Bodyweight Exercises for Men: Get Buff at Home!

Holly Smith

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

bodyweight exercises for men

Whether you're stuck at home or on the road, it can be hard to fit in a good workout. But with bodyweight exercises for men, you can get jacked anytime, anywhere!

We hear it from guys all the time … you finally get on the road to fitness and healthy living.

But between work and family, you're also literally on the road quite a bit too!

While this could mean that you aren’t able to get to a gym for a scheduled workout, it doesn’t have to mean missing a strength training session.

There are a number of bodyweight exercises for men that can be done without equipment that can still give you great strength gains! And you can do them almost anywhere!

Here are a few to get you started!

Can I Still Build Muscle Just Using My Bodyweight?

Studies have shown that muscle hypertrophy can be achieved using either high weights with low reps or high reps with lighter weight, as long as the exercise is done to failure.

So on the days where you aren’t able to use weights, you can still challenge yourself by increasing reps of a specific exercise to fatigue your muscles.

In addition, progressive overload to stimulate muscle growth can be used in bodyweight exercises for men as well.

Instead of increasing weights, you will be increasing reps.

Another option to challenge the muscles is to modify the movements to add resistance.

This means that even without weights or equipment, you can still get a killer workout using just your bodyweight.

Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises for men.

These moves will challenge every muscle in your body and can be added to any weekly routine when you don’t have access to weights.

Body Weight Exercises For Men

Upper Body

Chest

Push-ups are the ultimate bodyweight chest workout.

When you don’t have access to a gym to do bench presses, these are your go-to.

And there are a number of variations that you can use to target the chest muscles from different angles.

Standard Push-Ups

  • Position your hands under your shoulders with your feet straight behind you.
  • Lower your chest towards the ground, pause, then extend your arms to push back up.

Slow Push-Ups with Wide, Standard, Narrow Progression

These are done in the same manner as standard push-ups, but with varying hand positions and with a focus on a slow lowering and raising phase of the push-up.

You will be surprised how quickly these wear your out!

  • Start with your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly lower your chest to the ground in slow four-count.
  • Then push back up in a slow four-count.
  • Repeat this four times.
  • Then move your hands to standard width and repeat.
  • Then to a narrow, or military type width, and repeat.

If you have to come down to your knees to complete this progression that is fine!

These are tough, and it is better to modify then to use poor form.

Staggered Hand Push-Ups

  • Place your left hand below your shoulder and your right hand near your ribs.
  • Slowly lower your chest to the ground.
  • Pause, then push yourself back up to the top of the push-up.
  • Switch your hand position so now your right hand is below your shoulder and your left hand is near your ribs.
  • Repeat.
  • Continue alternating sides.

Triceps

Tricep Dips

  • Place your hands on the edge of a stable surface, like a chair.
  • Place your feet out in front of you.
  • Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, then push back up.

You can change the position of your feet in front of you to vary the intensity of this move.

The closer your feet are to your body, the easier the exercise will be.

To really challenge yourself, place your feet up on another chair.

Military Push-Ups

  • These are like standard push-ups, but with a narrow hand position.
  • Come down slowly while maintaining a tight core and straight back.
  • You can come to your knees if you find your back is arching or you cannot push yourself all the way to the top.

These bodyweight exercises for men will target your triceps when your hands are placed in a narrow position as your pectoral muscles cannot assist as much from this angle.

Always remember to maintain good form, and modify the exercise if necessary.

Shoulders

Pike Push-Ups

  • Start in a pushup position.
  • Lift your hips so that your body forms an upside-down V.
  • Your legs and arms should stay as straight as possible.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your upper body until the top of your head nearly touches the floor.
  • Pause, and then push yourself back up until your arms are straight.

These bodyweight exercises for men will target the shoulders as you are lowering your body from a higher angle than a standard push up.

Back

Arm Hauler

  • Lie on your stomach with your chest lifted and arms behind you.
  • Extend your arms out to the side and then swing them around until they meet in front of your face.
  • Then slowly swing the arms back behind you again.
  • Keep your chest lifted throughout this exercise.

These bodyweight exercises for men will engage the lats as you move your arms in front and extend the arms behind your body.

Reverse Fly Hold

  • Stand and hinge forward slightly at the hips with your hands hanging in front of you.
  • Extend your hands up to the sides until they are parallel with the floor.
  • Pause at the top, and then bring the arms back down.

While this may seem like an easy move, by holding the pause at the top and squeezing your shoulder blades together you can still get a good burn in the lats, traps, and deltoids.

You could even hold two soup cans in each hand to add a little resistance when weights aren’t available!

Pull-Ups

  • Hang from a bar with your palms facing away from you at about shoulder width.
  • Pull your body up while contracting your shoulder blades together until your chest is at the height of the bar, or chin is just over the bar.
  • Then, slowly lower yourself down.

Now, this exercise does require that you have access to a pull-up bar.

Luckily you can purchase a doorway pull up bar at most sports or department stores. These can be easily used at home or even packed away for travel.

However, if you don’t have a pull-up bar, just wait to get back to the gym for these.

Do not try to do pull-ups hanging from a door or shower curtain. This can lead to injury to you and damage to your home!

Lower Body

Body Weight Squats

  • Start in a standing position.
  • Drive your hips back and bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Then drive your legs back up to the top.

Squats are an excellent way to build your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

You can add intensity to this exercise by exploding up into a jump before landing and starting the next rep.

Body Weight Lunges

  • Start in a standing position and step your right foot forward into a lunge.
  • Bend your knees as you bring your left knee just above the ground, while your right thigh comes parallel to the floor.
  • Push back up with your right leg to a standing position.
  • Repeat on the left side.
  • Continue alternating sides.

Glute Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your arms extended to the sides.
  • Keep your feet on the ground and bend your knees.
  • Drive your hips to the ceiling as you squeeze your glutes.
  • Pause, then return your hips back to the floor.

Pistol Squat

  • Start in a standing position with your left leg extended out in front of you.
  • Bend your right knee and lower yourself to the ground in a squat.
  • Then explode back up into a standing position.
  • Repeat 10 reps on the right, then switch to the left.

This is a great lower body exercise that will also challenge your core as you try to maintain balance.

You may need to hold onto a wall or chair when first starting out with this exercise. Gradually try to move on to the point where you can perform these unassisted.

Wall Sits

  • Stand with your back flat against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Walk your feet in front of you about two steps and slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Rest for 30 seconds then repeat two more times.

These isometric bodyweight exercises for men will strengthen your quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.

As you gain strength, try to increase your hold time to a minute. Progressively challenge yourself by adding more time to this exercise.

You could even place a backpack or briefcase in your lap to add weight to this exercise.

Calf Raises

  • These are done best on a step if available.
  • Stand upright with your toes pointing forward and push up onto your toes.
  • Pause at the top, then lower until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles.
  • Then push back up onto your calves again.

To challenge yourself with this exercise, try doing them with one leg at a time while holding onto a wall or rail for support.

This way you are increasing the amount of weight that each calf has to resist.

You can also change the angle that the calf muscles are targeted by turning your toes outward or inward.

Core

Elbow Plank

  • Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows below your shoulders and legs extended behind you.
  • Engage your core and hold this position for 30 seconds.

This is not only an abdominal exercise.

It is also great for shoulder stability and muscle endurance of the lower back, neck, and legs.

Superman

  • Lie on your stomach with arms extended in front of you and legs extended behind you.
  • Lift your arms and legs off of the ground at the same time.
  • Then slowly lower back down.

These bodyweight exercises for men are great for the lower back and will also target the shoulders, back, and hamstrings.

Side Planks

  • Stack your legs and place your right hand on the ground below your right shoulder.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds while engaging your core.
  • Then switch sides and repeat.

While the elbow plank targets the rectus abdominis muscles of the core, this exercise will target the oblique muscles to give your fully defined abs.

Full Body

Burpees

  • Start in a standing position.
  • Squat down and place your hands on the ground between your legs.
  • Kick your feet back into a plank position.
  • Jump your feet back to your hands, and come back to a standing position.
  • Repeat.

This is a great full body and cardio exercise.

You can challenge yourself even more by doing a push-up while in the plank position or jumping up instead of simply standing prior to beginning the move again.

Mountain Climbers

  • Start in a push-up position with your arms under your shoulders.
  • Move your left knee into your chest.
  • Then, as you bring your left leg back, bring your right knee towards your chest.
  • Continue alternating for thirty seconds.

This full-body exercise will target your abs, shoulders, triceps, and lower body.

It will also give you a bit of a cardio workout as well.

Progressively build up to doing this exercise for a full minute at a time.

Challenge All Of Your Muscles With Bodyweight Exercises For Men

As you can see, you can work every muscle in your body even when you don’t have access to a gym or equipment.

Plus, you can modify exercises to challenge yourself.

Even without weights or machines, you can implement the concept of progressive overload to improve your strength with every bodyweight workout.

By adding reps, time, or using single leg or arm exercises you can progressively challenge your muscle fibers to induce hypertrophy and build strength.

So it doesn’t always have to be about throwing around huge amounts of weight to get muscle gains!

Full-Body Workouts

One of the best ways to integrate bodyweight exercises for men into your weekly workout routine is to build a full-body workout that uses exercises from each muscle group.

One study found that men achieved greater lean muscle mass gains from three days a week of total body workouts when compared to only working out individual muscle groups one day a week.

Full-body workouts are a great way to target multiple muscle groups in an efficient manner.

Sample Total Body Bodyweight Exercise Workout

Warm-Up

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat twice.

  • Jogging in place
  • Jumping jacks
  • High knees
  • Butt Kickers

Dynamic Stretching

Prior to your workout, perform some upper and lower body dynamic stretching to prime your muscles for the bodyweight exercises.

  • Arm Circles: Start with small arm circles forward for 10 reps, then backward for 10 reps. Then repeat this with larger circles.
  • Cross-Body Arm Swings: Swing your arms across your body, right over left, then left over right. Repeat this 10-20 times.
  • Knees to Chest: Bring your right knee up into your chest and hold for a brief pause. Bring the leg down then repeat on the left. Alternate for 10-15 reps on each side.
  • High Kicks: Kick your right leg up in front of you to hit your left palm. Then alternate with your left leg and right palm. Continue for 8-10 kicks on each side.

Main Set

  • Slow Push-Ups: Perform eight reps each of wide, standard, and narrow push-ups. Repeat for three sets
  • Bodyweight Squats: Perform three sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Pike Push-Ups: Perform three sets of 12-15 reps
  • Calf Raises: Perform three sets of 20 reps on both legs, or 10 reps on each side if doing the legs individually.
  • Tricep Dips: Perform three sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Supermans: Perform three sets of 12-15 reps.
  • Pull-Ups: Perform three sets of 8-10 reps
  • Burpees: Do as many as possible for 30 seconds. Rest 15 seconds, then repeat twice.
  • Elbow Plank: Try to hold for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds. Repeat twice.

Cool Dow

Always be sure to cool down with some light stretching that includes both the upper and lower body.

This is especially important after a full-body workout to help prevent injury.

The Fit Father Project

If you are busy and find yourself constantly on the go (or stuck at home), the Fit Father Project is a wonderful resource.

Our programs are specifically designed for middle-aged men with full schedules that are trying to maximize their fitness.

The all-inclusive FF30X program requires minimal equipment to get started on weight loss and strength building.

All you need is a few days a week and access to dumbbells or kettlebells to take full advantage of this program.

Bodyweight Workouts: Another Tool For Fitness

Strength and fitness workouts can take on many forms.

Bodyweight exercises for men are just another tool that you can use to continue to build muscle and lose weight in a safe and effective manner.

So even when you are on the road or don’t have access to a gym, there is never an excuse to miss a workout day!

Holly Smith

Holly Smith M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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