April 29, 2020
20 Unconventional Bodyweight Exercises
WRITTEN BY Amanda O'Brien

There is no denying that things have changed drastically over the past few weeks and what we thought would be a couple of weeks of doing workouts in our garage has turned into months. Every Globo-gym, CrossFit gym, and boutique fitness center has closed their doors and many have been struggling to find ways to continue serving their clients. Equipment is hard to purchase because everything is either sold out or back-ordered and fitness instructors are providing free virtual workouts to the masses. Although technology has been a god-send during these times, many of these live classes, which are made specifically for those lacking in equipment will not be tailored to your needs with appropriate advances in overload week to week. This means your hard-earned time and commitment could leave you feeling stagnant, bored, or even worse, injured.

At Central Athlete we want to continue supporting you in the best way possible by providing free information to help you navigate your training during these unforeseen times. By doing so in an intelligent manner you can continue striving towards your health and fitness goals. We have put together a list of 20 non-conventional bodyweight exercises that will allow you to add some diversity to your training program and continue to build strength, muscular endurance, and skills during this time at home!

As always, if you are looking for a more personalized approach to your fitness with the guidance of a professional and experienced remote coach that provides not only training but nutrition and behavioral support as well, schedule a FREE strategy session with a coach here.


Body Saw

This dynamic exercise is a great way to increase your core strength as well as provide some shoulder stability in the process. Make sure you maintain a posterior pelvic tilt throughout the entire movement to avoid hyperextending the lumbar spine and maximize your core engagement. For adequate shoulder stability, keep your shoulders protracted and work towards five sets of 30-60 second technically efficient holds! (You may only be able to do 1-2 sets of 30s when you start - that’s okay!)

Quadruped Shoulder Taps

An advanced core exercise that focuses on anti-rotation, the purpose of this exercise is to utilize your intra-abdominal muscles to ensure your hips stay squared as you remove a base of support. Three sets of 10 is a great place to start and when you are able to complete the sets without any shifting of the hips, you can lower the volume and add pauses to make it even more difficult.

Reverse Crunch to Deadbug

This can be done without the need for a weighted counterbalance as shown in the video and is a killer core exercise when done correctly. Be sure your low back stays engaged with the floor as you extend your arms and legs and focus on using your core to bring your hips off the floor without using momentum if possible.

Straddle Hollow Body Hold

This is a great movement in advancing towards an adequate hollow body hold. Try progressing towards five sets of 60 seconds while ensuring your low back stays pressed against the ground and your heels remain no more six inches above the ground.

Lower Body

Waiters Bow

This is a simple posterior chain exercise that also focuses on thoracic extension. To maximize this body-weight movement, add a tempo and focus on pushing your knees back (without locking them out) as your torso comes forward. Be sure your spine stays neutral and your upper back remains engaged. This can be used in your warm-up, as a muscular endurance exercise, or even to help increase flexibility in your upper back and hamstrings.

Bridge Walkout

The bridge walkout is a great progression from a double leg hip extension to a single leg hip extension. To ensure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck, be sure to keep your hips fully extended while you walk your feet out. If done correctly, regardless of how strong or advanced you are, this will be a great burner for your hamstrings and glutes. This exercise, like many hip extension exercises, will build strength and stability around the hips and can be used as a great primer before any lower body strength movements.

Single Leg Hip Extension

This movement builds off the double leg hip-extension and provides hip stability and glute strength. You can use this as a primer before your workout or even as a strength piece within your training.

Quadruped Single Leg Hip Extension

This is an even more advanced hip extension movement because it involves core stability in addition to glute activation to ensure you don’t rotate or fall over when a base of support is removed. Give this two-in-one exercise a shot by completing 10 non-alternating reps per side with a three-second pause at the top.

Single-Leg Deadlift with Hand Support

Add a 3030 tempo to this movement and ensure your knee stays stacked over your ankle and your hips stay squared for an extremely efficient single-leg posterior chain exercises. If you are able to perform 12 solid reps with the tempo above, remove your hand to add more difficulty. Lastly, you can add some weight if available for another challenge!

One-Legged Wall Sit

This movement is an advanced version of the double leg wall sit and can be used to prime the glutes and hamstrings or as a strength and stability exercise. You can do wall-sit marches or static holds depending on your single leg abilities. Try building to five sets of 30-60 second solid marches, before advancing to a static single leg hold.

Pause Air-Squat Jumps

Add difficulty to the basic air squat by adding a pause at the bottom and an explosive concentric phase by jumping into the air. You can even add a tempo to the eccentric phase to add more of a challenge. When using solely your body for exercise, it’s important to vary your movements and add more challenges to reduce some volume within each week. You can add this to your mixed aerobic work or even as a stand-alone muscular endurance piece. The tempo, reps, and sets should be determined by various factors such as training age, muscular stability, and muscular endurance capabilities.

Prisoner Jump Lunges

Jump lunges are a challenge in themselves, but when you remove the ability to use your hands to create momentum and balance, it takes the difficulty to another level.

Curtsy Squat

The curtsy squat is also known as a curtsy lunge and is a single-leg lunge variation. It targets more of the glutes and hamstrings when done correctly along with the gluteus medius which is essential for stability but isn’t directly targeted with your traditional lunge or squat. For more quad activation, keep your chest upright but for more glute and hamstring activation you can lean forward slightly as you lower your knee to the ground.

Counter Balance Skater Squat

This movement is an advanced single-leg exercise and one of the final progressions towards a single leg squat. Even if you already have single-leg squats, this is still a great strength skill to add to your arsenal. The counterbalance is used to make the movement more doable by balancing your weight proportionally as your lower your body. If it’s easy with a counterbalance, try going without the added weight held in front of you. If you don’t have a weighted plate to use for the counterbalance, be creative and use anything in your house that weighs a few pounds.

Upper Body

Wall Facing Handstand

Before attempting this movement you want to ensure prerequisite strength has been developed. Proper overhead mobility along with straight-arm pushing strength and core stability is essential for your safety! Once you can complete five sets of 60 seconds in a front leaning rest you and have adequate overhead mobility, give this one a try! Start slow and build smart week to week.

Hollow Body Wall Walk

When you have enough upper body strength and core stability this exercise will surely add some difficulty to your body-weight routine! Smart progressions are needed to avoid overuse injuries but this movement can be a fun addition to your aerobic training or can be used within a strength training or muscular endurance superset.

Full Body

No Pushup Burpee

This burpee variation takes the push-up out of the movement while still providing a full-body experience and aerobic component. Don’t get lazy with this movement and be sure to keep your core engaged as you pop your feet out into the plank position. No saggy hips! Also, it is important to land flat-footed, not on your toes, so if you need to, widen your stance to ensure your feet stay flat when you pop them back up to your hands.

Bodyweight Windmill

The windmill exercise acts as both a stability and mobility drill across the entire body. It improves hip mobility and hamstring flexibility as well as shoulder stability. Without weight, this is a great primer before any training session but especially for those who may be experiencing shoulder discomfort. If you have a dumbbell or kettlebell you can use added resistance to increase the strength in your shoulders. For unweighted windmills, reps of 10-20 are optimal whereas less volume will be needed if you are planning to add load.

Walking Table

This movement is a dynamic form of the table stretch that encompasses the entire body from the arms and shoulders to the hips and glutes. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the movement; it can be quite the burner when added into your training appropriately. Be sure to keep your hips extended as you move to ensure maximal glute activation!

Arrested Superman

This static exercise works the entire posterior chain from your thoracic spine to your lumbar spine and even your glutes and hamstrings. Placing your hands behind your head and focusing on lifting your elbows up will increase the difficulty by enhancing the extension of your thoracic spine and mobility of the shoulders. Start with three sets of 15-25 seconds and build volume week to week.

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