In this post, I want to share with you a list of bodyweight exercises, by muscle group that you can do at home. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it will help you familiarize the workouts with the muscles they’re designed to work.
Hi! My name is Nicole and I love educating women on how to tone their bodies while adding functional strength. Additionally, I want to show you how you can solve your fitness dilemmas with workouts you can do at home.
When I first started working out, I didn’t know my biceps from my triceps. And I was okay with that.
As long as I could lift that gallon of milk (or box of wine), and my muscles didn’t ache, I was pretty ambivalent towards exercise and muscles.
But as I got older and wiser I realized my body was aching just a little more, and I was slowly going to be losing muscle over time.
“Exercise to be fit, not skinny. Eat to nourish, and always ignore the haters!”
I didn’t want to be an old lady that had to rely on somebody else to pick things up for me or carry my bags. While it’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially as we get into retirement age, but as a strong, independent woman, I like to be able to do things for myself.
It’s no secret that as we age we slowly lose muscle mass, and this isn’t just for men. This applies to women too. Having and maintaining muscle is essential to having a long and healthy lifestyle.
But as I progressed in my fitness world, I started to learn about how the muscles work and what exercise stress those muscles.
This gave me confidence in the gym when I was working out down on the floor where all the men usually roam.
I knew what muscles to work, I knew how to use the machines, and I knew how to lift with correct form.
Additionally, later on down the road, talking workouts with the boys became much easier too. They were surprised I could differentiate my quads from my hamstrings (yeah I’m pretty cool), and could even offer advice.
Table of Contents
The Bodyweight Workout List
As I started to draw up this list, I intended to do the best lift for each muscle. While some of these exercises definitely include the best exercise for a certain body part, I wanted to expand the list by providing a few different exercises. A majority of these you’ll be familiar with, as you probably did them as a kid or maybe in an exercise class. Regardless, they are pretty straight forward and simple biomechanically.
“Sweat is magic. Cover yourself in it daily to grant your wishes!”
Also, I tried to stay away from any exercises that required any machines or heavy equipment. That being said, there are some exercises where resistance bands or light dumbbells are needed. Honestly, though, a complete bodyweight program (Bodyweight Burn Review) almost requires at least a few items. There are workarounds, but realistically, a couple of items for resistance will help you in the long run.
So let’s dive into some of the larger muscles in the body and what exercises you can do at home to start building the body you want.
· Bent Knee Hip Raise – Lie on your back with your arms to your side. Bend your knees to a 60-degree angle while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your back and flat, raise your hips (just your hips) off the floor so that knees go towards your chin. Slowly lower back down. Be sure you’re engaging your abs to perform this exercise.
· Cross Body Crunch – lie on your back bring your knees up to a 60-degree angle, while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head or on either side of your head, and curl up. Raise your right elbow to your left knee, until they touch. Slowly lower back down and repeat with alternate side.
· Legs Up Crunch – lie on your back with your feet on a chair, couch, or elevated platform. Place your hands behind your head, or across your chest and slowly curl up, just enough to bring the shoulder blades off the ground. Slowly lower back down and repeat. Be sure to engage the abs muscles to perform this exercise.
· Lying Leg Raise – lie on the ground, while keeping your hands under your lower back or hips for support. Your legs should be extended out straight. With your feet together raise your legs straight towards the sky. Pause at the top and slowly lower your legs back down.
· Bicep Curl – You’ve probably already known how to do this one. Simply grab a dumbbell you’re comfortable with and curl the weight up towards your shoulder. As you bring the weight up you’ll want to rotate your hand so that your palm is facing towards you as the weight is curled up.
· Hammer Curl – Similar to the bicep curl, except for bringing the dumbbell up across your chest to the opposing shoulder. This one will place more emphasis on your forearms and biceps.
· Reverse Bicep Curl – Similar to the bicep curl, except as you bring the weight up, you don’t rotate your wrist. You’ll grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip (palms facing down). Pause at the top and slowly lower the weight back down. These are more difficult compared to the bicep curl, so be sure to use a lighter weight. Again, this exercise will strengthen your forearms as well as your biceps.
· Band Curl – place a bungee or band under your feet (1 or both feet depending on the type of band/bungee). Grab ahold of the grip and curl your hand up towards your shoulder. As your strength develops, increase the number of repetitions. Be sure to focus on contracting your bicep muscle throughout the range of motion.
· Calf Raise – With Bands – Stand with your toes on a band or bungee and raise the handles up to your shoulders. While keeping the tension in the band, raise up on your toes, and slowly back down. The resistance should increase as you raise up. If there is not enough tension stand on the band with your feet a bit wider until the tension feels correct.
· Standing Calf Raise – With your feet shoulder-width apart, raise up on your toes and slowly back down. This is usually an easy exercise, so it’s best done at a slow pace. Aim for 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down.
· Single Leg Raise – Just like the standing calf raise, except using just one foot to raise and lower your body weight. For a bonus stand on the edge of a stair and go down below level and back up.
· Pushups – We all did these as kids in gym class. Beginners may want to start pushing against a wall standing up until strength is developed. From there you may switch to an elevated platform (like stairs) and work your way down to a regular pushup. Your elbows shouldn’t be flared out too far, and they shouldn’t be next to your sides, but at a 45-degree angle.
· Band Pushups – as your strength increases you’ll be able to wrap a band around your back. Keep the band in place by placing your palms on top of the band (with the band across your back) and use the band as resistance.
· Shoulder Taps – for a more advanced person, perform your regular pushup, but at the top of the motion, quickly tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Go back down, pause, and back up. Alternate to the right shoulder and tap with our left hand.
· Bridge – lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet should remain flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor as you draw your abs in, squeezing your glutes. Slowly lower back down.
· Leg Lift – Stand against a wall or post to help steady yourself. Raise one foot off the ground and behind you while standing on the other leg, squeeze your glutes at the top. Slowly lower your leg back down and alternate legs.
· Band Kickback – attach a band or bungee to a post or something stable. Attach the other end to your ankle. Step back until the band is tight. With a slight bend in your knee, slowly kick your leg back as far as you can go. Slowly go back to the original position and switch ankles.
· Walking Lunges – you can do this with or without weights. Take one step forward and bend at the knees until your back knee almost touches the ground. Stand back up and take another lunge forward with the opposite foot.
· Flutter Kicks – lie face down on the floor. Draw in your abs, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings. Kick your legs up and down, like using a kickboard in the water. Ideally, you would do this on a bench with your legs hanging off the back of the bench. You may be able to lay across your bed as an alternative.
· Deadlifts – With your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab ahold of some weights and slowly bend down, keeping your legs with a slight bend. Slowly raise back up.
· Supermans – lie flat on your stomach with your arms stretched in front of you. Raise your arms and legs off the floor so just your hips are touching. Hold this position for a count of 2, and return to the starting position.
· Bent Over Rows – grab a hold of some dumbbells and stand tall. Lean forward bending at the hips. Keep your back as straight as possible while still looking forward. Let the weight hang in front of you. Lift the weights to your side in slow motion, pause at the top and slowly back down.
· Pullups – I know these are difficult, but they are incredibly effective and you only need your body weight to do them. If you need a beginner’s movement check out this link….
· Body Squats – keep your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down so that your thighs are at least parallel with the ground, slowly raise back up. If these feel really light, do 3 seconds down and 3 seconds back up. For additional resistance, grab a hold of a dumbbell and hold it in front of your chest.
· Rear Lunges – Similar to the front lunge, except you’ll be taking a step back instead of forward. Again if this is easy, grab a hold of some weight and hold it in front of your chest.
· Step-ups – Just like climbing stairs. Grab a stable platform you can step up onto and back down. Alternate legs as you step up. The higher the step the more difficult it will be. Again you can hold weights in your hands as your strength increases.
· Plie Squat – stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width. Grab a dumbbell with both hands in the center of your body (hanging between your legs). Keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight. Squat down as if sitting in a chair, so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and slowly rise back up.
· Dumbbell Press – sit on a chair or the edge of your bed with your back straight and abs tight. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with elbows bent and palms facing away. In a slow-motion push the weight straight up until your arms are almost locked out. In a slow manner return to the starting position.
· Front Dumbbell Raise – Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Raise the dumbbells forward until the arms are slightly higher than parallel. Pause of a count of 1 and return to the starting position. You can do these one arm at a time or both.
· Side Dumbbell Raise – Similar to the front raise, except going forward, raise the dumbbells to the side, pause at the top, and return to the starting position.
· Dips – place 2 chairs or benches 3-4 feet apart. Sit on one chair and put our feet up on the other. Hold onto the bench with your hands and slowly lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows. Pause and return back up to the starting position.
· Narrow Pushups – similar to the normal pushup, but keep your hands close together as opposed to at shoulder-width. Also, keep your elbows a little closer to your sides as this will focus on the triceps.
· Seated Triceps Press – sit on a chair or bench. Grab the dumbbell with both hands with palms up grip and raise the weight over your head. Lower the dumbbell behind your head to behind your back in an arc-like motion.
How Often For At-Home Workouts
You won’t be able to perform this list of workouts once and wake up the next day looking like a cover model. It will take time to develop muscle and burn away any body fat. Rest is key to this process.
When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably want to rest at least a day or two before working the same muscle again.
Ideally, you’ll want to work the top half of your body twice a week and the bottom half twice a week. Keep in mind a majority of these workouts are compound lifts. This means they engage more than one muscle to perform. You don’t need to do all of these to get a good workout.
There are multiple ways to lift. A common way is to do your upper body one day and your lower body the next.
Others will do opposing muscles. For instance, if you work your chest, you also work your back. If you work your biceps you also work your triceps.
Pick a method that works for you. A bodyweight exercise can usually be done in about 40 minutes. The number of sets and reps will depend on your current level of fitness.
Conclusion of Bodyweight Exercises by Muscle Group
The whole point of this list is to get you started or at least give you some basic exercises that you can do at home. You can include some of these exercises into an existing routine, to help mix it up, or you can use these to start fresh with a new routine.
To get a head start on workouts you can do at home check out either of the programs I’ve written reviews on. There are two that I would highly suggest for you. The first is Bodyweight Burn and the second is Turbulence Training. Both of these are top-notch and plenty of women have had success with them. Take the first step into achieving your fitness goals today!