I once heard this quote by Jack Lalanne:
“When you run, run as if someone’s chasing you.
When you swim, swim as if a shark is after you.”
This quote is awesome because it “levels up” your workouts.
I used to workout in the gym, lifting heavy weights and would come home with joints that were throbbing.
Maybe I was lifting wrong. Or maybe my body simply likes using its own weight to strengthen itself.
Many people believe that body weight exercises can only take you so far. They say,
“To get really strong, you have to incorporate weights into your routine.”
I scoured the internet in search of the hardest most amazing exercises using only the human body.
Below is what I found…
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Mountain climbers are a great whole body exercise to develop strength throughout the upper and lower regions. This great tutorial is curtousy of BodySpex.com which is a good tool to track your fitness progress and increase motivation.
Click Here for a Tutorial on Mountain Climbers
Burpees are the classic body weight exercise to level up your training. The incorporate great leg strength building moves as well as upper body strength too. About 2 weeks ago I did 100 burpees after an intense run and total shredded my body. It was a great end to the workout.
Super fit strength & conditioning coach Steve Maxwell brings us this unique body weight exercise called Dragon Walk. It takes a bit of practice to get the coordination down at first but once you have it, its quite fun and challenging!
Click Here for a Tutorial On Dragon Walks
Jumping lunges are a incredible plyometric exercise for the low body. While doing it make sure to not let your knees go over your toes. This will cause undo stress on them. Click on the video for a great tutorial.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Jumping Lunges
For those of you with neck problems, stay away from this brutal body weight exercise. Its mostly known as a wresting exercise to strengthen neck muscles used for arching up.
This is a superb abdominal exercise that also engages your arms. The key to this exercise is to bring your legs up as far as you can. You want the abs to engage through the curling motion.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Hanging Knee To Elbow
Pike Roll Outs are a wonderful full body exercise. Your arms and upper body are being used to stabilize the movement while your feet roll on a stability ball. It seriously works every part of your body.
Guess who this is? Yours truly! This is one of my favorite body weight ab exercises. The goal of this exercise is to keep your back extremely straight and your knees straight too. In the video, I don’t do the greatest job of this but try your best.
Spiderman Pushup is a great body weight exercise to engage your abs while also stimulating the upper body. Make sure to stay in good form while you are performing this exercise by keeping your back straight and raising your knee all the way to your forearm.
This is a new one for me. The cool thing about body weight workouts is that you can adjust them in so many unique ways. Many people have heard of ordinary burpees. Yet by modifying it just a bit (removing a leg) you add a great amount of difficulty. Body weight master Funk Roberts brings us this exercise.
Ok, this guy is insane. This is your first introduction to Fazio Enterprises. I have a bunch of videos from him. If you want to check out Fazio’s YouTube Channel I highly recommend it. This is a sweet plyometric unique way of doing pushups.
Click Here for a Fazio Pushup Challenge
Ah, the infamous Hindu Pushups. I learned these initially from body weight guru Matt Furey. Similar to Diver Bombers, this body weight exercise develops whole body strength. Click the video to see a demo.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Hindu Pushups
This pushup is just like the normal pushup except instead of doing them on your palms, you’ll put your hands into fists and do the normal pushup on your knuckles, hence the name. It’s not really developing that much more strength in your body (maybe grip strength) but definitely looks cool.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Knuckle Pushups
The infamous fingertip pushup is the sister to the knuckle pushup. Place your fingers on the ground and get in the normal pushup position, then lower yourself down and back up making sure your chest hits the ground. This exercise will definitely improve your grip and overall hand/forearm strength.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Fingertip Pushups
If you’re looking for a wonderful tricep body weight exercise, look no further! This one is a doozy. You can simply keep your hands in the diamond and lower your body to the diamond or try to get your nose in the diamond (much harder).
Click Here for a Tutorial On Diamond Pushups
Hanging leg lifts are a great body weight exercise for developing a six pack. Grab a pull up or chin up bar (or essentially anything you can hang from – could even be a tree branch). With your legs straight, lift them up until they are parallel with the floor. To make the exercise harder try to lift your legs up higher.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Hanging Leg Lifts
Found this video by the founder of Red Delta Project. It’s a great body weight exercise blog. The guy uses playground equipment to do some Walking Push Ups. This exercise is a great transition to develop strength for the one armed chin up because in the transition move you are holding yourself up with one arm.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Pull Ups
I love this exercise! This is a whole body weight exercise but especially targets the obliques. Definitely want to give it a try. If you don’t have rings try using a thick rope instead. The dude’s website is called MyMadMethods.com and it has a ton of great resources for body weight training.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Lawnmower Extensions
Just learned this exercise. It’s a great transition exercise to developing strength for the Crucifix Pushup. You’ll need some rings for this exercise. Make sure you’re keeping your back in good form. Don’t jet out your butt while you come down or slink your pelvis down to the floor. You’ll lose the effect.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Archer Pushups and Several Other Ring Pushups
Clap pushups engage the fast twitch muscle fibers of your chest. It’s a plyometric exercise and is especially good to do at the end of a workout to fatigue your chest that last little bit. Basically start in the normal pushup position. Then explode up into the air and clap your hands underneath you. Repeat.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Clap Pushups
The Chest Slap Pushup is the sister to the Clap Pushup. Start off in the normal pushup position. Explode up into the air and while in the air hit your chest with your hands. It’s another plyometric exercise and develops your fast twitch muscle fibers in your chest.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Chest Slap Pushups
This is definitely one of my favorite exercise. I learned this from Brock Lesnar in one of his training videos. Basically start off in a pushup position. Then hop over a medicine ball as you roll it back and forth. It incorporates plyometrics into your routine.
Fast exploding pushups are an extremely unique exercise. It engages the fast twitch muscle fibers of many of your muscle groups. I could explain how to do it with text but it’s easier to just watch the video :).
Click Here to learn how to build explosive power for pushups
This one is brutal. They key to doing this right is to stretch your arms out absolutely as far as they go. If you keep your arms in, you are doing what I call the Grand Canyon Pushup, which is quite a bit easier than the Crucifix Pushup.
Archer Pull Up is a variation to the standard pull up. It’s going to work more of your bicep region as you stretch out your opposite arm. It’s also a great transition exercise to help develop your muscles and get them ready for the full Muscle Up.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Archer Pull Ups
The L Pull Up is a variation of the normal pull up. Start off in the normal pull up position with your palms facing away from you. As you pull yourself up, raise your legs up into a straight line. This will engage your abs and hip flexors. Great exercise for strengthening the abs.
Click Here for a Tutorial On L Pull Ups
I just did this exercise last night. It is a doozy. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Place your hands on the ground beside you with your fingers fanning out. Push off the ground until your body is about 2 inches off the ground. Keep your knees straight. It builds great strength in the triceps and lower abs/hip flexors.
Click Here for a Tutorial On L Seat
One arm hanging leg lifts are much harder than normal hanging leg lifts. Grab the bar with one arm. As you are hanging raise your legs up until they are parallel with the ground. It’s important to keep your knees straight. Focus on engaging the lat on the side that you’re hanging from. This will help stabilize the movement.
Here’s a cool video from Steve Maxwell on One Arm Hanging Leg Lifts
If you thought squats were the only difficult body weight exercise that targeted the legs, think again! The Advanced Harop Curl is a killer. Try your best to keep your back completely straight so you keep the pressure on your hamstrings. If you don’t have a bench, ask your buddy to press down on your legs to keep you from flipping over.
Check out this video as an example
Find a pull up/chin up bar. Grab the bar and hang from it. Swing your legs from side to side. The Windshield Wiper exercise is wonderful for developing oblique strength and helping to tone up the area where uour love handles can start to form.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Windshield Wipers
This exercise is really cool. You’ll need a park that has a set up similar to this guys’. Your going to start off on one side and swing up using your upper body strength over the middle bar onto the other side.
Click Here for a great transition exercise to the Parallel Bar Dip Hops
This Pistol Squat, also known as the one legged squat, requires tremendous balance. I have challenged a few body builders to it and they haven’t been able to do it even though they were tremendously strong.
Click Here for a Tutorial On The Pistol Squat
This is a major plyometric exercise. It will work your legs a ton. In the video, the guy uses plyometric stands but feel free to use anything you can find that is elevated. You could do this on a chair or up some steps. Just be careful not to fall.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Single Leg Squat Jumps
This exercise is sweet. You’ll need a decline bench. Grab the top of it then roll your body up so just your upper back is touching the bench. Lift your lower legs up then scissor them out. This one will really work your abs as well as your obliques.
Click Here to see Sergej’s YouTube Channel
Ok. I’ve tried this in many different forms. If you have a gym membership than you could do it like the guy in the video. If not, I’ve done them off the edge of a bleacher. It will dig into your shins but try to position your feet so the pressure is on your toes.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Hanging Sit Ups
I love this move. It’s working your abdominal region a ton. You’ll need parallel bars that are elevated from the ground. Grip the bars, lift yourself up so your elbows are bent, then contract and extend your body outward.
To see more sweet bw exercises from this guy click here
So, I would not recommend doing the 2 Thumb Full Body Suspension exercise all that often. It does help develop strength in the lat muscle groups as well as the arms yet it will put tremendous strain on your thumbs. Make sure you are on the pads of your thumbs and not your tips.
Click Here to learn how to develop finger strength to prepare you for this exercise
This is a seriously cool exercise. Again, you’ll need to find some type of parallel bars. Grip the bars and lift yourself up. Do a front lever to get your body in the right position. Then you’ll simply be bringing your legs in and out. It’s a really sweet exercise to impress your friends with at the beach and develops great abdominal and bicep strength.
To see more sweet bw exercises from this guy click here
Although with the Elbow Lever you are balancing on your elbows it still requires a tremendous amount of strength in your arms, low back, and legs. This exercise is a great transition move for the planche push up.
Click Here for a Tutorial On The Elbow Lever
This is the “clap pushup” on steroids. It requires a ton of power in your chest muscles to leap of the ground. Essentially Muay Thai Pushups are plyometrics for the upper body.
Click Here for a Tutorial On Muay Thai Pushups
This is a really cool exercise that will develop strength in your arms and back muscles. You will need a bar to properly perform the exercise. Also, the exercise will strengthen your lower back a ton yet if you have low back pain, you might want to steer clear of it.
This exercise is extreme. You’ll be clapping once in front of you, once behind you, and then again in front of you all on a single rep. It’s extreme for sure and will help you develop amazing strength in your chest region.
The Dragon Flag was made popular by Stallone in Rocky. It is a killer on the abs. You don’t necessarily need a bench though for it. You could use the ground, just make sure you are gripping a pole or something behind you. I have used a stability ball (aka Pilates ball) to balance on as well.
Click Here for a Tutorial On The Dragon Flag
The Dragon Flag With Scissors is the same move as the regular Dragon Flag however your body is staying stationary and your are kicking your legs up and down. It’s like a Flutter Kick exercise but to the extreme.
Superman Pushups are a great way to develop strength in your whole body but especially your lats and low back. The goal with this exercise is to extend your arms absolutely as far as you can. This will position the angle differently and make it harder.
Good ol mister Turbulence Training showing us how to do a one armed pushup. It’s really important when doing this move to keep your back straight and come down to at least parallel. Many people slump their pelvis forward and only come down a few inches. I don’t consider that a successful attempt at a One Arm Pushup.
I love this move. It’s the One Arm One Leg Pushup. It takes a ton of balance to be able to do this move and engages the glutes of the opposite leg to a higher degree.
Muscle Ups are the infamous body weight exercise of the elite. Its crazy intense and you’ll need to do these at your local park. Find a bar that you can pull yourself up on. You’ll start off doing a normal pull up and then lift yourself up on the bar until you are fully extended upward.
Jack Lalanne has been a huge inspiration for me over the years. It was so sad when he died. Here he is showing his strength in all it’s glory with the Lalanne Pushup. Extend your body as far as you can. You’ll be working practically every inch of your body.
I’ve been working on this move for a while. The key is to develop enough strength in your ab muscles to hold your legs out straight. As a transition move, you can get into the position but keep your legs crouched in. Over time, slowly extend them out.
If you haven’t heard of Hannibal For King, then you are missing out on possibly the Michael Jordan of body weight calisthenics. He’s the man. Here he shows us how to do what he calls “Leg Flutters For Men”.
Ah, the old ab wheel. I used to do this exercise on my knees and it would kill my abs. The Standing Ab Wheel Roll Outs takes it to a whole new level by having you start from your feet. Try it. They are intense.
Flying Superman Pushups are really impressive. They are a type of, again, plyometric pushup. Start off in the normal pushup and then explode upward. While in the air extend your arms out like you were Superman. Very intense.
Thigh Slap Pushups are exactly what they sound like. You’ll be doing a plyometric pushup and exploding up into the air. While you are in the air, you’ll slap your hands and thighs together. The goal is to get as high in the air as you can so you have enough time and clearance to do it.
This is raising the bar of even the one handed pushup. Basically get in the same position as if you were doing a one handed pushup but explode up into the air so you can bring your other hand up and clap the forward hand.
These are wicked cool. It’s the same move as the normal Front Lever yet you are staying stationary and doing a normal pull up. The pull up normally engages the abs a little bit but by doing them in a front lever you are engaging the abs a ton.
I love this video. This guy does 20 or so clap pull ups. It takes tremendous strength to be able to lift your body up enough to be able to clap in mid air and then go down and keep doing them. It’s freakin awesome.
I love watching this video. He only does one of them but it is really cool to see him do it. Basically do a Muscle Up and explode up into the air. While in the air clap your hands behind your back and grab the bar. I’d love to see someone do a bunch of these in a row.
I put this move this high on the list because I’ve always wanted to do a flip. The burpee is a standard body weight move that can get very intense. This guy however adds a back flip to the rep and calls it the Burpee Back Tuck. Really impressive to watch.
I don’t even know how to describe this. You’ll simply have to watch the video. He does two hand claps while in the air after doing a dip on a parallel bar with his legs in front of him. As you can see the move is astounding.
Ok. I’ll have to admit something here. I thought of this before I watched the video and made it my goal to be able to do it. Yet, after much practice couldn’t seem to quite get it. This guy makes it look almost easy. The 360 Pushup is an extreme plyometric exercise that takes great strength.
I first learned the Diver Bomber from a Navy Seal book I had. It was intense. Though this guy does a One Arm Diver Bomber and adds a whole new definition to Seal Tough. It takes great balance and coordination on top of strength.
The 2 Fingers Pushup was first made popular by Bruce Lee. Get in a normal pushup position, then bring one hand behind your back. Then position your hands so you are balanced on just two fingers. Lower yourself down. It’s a doozy.
For the life of me, I haven’t been able to do this one yet. Though I am working on it. It is the One Arm Chin up. The best way to train for this is to use the opposite arm as a stabilizer until your other arms gets strong enough to hold and lift your entire body weight.
I basically stumbled upon this video and was blown away. This requires tremendous strength in your arms and hands. You can see half way that he has to switch hands. He’s probably got a grip like a vice. Love watching this video.
This is one of the best “pushups” that I know, and most impressive to watch. Start off in a normal pushup position. Explode up into the air and touch your fingers to your toes. Try to do as many as you can. It again requires a ton of coordination as well as strength.
Some people have reached a level of astounding strength and flexibility. This guy is one of them. He does a Reverse Planche. He starts off in a handstand and then slowly brings his legs behind him until he gets in the position. Flexibility, balance and strength are all part of this move.
To do a one arm handstand, it requires a ton of strength and balance. You’ll want to get good with your handstands first before you try to transition to a one armed handstand. I’ve got the two handed handstand down for about 30 seconds but haven’t been able to do the One Arm yet. Definitely on my list.
I am a huge fan of break dancing. I have two left feet and am terrible at dancing so that is why I think I have been especially impressed with people that can perform amazing moves while dancing. The Hand Hops incorporates great strength with cool dancing.
Here this dude breaks the world record for the longest Human Flag exercise. I love this video so much because he holds the form so well. You can usually tell when someone is having difficulty when their form starts to go.
The Human Flag Bicycles takes up the game a few notches from the ordinary Human Flag. Basically you’ll get in a Human Flag posture and then move your legs as if you were riding a bicycle.
I love this move. You’ll need some type of post to grip onto but if you can succeed at doing this move, you’ll impress most anyone that watches. Grip the bottom and top portions of the post. Lift your lower body up until you are in a normal “flag” position. Then raise and lower your legs in a crunch like motion.
I have a caveat with this one. This guys’ form is not that great but the idea of a Human Flag Pushup is astounding. Again, it’s the transition moves that most often make an exercise so difficult.
This body weight exercise is especially difficult because of the transition from the L Seat to the Handstand. Sometimes the transitions can be the most difficult to perform.
The Iron Cross takes great shoulder strength to perform. I haven’t been able to think of a way to practice this without rings (which I don’t have) but I still put this high up on the list because of the tremendous strength it takes.
Like I said before, many times it’s the transitions that are the most difficult. This guy starts in a L Seat and then pulls himself up past the Iron Cross and into a full Muscle Up. This takes whole body strength to the fullest.
I mentioned that the L Seat before was hard. This Nakayama Planche is quite a bit more difficult. It engages the abs a ton. Work on building up your upper and lower abdominals in order to transition your L Seats to the full Nakayama Planche.
Just above is the Nakayama Planche, which is very difficult. The Manna is even harder! It puts tremendous pressure on the shoulder region and requires tremendous flexibility.
If you are looking for an extreme exercise to help develop your obliques, look no further. Start off by gripping a bar with only one hand. Lift your body up in one coordinated movement until your legs come to at least parallel. Lower yourself back down.
There are some moves that impress me beyond belief. This guy does a Hand Stand Push Ups on the rings. This requires an insane amount of strength in your shoulders and also requires coordination and balance.
Here we have one of my favorite moves the Full Planche. I am working on developing the strength and balance to do it. Click the video to view exactly what it looks like.
So this kid totally inspires me. He does a full planche on just four fingers. He looks lighter so that probably helps, but still! His finger strength must be incredible.
Planche Pushups are the next transition up from the Full Planche. It requires not only strength and balance to do the Planche but since adding a push up to it as well, the move requires a ton of extra strength in your pecs and shoulders.
Again, this guy totally inspires me with his ability. This Advanced Tricep Press is unlike anything you will ever see. Definitely want to click on the video to check it out.
Here’s another extreme body weight exercise that’s on my bucket list. It takes tremendous strength in the shoulders and triceps. I’ve been able to do a half Tiger Bend but am not even close to the full.
This was on my list for the 25 Hardest Ab Exercises. We brought you above the ab wheeler from the standing position. This is essentially the same thing but with only one arm. It’s really extreme.
I love this video. It shows body weight exercises at their finest because it is something most people didn’t think possible. The dude does a handstand but on only two fingers. Its a must see.
This guy makes the one finger pull up look easy. It takes tremendous strength to be able to perform it and I highly recommend not just going out and trying it. You’ll probably break your finger off.
My jaw dropped when I saw this move for the first time. It may not be the hardest type of planche but it might easily be the coolest looking. He basically spins his body around in a break dancing move called The Windmill and spins up into a full planche.
It took some digging to find this exercise. It’s a Walking Planche and the reason I have it so high on the list is because of all the stabilizer muscles that are engaged while he’s transitioning form one side to the other as he’s walking.
I have it as my life long goal to be able to do this move. Again, like many of these extreme athletes, this guy makes it look easy. This is a must see exercise for every exercise extremist.
And here we come to the Straddle Planche Clap Pushup! Might easily be my favorite. Start off in a normal Planche and with every fast twitch muscle fiber that you can recruit pop up high in the air so you can clap your hands together.
The quality of the video isn’t the greatest but watching this dude do handstand clap pushups up stairs will make your mind blow. It takes tremendous strength, coordination and balance to be able to perform this.
The infamous, crazy and astound Inverted Iron Cross. I put this super high on the list because of the great amount of strength that’s required on the shoulder capsule. The video is incredible.
I can’t believe that this video has so few views. This guy does a one handed handstand on a cane! I didn’t think this was possible and the first time I saw this, I think I watched the video over and over again at least 4 or 5 times.
Of course, leave it to the super strength of a break dancer to be able to perform the One Handed Planche. It’s basically the same thing as a normal Planche (super difficult) but adds extreme difficulty by removing one arm. Wow!
This guy is so cool. Never though I would ever see someone do a one arm handstand pushup. I do have to say that the guy uses momentum to get up but still! Totally blown away by this.
So just one level up higher and we come to a one arm pull up to a handstand. You can tell in the video how he transitions from the pull up to the handstand. I could watch this video over and over again.
Leave it to a monk to be able to perform a move that seems to defy gravity. This guy uses a wall to assist his one finger handstand. I just feel bad for that poor little finger. I imagine he is using some chi kung energy technique to perform this along with his master over his one body strength.
Totally blown away by this number 1! The monk does a handstand on two fingers. As the video says, only a few people in the world can perform this exercise which is why I have elevated it to the number one status!
Well, I hope you enjoyed my tribute to 100 Hardest Body Weight Exercises Of All Time. If you know of someone that loves working out using bodyweight exercises, send them here!
Feel free to post your comments, questions or rebuttals below!
To your health,