When it comes to building strength, you have a ton of options to choose from. Barbells, dumbbells, weight machines, and kettlebells are all common implements used to train strength. But what if you don't have access to equipment or simply do not enjoy working with equipment? In that case, we have some good news to share. Bodyweight training on its own can be an incredibly effective way to get stronger, build muscle, and improve your overall health. In honor of that, we've rounded up seven of the best bodyweight exercises for men to build strength.
If you don't like weight training, it's a smart idea to consistently hit bodyweight exercises every day to give your strength a boost. Keep reading for our top-recommended bodyweight exercises for men to build strength. Perform three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions of each exercise per day. You can split it into two workouts or get it done together during a single session. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Pushups are a part of virtually every legit bodyweight workout—and for good reason. Few exercises can match pushups for hitting your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core without any added equipment. You can add weight to your back to increase the difficulty, elevate your feet, or even perform explosive pushups if standard pushups become too easy.
To perform pushups, begin in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width distance apart and your feet together. Engage your core and maintain a braced, neutral spine from head to toe. Do not allow your hips to sag. Lower your body toward the floor by bending your elbows until your chest is just above the ground. Push through both hands back up to the starting position until your arms lock out. Repeat for the target repetitions.
If pushups are the king of upper-body bodyweight exercises, then squats take the throne when it comes to the lower body. The squat is an exercise, a movement, and a vital component of day-to-day living. As an exercise, squats hit your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings primarily, with some core activation as well. You can hold weight or add a jump if you need to increase difficulty.
To perform a squat, begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly outward. Lower your body by bending your knees and hips, keeping your chest up and spine neutral. Lower your hips as much as you can, ideally until your thighs are parallel to the ground or beyond. Drive through both feet to return to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Pull-ups are the best exercise for building an impressive back and lat musculature. They also hit your arms and grip, with emphasis on depending on your selected grip choice.
To perform pull-ups, hang from a pull-up bar using an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Engage your lats and core while keeping your shoulders "down and back," pinching your scapulae together. Pull your body up until your chest makes contact with the bar. Lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Tricep dips are a great way to get some serious pump in your triceps and hit your anterior deltoids (shoulder) and pectorals (chest). We prefer parallel bars or rings, but you can also perform these on a bench or a similar stable object.
To perform tricep dips, position yourself between parallel bars or on the edge of a bench. If using a bench or similar object/surface, place your hands on it, fingers pointing to the side or forward. Lower your body by bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle and rotating at your shoulders. Keep your elbows close to your body and your shoulders down. Avoid any shrugging. Push back up to the starting position by fully straightening your arms. Repeat for the target repetitions.
The plank is a killer core isometric exercise that hits your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques. In this exercise, you will hold for three sets of 30 seconds, rather than repetitions.
To perform a plank, start in a forearm plank position with elbows under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine from head to toe. Squeeze your glutes to prevent any hip sag. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat for three sets.
Lunges are a great functional exercise that hits your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core while challenging balance and proprioception. If you're not using any external resistance, consider performing walking lunges. You will want 15 meters or so of space to give yourself enough room to complete each set of lunges. You can also perform laps back and forth if you do not have enough space for a single runway.
To perform lunges, begin standing with your feet hip distance apart. Take a big step forward with your right foot Lower your back knee toward the ground, and bend your front knee to lower your body toward the floor. When your back knee is roughly an inch off the ground, push through your front foot to return to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Side planks are great for hitting your obliques and quadratus lumborum, which are both key spinal stabilizer muscles in your core that contribute to strength as well as defined core musculature.
To perform side planks, begin lying on your side with your forearm on the ground and your hand flat. Place your top foot in front of your bottom foot, and lift your hips off the ground. Keep your torso pointing forward, and do not rotate toward the ground. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat for three sets.