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Best Body Weight Exercises

Updated on September 29, 2009

Body Weight Exercises


I often hear people say, “I can’t get a good work-out without going to a gym.”

I disagree.  There are so many ways to get a good work-out without going to a gym.  You can turn everyday items into a weight that can be lifted.  However, in this article I will tell you how to get a great work-out without using any weights.

A little about my qualifications—I am a sergeant in the Army.  My everyday job is to teach and train soldiers.  One of the huge aspects of my job is getting these soldiers ready to face the rigors of combat through physical training. 

If you are looking for someone with a degree in physical therapy… sorry I don’t have one.  But in the end, who cares.  What I know and what I do is probably better than someone with a BS in physical education.  Yes I said BS; we all know what that means. 

There are two main areas to focus on when conducting a training session.  They are muscular strength and endurance, and cardio respiratory endurance.

If you are inclined to start a new “get in shape” regimen then you’ll want to start on a Monday.  The reason for this is that starting anything new on a Monday is ten times more likely to work in the long run, I.E you stick to a program more than if you started on any other day of the week.

On Monday we (the Army) run.  There is no specific reason other than the five day work week.  Cardio respiratory endurance should be done at least three days a week.  This is especially true if you desire to lose weight.  There are many facets associated with diet and exercise that I will discuss at length in future articles.  When you run you are training your leg muscles, your core, and your heart and lungs.  All of these work in unison to propel you forward.

Treadmill Vs Outdoor Running



Running on a treadmill inside your house is a quick and convenient way to get your cardio done.  You can easily increase your training heart rate (THR) by running on a treadmill.  Plus there are no bugs that could fly into your mouth and down your throat while running inside your house.  Yes, running on a treadmill is a great alternative to running outside.  In relation to above stated problem, (no gym) this only applies if you have already purchased a treadmill.  You do not need a treadmill though.

Running Outside

There is nothing on Earth greater than the feeling of the air swishing past you as you run down the street.  The freedom, the smells, and the sights can all be an inspiration to take to the streets and run.  First thing you need to do, depending on your goals is to map out the distance your course may be.  For example, if you want to run a mile—plot your course so your mile ends near your house, two, three, and four miles same thing.  You can run as much as you want to.  If you are already in poor shape and can’t run comfortably then power walk until you feel comfortable jogging, then take it to a run.  One thing you must be aware of is vehicles while running outside.  Cars and drivers can be hazardous to runners, so wear proper reflective gear so they can see you.

Other Cardio Methods

There are numerous ways to get a fantastic cardio work-out that can be fun and invigorating.  Of the many ways walking is one.  With walking though, if you’re going to choose this way pick a pace that actually elevates your heart rate.  Walking without a pace will just be a walk.  I suggest power walking.  If you remember the late 80’s and early 90’s old ladies and housewives use to power walk.  We all probably made fun of it but in reality power walking can be done rather easily.  It’s not so funny when you have a healthy life style, by the way you can sit back and have the last laugh.

Bicycling is another great cardio exercise that provides a feeling of freedom and accomplishment.  I hear people all the time cursing bicyclist and the way they take up the road.  If you plan on bicycling remember the shoulder is a great place to be. 

Jumping rope is a great work-out to increase stamina and speed.  Do this in a garage or somewhere else that is private and neighbors won’t see.  Nothing is funnier than seeing a grown man or woman jumping rope in the front yard or backyard for that matter.  If you do it privately, you can get pretty wild with it.  Jumping, double jumps, cross jumping and so forth.

Muscular Strength and Endurance


So you want to build muscle and think you have to lift heavy weights and take a bunch of supplements huh?  Wrong again.  You only need to devote some time to work-out.  Some of the best exercises are considered “body weight exercises”.  What this means is that you lift nothing but yourself.  Some examples of body weight exercises are the push-up, sit-up, and pull-up.  There are many that can be done.

The Push-up

The push-up is a standard exercise that activates the pectoral muscles, shoulder muscles, and the triceps muscles.  The beginning of this exercise is quite simple.  Place your hands on the floor with your thumbs pointing to each other, and then extend your body so your toes touch the ground and your body forms a straight line.  This position is the starting point and ending point for the exercise.  Step one from the start position, is to lower your body as a single unit until your upper arms are parallel with the ground.  If you don’t know what parallel is think of this =.  That is two parallel lines.  Step two is to return to the start position.  Once again you move your body as a single unit.  Do as many of these as you can in one set, rest for a minute, and then repeat.  The goal is to do three sets to failure.

Push Up 1

The Starting Position
The Starting Position

Push Up 2

The Down Position
The Down Position

The Sit-up


The sit-up is more difficult to do by yourself as you need your feet to be held.   The easiest holder for your feet is a couch.  A couch is generally heavy enough to hold your feet down.  You could also purchase a sit-up bar that attaches to a door for ten bucks at any local retailer.  The start position is you lay on your back, knees bent so your legs provide a 90 degree angle, feet under something heavy enough, and your hands behind your head.  You could vary this position by having your arms in front of you.  Some medical people believe having you hands behind your head for a sit-up cause’s neck strain.  I have to disagree with these medical professional’s because—you shouldn’t be pulling your head forward, that’s improper form (that would cause injury).  The exercise is counted when you raise your upper body off the floor so the base of your neck is above the base of your spine.  A good rule to go by on this is when your elbows touch and go a little beyond your knees.  The count of one can be given when you are back in the start position.  Once more do as many as you can (only resting in the up position) until you reach failure, rest for a minute, and then do another set.  The goal is to do three full sets to failure.

Sit Up 1

The Start Position
The Start Position

Sit Up 2

The Up Position
The Up Position

The Pull-up

The pull-up is probably the best body weight exercise for the back, shoulder, and arms out there. Most normal adults cannot do more than ten of these exercises. Doing a pull-up is pretty self explanatory. Just dangle from a bar in an overhand grip, and then pull yourself up so your chin is over the bar. You can also vary this exercise to have your head under the bar. Again, do this exercise to failure, rest for a minute, and knock out two more sets to failure.  The Iron Gym pull-up bar to the right is the best method to do pull-ups at home.  You can use this bar on any doorway quickly and easily, and you won't damage your walls, or door frame. 

Pull Up 1

The Start Position
The Start Position

Pull Up 2

The Up position
The Up position

In conclusion of this hub, with many more to follow, there are many more body-weight exercises that can be done. You can do these at any time you want. I personally like the body weight exercises over going to a gym to lift weights. The main reason is I am lazy and if I have to go to a gym to work-out…well, that’s just one more excuse I can give myself. “Oh, I don’t have the time. I’ll go tomorrow.”

My next hub will be about going to the gym.

Copyright 2009 by Wesley Cox


Hub number 2
Hub number 2


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    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice one:

      I now see how to start jumping a rope without drawing my neighbors attention.

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Terry, I generally do 3 to 5 sets of 40 repetitions for push-ups and sit-ups. The pull-ups I do 3 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions. The key is to do an amount that you get a burn with but are still able to maintain. Good Luck.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      this workout would be great for me but i am wondering how many you do of each one. if you could help with that answer i would appreciate it.

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Thank you for reading my hub and I agree, I enjoy body weight exercises more than weights and gyms.

    • profile image

      joe usmc 

      11 years ago

      I used to compete in powerlifting until I needed back surgery. Now all I do is bodyweight exercise such as pullups dips and push ups! My physique is muchore defined than before. It gives you a different kind fitness than the weights! Plus it is a way to workout anywhere!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      This is a very good hub with those real exercises that help you in reducing the amount of fat in the body.

      What i have done is that I have gone further to research of a product that will aid you in the exercises in that it will get well along with your health.

      The advantage with this is that it is totally natural and very herbal meaning that no chemicals are added and thus it will not affect your body.

      Take in fewer calories than you expend in exercise.

      The advantage with this product is that it increases Metabolism, increases Energy Levels, appetite Suppressant.

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Yes, thank you christophallen. I added an amazon capsule for you. It is the Iron Gym pull-up bar. This pull up bar easily and quickly goes on any door frame. Give it a shot and I am sure it will work out for you. Thank you for reading my hub.

    • christophallen profile image


      12 years ago

      Excellent info. I'm in the process of putting together a home fitness program using all these exercises. Any recommendations on a good home pull-up bar?

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Thank you so much, I appreciate your approval of my hub. I think when you use associations, it makes a story more personal.

    • myownworld profile image


      12 years ago from uk

      Such an amazing hub! I love the way practical tips have been interspersed with little lines about the joys of each activity...'nothing on earth greater than the feeling of air swishing past you as you run down the street...' great job!

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Helen whatever you choose to do make sure you keep it simple and easy to follow through on. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned in the coming week I will be publishing more work-out type hubs.

    • Helen Cater profile image

      Helen Cater 

      12 years ago from UK

      This is a great article for me as I am startind my diet and fitness regime today. Unfortunatly hubpages has kept me away from the work out but tommorrow I am on this.

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Candie: Thanks for visiting and hopefully this series of hubs will help motivate you to restart your fitness regimen.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      12 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Good job on these Hubs Wesley! Ok, so I feel a tad guilty now. Ok, a lot guilty. Stop looking at me! I used to be a weight lifter/cardio hound, but it's been 13 years.. Fine, I'll dig out my weight belt and hang it on my lamp.. it's a start! No? hmmm.

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      HmrJmr: I try to nothing but keep it simple, thanks for reading.

      Invictus: Thank you for reading my hub and yes it is true that for an hour a day you can be in great shape.

      Advisor: I used to ride a bicycle until someone stole it but I swim alot now as I live in Texas and it is always warm, 'cept the winter.

      Dohn: I currently work out with free weights mixed in with machine weights and body weight. It is challenging to find the right mix of exercises for optimal gains but as long as there is some type of cardio mixed in the physique shines through.

    • dohn121 profile image


      12 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Well explained and nicely done, Wesley. I used to work out with free weights while in college but sadly don't anymore (I now have the stretch-marks on my biceps to prove it). I also used to teach mountain biking. I've been wanting to hop back on and go back to my old regiment, as it is a good alternative to running (at least for me) because it's easier on the knees. Thanks. Good luck with the Hubchallenge. I know you can do it!

    • advisor4qb profile image


      12 years ago from On New Footing

      Excellent hub. I like riding a bicycle. It's more like fun than working out. I have a treadmill and some ab-related thing I never use.....but the bike is so much fun, I prefer that!

    • I*n*v*i*c*t*u*s profile image


      12 years ago

      Great hub...very motivational too! :) Hmmm. reminds me, I need to get my butt back to the gym! I is so true does not take much effort to have a fit is just taking that bit od time and makes me feel more alive and great about my body! Great books as well!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image


      12 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Good Job Sarge- Keep using the KISS (Keep it simple Sergeant) Method eh...


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