5 Body Weight Exercises You Aren’t Doing

Don’t limit yourself to the same old push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. If your body weight routine needs a shot in the arm, these moves could be just the thing!

I’m an advocate of old school training but every now and than its nice to break away from your monotonous iron moving routine and use just body weight exercises, your imagination, and your environment. Its simplicity, minimal requirement of equipment, and freedom to perform these movements anywhere giving your training a change of pace. It is challenging especially if you are not accustomed to this art form and style of training.

While classic staples like squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and dips will never go out of style, there are several other exercises and variations that should also be included in your regimen if you wish to build incredible strength, power, and overall gains.

Are you up for the challenge? Have fun, and train HARD!

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  1. Bodyweight Skullcrusher

The traditional skullcrusher is a triceps extension exercise performed while lying on a bench and using external resistance such as a barbell or dumbbell. However, the rulebook goes out the proverbial window when you execute a bodyweight skullcrusher! This time, perform the same movement pattern, but use only your own body, leveraged against a horizontal bar. By employing this change, not only do you smash your triceps, but you also rock your abs, chest, shoulders and back, as you can no longer rely on the bench to provide stability.

body weight exercises

Start in a narrow-grip push-up position, arms shoulder-width apart or slightly closer, with your hands on a bar or other elevated surface. Keep your hands close together and your elbows pointed down to keep emphasis on the triceps. Bend only at the elbows—not the shoulders—and lower your upper body down until your forehead is between your hands. Press from the triceps, and push yourself back up. The lower the incline, the more challenging the exercise.

  1. Close-Grip Chin-Up

Detractors of bodyweight training sometimes claim there are no exercises that emphasize the biceps. I encourage them to try 3 sets of 15 close-grip chins and get back to me. You see, the underhand grip allows you to recruit your biceps to a greater degree, while the overhand grip places greater engagement on the muscles of your upper back—although both exercises definitely hit both the arms and lats. Furthermore, close-grip chin-ups are the perfect counterpart to skullcrushers, as the two moves emphasize antagonistic muscle groups while crushing the core. Combined, they work hand in hand for building a balanced, symmetrical upper body.

chin

Start in a narrow-grip push-up position, arms shoulder-width apart or slightly closer, with your hands on a bar or other elevated surface. Keep your hands close together and your elbows pointed down to keep emphasis on the triceps. Bend only at the elbows—not the shoulders—and lower your upper body down until your forehead is between your hands. Press from the triceps, and push yourself back up. The lower the incline, the more challenging the exercise.

  1. Shrimp Squat

You’re not strong if you don’t have strong legs—period. This is true for calisthenics and every other form of strength training. The shrimp squat, aka “skater squat,” is a unilateral leg exercise that is similar to a back lunge, but with one big difference. For this exercise, your rear foot is kept elevated rather than being placed on the ground. This simple change puts a serious muscular burden on one leg at a time, so make sure to train both sides evenly.

shrimp squat

Begin by standing on one foot with the opposite leg positioned behind you and bent at the knee. Slowly bend at the hip, knee, and ankle of the standing leg, and lower your back knee until it gently touches the ground. You will need to lean forward in order to maintain your balance at the bottom position. Now, press with the foot of your standing leg, and return to the top position.

 

It is recommended that you perform shrimp squats while grasping your elevated ankle with one hand, but it can also be done with both hands behind you. The latter variant places more weight on your heel and shifts the balance against your favor, making the exercise far more difficult. Shrimp squats also provide a deep stretch to the quadriceps and hip flexors of the rear leg, so take it slowly if you have flexibility issues.

  1. Single-Leg Bridge

Bridges are a fantastic—and underrated—means to that end. You may associate them more with yoga than strength training, but make no mistake: The single-leg bridge in particular builds spectacular strength in the posterior chain.

bridge

Begin your single-leg bridge by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms at your sides, palms down. Press your feet into the floor, raising your hips into the air as high as you can, squeezing at your glutes. Now, lift one foot straight above your hips with the elevated leg perpendicular to the ground. You will have to press extra hard with your grounded foot to keep your body up in the air. Be certain to train both sides evenly.

  1. Handstand Push-Up

Your shoulders get a legitimate workout from push-ups, pull-ups and planks. But when you perform handstand push-ups, you enter a new realm where the primary mover is now the shoulders.

pushup

Even people who can military press huge loads are often surprised when they attempt handstand push-ups. Like the bodyweight skullcrusher, the exclusion of a bench or other external stabilizer compels you to keep a tight body in order to brace and support yourself.

 

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