No equipment? No problem. These upper and lower body exercises will help you build muscle and gain strength.
Many athletes think that they need certain equipment like barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and strongman equipment to get stronger. Fortunately for you that’s not entirely true. The fact is, your body weight is the most accessible piece of equipment you have and bodyweight exercises are actually a great tool to build muscle.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the physique of a gymnast. These athletes have the best bodies of any athletes on the planet. They spend countless hours each day practicing bodyweight exercises and are living proof of how powerful bodyweight exercises can be.
Here are a few of the benefits of bodyweight exercises:
While bodyweight exercises are extremely effective for beginners, intermediates, and advanced athletes we’re going to focused on the upper end of the spectrum. Below you’ll find my top 8 advanced bodyweight exercises, many of which you’ve probably never seen or tried before. Give them all a shot and, if you can finish them, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
1. Handstand Push-ups
If you attempt this exercise in a Globo Gym, expect to get some weird looks and possibly get kicked out. Handstand push-ups are the best bodyweight exercise to improve shoulder strength and size and also require a ton of core and shoulder stability. Before you attempt a full handstand push-up start with an isometric hold and progress to mini reps against a wall. When you have that down, eventually progress into full range of motion push-ups.
2. 1 Arm Push-ups
1 Arm push-ups are a very challenging upper body exercise that will also improve shoulder and core stability as well as target the chest, shoulders and triceps. Start with a wide base of support with your feet. As you get better at them, move your feet closer together in order to increase difficulty.
3. Plyo Push-ups
While you may have seen these before, plyo push-ups are the ultimate way to build a powerful and explosive upper body. This is extremely beneficial to contact athletes like football players, hockey players as well as combative sports. For those interested in lifting heavy weights, plyo push-ups are an excellent way to improve your bench press because they will help you produce more force to the bar. Below is the most advanced plyo push-up variation I've witnessed:
Pistols are the ultimate bodyweight exercise for the lower body. They require a ton of balance, coordination, strength and they train just about every muscle in the lower body. Be sure to take your time with this exercise and as it is the most challenging lower body bodyweight exercise. Check out this video from Ben Bruno out (who is possibly the strongest man on one leg I have ever seen!).
5. Muscle Ups
This is one of the tougher exercises on this list. Don't attempt this exercise unless you can do a minimum of 20 pull-ups. Often times, it isn't that somebody isn't strong enough to do it, but the technique is off. A few simple changes to your technique can make the difference doing a muscle up and missing it. Check out the video below where I share some tips on how to do a muscle up.
6. 1 Hand Pull-up
1 hand pull-ups are a great way to iron out asymmetries from side to side. This advanced exercise is a great way to strengthen the pulling muscles. Only attempt 1 arm pull-ups once you can do 15-20 reps of pull-ups. Check out these videos from Mike Guadango that should give you a better sense of how it's done.
7. Plyo Pull-ups
Plyo pull-ups are a great way to improve explosive pulling power. Perform them early in your workout before fatigue sets in. Before you attempt this advanced version, make sure you can do at least 15 pull-ups.
8. Single Leg Hip Thrust
Hip thrusts are one of the top ways to improve strength in the posterior chain and improve hip stability as well as overcome muscular imbalances in the lower half. Unlike many other single leg exercises like lunges, step-ups, and split squats, single leg hip thrusts are hip dominant and extremely challenging. Check out this video from Bret Contreras:
There you have it, my top 8 advanced bodyweight exercises. If you’ve been neglecting bodyweight exercises because you think they’re "too easy", try some of these exercises out and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. The problem most people run into with bodyweight training is they never progress or they progress too fast. If you can do 10+ reps of any exercise, it is time to step it up and move on to a harder exercise. Always start with multiple sets of super low reps. If you want to see improvement in your ability to handle your own bodyweight, gradually increase the volume overtime. Got questions? Drop a comment below to get the ball rolling.
If you're looking to build muscle, gain strength, and get cut, 1R would recommend the following supplements along with the bodyweight exercises above: