First things first, you can make any movement hard enough to kick your butt with proper intensity. Instead of listing a bunch of fancy exercise variations, let’s focus on how to get optimal results from movements you may already be doing.
Push Ups: The standard “go-to” exercise for almost anyone wanting to build upper body strength with their body weight, or simply tone those arms and shoulders, is push ups. The best way to take your push ups to the next level is to start the movement from the floor and perform what is known as a “Hand Release Push Up”. Now, before you jump to conclusions on how this will make the movement “easier” or think it may even be “cheating”, hear us out as the specific queues will make all the difference. Start by lying chest down on the floor, hands planted below your armpits, toes planted, and make sure you tighten your abdominals. Pull your elbows straight back as you draw back your shoulder blades, then keeping your shoulders back, plant your hands and that’s a push up. Always work within your level to see the best progress overall. My recommendations for performing “Hand Release Push Ups” are as follows: For someone new to doing push ups, I recommend sets of 2-6 repetitions to learn proper push up mechanics. For anyone that is intermediate/advanced, I recommend sets of 10-30 reps depending on the level of fitness and goals. For anyone in the gym, this is a great way to warm up your chest or add intensity to your workout.
Squats: Let’s apply the same priority toward proper form for the body-weight squats. You probably know how to do squats but may feel that they are too easy or even useless at this point. Switch things up! Try doing one and one-half reps, you’re in for a treat with this one! To properly perform this style of squat simply perform your squat as normal as you lower your glutes to the floor. At your lowest point squatting down, squeeze your glutes and raise up to about half way up, then sink back into your squat and then stand as you would normally. That’s one rep! I would recommend everyone do these, regardless of fitness level, as they will help tremendously with building strength in those legs and core. General Recommendation: In a standard stance, perform 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps. This alteration can be applied to any squat variation.
Now you’re equipped with some detailed tips for an awesome body weight workout, so be creative, have fun, and train hard!