Guy doing a push up plank near a pyramid in egypt

The 6 Best Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

I have some sad news to tell you. I hope it doesn’t break your heart or send you down an emotional rollercoaster. You want to know what it is? Get closer to your screen and read this next sentence carefully.

You don’t need a gym to work out!

 I know it sounds insane! Especially coming from a guy that’s a certified personal trainer but hear me out.

Every since the late 80’s, society has gotten brainwashed into thinking that a gym is the only way to get in shape. Most forget that like most things in civilization, it’s all about the money!

The reason you feel the need to only workout in gyms is because of capitalism. There’s lots of money to be made in the fitness industry. Gyms saw a demand for fun workout places so they designed them with convenient machines and equipment to make you depend on them for your fitness. With all those shiny toys, gyms made you forget about the secret workout system you carry around with yourself every day.

The truth they don’t want you to realize is that all you need is your body to get a good workout.

That’s great news if you’re a busy traveler. When traveling, it’s always hard to find the perfect gym or to continue with your normal home exercise routines. Change your mindset and start embracing bodyweight workouts when traveling. Bodyweight workouts are an excellent way to see what key area your body needs improving in.

There are hundreds of different bodyweight exercises you can do. In this article, I wanted to keep it simple and give you only a few. These six body weight exercises are the alpha dogs when it comes towards everything you need in a workout plan. You can build some muscle, lose some fat, address stability issues and even get some conditioning in.

Here are the six best bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere.

Bodyweight Squats

Muscles Involved:

Quadriceps
Glutes
Hamstrings
Calves
Abdominals

Squats are sometimes considered the king of all exercises. It’s a perfect combination of strength, muscle building, endurance and conditioning. Try to do fifty perfect bodyweight squats in a row. When done correctly, you will understand why you must bow down to the king as your heart and lungs explode out your chest! The bodyweight squat truly works!

When doing a traditional barbell squat, this movement includes even more muscles due to action required to stabilize your body. But before one master’s the barbell squat, you need to learn the bodyweight squat!

Despite the bodyweight squat being the best lower body movement, it’s amazing how many people refuse to do this movement correctly. Seeing how far a person can squat is a good test for mobility in the hips and knees.

If you can’t squat to parallel, you have some work to do! You should not be bragging about heavy barbell squats and focus on this exercise.

Once able to squat to parallel, you can make the movement harder by changing your feet spacing (shoulder width stance to wide leg, sumo stance), doing more reps or changing tempo (i.e.: take 4-8 secs to lower your body, 1 second to raise, repeat). That will keep this movement fresh and challenging.

Push Ups

Muscles Involved:

Pectoralis Major
Anterior Deltoid
Triceps Brachii
Biceps
Rectus Abdonis
Obliques
Quadriceps
Erector Spinae

Can you say U-N-D-E-R-A-T-E-D!!

The push up is truly a full body movement. It’s not only the chest muscles that get a good workout but your entire anterior (front) side of your body is involved in this movement when done correctly. We’re talking all the way from your shoulders to your thighs.

The push up is a great way to work on your stability. For most people it’s not necessarily the chest that is weak, but rather lack of stability in all your assistance muscles. That’s what makes the push up such a great bodyweight exercise.

Pull Ups/ Chin Ups

Muscles Involved:

Latissimus Dorsi
Brachialis
Brachioradialis
Biceps Brachii
Teres Major
Deltoid, Posterior
Infraspinatus
Teres Minor
Rhomboids
Levator Scapulae
Trapezius, Lower
Trapezius, Middle
Pectoralis Minor
Triceps, Long Head
Abdominals

If the squat is the king of the south/lower body, then consider pull-ups the king of the north!

No other upper body movement comes close to getting so many muscles involved. Majority of the muscles involved are located in your back and arms. The pull up is so awesome that it even includes your abs while doing them.

Chin Ups and Pull ups are very similar. Pull ups are when you have your palms facing away from your body (prone grip aka pronation). Chin Ups are when you have your palms facing your body while doing the movement (supine grip aka supination). Chin ups are normally easier due to your biceps being more involved.

It doesn’t matter which one you do, as long as you do it! The only hard part about doing pull ups while traveling is finding a bar. That’s where you have to get creative. Look for bars at playgrounds, trees, street signs, or bring your own portable pull up bar.

This exercise is worth the effort it takes to find a bar.

Lunges

Muscles Involved:

Quadriceps
Gluteus Maximus
Adductor Magnus
Soleus
Dynamic Stabilizers
Hamstrings
Gastrocnemius
Tibialis Anterior
Gluteus Medius
Gluteus Minimus
Quadratus Lumborum
Obliques

Most people have imbalances in their limbs. That’s why it’s good to do unilateral (one body part) movements. That’s where lunges come into play. Lunges allow you to focus on one leg at a time.

You should focus on unilateral leg movements for balance and strength issues. If you’re too weak on one side of your body, that will lead to injuries later down the road. Address your lower body imbalances by doing the bodyweight lunge.

Plank

Muscles Involved:

Rectus Abdominis
Obliques
Iliopsoas
Tensor Fasciae Latae
Quadriceps
Sartorius
Pectoralis major
Serratus Anterior
Erector Spinae
Trapezius, Middle
Trapezius, Lower
Rhomboids

No matter what your fitness goal, you want to have a strong mid-section. Your body’s main movement patterns always get started around your core area. The plank is a great way to strengthen those muscles. Do the exercise for time. Overtime you can add slight variations (one legged, side planks, elevated, etc.)

Burpees

Burpees are the ultimate bodyweight conditioning tool. The simple movement of going completely down to the floor and jumping does a good job of working all the muscles involved in squats and push ups with the added (but tiresome) bonus of cardio.

Do burpees as part of a HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine. Don’t underestimate how much this movement will kick your butt!