Bodyweight Exercises That Require No Weights to Build Muscle

November 7, 2022 / Workout
Bodyweight Exercises That Require No Weights to Build Muscle

With these top bodyweight exercises build your muscles without the weights. Although few can dispute the effectiveness of a good weight workout, an effective workout without weights is great for a number of reasons.

First of all it’s expensive to buy all that iron. Second, it takes up space, and not everyone has a place in their flat or condo where they can set up a gym, what with the pool table and home theater. Third, even if you have the ultimate set of weights at your place, you’re not always at your place, especially if you have a busy travel schedule. Being able to get in a great workout on the road or in your office is sometimes a necessity.

Can You Build Muscle Without Weights?

So, is there a workout without weights that’s effective for building some muscle and helping to lose those extra inches around your belly? Thankfully, yes, there is. Here is a highly effective workout you can do without weights in just 15 – 20 minutes. It will boost your metabolism and help you whittle away some of that fat, not to mention adding a bit of sorely needed muscle (how do you think it boosts your metabolism, anyway?)

You can use your body for resistance and get a highly effective workout. There are also other resistance providing alternatives and enhancements, such as water bottles, that you can use to add some variation to your routine. Something that works very well if you’re traveling is resistance bands. You can easily pack them away in your luggage and not have to leave your socks and underwear behind to make room for them. Resistance bands will also allow you to add resistance to certain exercises, such as squats, that your body weight alone will soon provide insufficient resistance for.

Great, Quick Ways to Build Muscle Without Weights

Here is a great exercises to build muscle without weights. If you don’t have access to weights or any fitness equipment, these exercise will pack on the good pounds. You’ll have to train a bit differently that you would with traditional weight training, though. One disadvantage is that you may find your workouts take a bit shorter, and you may have to use some creativity.

Here are some great exercise you can combine to create a fantasitc workout and the only weight will be the pounds of fat you peel away.

Best Bodyweight Workout Exercises

1- Push-up

Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises. These are a fantastic upper body builder. They strongly stress the pectoral muscle group of the chest, the deltoids in the shoulders and the triceps at the back of the upper arm. Exactly how they hit each muscle group can be adjusted by varying the angle at which you’re doing them.

push-up for bodyweight exercises

For example, you can put your feet up on a table or chair. This will efectively incline the angle of your arms relative to ylour body and do much the same thing as doing bench presses on an incline bench. You can put your hands on a book or two. That will let your body effectively go down farther, increasing your range of motion.

If you’re one of those people who never quite goes down so your chest touches the floor when you’re doing pushups, this won’t help, but it’s a solid tip for the rest of us. You can also change the spacing of your hands. A narrow spacing will target the triceps and inner chest more, while a wide spacing will more effectively isolate the outer chest area.

2- Lunges

Lunges will allow you to work your legs and butt and burn serious calories while you’re doing it. Lunges are one of the most effective lower body areas. You can do them with only your body as resistance, or you can hold 1 gal jugs of water in your hands for an extra bit of intensity.

lunge for bodyweight exercises

Remember short, high intensity workouts are how you see the most progress in the shortes amount of time. You can do lunges in place, or actually go forward with each lunge if you want to.

3- Decline Push-up

These are push ups with your feet elevated. Getting them about a foot off the floor works great, but you can change it up every so often to keep your muscles guessing and growing. This exercise is analogous to doing incline bench presses, except that you’re pushing up your body weight. Place your hands on wide, stable blocks about 4” high. This lets you go down farther without your head hitting the ground for a greater range of motion.

decline push-up for bodyweight exercises

You can also use raised push up handles if you happen to have some laying around. If you can do more than 25 of these with no added weight, you will really benefit from wearing a backpack loaded with books, soup cans, or rocks to increase the intensity.

4- Squats

For advanced weight trainers or people with very low body fat doing squats with no added weight, or only 10 -15 pounds provided by some jugs of water, will not generate much improvement. I mean some of these people regularly load up 315 – 505 lbs on the bar for squats. For everyone else even doing squats with no added weight can tone your muscles, burn some calories and help you lose fat. If you think they can’t, try doing 40 – 50 of them.

squat for for bodyweight exercises

There are some things you can do to help increase the intensity of your squats, even with no added weight. One of these intensity enhancers is the “sissy squat”. When performing a sissy squat you stand net to a pole or vertical bar. Grab the bar with one hand while leaning back and doing a squat. This really emphasises the quadraceps muscles at the fornt of your legs. Truust me, you’ll feel the burn.

5- Pull ups

if you have a bar available pullups are a fantastic upper body building exercise. They strongly stress the big (on some people), V shaped muscles of the lats, the biceps ot the front of the upper arm, the forearms, and the posterior deltoid at the back of the shoulder. Unlike other no-weight exercises, even the most hard core body builder or athlete can get plenty of benefit by doing pull ups. In fact may people can only do one or two of them, and there is a sizeable percentage of people who would be hard pressed to do even one.

pull-up for bodyweight exercises

As with pushups, pull ups can be done in a large number of variations. You can do wide or narrow grip, supinated or pronated grip (palms facing or away from you), and place the bar behind or in front of your neck at the top of the pull up. Many people refer to the pull up done with a supinated grip as a chin up. Each of these will target different muscles and you can get a fairly complete back workout by doing 4 sets of pullups in any 3 variations.

Make sure you do a complete pull up, hanging until your aarms are completely extended and pulling up untill the bar touches your chest or the base of your neck in the back. If you get strong enough where you can do 15 or 20 of these, you can always hang some weight off of your belt, or even do a 1-armed pull up.

6- Chin Ups

chin up for bodyweight exercises

Another great back exercise, with more emphasis shifted from the lats to the biceps. This time grab the bar with your palms facing you about body width apart (about 14” – 18”). As with wide grip pull ups, let yourself hang all the way down, and make sure you come all the way up. Concentrate on feeling the contraction in the muscles you’re trying to work, i.e. the back and biceps. At the completion of  the “up’ phase, your chin should be above the bar. No cheating please, except to squeeze out a couple of intensity boosting reps.

7- Dips

Dips are great for building chest, triceps, and delts. Dips are one of the best upper body exercises of all time. One huge bonus, and essential for the purposes of this post, is that you need no other weights to get a great workout.

You can change the angle of your body and the width of your hands to hit your muscles differently. Lean forward more to shift the emphasis from the triceps to the chest. You can do them using a bench, or with some sort of parallel bar arrangement.  Each will target your chest, shoulders, and triceps differently.

dips for for bodyweight exercises

If you start getting to where you can do 20 or 25 of these, put on that backpack, and try it again. One caveat with respect to dips. Make sure you go down far enough, so that your upper arms are past parallel with the ground. Be careful however, dips can aggravate shoulder problems with some people. Take it slow and easy, and discontinue doing them if you start having shoulder problems.

8- Table Inverted Row

This is like a backwards pushup. You lie under the table so it goes perpendicularly across your chest and grasp it with both hands with your arms straight. It looks just like you’re doing an upsidedown push up.

table inverted row for bodyweight workout

Keeping your body rigid and straight, pull your body up so that the table touches your chest. You can use all manner of hanging apparatus to do these if you have no bar. As with the other exercises, you can vary the angles to target different muscles, or to fight boredom.

9- Pike Push-up

pike push-up for bodyweight workout

The pike push-up is an advanced bodyweight exercise seen in functional fitness, and bodyweight workout. The pike push-up strengthens your shoulders, upper chest, arms and back muscles, but also contributes to your spine, balance and strength.

10- Hill Sprints or Mountain Climber

If you have access to a relatively steep hill, a few (4 – 6) sets of 50 yard sprints up it will definitely pack some muscle on your lower body. You’ll get cardio benefits too, as hill sprints amount to interval training. Sprint up for about 50 meters as fast as you can, then walk down and repeat the process. You’ll notice your quads a’ burnin’ during the trip back down. If you’re running these on grass, wearing football or soccer cleats really helps with the traction.

Mountain climber for bodyweight exercises

If you can’t do hill sprints, a fast tempo mountain climber is an alternative exercise to improve your fitness. Compared to hill sprints, your legs work less, but it’s a great workout for your core muscles.

11- Seated Knee Raises

Seated knee raises for bodyweight exercises

Sit on the front edge of a dining room chair. Grasp the edges of the chair by your butt, lean back so your body is about 15 degrees away from vertical. Keep your feet together and extend your legs out., then retract them back until your thighs are vertical. This is great for both your obliques and abs. Do about 20 or 25 reps. It’s about as close to captain’s chair knee raises as you can get without having a captain’s chair.

12- Plank

Plank for bodyweight workout

Plank is an isometric exercise that targets many of the most important muscle groups in the body, so it can be practiced by anyone to increase endurance and overall body strength.

Its main goal is to maintain stabilization and balance of all parts of the body. Start at 10 second intervals and gradually move on to 60 second intervals.

13- Lying Leg Raises / Spreads

Lying Leg Raise

Lie on your back with your hands below your butt as above. Your legs should be extended straight out, with your feet together on the floor. Lift your feet at least about 6 inches off the floor. Count to 3, then spread your legs so that your feet are about 24” apart. Count to 3, then move your feet back until they are touching again, and lower your feet to the floor.

Bodyweight Workout Plan for Beginners

These 13 exercise can be combined in a huge number of ways to create a highly effective workout without weights. You’ll notice your muscles getting tighter, and the fat getting smaller after only a few weeks of doing them. You only need to do this kind of a workout 1  or 2 days a week for maximum effectiveness. In many cases you’ll get maximum effectiveness from only 2 days per week if you are really hitting them hard. You should be able to get your workout done in 30 minutes after you warm up, and you sholdmbe really exhausted after that 30 minutes if you’re rampin the intensity up high enough. See, no weights can equal a great workout.

Here is the Build Muscle Without Weights program: (remember to warm up first, then take it slow to avoid injury)


Day 1Sets-RepsExercisesTarget


2 x 10

Push Up



Decline Push-up

2 x 10

Decline Push-Up

Upper Chest
Front Delt



3 x 10

Dips Between Chairs

Front Delt

Pike Push-up

2 x 10

Pike Push up

Upper Chest


Knee Raise

3 x 15

Leg Pull In Knee up

Bodyweight workout plan / day 1 pdf

Bodyweight Workout Plan  Day 1


Day 2Sets-RepsExercisesTarget

Arm Circle

3 x 15

Arm Circles



2 x max

perfect form pull-up

Complete Back

Table Inverted Row

3 x 10

Table Inverted Row

Posterior Delt

Leg Concentration Curl

3 x 10

Biceps Leg Concentration Curl



3 x 20 sec


Bodyweight workout plan / day 2 pdf
Bodyweight Workout Plan 2


Day 3Sets-RepsExercisesTarget

Hill Sprints

4 x 50 mt

Wheel Run



3 x 15

Bodyweight Squat



3 x 15

Bodyweight Walking Lunge


Pike Push-up

3 x 10

Lying Leg Raise



2 x 20 sec


Bodyweight workout plan day 3 pdf
Bodyweight workout plan day3


Remember to eat properly if you are trying to build muscle without weights (or with them, for that matter). Have a protein supplement before going to bed, and one after your workout. Eat protein in the morning as well, either eggs, or a protein supplement of some kind. Many people that are training do not get adequate protein distribution.

You want your protein intake well distributed throughout the day, taking in the amount your body can assimilate at any one time, but no more. This is different for every person, but a general rule is 1/4g/lb of lean body mass at any one sitting. So, for example, if you are 200lb man with 15% body fat, you have a lean body mass of approximately 170 lbs. 170/4 = 42.5g. That means you can eat roughly 42 grams of protein at each meal.

The point with regards to eating is that you should spread your meals out so that your body can maximize nutrient assimilation and metabolic rate, and minimize fat storage. Strive for at least 5 meals every day.

Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, preferably 8. You muscles grow when you sleep, and your HGH secretion happens then as well.

Until next time………Lose Your Belly Fat!

Posted by
Kelvin johnson
With a career spanning over a decade, Kelvin holds certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Exercise Physiologist. His mission is simple yet powerful: to provide effective training for individuals willing to put in the work.