9 No-Equipment Bodyweight Exercises All Trainers Love

by Estelle Low
FITNESS  |  April 06, 2020
  • Don't underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises
    1 / 10 Don't underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises

    Bodyweight exercises are insanely accessible. They are easy to pick up, and can be done anywhere without equipment.

    After attending a gazillion gym classes and working with trainers, I’ve learnt that these exercises are the non-negotiable ones, because they are so good at strengthening your core muscles, toning you up, and just making you an overall fitter person.

    (Also read: Do These Core Exercises Besides Standard Planks For a Slimmer Waist)

    All photos: 123rf.com

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  • Squats
    2 / 10 Squats

    Targetting the major muscles – glutes, quads, core – it’s no wonder why squats always get called for in gym class. Big muscles, big burn! To start: Lower body and push your hips back as if you’re sitting down. Shift body weight to your heels and make sure tailbone is tucked. Knees should not go beyond ankles. Not feeling much? Turn the squat into a full-body workout by doing bicep curls or overhead presses with a dumbbell. More form tips here.

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  • Push-ups
    3 / 10 Push-ups

    Push-ups fire up your whole body in a jiffy. Learn to do them properly once and for all. Start with your knees on the floor and slowly graduate to the man push-up when you are stronger. Another way to train: Rest your body on the floor and push up into plank position as swiftly as you can. You may be doing body waves at first, but you will get the hang of it once you learn to control your core muscles.

    (Also read: How to Do Proper Man Push-ups)

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  • Planks
    4 / 10 Planks

    The mother of all core exercises, planks are a workout staple for good reason: They activate all parts of the body you want to tone: arms, shoulders, back, butt, abs and legs. Get onto your forearms with body in a straight line. Elbows should be directly under shoulders, and hips in neutral position (not lifted or sagging). Hold for as long as possible in good form. Challenge yourself by doing commando planks – straightening arms one by one and going on your forearms again without moving out of alignment.

    (Also read: How to Do a Perfect Plank)

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  • Side planks
    5 / 10 Side planks

    Like planks, lots of arm and core work is involved. Side planks are particularly good for toning your obliques (the sides of your abs), which are often neglected in training. Start by holding for 10 seconds. If that feels too easy, increase the holding time until you feel your body quivering. That should be the duration to aim for. When you get stronger, raise the top leg to work your core even more.

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  • Lunges
    6 / 10 Lunges

    Besides sculpting your butt, thighs and calves, lunges are a great test of balance. Every big step forward forces you to stabilise yourself to stay in a neutral, upright position. And that’s when your ankles and core get involved. Runners, this is one move to keep in your strength training routine.

    (Also read: Why Yoga is Especially Good For Runners)

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  • Side lunges
    7 / 10 Side lunges

    These are similar to lunges, except that you step out to the sides instead of forward and backward. Side lunges are especially useful in improving balance and agility, training you to perform side-to-side movements that are required in sports such as badminton and netball.

    (Also read: How to Do Lunges Without Hurting Your Knees)

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  • Hip Raises
    8 / 10 Hip Raises

    This deceptively simple exercise requires significant strength in your glutes and hamstrings. In lying down position, squeeze butt and lift hips off ground as high as possible. While at it, contract your pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them too. Hold for 10 seconds, increasing the duration if it feels too easy.

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  • Banana
    9 / 10 Banana

    You’re familiar with crunches and sit-ups. Now do the banana, another treat for the core: In lying position, lift legs a few inches off ground and lift upper back, arms extended overhead. Keep shoulders relaxed. Try holding for 10 seconds, increasing the duration by 10 seconds each time. This move requires you to stay compact. In the process, you’ll be activating your arms and legs too. If you find it too tough at first, bend your legs slightly and lift them higher [shown].

    (Also read: The Best Pilates Classes in Singapore to Strengthen Your Core)

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  • Superman
    10 / 10 Superman

    While we often think of the core as the abdominal muscles, your core includes the lower back too. The superman – equivalent to the locust pose in yoga – is perfect for stretching your abdominals. At the same time, it builds strength in your back and glutes as you have to lift your chest, arms and legs off the ground. Exhale as you lift, squeezing the butt muscles, and inhale when you return to starting position. Start by holding for 10 seconds, increasing the duration with each rep.

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