Top 5: Bodyweight Exercises

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Forget the “instant” abs promised by infomercial gadgets, the weight-loss body wraps, and any other exercise fad popping up in those online banner ads – bodyweight exercises are a simple and effective way to improve your strength, flexibility and balance. It’s no secret that through consistent training, these functional exercises are key to building fitness. Bodyweight exercises are brilliantly convenient in that they require no extra weights, machinery or equipment to execute – they can be completed in the park, the comfort of your own lounge room, or even a hotel room. Let’s take a look at 5 bodyweight exercises that you’ll often encounter at a Step into Life session – moves popular for their simplicity but ability to give your body an efficient work out!

Push-up (also known as a press-up)
A classic for working your chest, triceps and shoulders, it’s not hard to see why the humble push-up is a staple move at many of our sessions! Lay flat with your chest down and back up to begin. Raise and lower your body using your arms while your back remains straight and toes remain on the ground. Too easy? Make it harder by placing your legs at an incline to give your upper body more weight to work on supporting! Still too easy? Now you’re just showing off! Just kidding – perform this move with both of your hands positioned more widely apart to isolate your outer chest and inner back muscles. Alternately, position your hands with a close and narrow grip to work your inner chest and triceps more effectively.

The burpee may not be the easiest of moves, but it’s definitely one of the most effective. This compound exercise will challenge your legs, abdomen and shoulders as you move through it. From a standing position, drop to a squat with your hands on the floor (count 1), then thrust your legs back to assume push-up position (count 2), before returning to a squat (count 3), then back up to standing position (count 4). If you’re feeling adventurous, the military 8-count version adds a push-up after count 2, and a star jump (or tuck jump) after count 4.

Squats are notorious for giving a good workout to your gluteus maximus, hamstrings and quadriceps (more commonly known as ‘legs and butt’!). If you’re a runner, squats are also a fantastic strengthening exercise to add in to your routine. Standing up, bend your legs at the knees and hips, lowering your torso between your legs. Lean your torso forward to maintain balance, then come up again. If you’re trying the ‘squat jump’ variation where you jump explosively upwards as you rise from the squat, be very careful in ensuring that you land correctly (softly on your toes so as not to jar your knees), as you risk serious injury otherwise. P.S. Did you know that it’s Squat-tober at the moment? Get squatting!


Walk the plank! The plank is a phenomenal exercise for your core – it’s one of the best and toughest bodyweight exercises for this part of your body. Simply lay on your stomach to begin, then lift your body by keeping your toes and forearms on the ground – and hold! The plank is extremely versatile, with seemingly endless variations. For a more difficult plank, try a side plank (Laying on your side in a straight line, lift your hips off the floor resting on your forearm – switch sides after 30 seconds or so) or a plank with leg raises (get in the basic plank position on your forearms, brace your core and lift one foot off the floor – hold for 60-90 seconds, then swap legs).

Another classic, the sit-up will put your abdomen and hip flexors through their paces. Begin by lying with your back on the floor, typically with your knees bent in an attempt to reduce stress on the back muscles and spine. Elevate both your upper and lower vertebrae from the floor until everything superior to your buttocks is not touching the ground. Lower yourself back down in a controlled manner. Congratulations, you’ve just completed a sit-up! Repeat and rejoice as your abs grow stronger.

Carefully inserting these bodyweight exercises in to your exercise routine will have you fighting fit in no time! Step into Life strongly recommends that if you are new to exercise or have not done these exercises previously, you should seek the advice of a qualified Personal Trainer to walk you through them at a level to suit your current fitness abilities. We can help – get in touch with one of over 160 Step into Life Group Outdoor Personal Trainers in Australia and New Zealand today to perfect your moves safely!

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