14 Quick Bodyweight Exercises for Busy People

14 Quick Bodyweight Exercises for Busy People

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The night before my wedding, my best friend was stuck in the airport. Her flight had been delayed.

So what did she do?

The crab walk. And donkey kicks. Probably a plank or two.

Yup, that’s right – she did bodyweight exercises at the airport. To burn off the stress. And to tone up, I presume.

Why?

Because sitting in one of those hard plastic chairs in the terminal is a waste of time, and she is no loaf.

But that shows how quick and easy it is to fit bodyweight exercises into your daily life. Even on the airport floor in between flights, as gross as that sounds!

You don’t need expensive equipment. Or a gym membership, or a personal trainer. You just need a floor, and instructions on how to do these quick bodyweight exercises for busy people.

If you have even 5 minutes a day, you can fit some of these in!

 

The Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

Maybe you’re too busy to hit to the gym regularly? Or the gym is just too expensive and you want an alternative?

Bodyweight exercises give you the chance to do strength training (and some cardio too) without being bound to expensive equipment or memberships. And you still get great results!

Doing a mixture of ab, legs, and arm bodyweight exercises tones muscles, burns calories and helps integrate exercise into your daily life (even if you only have 10 minutes).

You can even turn simple bodyweight moves into a full workout routine to get cardio exercise too, which keeps your heart healthy (and burns extra calories…bonus!).

So whether you have 10 minutes or 60, do some (or all) of the following exercises 2-4 times a week to stay in shape and get happy, toned muscles!

 

Beginner Bodyweight Exercises – Let’s Get Started!

If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, try these beginner moves first.

One of the main reasons why people fail at continuing exercise is because they try to do things their body isn’t ready for. Moves that are too hard. Or they go straight for 30 reps instead of starting with 8-10.

Be gentle with yourself and start easily. Don’t go full-force right off the bat. You can always up the intensity later.

 

1.) Lunges

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Lunges
Image credit: Self.com/gallery/bodyweight-exercises-you-can-do-at-home

Build muscle in your legs and improve stability with single leg lunges.

Muscle Targets: Quads, hamstrings, hips and glutes.

How to do Lunges: Stand with your feet hip width apart. Place your hands on your hips. Next, step forward with your right foot and bend the knee to a 90 degree angle, ensuring the right knee stays directly above your foot (and NOT in front of it). The left knee drops down at about a 90 degree angle too, and should almost touch the ground. Now, push back up to a standing position and repeat with the left leg.

How Many to Do: Start by doing this 8 times (1 time = both legs do the move once), and repeat 2-3 times.

 

2.) Crunches

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Crunches
Image credit: Gethealthyu.com/exercise/basic-crunch/

Crunches seem so basic. But they’re so effective at creating a stable, happy core (and rock solid abs). They’re a “must” for beginners.

Muscle Targets: Abdominal muscles

How to Do Crunches: Slow and stead wins the race here. Lay on your back, with your feet on the floor about a foot or so from your body, with your knees bent. Place hands behind your head (but do NOT pull on your neck for leverage at any time!).

Slowly engage your abs and roll your shoulders up off the ground. Don’t go all the way up like with a sit-up. Instead, only go as far as you see in the picture above. Next, gently (and in a controlled manner), bring your shoulders back down to the ground. Immediately go into the next crunch to keep your abs engaged and working continuously.

How Many to Do: Start with 8, and rest. Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets.

 

3.) Push-ups

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Pushups

Muscle Targets: Triceps, pectoralis major (pecs), deltoids and abs

How to Do Push-Ups: Lay flat on the ground. Tuck your toes under. Place your hands at your sides, with your arms out at a 45 degree angle. Splay your fingers for better stability. Engage your core and arms, and push up off the ground to lift your straight body until your arms are straight. Then slowly lower your body back down to just above the ground (do not lay back down fully yet). Then go into the next push-up.

How Many to Do: Start with 5, and rest. Repeat 2-3 times. Gradually add repetitions when 5 begins to feel easier.

4.) Planks

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Plank
Image credit: Greatist.com/fitness/perfect-plank

Planks are known as the “golden child” of bodyweight exercises because they work and engage so many muscle groups. A plank a day, keeps the doctor away (not the saying? well I’m making it the saying now, because planks are so good for you).

Muscle Targets: Tons. Basically your whole body.

How to Do Planks:  Get into the same laying position described previously for a push-up. Now, push all the way up and hold it like the image above. Make sure your butt doesn’t drift up, or sink too far down. You want to maintain a nice straight line from head through core and down the legs. To do this move right, it requires you to engage your core, glute muscles, quads, arm muscles, and more!

How Many to Do: Start by holding for 20-30 seconds then relax. Repeat 2-3 times and increase in increments of 5-10 seconds once you feel you can.

 

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Plank
Image credit: Mensjournal.com/health-fitness/how-to-do-a-plank-a-single-move-for-stronger-abs/

Bonus Planking tip: to increase the difficulty of this move, hold yourself up on your forearms as opposed to your hands (like the second image, above).

 

5.) Squats

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Squats
Image credit: blog.fitbit.com

This bodyweight exercise can be a bit awkward at first but once you get used to it, your legs will thank you for the incredible workout.

Muscle Targets: Hamstrings, hips, quads, and glutes

How to Do Squats:  Stand with feet hip width apart.Angle your feet out slightly (but not a lot – see picture above). Hold your hands out straight or clasp them in front of you to help maintain balance throughout the squat. Next, slowly lower yourself to a standing “seated” position. Keep your butt back, knees above your feet as much as possible. Arch your back (as opposed to rounding it) and focus on keeping a good form throughout the move. Last, push back up to standing position.

How Many to Do: Start with 8-10, and rest. Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets. Increase reps over time.

 

6.) Wall Sit

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Wall Sit
Image credit: hbgblog.com/hbg-girls/2016/10/4/wall-sit-challenge

Muscle Targets: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves

How to Do a Wall Sit: Stand upright against a wall. Place your hands palm-side against the wall for support and stabilization. Now step your feet out in front of you while slowly sliding your body down the wall, and hold this “sitting” position. You want your knees to be at about a 90 degree angle.

How Many to Do: Start with 20 seconds at a time. Repeat 2-3 times. Add 5-10 seconds to increase the intensity.

 

 

7.) Arm Circles

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Arm Circles
Image credit: SassyFitGirl.com

I remember doing these as a warm-up before band practice in high school (which was about all the exercise I was getting at the time…wow how times have changed). Arm circles are a better bodyweight exercise than you may think – just wait until you amp up the reps!

Muscle Targets: Trap, deltoids, lats (basically your arms, shoulders, back, chest, and more)

How to Do Arm Circles: Stand up. Hold your arms out to your side. Slowly make tight circles with both arms, simultaneously. Optional: use small weights to increase the intensity after you’ve mastered it without weights. You don’t even need real weights – try an item already at home, like canned vegetables or canned pasta sauce.

How Many to Do: Start with 10-15. Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets. You may want to start with 20-25 if 10-15 feels too easy.

 

8.) Donkey Kicks

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Donkey Kicks

Muscle Targets: Hamstrings, glutes

How to Do Donkey Kicks: Get onto your hands and knees on the floor. Tuck your abs in and keep them engaged. Next, slowly lift your left leg up towards the sky (like in the image above) while engaging your butt muscles (glutes) and hamstring. Keep this motion slow and steady on the way up and the way down.

How Many to Do: Start with 8-10 (per leg) for 1 set. Do 2-3 sets with a little rest in between.

Tip: If this move hurts your knees at all, try placing a folded up towel or blanket underneath them to provide extra padding.

 

9.) High Knee Kicks

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Knee Highs

Knee highs are a dynamic exercise that works leg muscles while also adding cardio to your routine. Speed up or slow down, either way provides a good workout.

Muscle Targets: Hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves

How to Do Knee High Kicks: Stand with feet hip width apart. First, lift your left knee up to make a 90-degree angle (see image above). Simultaneously lift your right arm up and pull your left arm back a bit. Bring your foot to the ground and go right into the next move by bringing your right leg up and swinging your left arm up. You’ll get into the rhythm quickly!

How Many to Do: Start with 8-10 (1= you’ve done the move on both legs). Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets. If 8-10 feels too easy, start with 15-20.

Tip: Use this dynamic move as a warm-up to get the blood flowing and elevate the heart rate a bit. Alternately, use this move mid-to-late workout and increase the speed to add some cardio exercise too.

 

10.) Calf Raises

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Calf Raises
Image credit: runsmartonline.com

 

Muscle Targets: Calves, ankles

How to Do Calf Raises: Stand with your feet together. Slowly raise your heels off the ground, then hold for a second or two. Then, slowly lower your heels to the ground again, and repeat. Maintain a slow and steady motion (don’t go too fast).

How Many to Do: Start with 10-15.  Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets.

 

 

Intermediate and Advanced Bodyweight Exercises – Time to Kick it Up!

 

11.) Burpees

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Burpees
Image credit: Self.com/gallery/bodyweight-exercises-you-can-do-at-home

Burpees have a bad reputation. Yes, they are challenging. But they’re also a very effective full-body workout that gets easier the more you do it! Give them a try once you’ve been doing other bodyweight exercises consistently for a few weeks.

Muscle Targets: Full body – arms, legs, abs, and more!

How to Do Burpees: Confession: I had no idea how to do burpees properly when I first started. I had to watch someone do them before I truly understood. That’s why I included an animated image from Self.com, above, to demonstrate the move. It’s WAY easier to understand by seeing it versus me explaining it in text form.

How Many to Do: Start with 3-5, then rest. Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets. Increase reps to 5-10 (depending on your fitness level) if 3-5 feels too easy (but don’t be discouraged if 3-5 is challenging at first…this is a tough move!)

 

12.) Mountain Climbers

 

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Mountain Climbers

Again, another full-body move to elevate your heart rate (if you want) and provide an all-in-one move you’ll love.

Muscle Targets: Full body – arms, legs, abs, and more!

How to Do Mountain Climbers: Get into plank position. Next, pull your left knee up almost to your left elbow. Engage your core, keep your tummy tucked and back straight while doing this move. Bring the left foot back to it’s original position and repeat with the right leg. That is one rep.

How Many to Do: Start with 5-8 (1= both legs). Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets. Increase intensity by going faster (but still keep it controlled), or adding reps.

 

 

13.) Handstand

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Handstands

Ok, this move is advanced. Do it with caution. Make sure you’re ready for the challenge, and stay safe by staying away from objects that could hurt you if you fall over (which is a common occurrence when first trying this move…).

Muscle Targets: Arms, shoulders, back abs and hips/glutes/thighs

How to Do Handstands: Start slow. NerdFitness has a great tutorial (including images!) on how to progress through the process and slowly work your body up to a handstand (safely). Also important: learning how to “bail” out of the move safely.

 

 

14.) Plank Jacks

Quick Bodyweight Exercises - Plank Jacks
Image credit: Gethealthyu.com/exercise/plank-jacks/

Muscle Targets: Full body!

How to Do Plank Jacks: Get into plank position. Then, “hop” both feet out, and then “hop” back in. See image for the 2 feet positions. Keep your tumy tucked and engaged, back flat, arms straight. Focus on keeping a good form – the speed of the move is secondary, and can be increased later.

How Many to Do: Start with 8-10, then rest. Repeat 2-3 times with rest in between sets. Increase reps to increase intensity.

 

 

Workouts Using Bodyweight Exercises

Mix and match these moves to create your own workout using the bodyweight exercises listed above!

Or try this workout:

The 20-Minute Eye Opener Workout 

Arm Circles

Wall Sit

Push-ups

Crunches

Lunges

 

Do you have a favorite bodyweight exercise or workout? Tell us!

 

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Quick bodyweight exercises to get you in shape this season. Tone and strengthen, with no equipment needed! #workout #strength #exercises

 

Ready to strengthen your abs, legs and arms? Tone up with these quick & easy bodyweight exercises that even busy people can fit in! #exercises #workouts Ready to strengthen your abs, legs and arms? Tone up with these quick & easy bodyweight exercises that even busy people can fit in! #exercises #workouts Ready to strengthen your abs, legs and arms? Tone up with these quick & easy bodyweight exercises that even busy people can fit in! #exercises #workouts Quick bodyweight exercises to get you in shape this season. Tone and strengthen, with no equipment needed! #workout #strength #exercises Quick bodyweight exercises to get you in shape this season. Tone and strengthen, with no equipment needed! #workout #exercises

 

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