6 Simple Ways to Upgrade Your Bodyweight Workout

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The popularity of bodyweight exercises is increasing daily in the fitness world. Just this year, the U.S. News and World Report named bodyweight training as one of the top fitness trends for 2014. From convenient to efficient, bodyweight exercises are an effective way to build muscle and burn fat.

However, there are more ways to complete bodyweight moves than you may realize. The modifications below will help you build more muscle, burn more calories, create more balance, and build more symmetry in your body than you would have by just performing the standard exercise like a plank or a pushup. Add them to your next session to challenge yourself in new ways, without adding any equipment!

1. Pushup. Get in a pushup position. Lower body toward the floor. Press both hands into the floor, and as you begin to return to starting position, quickly extend right arm out in front of you until in becomes parallel with the floor. Quickly bring right hand back under body and perform another pushup to complete 1 rep. Repeat, lifting left arm. Continue, alternating for 8 to 12 reps or as how many you can in 30 seconds. (You can advance this move even more by keeping the opposite foot off the floor.)

2. Glute bridge. Lie faceup with knees bent and heels close to glutes. Draw right knee toward chest, hugging it against body. Contract core and raise hips off the floor until you form a straight line from shoulder to knees. Return to starting position, keeping hips slightly off the floor at their lowest point. Do 10 to 20 reps or as many as you can in 30 seconds, then switch knees to complete set.

3. Burpee. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands overhead. Contract core and slightly raise right foot off the floor. Lower into a single-leg squat, bring hands to the floor, and kick left leg back into a plank position with right foot off the floor. Quickly reverse direction back to a single-leg squat and jump up, driving right knee up. Do 8 to 12 reps or as many as you can for 30 seconds, then switch feet to complete set. 

4. Prone hamstring raise. Lie faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Contract core and extend right leg toward the ceiling. Extend hands out laterally with palms facing up. Drive hips upward. Do 8 to 12 reps or as many as you can for 30 seconds.

RELATED: A Bodyweight Move Better Than a Leg Press

5. Squat. Stand tall and lift right off the floor, raising knee to navel height. Contract core and lower hips as low as possible to the floor. Reverse direction. Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch feet to complete set.

6. Plank. Get in a plank position with feet hip-width apart and hands shoulder-width apart. Contract core and simultaneously lift right arm and left leg up toward the ceiling until they become parallel with the ground. Hold for 1 second, then return to starting position. Lift left arm and right leg. Continue, alternating, for 10 to 20 reps or 30 seconds.

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