Amp Up Bodyweight Exercises With These Superb Variations

Everyone likes to be comfortable but it’s a serious problem when that complacency slips into training. One surefire way to see diminishing returns with your workouts, or fall into a rut, is to do the same old exercises over and over again. The fundamental bodyweight exercises we all know — push-ups, pull-ups, squats, or lunges — are fundamental for a reason. They are great movements that address a number of muscles at the same time and they can be performed pretty much anywhere. But as effective as these exercises are, they can only take you so far.

They say that variety is the spice of life and this is also very true for a life of fitness. Not only that, but it is crucial to building a well-rounded and complete physique. But that doesn’t mean you have to entirely throw away your favorite bodyweight routine. In fact, you can achieve a great deal just by modifying those more traditional movements to target different muscle groups. So in that pursuit here are a few variations on both upper and lower body exercises that you can pull off with little to no equipment needed.

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Instead of: Push-Up — TRIANGLE (OR DIAMOND) PUSH-UPS

Why:

The traditional push-up is an exercise that works the pectoral muscles, shoulders, and anterior deltoids. By doing this triangle variation you add difficulty, adjust the part of the chest that’s targeted, and it also becomes one of the best tricep movements out there.

HowTo:

Get into a plank position, starting by lying face-down on the ground and placing the palms of your hands directly under your chest. The forefingers and thumbs together to form a triangle or diamond shape. Elbows should be close to your torso and pointing backward. Engage your core, thighs, and glutes as you push yourself away from the ground until your arms are almost extended. Bring yourself back down towards the starting position, with the back of your hands touching your inner chest before beginning the next rep.

Extra Credit:

Since this exercise requires your hands to be free, you can add difficulty by wearing a weighted vest like this one from 5.11 Tactical.

Instead of: Pull-Up — AROUND THE WORLD

Why:

The traditional pull-up is one of the best upper body workouts around, especially great for the shoulders, back, and arms. By doing this “around the world” variation you are strengthening the bicep in a greater way, by putting your full body weight on one arm at a time.

HowTo:

Grab onto the pull-up bar with a wide overhand grip outside of your shoulders. The starting position is called an active hang, with your feet off the ground and body extended. From this position pull your body weight up towards your right hand until the bar is at your chin, then keeping your body elevated slide over to your left hand. Bring your weight back down in a controlled manner, then repeat the movement but starting with your left hand.

Extra Credit:

Since this exercise requires your hands to be free, you can add difficulty by wearing a weighted vest like this one from 5.11 Tactical.

Instead of: Squat — PISTOL SQUAT

Why:

The traditional squat is one of the best ways to train your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Since your whole body is going in a fluid motion it is also great for your mobility and balance. Before moving onto this movement, the single-leg squat has the same principles but doesn’t require your leg to be parallel to the ground, making it more manageable. But by doing this pistol squat variation you will be building up strength, mobility, and especially your balance.

HowTo:

Begin by standing with your feet together under your shoulders. Extend your arms out in a straight line in front of you. Once you are set, lift your right leg up off the ground, keeping it in a straight line in front of you like your arms, and begin to lower your body with your weight on your left leg. Do this in a slow and controlled manner, keeping your core engaged and balanced. Continue to lower until your left leg is parallel to the ground, then slowly stand back up. Repeat for the other side.

Extra Credit:

Since this exercise requires your hands to be free, you can add difficulty by wearing a weighted vest like this one from 5.11 Tactical.

Instead of: Lunge — FORWARD LUNGE WITH ROTATION

Why:

The traditional lunge is another great exercise for the lower body, including the quads and glutes, that also promotes mobility to a greater extent than squats. This variation with an extra rotation adds an additional challenge to the balance and focus while loading your bodyweight onto each leg for a longer duration.

Not only that but it also addresses the obliques in a substantial way.

HowTo:

Begin with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended in a straight line in front of you. Step forward with your left foot and drop slowly into a lunge position where your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Once there rotate your arms and torso over your left leg while keeping your posture straight. Rotate back to face forward and then step back into the starting position in a controlled manner. Repeat for the other side.

Extra Credit:

For those looking to take this exercise to the next level, try holding a sandbag or dumbbell during the entire movement, like the ones from Rogue.

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