Skip to content

10 Best Bodyweight Exercises To Melt Fat & Build Muscle

These exercises help you shed pounds and promote muscle growth and definition.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Leveling up your fitness game can easily be done without hitting the gym or investing in expensive equipment. Besides saving a buck, bodyweight workouts provide options when you're short on time or happen to be traveling. These 10 best bodyweight exercises to melt fat and build muscle are designed with all factors in mind. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, these moves are strategically programmed to deliver maximum results.

From explosive plyometric lunges to challenging pull-ups and core-stabilizing planks, this comprehensive list has something for everyone. Clear some space in your living room or wherever you may be working out from, and dive into these powerhouse moves that will leave you feeling stronger, fitter, and more energized than ever!

By incorporating higher reps and shorter rest periods, these workouts help you shed pounds and promote muscle growth and definition. Get ready to sweat, challenge yourself, and unlock your full potential with these dynamic bodyweight exercises to melt fat and build muscle.


illustration of step-ups

Bodyweight step-ups are an outstanding exercise for building muscle in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes while effectively burning fat. This versatile exercise can be adjusted in intensity even without added weight. You can modify it by varying the box height, incorporating an explosive knee drive, or slowing down the step-down phase to enhance muscle growth.

Start by standing in front of a sturdy box or bench. Place one foot firmly on the box, ensuring your entire foot is flat. Push through your whole foot as you step up, and extend (straighten) your hip and knee to lift your body onto the box, bringing your trailing leg up to a standing position. Slowly lower your trailing leg back to the ground, followed by the other leg.

Complete three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps per leg. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

10 Bodyweight Exercises for Beginners to Sculpt a Toned Body


illustration of woman doing pushups

Pushups are one of the most versatile bodyweight exercises for building strength and aiding weight loss. Some favorite variations include traditional, close-grip, elevated, incline, and decline pushups. Choose the version you feel most comfortable and confident with to target your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. Each variation is intensive, helping you achieve your weight-loss goals while building muscle.

Start in a plank position with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Engage your core, bend your elbows, and lower your chest toward the ground while keeping your elbows close to your body. Once your chest nearly touches the floor, push through your hands to extend your elbows and return to the starting position.

Perform three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Plyo Lunges

Plyo lunges offer many benefits beyond standard lunges, including explosive power, muscle building, and fat burning. Incorporate them at the start of your workouts to enhance power development, or use them as a high-intensity cardio finisher at the end. Prioritize mastering traditional lunges before adding plyo lunges to your routine to ensure proper form and effectiveness.

Start in a lunge position with one foot forward and one foot back, both knees bent at 90 degrees. Explosively jump and switch the position of your legs in mid-air, landing softly in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Immediately repeat the movement, continuing to alternate legs with each jump.

Complete three sets of five to 10 reps per side. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets.

Pro tip: If you're not acclimated to plyo lunges, take a brief moment between each rep to ensure your form is dialed in.

10 Daily Bodyweight Exercises To Keep You Youthful & Fit


woman doing pull-ups

Pull-ups are exceptional for sculpting your upper and mid-back muscles and defining your biceps, all while enhancing overall strength and lean muscle mass. If conventional pull-ups are challenging, consider utilizing assisted variations or a pull-up machine to complete the desired number of reps. Focus on controlling the descent phase of each repetition to maximize strength and muscle-building benefits.

Start by gripping an overhead bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you. Hang onto the bar with your arms fully extended and your feet off the ground. Engage your core, pull your shoulder blades down and back, and exhale as you pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Pause briefly at the top, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position, keeping your movements controlled throughout.

Perform three sets of eight to 15 reps, resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets. If you're doing assisted pull-ups, aim for the higher end of the rep range.

Pendulum Lunges

Pendulum lunges offer a dynamic fusion of the reverse lunge's emphasis on hip strength and size in the glutes and hamstrings and the forward lunge's targeted focus on the quads and calves. If you're new to this exercise, brace yourself; it's challenging but incredibly rewarding. The pendulum lunge is my go-to lower-body exercise for bodyweight workouts for a reason.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a large step backward with one foot, lowering your body into a reverse lunge position until your back knee nearly touches the ground. Then, without pausing, drive through the heel of your front foot to step into a forward lunge with the same leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Push back to the starting position and repeat the sequence on the other side.

Perform three sets of eight reps on each side, totaling 16 lunges per leg overall. These sets are demanding, so increase the rest period to 90 seconds between sets to optimize recovery.

The Best Bodyweight Workout To Slow Down Muscle Aging


illustration of superman back extensions exercise

Discovering bodyweight exercises that effectively target the posterior chain can be challenging, especially focusing on strengthening the lower back. Superman exercises offer a crucial solution for fortifying your core through engagement with the posterior chain. I like to vary the reps by using normal tempo reps and then tossing in a few sets with solid pauses.

Lie face down on a mat with your legs straight and your arms extended in front of you or with your hands placed lightly behind your head. Engage your core and glutes, and keep your neck neutral. Slowly lift your chest off the floor as high as possible, using your lower back muscles and squeezing your glutes. Hold the top position momentarily, then slowly lower your chest to the starting position.

Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian split squat exercises for a round butt

Bulgarian split squats leverage the power of unilateral exercises to enhance muscle growth and strength and accelerate weight loss efforts. By adjusting the position of your front foot, you can more effectively target specific muscle groups. Placing your foot further away emphasizes the glutes while keeping it closer targets the quads. This precision makes Bulgarian split squats a potent addition to your workout routine.

Begin by standing a few feet in front of a bench or elevated surface. Rest the top of one foot on the bench behind you, and ensure your other foot is planted firmly on the ground in front. Lower your body into a lunge position until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. Push through your front foot to return to the starting position.

Perform three sets of 12 to 20 reps per side. Rest for 90 seconds between each set.

Bodyweight Exercises vs. Lifting Weights: Which Is More Effective for Building Muscle?

Leg Lowerings

leg raise

Leg lowerings target the eccentric phase of abdominal contractions, aiding in the development of strength and size in your midsection beyond traditional crunches or sit-ups. During the movement, exhale forcefully as you lower your legs, aiming for a controlled descent lasting three to five seconds. Get ready to feel the burn in those abs!

Lie on your back with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling, ensuring your feet are together. Press your lower back into the floor and activate your core muscles. Gradually lower your legs toward the ground while keeping them straight and maintaining tension in your core. Lower your legs as far as you can while still controlling the movement and without allowing your back to arch off the floor. Exhale as you lower your legs and inhale as you return them to the starting position.

Complete three sets of five to 10 reps. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.



Burpees are like an all-inclusive vacation for weight loss. When executed with precision and control, they integrate the benefits of squats, pushups, and vertical jumps into a single dynamic movement. I prefer a methodical approach to burpees, emphasizing deliberate form over chaotic movements, and I recommend adopting the same mindset for optimal results.

Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, lower into a squat position and place your hands on the ground before you. Kick your feet back into a plank position, keeping your core engaged and your body straight. Perform a pushup by lowering your chest to the ground and then pushing back up to the plank position. Next, jump your feet back toward your hands, returning to the squat position. From there, explosively jump into the air, reaching your arms overhead. Land softly and immediately lower back into the squat position to begin the next repetition.

Complete five to 10 rounds of burpees, alternating between 30 seconds of exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest.



Forearm planks, tall planks, side planks, rotating planks, planks with a pull-through—you name it, you can plank it. In all seriousness, planks are serious business for enhancing core strength and stability. While they're renowned for sculpting the midsection, they also support other exercises, such as squats, lunges, and pushups.

No matter which plank variation you select, prioritize engaging your abs to stabilize your torso, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels, and resisting any rotation. These fundamental cues are essential for perfecting and maximizing the effectiveness of your planks.

Perform three to four sets of 30-second planks. Rest for 60 seconds between sets.

Jarrod Nobbe, MA, CSCS
Jarrod Nobbe is a USAW National Coach, Sports Performance Coach, Personal Trainer, and writer, and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 12 years. Read more about Jarrod