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6 Easy Bodyweight Exercises to Build Strength

Any person looking to get healthy should stay far away from the gym. Yes, you read that right. The gym is a toxic environment loaded with chemicals that interfere with your heart health and wreak havoc on your body. But, of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. Quite the opposite!

Movement is a key component of a healthy lifestyle, and a sedentary lifestyle is a death sentence. So if you can’t go to the gym, what can you do? 

Here are our favorite beginner bodyweight exercises to build strength — no equipment or toxic gym membership required. 

Benefits of bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight simply means you perform the exercise without any external weights or equipment. These exercises utilize your weight as resistance and target and train muscles you use daily. Here are a few other reasons we love bodyweight exercises:

You can do them anywhere: With bodyweight exercises, you can no longer use excuses like, “I didn’t have time to go to the gym” or “I don’t have the equipment to work out.” You don’t need any equipment to get moving!

They work with a busy schedule: Drop down and do a few pushups while you’re waiting for your dinner to cook or some walking lunges while you’re on the phone.

They are effective: No, you don’t need to lift heavy loads to gain some serious strength. Research shows that, when paired with a balanced diet, bodyweight exercises effectively increase body composition and muscle strength, and endurance. 

Helps you develop good form: There’s nothing wrong with incorporating dumbbells or bars into your exercise routine. In fact, strength training with weights is a great aspect of exercise (as long as it’s not in the gym). 

However, resistance workouts with weights are only as good as your form. Poor form leads to improperly developed muscles and injury. Bodyweight exercises are perfect for training your body to move safely and properly — an essential step before moving on to heavier weight.

They are modifiable: Any able-bodied person can perform bodyweight exercises! Even if you haven’t worked out consistently in years, are recovering from an injury or illness (after being cleared by your doctor), or are approaching your golden years, you can adjust these exercises to make them doable for your current fitness level. 

If you’re a fitness buff, you can still get great results from bodyweight training by incorporating more challenging modifications. 

Simply grab a yoga mat and get to work! 

Best bodyweight exercises (that anyone can do!) 

We’ve compiled a list of six of our favorite bodyweight strength-training exercises with modifications that make them all beginner friendly. Start with a brisk walk and perform as many sets as desired. We recommend two sets of 10-12 repetitions of each exercise for the perfect bodyweight workout.

Always stretch before and after exercise to improve flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and lessen muscle fatigue.

Push-ups

The push-up is a classic bodyweight exercise that is deceptively challenging. It is an excellent workout incorporating upper body strength training, core strength, and even the glutes if done correctly. Start slow and utilize the modifications if needed!

How to do it:

  • Go on your hands and knees and place your hands firmly on the floor, about shoulder-width apart. 
  • Extend your legs and support yourself on your toes, pushing yourself into a high plank position. 
  • Keep your abs and butt tight and lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor (about an inch above)
  • Hold for a moment at the bottom and then push yourself back to starting position. Repeat.

Notes: 

  • Avoid resting at the bottom on the floor. If you need to take a break, try resting in a high plank position instead. 
  • Keep your head and neck in line with your shoulders, don’t let them hang down.

Modifications

Make it easier: Drop down to your knees and complete the push-up. Once you’ve mastered the knee modification, try the full version on your toes. 

Make it harder: Place your feet on an elevated surface such as a chair, step, or low table. Incline push-ups are one of the best ways to give yourself a serious challenge. 

Tricep dips

Did you know you could do tricep dips at home with just a chair? You don’t need special equipment to perform this effective bodyweight exercise and tone and strengthen your triceps. This is one of the best exercises you can do without weight to support and define these important muscles. 

How to do it

  • Sit on the edge of a chair, step, or couch and scoot to the edge, gripping the edge with your hands. 
  • Your feet should be hip-width apart, with your heels touching the ground and your fingers pointing towards your feet. 
  • Lower yourself, bending at the elbows until they are between 45 and 90 degrees. 
  • Push yourself up slowly until your bottom is in line with the chair and your arms are almost straight. 

Notes:

  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. 
  • Don’t lock your elbows at the top of the motion.

Modifications

Make it easier: Instead of putting your legs straight, try doing a tricep dip with your knees bent. This takes some pressure off your triceps and makes the move easier. 

Make it harder: Use two chairs. Place your hands on one and your feet on the other. Reducing the angle of your body will require your arms to work harder and make the exercise more intense. 

Superman

It wouldn’t be a list of total-body bodyweight exercises without Superman. This effective movement uses a small range of motion to engage often neglected back muscles and balance out ab exercises.

How to do it

  • Lie face-down on your mat with your hands stretched out in front of you like Superman. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your chest off the ground as high as possible and lift your legs simultaneously.
  • Hold for a few seconds, lower back down, and repeat. 

Notes:

  • Keep your head in a neutral position with your spine. Stop the exercise if you are straining your neck. 

Modifications

Make it easier: Lift just your arms or just your legs instead of lifting both at the same time.

Make it harder: Link your arms behind your head. This gives you less leverage and forces your back to work harder. You can also try lifting the arm and the leg on just one side of your body at a time for a unique modification. 

Squat

One of the most popular leg-day exercises, the squat is an important exercise to master early. Once you have the foundations of a good squat down, you can build on it with hundreds of modifications and challenges. Squat form is essential so take the time to hone in on your stance and use a mirror to assess your posture. 

How to do it:

  • Stand with feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and squat down until thighs are almost parallel with the floor. 
  • Press your butt out and push heels into the floor, keeping your knees from going over your toes. 
  • Pause at the bottom, press back up, and repeat. 

Note: 

  • Keep your chest out and your shoulders back. 
  • Look straight ahead. 

Modifications

Make it easier: Make the motion smaller and only squat down halfway. 

Make it harder: Add an explosive jump off the floor as you rise.

Like a squat, the lunge is a functional, foundational movement essential for daily activities. Lunges strengthen the legs and glutes and improve hip mobility and flexibility.

How to do it

  • Place your hands on your hips for stability.
  • Start by stepping out with either your left or your right leg. Bend your front knee at a 90-degree angle, putting your knee over your ankle, and bend your back knee until it hovers a few inches off the floor. 
  • Stand up and repeat the movement on the other leg.

Modifications

Make it harder: Try jumping out with your leg instead of stepping out. Jumping lunges are a great explosive movement to incorporate cardio into your strength training. 

Burpee

Burpees are one of the best bodyweight exercises to improve total body strength and cardiovascular endurance. Prepare for your legs to feel like jello after just a minute or two of this intense exercise! The good news is you can make it as difficult as you want by adjusting the speed or modifying individual components.

How to do it

  • Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. 
  • Leap back to a plank position, jump forward, and return to the squatting start. 
  • From the squat, jump up, letting your feet come off of the floor.
    Squat down and repeat the motion.

Note: Land softly and bend your knees. Hard landings can lead to heel and knee pain. 

Modifications

Make it easier: Instead of jumping, stand up at the top and step your legs out to plank position. You can also do the movement slowly to reduce the cardio exertion.

Make it harder: Go faster and add a push-up at the bottom. 

Plank

Ah, planking, the internet craze of 2011, and the enduring core workout of today. Planks target the deep abdominal muscles known as the transverse abdominis, giving your core a serious challenge. Build up strength with this deceptively simple workout.

How to do it

  • Lower yourself into plank position. Place your forearms on the ground and your legs straight behind you (about shoulder-width apart to start) with just your toes touching the ground. 
  • Hold this isometric pose for as long as possible and slowly lower yourself back to the ground. 

Modifications

Make it easier: Hold the plank for a shorter period, or try a high plank with the weight on your hands instead of your forearms. You can also drop to your knees if needed. 

Make it harder: Bring your feet closer together and hold the plank longer.

Next steps

While fitness is essential to cardiovascular well-being, it isn’t the only thing! Many people get so fixated on exercise that they fail to cultivate healthy eating habits, get out in the sunshine, or reduce toxins in their lives. 

Work with one of our expert health coaches to develop a plan that includes every aspect of a healthy lifestyle and sets you on the path to your 100 Year Heart. 

Eat well, Live well, Think well

Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza 2022

In order to live well, one must eat well.

Get the Natural Heart Doctor approved Diet and discover how to eat for your 100 Year Heart.

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Discover how we can help you achieve your 100 Year Heart.

About Dr. Keith Smigiel NP, DC

Dr. Keith Smigiel

Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

He has been named one of America’s Top Functional Medicine Doctors and is a five-time winner of the Natural Choice Awards as a holistic M.D. Dr. Wolfson’s work has been covered by more than 100 media outlets, including NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. His book “The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health” was an Amazon #1 best-seller.

Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.