Have you ever watched someone perform a bodyweight exercise and gasped in awe at their level of skill? I’ll be the first to confess that I have been amazed more than once at the body’s ability to maneuver effortlessly and the strength it takes to accomplish it.
My amazement has only fueled my own desire to be able to attain the same distinction of greatness. So, I decided that I needed to create my own bodyweight exercise bucket list.
The only way to take a dream and make it a reality is to create a game plan.
Creating your bodyweight bucket list is not difficult. Keep your list realistic. Make a list of the bodyweight exercises you want to complete and include a date of when you want to master it. To keep yourself from getting frustrated keep track of your progress. Charting your growth is a great preventive from giving up.
To write down what exercises and when I want to accomplish my bodyweight goals is only half the challenge. The other half is finding really good teachers or tutorials.
Below I have listed what I believe are to be the 9 Best Bodyweight exercises and the tutorials that explain these exercises in a very clear and concise way. I have also provided a progression section. In order to master anything great it almost always takes tackling smaller goals along the way.
1. Planche Tutorial
The planche is a super cool but strenuous bodyweight exercise that few have mastered. Basically, your body will be held up using just your hands and your lower body will be extended behind you. All of your weight will be supported by your arms and shoulders so make sure to build up good shoulder strength.
1. L Sit
2. L Sit with Tucked Legs
3. Rotate Legs Behind (Can Rock Back and Forth)
4. Extend One Leg out (Or With Straddle)
-Keep your arms straight and a hollow body in your torso.
-To get stronger you can do push ups in a tucked planche.
-If you struggle to get your hips up practice the normal push up with your body shifted forward. This will strengthen your deltoids.
-Hand placement can be forward, side or backward. The important aspect is that your elbows are straight.
Another helpful video when practicing the planche:
2. Handstand Tutorial
The handstand is a bodyweight exercise that is extremely versatile allowing you to target and strengthen several different muscle areas. Placing your hands flat on the ground your goal is to balance all of your bodyweight on your hands and wrists while keeping your legs straight in the air. The ultimate challenge is to see how long you can balance before toppling over.
1. Wrist Prep – Place hands on the ground in different positions and lean forward (stretching)
2. Understand the Hollow Body Position
3. Practice walking up and down the wall in hollow body position and body facing wall (lock out arms)
4. Handstand against wall with body facing out
5. L Stand
6. Free standing handstands (start with tuck or straddle)
-For each progression you should be able to do 1 minute before you move on.
3. One Arm Push Up Tutorial
The one arm push up is a more common but still grueling bodyweight exercise that requires you to only use one arm when doing a push up. This bodyweight exercise is not for the faint at heart.
1. Incline One Arm Push Up
2. Self Assisted One Arm Push Up
3. The L7 Push Up
4. Negative One Arm Push Up
5. Pistol Position One Arm Push Up
-There are two types of stances for the one arm push up. One is to have your arm out which forces your legs and feet into a wide stance. This variation is usually easier because your wider stance helps you to stay balanced. Be sure to keep your hips from sinking too low or from sticking up in the air.
-Arm is in closer to your body and almost directly under your shoulder. This variation tends to be more difficult because it relies heavily on your tricep muscle.
4. Back Flip Tutorial
Back flips are not just for gymnasts. This awesome bodyweight exercise challenges you to overcome gravity by jumping in the air and flipping your whole body backwards and then landing on your feet.
1. Start with a partner and have them not only spot you but have them help you flip over. 2. See video for hand placement of the person spotting you.
3. Start on soft ground wearing shoes for support.
-Start standing up not squatting down.
-Keep your arms up.
-Lean your back slightly.
-Bring your knees up when you are at your highest point in the air and grab your knees.
-Stay relaxed but be quick and energetic too!
5. Muscle Up
The muscle up is a bodyweight exercise that combines a pull up and a dip together. The difficulty lies in transitioning your body from a pull up into a dip. This exercise can be done on a set of rings suspended in mid-air to make it even harder.
Progression: (Pull Up)
1. Bodyweight Rows do 4 in sets of 3-5
2. Elevator Rows do sets of 3-5 or until you are comfortable
3. Assisted Pull Up
4. False Grip
5. Basic Pull Up
Progression: (Push Up)
1. Decline Ring Push Up
2. Level Ring Push Up
3. Assisted Dip
4. Half of a Muscle Up – very slow & controlled
5. Assisted Negative Muscle Up – using a stool
6. Negative Muscle Up without assistance
7. Assisted Muscle Up
8. Full Muscle up
-Heel of your hand goes on top of the ring.
-Hands need to be outward in the false grip.
-Use a false grip to speed the process of your transition.
-Your hands should naturally curl up
-Move slowly to ensure more muscle growth in you muscle ups.
6. Front Lever
A front lever is a physically demanding bodyweight exercise that requires you to lower your legs from an inverted hang until the body is completely horizontal and straight with the front of the body facing upwards.
1. Tightly Tucked Front Lever
2. Tucked Front Lever
3. One Leg Extended Front Lever
4. The Straddled Front Lever
-Aim for 15 second holds.
-Add ankle weights until you are ready for a harder variation.
-Lift up to the lever level and higher.
-Pull yourself up above the bar and then use the swing to mark the front lever position.
-Hang on the bar and bring your legs into full extension practicing the front lever position.
Dragon flag works your the same ab and back muscles used in a front lever position.
Lat pulls with weights or with resistance bands.
7. Human Flag
The human flag is an extremely difficult exercise that requires super core and upper body strength. This balance movement requires you to hold your body horizontally in the air by using your core and your arms to hold you up.
1. Focus first on proper hand placement.
2. Work on three sets of proper hand placement. Hold for as long as you can.
3. Lift legs and hold them in a bent knees position.
4. Lift legs and hold straight in the air.
5. Lift legs and hold straight in the air and then lower than slowly to the ground.
6. Kick your legs into the flag and hold.
7. Lift your legs into the human flag and hold using your core.
-Proper hand placement gives you a fixed grip. Place hands based on what’s most comfortable but be sure to practice hands in opposite positions in order to develop your core muscles on both sides.
-Bottom hand needs to have fingers facing down while top hand needs to have the thumb facing downward.
-Keep your back pushed out with your core open.
-Keep your shoulders locked out and your bottom arm is locked out too.
8. Pistol Squat
The pistol squat is a balance demanding bodyweight exercise that requires you to squat down with one leg straight out and then come back up while keeping your straight leg still out.
1. Sit on a bench with one leg straight out and practice standing up.
2. Stand on a bench and lower yourself into a squat.
3. Balance in pistol squat position
4. Full pistol squat exercise
-Keep chest up.
-Keep your lower back and the hamstring of your straight leg tight.
-Do not move on to the next phase of progression until you are comfortable.
9. Tiger Bend
A tiger bend is a ultra crazy bodyweight exercise that first starts in a handstand lowers into a pushup. As you lower into your pushup you tense your lower back and shift your weight from your hands to your elbows.
1. Comfortably hold a 30 second handstand.
2. Comfortably hold a 30 second elbow stand.
3. Five full range handstand push ups.
4. Tiger bend
-Lower yourself down comfortably.
-Lower yourself slowly.
-Keep your lower back tense and engaged to prevent falling backwards.
-Perform tiger bends with bent knees if you keep falling backwards.
Which body weight exercises are on your bucket list! Let’s keep each other accountable in the comments section below!