacks

Target muscles: Deltoids, abs
  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet together.
  2. Hop your feet out, keeping the plank position intact, and then hop your feet back together.

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MUSICNUT 6/7/2019
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
DRAGONFLY631 6/7/2019
Thanks for the info Report
NANCYPAT1 5/4/2019
Great Report
PLATINUM755 4/29/2019
You have to build up to these...I'll keep them in visual sight! Report
PATRICIA-CR 4/29/2019
Awesome! I love when you show the exercise! Thank you so much. Report
LIS193 4/29/2019
Thanks Report
SPINECCO 4/29/2019
I incorporate a few of these in my body weight exercises. Great information. Report
PICKIE98 4/29/2019
I am only able to do two of them, ,, Report
ROBBIEY 4/29/2019
thanks Report
AZMOMXTWO 4/29/2019
once again thank you Report
PINKGLOW9 4/29/2019
Thanks for sharing. actually on my way to class this morning Report
FERRETLOVER1 4/29/2019
A little too challenging for me! Report
1CRAZYDOG 4/29/2019
OH yeah, definitely feel it after this work out. Report
LADYALYSE 4/29/2019
Thank you Report
MNABOY 4/3/2019
Thanks for sharing. Report
CECELW 3/30/2019
im 60 years old. This would not be my go to exercise. I thought they were tough when I was young! Report
PELESJEWEL 3/18/2019
Boom, this is it! Report
HOLLYM48 3/15/2019
Great article! Report
DWROBERGE 3/15/2019
fantastic article Report
Thank you! Awesome photos! I really appreciate them. I’m trying. Report
SHOAPIE 3/14/2019
Will try some of these and see how it goes. Report
LOSER05 3/14/2019
Thanks Report
_CYNDY55_ 3/13/2019
thanks Report
Awesome...thanks... Report
PICKIE98 3/13/2019
I am only able to do bridges.. Report
CECTARR 3/13/2019
Thanks Report
LIS193 3/13/2019
Thanks Report
SPINECCO 3/13/2019
Thanks for sharing. Report
ERIN_POSCH 3/13/2019
thank you Report
PINKGLOW9 3/13/2019
awesome beautiful Report
THINCPL2004 3/13/2019
Great article Report
AZMOMXTWO 3/13/2019
thank you Report
DMEYER4 3/13/2019
thanks Report
CLAYMACT 3/13/2019
Good for those not beginners. Holding the initial positions is good for beginners. When able to do that, move into the ending positions without the jumps. When able to do that, incorporate the jumps. Don't hurt yourself! Report
NEPTUNE1939 3/13/2019
ty Report
HMBROWN1 3/13/2019
I belong to a boot camp and these are all the types of exercises we do. So challenging! Report
FERRETLOVER1 3/13/2019
Thanks Report
ARTJAC 3/12/2019
DARCY-B 3/12/2019
This looks a little daunting today but I will try it! Report
Bridges and plank, push-ups too. Report
DEBVNE 3/12/2019
I also do regular body weight exercises. The ease and convenience is hard to beat, so is their effectiveness. Thanks for the pictures and descriptions they are most helpful. Report
MNABOY 3/10/2019
Thanks Report
RHOOK20047 3/10/2019
Great ideas thanks for sharing. Report
ROBBIEY 3/10/2019
thanks Report
KATHYJO56 3/10/2019
Thanks Report
NANCYPAT1 3/10/2019
Thank you Report
GABY1948 3/10/2019
thanks Report
GABY1948 3/10/2019
thanks Report
GABY1948 3/10/2019
thanks Report
ZRIE014 3/10/2019
thanks Report