As a guy who has been dealing with back problems for about 20 years, I have learned the value of working out. Building a strong core offers a wonderful supporting cast for my spine. In this article, I want to talk about the best bodyweight exercises men should be doing. Okay, you don’t have to be a man to do these of course!
Why bodyweight exercises?
There are several reasons why I love bodyweight exercises:
- Portable. You can perform a lot of bodyweight exercises just about anywhere you happen to be. If you are in a hotel, you have no excuse why you can drop and do some pushups.
- Versatility. I don’t do traditional squats anymore as it’s just not a great idea with my back problems. But I can do a lot of bodyweight squats and I can speed up the tempo which helps to raise my heart rate. I can even add to that bodyweight squat and do jump squats. So this is a different approach and I can still get some good leg work in AND cardio.
- No equipment needed. I kind of touched on this earlier, but bodyweight exercises do not require you to have exercise equipment. You can do them at home and you don’t need an expensive gym membership. You can still get a great workout in without equipment.
- Change of pace. A lot of people who work out tend to reach plateaus and have trouble breaking through them, or they just plain get bored. Changing up your work out to include bodyweight exercise is a great way to add variety and keep you engaged.
- Easier on my joints. Again, I am speaking from the perspective of years’ worth of back problems. Bodyweight exercises are easier and feel better for my body than throwing weights around the gym.
I am sure there are more excellent reasons people do bodyweight exercises, these are just a few of mine.
Best bodyweight exercises for men
With that said, let’s get into these exercises.
One of my all-time favorites, I love doing pushups. Okay, I am going to get super nerdy here, but the past few years I have been challenging myself to a certain pushup total per day, which translates into a certain number per year. In 2018 I did 60,000 pushups!
I do pushups on vacation, in the morning before work, in the evening after work. I don’t have the nerve to do pushups in my cubicle at work though.
Pushups are great and work so many muscle groups including; chest, back, triceps, and shoulders. If you can do pushups, I highly recommend it. You don’t have to do 60k though LOL.
Another great exercise, chin ups are not easy for everyone but are very rewarding if you can do them. Chin ups seem to be an overlooked exercise and are great for your back. There are a variety of ways to perform chin-ups, with different grips including wide grip, close grip or anywhere in between. This is a versatile exercise that you can add to your existing back workouts too. Chin ups also work arms and shoulders.
I started seriously doing planks when I was recovering from my back injury in 2016. Traditional crunches and sit-ups are not a great idea for me and planks are a great option. I started doing planks with 30-second holds and 30 seconds of rest and do this for five rounds. I have worked my way up to 45-second holds, 30 seconds of rest. This is a great exercise for me and it’s a tough one to complete.
Planks will work not only your abs but also back, shoulders, I even feel my glutes and hamstrings engage when the going gets tough.
These are very popular and for good reason, it’s a full body exercise that will really get your heart rate elevated. There are different variations you can add and different ways to modify the burpee, which makes them an effective and efficient exercise.
Some people do a plank or add a pushup to a burpee routine. This is an explosive exercise that demands proper form and technique to do them the right way.
Bodyweight dips are no joke. I see guys all the time at the gym doing dips with weights hanging from their waist, which of course makes it much harder. For me, bodyweight dips are plenty.
I do multiple sets of 8-12 reps during my workout. I am not trying to impress anyone by putting on a belt and adding plates to my dip routine. That takes too much extra time when bodyweight dips are just fine for me.
This exercise again works multiple muscle groups, triceps, shoulders, chest, and are fantastic for overall upper body strength.
This is a fantastic bodyweight exercise men should be doing! Again, I fell in love with walking lunges when I was recovering from my back injury in 2016. This is not only a great bodyweight exercise, but it’s a great core exercise as well.
Lunges engage your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, abs, so it’s an awesome exercise for balance and daily functioning. Walking lunges have been a lifesaver for me, as a great lower body, and core strengthening exercise to help me recover and build a stronger core. I practice these about 3 days per week, doing about 300 during my workouts. This is a great neutral spine exercise when you use proper form.
Planks are boring, so adding some variety is a great idea. Since I do plank a lot, I have diversified into side planks as a change of pace.
Side planks to require you to use some different muscle groups, and also requires balance that I am not exactly used to. It did take some time to get used to doing side planks, but now that I have them figured out, I incorporate them into my routine.
Finally, another exercise that focuses more on core and cardio. Admittedly these have been a tough exercise for me to master given my back problems, and I don’t do many variations although a lot of people do.
For me, it’s been hard to keep a flat back while basically running in place on the floor. It’s pretty easy to get sloppy with these in the name of speed. I recommend starting out slow to learn how to do them properly, then you can speed things up.
Don’t be surprised if these are hard, they require some flexibility and agility as well. You can also try them on a hard surface with towels under your toes.
Conclusion: Best bodyweight exercises men should be doing
If you haven’t done bodyweight exercises, or haven’t done them in a long time, I highly recommend you give it a shot. Bodyweight exercises are a great addition to your existing workout or a fantastic way to change things up and add some variety.
You can combine many of the exercises above and get a great workout, even when you are traveling, or away from the gym. I have even been known to maintain my pushup routine while we are out in the woods camping.
If you have any questions or would like to add your own experience, please do so in the comments section below.