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5 essential bodyweight exercises

5 essential bodyweight exercises

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No gym membership or space to store bulky equipment? No problem! Body weight exercises allow you to exercise virtually anywhere, anytime. Personal trainer Andrew Cate reveals 5 of the best.

1. Burpees with a push-up

Burpees are a complete workout in themselves, combining cardio and strength with a squat, vertical jump, plank and push up. They target your glutes, thighs, core, chest and shoulders.

How to

1. In a squatted position, place your hands on the ground in front of you

2. Lean onto your hands, then jump both feet backwards together into a plank / push up position

3. Perform a push-up (go as low as your upper body strength allows

4. Jump your feet forwards so they are near your hands again

5. Explosively jump up into the air, reaching your arms above your head 6. Return to the initial squatting position, ready for your next burpee

Trainers tip

Keep your core engaged throughout for trunk stablisation

DO THIS: The perfect push-up

2. Horizontal pull ups

This exercise works your upper back, rear shoulders and biceps. It's not as difficult as chin ups, but just as effective. You will need to find a bar, or use suspension handles (like the TRX system).

How to

1. Lie underneath a horizontal bar so your chest is in line with the bar

2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip (thumbs on the inside).

3. Engage your core and pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar.

4. Try to keep your body straight throughout.

5. Lower yourself back down for one rep.

Trainers tip

Keeping your legs straight and staying on your heels makes this harder, while using knees bent and staying on the soles of your feet makes this easier.

3. The plank

Forget crunches. The plank is great exercise for strengthening the abdominal core, which supports your spine during everyday movements. It may also help to also improve posture and balance. Planking targets the muscles in your abdominals, shoulders, arms and glutes.

How to

1. Lie face down in a push up position

2. Bend your arms at 90 degrees (underneath the shoulders), and rest your weight on your elbows

3. Hold your body off the ground, keeping in a straight line from shoulders to ankles.

4. Engage your core by sucking your belly button in towards your spine.

5. Hold this position as long as you can.

Trainers tip

Plank on one foot to increase the difficulty

HOW TO: Get a six pack in 3 easy steps

4. Alternating Superman

This exercise targets many of the major muscles groups in your back and trunk, which helps to counter-balance abdominal training. The kneeling position also allows you to focus on balance, core stabilisation and shoulder strength.

How to

1. Kneel on all fours, knees under hips and hands placed beneath shoulders.

2. Slowly lift one arm forwards and the opposite leg backwards.

3. Once your arm and leg reaches the height of your body, hold for 2-4 seconds

4. Return your arms and legs to the kneeling position, then mirror the movement with the opposite arm and leg.

Trainers tip

Add a light set of dumbbells to better target your shoulders, and increase the challenge on your core

FIND OUT: How to lunge your way to stronger, leaner, faster legs

5. Bridge

A great workout for your hips, glutes, quads and hamstrings. There is also some core strengthening and balance involved.

How to

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms folded across your chest

2. Slowly lift your bum off the floor until your back is straight, forming a ‘bridge’ between your feet and your shoulders.

3. Squeeze your gluteal muscles (the ones in your butt) as you come up.

4. Lower yourself back down, but don't let your bottom hit the floor until your set is finished.

Trainers tip

If you find this easy, perfom single leg bridge ups to increase the difficulty

Yeah, burpees!

How to get the most out of your training

  • Perform a 5 minute cardio warm up beforehand, such as walking, jogging, cycling or skipping
  • Start by performing 1 set of each exercise for 8 - 15 repetitions. Add a second set, or additional repetitions as your fitness improves, or if you found the exercise easy
  • Maintain good technique and engage your abdominal core muscles throughout each exercise
  • Move quickly between exercises to further elevate your heart rate and burn more kilojoules
  • Perform jumping movements on a padded floor or gym mat to reduce the impact on your joints