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BEST BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES FOR MEN

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By KayaWell Expert
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Reaching your training goals doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to dedicate hours to the squat rack or suffer endless reps on the weights bench. Heck, you don’t even need a gym membership. All you need to achieve the body you’ve been dreaming of is, well, your body.


We’re serious. After all, as a major study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found, a 45-minute bodyweight workout increases your metabolic rate for an entire 45 hours. Plus, bodyweight exercises tend to target upper and lower-body muscles, according to the National Strength & Conditioning Association.


Convinced? Great. So you’ll want to find out which moves are best, right? Well, you’re in luck. We teamed up with expert PT Ollie Frost to give you the ultimate list of gym-free essential exercises.

1. Press-ups

How to

- Set up with your weight supported on your toes and hands beneath your shoulders, body straight.

- Take care to keep your core locked so a straight line forms between your head, glutes and heels.

- Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

Why

Pressed for time? Perform 20 reps of this classic blubber-burner. “This age-old exercise activates every muscle in your body when performed correctly,” says Frost. And how do you get it right? “Just ensure your hands are an equal distance apart and directly underneath your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes and abs too. That’ll create body tension to maximise efficiency during the execution of the exercise.”

Managed the basics? Check out our complete guide to mastering the world’s best press-up variations. Go on, we dare you.


2. Step-up with knee raises

How to

- Place a bench or a box in front of you and step onto it with one foot.

- As you plant your foot, drive with your other foot bringing your knee up as high as you can. Lower it back down and step back onto the floor.

- Repeat on the other side.

Why

Whether you’ve noticed a slight muscle imbalance in your pins or you’re simply trying to carve some serious lower-body strength, stop fretting: this is the move for you.

“Unilateral (single leg) training can help strengthen stabilising muscles and can be used to even out imbalances,” says Frost. Your left side weaker than your right? Give it a leg up by dedicating an extra 15 reps to your frailer pin.


3. Groiners

How to

- Start the exercise in a press-up position.

- Jump forward so both legs land next to your hands.

- Return to starting position. 

Why

Horrible name, brilliant warm-up exercise. Opening up your hips and thoracic region massively increases your body’s range of movement (the distance the muscle extends and contracts during an exercise), according to Frost. So what? Well, perform these exercises through a larger ROM and you’ll garner 10% extra muscle growth from your next workout, according to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

But that’s not all. This dynamic stretch also pumps blood to almost all the muscles in your lower-body, drastically decreasing your risk of injury from overstrain while upping your heart rate for the next muscle-building moves.


4. Spider crawl

How to

- From a press-up position, raise one foot off the floor and bring your knee up towards your elbow.

- Pause then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

- Make sure to crunch your core at the top of the rep to bring your knee even closer to your elbow and get more out of your abs.

Why

Want to sculpt a superhero physique? This primitive movement crushes your core while also targeting your legs, arms, chest and shoulders (yup, all at once). 

Mastered that? Great. Now perfect these 38 moves.


5. Standing Long Jump

How to

- Lower yourself into a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart.

- Swing your arms back and use them to propel yourself forward.

- Bring your legs forward for additional momentum.

- Jump as far as you can and land on the soles of your feet.

Why

Want more mass combined with true explosive strength? Deploy the standing long jump, says Frost. Your reason: this move targets your body’s all-important fast-twitch muscle fibres.


6. Bastards

How to

- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

- From the bottom of the squat, place your hands on the floor and kick your legs out behind you into a press-up position.

- Push up until your arms are straight and then tuck in your legs at the bottom of the squat position.

- Drive upwards through your heels until you are six inches off the floor and then repeat.

Why

By activating muscles almost everywhere on your body, this burpee variation will give you a massive calorie burn due to the enormous effort required. They don’t have that name for nothing, you know.

Not sure when to try this bodyweight goliath? “Try throwing it in between strength sets or part of a basic bodyweight circuit,” suggests Frost. Just know that wherever you fit them in, they’re still not going to get any easier.


7. Handstand wall walk

How to

- Position yourself in a handstand position with your feet planted against a wall.

- Move your hands forward and walk down the wall until you reach the bottom.

Why

Can you perform 40 press-ups without breaking? Then you’re ready for this advanced muscle-builder, says Frost: “The handstand walk will challenge your entire posterior and anterior chain [your back muscles]. For me, that’s why they’re one of the best bodyweight moves on the planet.”

But there’s one question you should ask before attempting this Insta-friendly exercise: what’s the best way to do it without landing on your head? Answer: “Squeeze your abs and glutes so you are maintaining a straight line during the handstand,” says Frost.

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