9 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Be Doing

FITNESS  |  January 13, 2017
  • Squats
    1 / 9 Squats

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    You saw this coming. 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
    2 / 9 Push-ups

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    Since primary school days, you’ve been exposed to this exercise. Love or hate them, push-ups are going to continue being featured in HIIT and CrossFit routines. They fire up your whole body in a jiffy, and are the stepping stone to doing burpees, every trainer’s favourite. 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
    3 / 9 Planks

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    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 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
    4 / 9 Side planks

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    Like planks, lots of arm and core work is involved. Side planks are particularly good for toning your obliques (the side of your core), 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 and you’re starting to perspire. 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
    5 / 9 Lunges

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    Besides sculpting your butt, thighs and calves – good for skinny jeans lovers – 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
    6 / 9 Side lunges

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    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 you hardly do in daily life. It’s also beneficial for those who do sports. Imagine playing a game of badminton where you’re shuffling while trying to anticipate the direction of the shuttlecock. Get quicker on your feet by doing side lunges regularly.

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

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  • Hip Raises
    7 / 9 Hip Raises

    Photo: Andrei Zaripov / 123rf.com

    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. Look forward to a shapelier booty!

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  • Banana
    8 / 9 Banana

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    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
    9 / 9 Superman

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    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 tummy muscles and countering any strain from doing exercises like crunches. At the same time, it builds strength in your lower back and glutes as you have to lift your chest, arms and legs off the ground. Exhale as you lift, and inhale when you return to starting position. Start by holding for 10 seconds, increasing the duration with each rep. To last longer, squeeze your butt and legs together.

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