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Bodyweight Exercises - Exercises you can you do almost anywhere

What about when you're on the road and can't bring your gym with you?  Most of these can be done just about anywhere. They are great for working out in your hotel or motel room when traveling on business or as a substitute when you can't make it to the gym.

In general, I like bodyweight exercises because they tend to utilize multiple muscle groups and develop coordination, balance, and real-world (aka functional) strength. There's nothing magical about the fact that you're using bodyweight as resistance, it's just that most bodyweight exercises don't have external equipment to stabilize you, therefore you have to learn to stabilize yourself. This develops a stronger core than typical gym exercises.


Door Chinups
Similar to regular chinups.  Open a STURDY door.  Doors on travel trailers and mobile homes are generally not suitable.  The best doors are outside doors.  A good solid inside door will work if you are under 200 pounds. Obviously, don't bounce or jerk on the door. Be as smooth as possible.

Open the door and place a towel over the top near the hinges (or wear gloves).

Facing the door, place your towel over the top as near the hinges as possible. Pull yourself up in the same manner that you would do chinups.  DON'T BOUNCE.  The hinges won't like it.

Of course, if you have a chinup/pullup bar, use it.

Do them, love them.

Chair pushups
Place two identical chairs facing each others with the backs apart.  With your feet on the floor and hands on the seats of the chairs do pushups going down as far as you can.

Another variation is to put your feet on the chair and your hands on the floor and do your pushups from there.

One-armed pushups (advanced)
Eventually you will reach the point where regular pushups aren't hard enough to promote strength gains.  Switching to the one-armed variety will increase the intensity.

This works the pecs, triceps, and shoulders.  Start with a standard pushup position, but with your hands closer together along your centerline.  Spread you legs apart.  The closer together, the harder these are. It can also help to have the bottoms of your feet against a wall to help keep your position.  As you get stronger, move your legs closer together.  Place one arm behind your back and lower yourself to the floor using the other arm. Then push yourself back up and repeat.

Handstand pushups (advanced)
This is advanced and you may not want or be able to do it.  Don't try it until you have been working out for a while.  Find a wall with PLENTY of floor space around it.  Place a firm cushion on the floor and put your head on it.  Do a three-point hands-and-head stand with your back to the wall and your feet against the wall for balance.  Wear shoes - you WILL fall from time to time and you don't want to stub your toes.  Use your arms to raise and lower yourself.  As you get better, try to do it without your feet touching the wall.  Don't forget, this is an ADVANCED exercise.  You WILL fall from time to time.  Make sure you have plenty of room and that your bones and joints are strong enough to withstand the fall before attempting these.

One-legged squat
From a standing position, arms out for balance, and looking straight ahead.  Bend one leg underneath you and use the strength in the other to squat down.  Hold the position at the bottom for a second and then raise.  These are also great for developing balance.  And of course, if you can't do a one-legged squat, do a double-leg squat instead.  If necessary, use a chair for support and balance.

Jump ups
Make sure you have plenty of head room, especially if you're tall.  From a squatting position, with arms out for balance and looking straight ahead, jump up as high as you can.  Land back in a semi-squat position.  Lower yourself back to a complete squat and repeat. If in a hotel room, be considerate of those below you. And of course, any jumping exercise is by nature a high impact exercise. Therefore, they should be done in moderation or not at all if you have knee or joint problems.

Place two identical chairs with the backs facing away from each other a little more than shoulder width apart.  Place your hands on the seats (NOT THE BACKS) of the chairs and your legs straight out in front of you.  Lift and lower yourself.

One-chair dips
Place your hands behind you on the seat (NOT THE BACK) of a chair with legs straight out in front.  Raise and lower yourself.

Calf raises
Standing on one leg, raise and lower yourself by extending your ankle.  Use a chair for support if necessary.  This is another good balance developer.

Start standing with feet together.  Step forward with one leg into a deep lunge, while keeping the other leg straight.  Push yourself back up and repeat. Do not let your knee go farther than your toes on the leg that lunges forward.

Core Exercises

While most bodyweight exercises require and develop good core strength, here are some the specifically hit the core.

Do core exercises in SLOW MOTION.

Core muscles are primarily used for stabilizing. They hold your core tight as you transfer power from your hips and legs to your arms. Consequently, freeze exercises (i.e. you hold a position without moving) are good for developing them. In general, core exercises are done slowly, if moving at all. This is especially important for twisting movements.

Here are some of my favorite core exercises. Try to hold each freeze exercise position for 30 seconds. If you can easily do it for more than 30 seconds, then you need to move up to a harder exercise. For the dynamic exercises (i.e. you are doing reps), try to take 3 seconds for each rep. When you can do more than 10 reps, you need to move up to a harder exercise.

See Also Core Exercises


Get into pushup position, either on hands or elbows.
More Info

Plank - Knees to elbows
From pushup plank, bring knee to same side elbow.

Leg Lifts
Lie on back, while keeping legs as straight as possible, raise feet as high as possible. Bend the knees to make these easier.

Side Leg Raise
While standing, raise leg to side.

Stand upright. Bend forward with arms out to side and one foot planted on floor, the other foot goes behind you with a straight leg.

Lie on stomach and raise legs and upper body into the air by bending backwards at the waist.

Bicycle Crunch
Lie back flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and contract your core muscles. Your lower back does not leave the floor. With your hands on your head, raise your knees to about a 45-degree angle and use a bicycle pedaling motion while alternately touching your elbows to the opposite knee as you twist back and forth.
More Info

Jackknife sit ups
Laying on your back, bring your feet and hands together in the air like folding in half (i.e. a jackknife).  Your hands and feet are reaching for the sky. Try to bring all four limbs as close together as possible. Try to keep your lower back touching the floor. Another variation is to place your hands on the floor under your lower back.


Plank Arm Raise
Same as plank, but raise an arm while doing it.

Side Plank
With both left leg and left arm (or elbow) on floor, raise right leg and arm into the air. Repeat for the other side. These can also be done with a bent knee to make them easier.

Side Plank Bends - Same as Side Plank, but while in the position move your hips up and down.   

Hip Raise
Lay flat on back with arms by your sides palms facing down. Raise legs straight up in the air and raise and lower your hips. These can also be done on a bench by holding onto the bench by your head.

Windshield Wipers (See also Floor Wipers)
Lay on your back with your arms out straight and perpendicular to your torso.  Place your palms flat so that they are facing the floor.  Legs straight up in the air.
Keep your legs straight, and bend at the hip moving your feet to the floor on your left side. Now move your feet across your body to the right side. This counts as one repetition.
Try to keep your lower back and shoulders flat on the ground, letting your hips rotate

Floor Wipers (See also Windshield Wipers)
Lay on your back with your arms out straight and perpendicular to your torso.  Place your palms flat so that they are facing up.  Legs straight and on the floor, toes pointing up. Keep your legs straight, and bend at the hip moving your feet to your left hand.  Then move your legs back to the start position. Now do the same to the right side. This counts as one repetition.
Try to keep your lower back and shoulders flat on the ground, letting your hips rotate


Plank Opposing Arm/Leg Raise
Same as plank, but raise both an arm and its opposing leg. For example, from plank position, place left hand on back and raise right leg.


Plank Same Arm/Leg Raise
Same as plank, but raise both an arm and its same leg. For example, from plank position, place left hand on back and raise left leg.

Dragon Flag
Lie flat on a bench with hands holding on to bench by head. Raise hips into the air, keeping legs as straight as possible. If you don't have a bench, lying on the floor with your hands under a bed may work if the bed is heavy enough, or if someone is sitting on it.
You can also do these moving the legs to one side, however, you must be on a fixed bench (such as a bench press rack) so that the bench doesn't fall over.
See Dragon Flag

doctorAs with any nutrition or exercise program, always review them with your doctor to ensure that they don't interact with or are contraindicated by any medications or medical issues you may have. If you haven't trained for a while, start out slow and go easy. If you are pregnant, have diabetes, blood sugar problems, or any heart issues, you shouldn't do this program as it is very strenuous.
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