Body Weight Exercise

You have probably heard the term body weight exercises but are wondering exactly what this means.  These are  basically strength training workouts in which you use your own body weight.

When performing the exercises you do not use any specific equipment. 

Instead you simply exercise using body weight to provide the necessary resistance in order to build and strengthen your muscles.

Although weight lifting is the most well known form of strength training, not everyone has access to home equipment or a gym membership to get the benefits from this type of training. 

Additionally, for people just starting out, any additional resistance from even resistance bands or dumbbell weights may be more than they need.  

A great (and totally free) alternative is to perform body weight exercises

Benefits of Body Weight Exercises

There are many different types of benefits for using your body weight when exercising.  In addition to toning and strengthening muscles, you can do these easily from home with no expensive equipment.

It's perfect for beginners and as with any exercise, you reap the health benefits as well. Keep reading to learn more about these benefits. 

Workout From Home

One of the main reasons people choose this type of exercise is the convenience of doing them from home.  No need for a gym membership or expensive home gym equipment.


Body weight exercises include both strength training exercises as well as cardiovascular exercises.  These can range from walking, jogging, jumping jacks and jumping rope. 

You can also perform yoga and meditation exercises as well as strength training exercises using your weight like push ups, crunches, and many upper and lower body exercises.

Great for Beginners

These exercises are perfect for the beginner.  You are providing just enough resistance to start to strengthen and tone your muscles without over extending yourself.  You can start out at your own pace and work up to adding additional resistance.

Health Benefits

As with any type of exercise you are getting all the health benefits of working out.  Body weight exercises do not provide you the maximum resistance you get with other types of strengthening.

However, you are still providing your body with the needed oxygen and resistance to help prevent and minimize many health risks. 

Check out all the benefits to exercise here.

Upper Body Exercises Using Body Weight

If you are not sure where to start with your upper body weight exercises, try some of these workouts.

These will work  your arms, chest, shoulders, upper back and more.

man doing a push up body weight exercisePush Ups or Wall Push Ups

You remember back in gym class push ups always seemed to be part of the program. 

If it’s been awhile since you did a push up, try starting with your knees bent and on the floor. 

You can then eventually work up to bringing your knees off the floor.  Or use a wall to push from while standing up (at a slight angle). 

Either way your body will provide enough weight to feel the resistance and strengthening of your upper body muscles. 

Primary Muscles Targeted – Chest, Shoulders, Abs and Triceps.

Pull Ups

Like the push ups, the pull ups are a great upper body weight exercise.  For this exercise you will need a bar or something to grab onto (that is sturdy) and then pull yourself up. 

To do this exercise you would simply grab the bar with arms shoulder width apart (maybe wider) and then pull your self up as high as you can go. 

These are sometimes called chin ups as people generally try to pull themselves up to where the chin touches the top of the bar.

Primary Muscles Targeted – Arms, Lats and Upper Back

Parrellel Bar Dips

Again this exercise does require some equipment or your imagination.  For this exercise you would place your hands on two bars (on either side of you) and then dip your body bending your elbows. 

During this exercise you keep your feet off the ground so that you get the full benefit of your body weight. 

You could do this at home with two chairs (if tall enough and sturdy enough) or other furniture items.

Primary Muscles Targeted – Pectorals and Lats

Lower Body Weight Exercise

The selection here is basically the same as any exercise you can do with resistance bands or dumbbell weights.  However, in this case you will simply be using your own body weight to provide resistance in order to strengthen and tone the muscles.


Squats are by far one of the most popular lower body weight exercises.  These are done the same way as with dumbbell weights but just without the weights.  You can see how to do this exercise here.

Primary Muscles Targeted – Thighs, Quadriceps, Glutes


This is another favorite amongst lower body exercises using your own body weight.  A fun way to do this exercise is to lunge around the room versus staying stationary in one spot. 

This will add a bit of variety to this exercise.  You can see this exercise demonstrated (with dumbbell weights) here. 

Just remember the only difference is you won’t use the weights unless you are ready to add some more resistance in addition to your body weight.

Primary Muscles Targeted – Thighs (front and back) and Glutes
Just about any lower body exercise you can do with resistance bands or dumbbell weights you can do with your body weight.  

Check out these resistance band exercises to get an idea of some lower body exercises you can do.

Abdominal Exercise

There are many abdominal exercises you can do with just your body weight.  These can be done on an exercise mat or with an exercise ball. 

Stomach exercises are one of the most common types of body weight exercises. Although you can add an exercise ball or weights for added resistance, the only thing required is a mat and your body weight.

From crunches to oblique twists, they are a great way to get your core muscles toned and in shape.

Rather than going into each type of ab exercise here, just visit the abdominal exercise page to see the full list of illustrated ab exercises on this site.

Creating Your Body Weight Exercise Workout Routine

You can mix and match your body weight exercises with other strength training exercises.  You can even create a circuit training workout with nothing more than just your body weight for resistance. 

To build your own body weight exercises circuit training routine, check out these examples workouts.

Additional Articles

Dumbbell Exercises
Learn more about strengthening your muscles using dumbbell weights. This type of exercise equipment comes in varying weights so you add a little resistance to build muscle or increase the weight for more resistance.

Benefits of Strength Training
There are many benefits to strength training. By increasing your muscle mass you can raise your basal metabolic rate. This means burning more calories which helps to lose weight.

Strength Training for Seniors
Strength training is important for people of all ages, but is especially important as we age. With strength training workouts you are help maintain muscle mass, bone density and more.