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Best Body Weight ExercisesThe coronavirus pandemic shutdowns have forced many of us to be creative when it comes to staying active when we don’t have access to the gym. If you have home fitness equipment – whether it’s a cardio or strength – then keep using it regularly.

And if you don’t have indoor fitness equipment, you can run, walk, bike, hike, inline skate, swim, do yoga and Pilates, play tennis or pickleball, and participate in online workouts that don’t require accessories.

For strength training, the best results typically occur when you overload muscles with additional weight using dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, kettlebells and more. However, using your body weight alone is also an effective way to maintain or improve your fitness level.

These can complement your cardio routine or serve as stand-alone workouts. With body weight moves, focus on your form, using slow, controlled motion through a large range. The slower you move, or the longer you hold a position, the more challenging it is.

Complete 10-15 reps of each exercise for 2 to 3 sets for an efficient, total-body routine. Here are some of the best body weight exercises:

Best Body Weight Exercises

  1. Squats – With feet hip-distance apart and weight in heels, sit back and down until hips are just above or parallel with the knees. Place your hands at your hips or extend your arms up by the ears as you squat. Variations include uneven squats, with one foot elevated on a step and one on the ground; single leg (pistol) squats with one leg extended forward off the ground; squats with alternating abduction or knee lifts; and plies, with toes turned out wide. Add more movement with side squats, squat jumps or low pulse squats.
  2. Lunges – Standing with one foot forward and the other a wide step back, drop into a lunge without letting your front knee go beyond your toes. Arms can be down at your sides or in a biceps curl, lateral raise or overhead press. Other options include alternating forward or rear lunges, side lunges, curtsy lunges, lunges with torso rotation and power (jump) lunges.
  3. Deadlifts – Standing with feet together, hinge forward from the hips with a flat back and arms hanging down in front. Reach below your knees if you can, then keeping the core engaged and the spine lengthened, lift upright. You also can do this move with one foot elevated (with an optional hip extension), balancing on the other foot.
  4. Push-ups – On the knees or toes with feet together, and hands wider than the chest, pull navel to spine and lower torso and hips in a straight line. Push back up to start position. Variations include triceps push-ups with hands closer together, decline push-up with feet elevated or offset push-up where one hand has fingers forward and other hand has fingers turned in towards midline.
  5. Hip-thrusts – Lying on your back with feet about hip-width apart and arms down on the ground at your sides, squeeze glutes and lift hips up; pause and slowly lower to hover above ground. You can also do with one leg extended up, perpendicular to the ground.
  6. Planks – With hands under shoulders and feet together (or on knees), pull navel to spine and hold. Options include lowering to the forearms, performing knee drops or leg extensions, pulling the knees to the same side elbow (spider plank) or side planks.
  7. V-ups – Lying on your back with arms overhead, contract your core and raise torso and legs up to form a ‘v’ shape with body; pause and lower. Modify by doing one leg at a time.