Bodyweight exercises with these great variations

Everyone loves to feel 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. The basic body weight exercises we all know — push-ups, pull-ups, squats, or lunges — are essential for a reason. They are great movements that address a number of muscles at the same time and can be performed almost anywhere. But as effective as these exercises are, they can only take you so far.

They say diversity is the spice of life and that’s also true for a life of fitness. Not only that, but it is crucial to build a complete and well-managed physique. But that doesn’t mean you should completely ditch your favorite body weight routine. In fact, you can achieve a lot more by modifying those traditional movements to target different muscle groups. So in that endeavor, here are some variations of upper and lower body exercises that you can do with little or no equipment.

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Instead of: Push-ups – Triangle (or diamond) pressure boost

Why:

The traditional push-up is an exercise that works the chest muscles, shoulders, and front deltoids. By doing this triangle shape, you are adding difficulty, adjusting the target chest portion, and also becoming one of the best triceps movements out there.

How:

Get into a plank position, starting with lying on the floor face down and placing your palms directly under your chest. The index finger and thumb come together to form a triangle or diamond shape. Your elbows should be close to your torso and pointing back. Engage your core, thighs, and glutes as you push yourself off the floor until your arms are nearly extended. Return yourself down toward the starting position, with the back of your hands touching your inner chest before starting the next repetition.

Extra credit:

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

Instead of: pull – around the world

Why:

The traditional pull-up is one of the best upper body exercises around, and it’s especially great for the shoulders, back, and arms. By doing this variation “around the world,” you’re strengthening your biceps even more, by putting your entire body weight on one arm at a time.

How:

Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip that’s wide outside your shoulders. The starting position is called active suspension, with your feet lifted off the ground and the body extended. From this position, pull your body weight up toward your right hand until the bar is at your chin, then keep your body elevated to your left hand. Lower your weight again in a controlled manner, then repeat the movement but start with your left hand.

Extra credit:

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

Instead of: squatting – PISTOL SQUAT

Why:

Traditional squats are one of the best ways to train the quads, hamstrings, and buttocks. Since your whole body is going in smooth motion, it’s also great for your movement and balance. Before moving on to this movement, the single-leg squat has the same principles but does not require your leg to be parallel to the floor, making it easier to control. But by doing this variation of the pistol squat position, you’ll build strength, mobility, and especially your balance.

How:

Start standing with your feet together under your shoulders. Spread your arms out in a straight line in front of you. Once you are set, lift your right leg off the floor, keeping it in a straight line in front of you like your arms are, and begin lowering your body with your weight on your left leg. Do it in a slow and controlled manner, while keeping your heart engaged and balanced. Keep going down until your left leg is parallel to the floor, then slowly stand back up. Repeat on the other side.

Extra credit:

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

Instead of: rush – Front length with rotation

Why:

The traditional lunge is another great exercise for the lower body, including the quads and glutes, which also enhances movement to a greater extent than squats. This variation with the extra rotation adds an extra challenge to balance and focus as you load your body weight on each leg for longer.

Not only that, but it also handles curves in an intrinsic way.

How:

Start with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight in front of you. Step forward with your left foot and slowly descend into a lunge position with your left thigh parallel to the floor. Once this is done, rotate your arms and torso over your left leg while maintaining a straight posture. Rotate back to face forward and then return to the starting position in a controlled manner. Repeat on the other side.

Extra credit:

For those looking to take this exercise to the next level, try holding a sandbag or dumbbells during the entire movement, such as those in a fraud.

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