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Burn Fat and Build Muscle with Bodyweight Only

Updated on April 12, 2015

Joint Rotations

With bodyweight exercises, you can always find the space and time to exercise. Here is a bodyweight workout that is sure to get your body feeling energized, connected, strong, and agile! A good bodyweight workout does all of this and more.

To get started, check out the video to the right for a great routine for warming up your joints. Rotathe your neck, move it side-to-side, than work down to your shoulders, and all the way down through your hips to your ankles. 

Leg Thread Exercise

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Functional Training Illustrated
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Functional Training Illustrated
Want an easy to understand book on functional training? This is it. With clear illustrations and expert advice, it's a no-brainer.

Next, move on to the following routine, which is going to be an energizing upper and lower body workout:

  • Swinging arms squats, quarter depth: x20 Squat down to quarter depth, swinging your arms back as you do. As you come up, let the arms naturally swing upward.
  • Full squats, overhead arms: x20 Squat to full depth, bringing your arms overhead as you go down, and keeping them up until the move is completed.
  • Hip Bridge: x10 Roll to your back, extend and spread your legs slightly more than shoulder width apart, and with your feet flat on the floor, and your torso rigid, press up with your hips. Make sure the upper body rests on the shoulders, and the head is relaxed.

Roll over and immediately begin:

Repeat this routine for three rounds, and increase the repetitions as you become better at the movements. Follow the video sidebar for excellent instruction on the Leg Thread exercise.

Bear crawling against resistance.
Bear crawling against resistance. | Source
Great example of the spider walk
Great example of the spider walk | Source
Crab walk; she is moving side to side but forward and backwards is ok too...
Crab walk; she is moving side to side but forward and backwards is ok too... | Source

Animal Training

The second set of bodyweight exercises require a large enough space to crawl or hop in for a little distance. The ideal spot is a long hallway, an outdoor park or field, or the beach. Measure off a distance and do the following exercises back-to-back.

As with the previous workout, once you get the movement patterns memorized, aim for as many 'laps' as possible in a three to five minute round. Start off with three rounds and work up from there. One lap is a round trip of the measured distance you've marked off.

  • Bear Crawl:

Start the movement bending down to place your hands on the ground. Begin the exercise by moving one hand and then the opposite foot forward, and as they say, just keep putting one hand, and foot, in front of the other.

  • Crab Crawl:

In a seated position, support your body on your hands and lift your hips off the ground. This is not a bridge, they just need to be high enough to allow you to walk backwards on your hands, with your feet stepping gingerly in front for support. Your fingers should be pointed toward your body, with the weight supported on the palms. For a greater challenge, raise the hips higher.

  • Spider Walk:

Start in a push-up position. Begin the movement by reaching one arm forward and the opposite leg simultaneously. Move the whole body by repeating this on the other side. The key to the spider walk is keeping the body as horizontal as possible (butt down,) bringing the bent leg up along your side, not under your body.

After a round or two of animal walks, the triceps, shoulders and pecs should be burning and three 3 minute rounds may be enough for the day! These are great exercises though, so stay with it and they will get easier. Soon it will be time to add a 40 lb. vest!

Even though these programs only use your bodyweight, be sure to execute the movements with perfect form. Move at a slow pace until the exercise become second nature. Then time yourself for three minute rounds and do as many repetitions as possible in the allotted time.

Once you become proficient at these basic animal movements, expand your movement library with some of the following:

Alligator Walk

Monkey Walk

Watch the instruction in the first part of the video at right to see this move in action. Keep your feet and hands in line as much as possible. Move slowly and deliberately at first.

Alligator Walk

An intense bodyweight exercise for the upper body. Maintain a tight core!

Flying Squirrel Pushup

An advanced move that requires explosive pushup power! You can do these by exploding out of the pushup and flinging your arms and legs out as if you were in a squirrel suit, then landing back in pushup position. These are also known as Superman Pushups.

To gather enough momentum for to explode off the ground, try doing a 'primer' pushup in-between repetitions.

This movement is also done with 180 degree turns or a 360 degree spin for very advanced practitioners.

No matter how you do it, this is a serious bodyweight exercise for developing explosive power and body control.

It's always a good idea to work up to these advanced exercises slowly to avoid injury and the resulting setbacks. Incorporate a handful of reps once or twice a week to start.

Use progressions to get to the full range of the movement. Try starting with clapping pushups to the front, then working up to behind-the-back clapping. Then start moving your arms out to your sides or all the way in front of you, and finally, propel the whole body off the ground, a little higher each week.

Even when exploding off the ground, use perfect form! Have fun and keep excelling.


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