What Body Weight Exercises Can I Do At Home?
It is no secret that our communities have met very real challenges since the outbreak of COVID-19. Many people have had hardships that are extensive, and our hearts go out with compassion to all of our friends and communities striving to keep healthy and gain stability. One such life alteration many have had to change is their exercise routines. Being quarantined is challenging when trying to keep a fitness routine or start a new one. We believe this is a great opportunity for you to see how you can improve your strength and health without using any equipment other than your own body.
The following exercises can help you in this journey and we recommend you consult your physical therapist at Wright PT if you have any questions about how to proceed. We also suggest that you address your level of safety with all of these exercises by starting slowly and stopping if any of the exercises concern you or are causing you pain. Furthermore, we will be providing videos on Wright PT’s Facebook and Instagram pages for these at home exercises. Watch for them to gain further insight. Ease into these exercises as you are able and enjoy the many benefits of strengthening at home. The following are beginner to intermediate level exercises:
1. Inchworm: Stand up tall with the legs straight and let those fingertips hit the floor. Keeping the legs straight (but not locked!), slowly lower the torso toward the floor, and then walk the hands forward. Once in a push-up position, start taking tiny steps so the feet meet the hands. Continue bugging out for 4-6 reps.
2. Bear Crawl: Starting on the hands and knees, rise up onto the toes, tighten the core, and slowly reach forward with the right arm and right knee, followed by the left side. Continue the crawl for 8-10 reps.
3. Stair Climb with Bicep Curl: Turn those stairs into a cardio machine — no magic wand necessary. Grab some dumbbells (or weighted items like food cans) and briskly walk up and down the stairway while simultaneously doing bicep curls to work the whole body.
4. Mountain Climber: Starting on your hands and knees, bring the left foot forward directly under the chest while straightening the right leg. Keeping the hands on the ground and core tight, jump and switch legs. The left leg should now be extended behind the body with the right knee forward.
5. Burpees: One of the most effective full-body exercises around, this one starts out in a low squat position with hands on the floor. Next, kick the feet back to a push-up position, complete one push-up, then immediately return the feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible before squatting and moving back into the push-up portion of the show.
6. Plank: Lie face down with forearms on the floor and hands clasped. Extend the legs behind the body and rise up on the toes. Keeping the back straight, tighten the core and hold the position for 30-60 seconds (or as long as you can hang).
7. Plank-to-Push-Up: Starting in a plank position, place down one hand at a time to lift up into a push-up position, with the back straight and the core engaged. Then move one arm at a time back into the plank position (forearms on the ground). Repeat, alternating the arm that makes the first move.
8. Wall Sit: Slowly slide your back down a wall until the thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure the knees are directly above the ankles and keep the back straight. Go for 60 seconds per set (or however long it takes to turn those legs to jelly). Need more fire? Add some bicep curls.
9. Lunge: Stand with the hands on the hips and feet hip-width apart. Step the right leg forward and slowly lower your body until the right knee is close to or touching the floor and bent at least 90 degrees. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg. Try stepping back into the lunge for a different variation.
10. Clock Lunge: Time for a challenge. Complete a traditional forward lunge, then take a big step to the right and lunge again. Finish off the semicircle with a backwards lunge, then return to standing. And all that’s one rep! Aim for 10 reps and then switch legs.
11. Lunge Jump: Stand with the feet together and lunge forward with the right foot. Jump straight up, propelling the arms forward while keeping the elbows bent. While in the air, switch legs and land in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Repeat and continue switching legs. Try to do 10!
12. Squat: Stand with the feet parallel or turned out 15 degrees — whatever is most comfortable. Slowly start to crouch by bending the hips and knees until the thighs are at least parallel to the floor and knees remain behind toes. Make sure the heels do not rise off the floor. Press through the heels to return to a standing position.
13. Squat Reach and Jump: Perform a normal squat, but immediately jump up, reaching the arms straight overhead. Aim for 15 reps, taking 30-60 seconds before the next set.
14. Step-Up: Find a step or bench, and place the right foot on the elevated surface. Step up until the right leg is straight, then return to start. Repeat, aiming for 10-12 reps on each side.
15. Single Leg Deadlift: Start in a standing position with the feet together. Lift the right leg slightly, and lower the arms and torso while raising the right leg behind the body. Keep the left knee slightly bent and reach the arms as close to the floor as possible. Raise the torso while lowering the right leg. Switch legs.
16. Calf Raise: From a standing position, slowly rise up on the toes, keeping the knees straight and heels off the floor. Hold briefly, then come back down. And repeat. Try standing on something elevated (like a step) to achieve a wider range of motion.
Chest & Back
17. Standard Push-Up: With hands shoulder-width apart, keep the feet flexed at hip distance, and tighten the core. Bend the elbows until the chest reaches the ground, and then push back up (make sure to keep the elbows tucked close to the body). That’s one!
18. Reverse Fly: Grab your dumbbells, or if you do not have dumbbells – grab two cans or bottles of water. Stand up straight, with one foot in front of the other and the front knee slightly bent. With palms facing each other and the abs engaged, bend forward slightly from the waist and extend arms out to the side, squeezing the shoulder blades. Repeat.
19. Superman: Want some superpowers? Lie face down with arms and legs extended. Keeping the torso as still as possible, simultaneously raise the arms and legs to form a small curve in the body.
20. Contralateral Limb Raises: Lie on your stomach with the arms outstretched and palms facing one another. Slowly lift one arm a few inches off the floor, keeping it straight without rotating the shoulders and keeping the head and torso still. Hold the position, then lower the arm back down, moving to the other arm.
Shoulders & Arms
21. Triceps Dip: Get seated near a step or bench. Sit on the floor with knees slightly bent, and grab the edge of the elevated surface and straighten the arms. Bend them to a 90-degree angle, and straighten again while the heels push towards the floor. For some extra fire, reach the right arm out while lifting the left leg.
22. Boxer: Starting with feet hip-width apart and knees bent, keep the elbows in and extend one arm forward and the other arm back. Hug the arms back in and switch arms.
23. Shoulder Stabilization Series (I, Y, T): Lie down on your stomach with arms extended overhead and palms facing each other. Move the arms into each letter formation.
24. Arm Circles: Stand with arms extended by the sides, perpendicular to the torso. Slowly make clockwise circles for about twenty to thirty seconds (about one foot in diameter). Then reverse the movement, going counter-clockwise.
25. L Seat: Seated with the legs extended and feet flexed, place the hands on the floor and slightly round the torso. Then, lift the hips off the ground, hold for five seconds and release. Repeat!
26. Dynamic Prone Plank: Starting in a standard plank position, raise the hips as high as they can go, then lower them back down. Continue this movement for as long as possible. Make sure the back stays straight and the hips don’t droop.
27. Flutter Kick: Start lying on your back with arms at your sides and palms facing down. With legs extended, lift the heels off the floor (about six inches). Make quick, small up-and-down pulses with the legs, while keeping the core engaged. Try to keep kickin’ it for a minute straight!
28. Bicycle: Lie down with knees bent and hands behind the head. With the knees in toward the chest, bring the right elbow towards the left knee as the right leg straightens. Continue alternating sides.
29. Crunch: Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With hands behind the head, place the chin down slightly and peel the head and shoulders off the mat while engaging the core. Continue curling up until the upper back is off the mat. Hold briefly, then lower the torso back toward the mat slowly.
30. Shoulder Bridge: Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place arms at your side and lift up the spine and hips. Only the head, feet, arms, and shoulders should be on the ground. Then lift one leg upwards, keeping the core tight. Slowly bring the leg back down, then lift back up. Try to do 10 reps per leg, then bring the knee in place and spine back on the floor.
31. Side Plank: Roll to the side and come up on one foot and elbow. Make sure the hips are lifted and the core is engaged, and hang tight for 30-60 seconds.
32. Sprinter Sit-Up: Lie on your back with the legs straight and arms by your side — elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Now sit up, bringing the left knee toward the right elbow. Lower the body and repeat on the other side.
SAFETY TIPS – Keep in mind that these exercises can cause injury when not performed properly. We recommend you consult with your doctor of physical therapy or physician before performing any physical activity program.
Wear comfortable clothing and well-padded shoes that can protect the heels and arches of the feet. Always warm up before performing exercise and cool down afterwards to lower the risk of injury. Take appropriate breaks during the activity and replenish extra fluids before, during and after physical activity, especially for prolonged exercise. Listen to the body. Do not exercise when you are unwell. If there is dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or muscle and joint pain during exercise, stop the activity and seek medical advice as soon as possible.