How to make bodyweight exercises harder, with no equipment

Bodyweight exercises are extremely handy when training at home. They don’t require any fancy equipment and can usually be performed in smaller spaces such as your bedroom or living room.

Advertisements

However, you might find that as you progress, your favourite bodyweight movements start to feel easy. Below are three ways you can make bodyweight exercises harder, without the need for any equipment.

1. Increase time under tension

The easiest way to make a bodyweight exercise harder is to increase time under tension. Time under tension, or TUT, is the length of time that your muscles are under strain during a set or work period. To increase time under tension and make your muscles work harder, slow down the exercise tempo.

For example, to make a bodyweight squat or glute bridge harder, try slowing down the eccentric (muscle lengthening) portion of the movement. Go for a 4 second count on the way down before pressing back up. The effort required to control your bodyweight against gravity on the way down will increase the difficulty of the exercise. For a home workout using this technique, check out this 30-minute glute workout for beginners.

Paused reps are another way to increase time under tension. Adding a pause, or isometric hold, while your muscles are under strain will also increase the difficulty of the exercise. For example, this advanced home workout for glutes and abs incorporates a paused sumo squat, where you pause at the bottom of the squat for 3 seconds before pressing back up.

2. Try unilateral exercises

If you have mastered bilateral bodyweight movements, it might be time to give unilateral exercises a try. Unilateral exercises are single-leg or single-arm movements. Examples include lunges, step ups, split squats, and single arm push ups. They are more challenging than bilateral movements and can also help to iron out strength imbalances.

Single side exercises are harder because in addition to performing the movement, your body has to work to stabilise the movement. They also transfer your bodyweight to a single side, which increases resistance placed on the muscles.

For example, if you have mastered the bodyweight squat, try a split squat as shown in this full body workout for beginners. To make a bodyweight hip hinge exercise harder, try a single leg Romanian deadlift as shown in this advanced home workout for glutes and abs.

3. Breathe to boost core engagement

Breathing techniques can be used to boost engagement of your abdominal muscles during exercise. Not only does this recruit more muscle activity, performance also improves when you coordinate breathing and movement.

There are a number of breathing techniques that can be used during exercise. The appropriate technique will depend on the intensity and type of activity. For example, when performing heavy lifts with lower repetitions, many people take a breath in and hold it throughout the repetition, only exhaling after the rep is complete. This maximises intra-abdominal pressure to help brace the core and support the spine.

However, when performing higher repetition bodyweight exercises, a more common breathing technique is to inhale through your nose during the eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase of the movement, then exhale through your mouth during the concentric (muscle shortening) phase. In practice, this usually means breathing in during the easiest part of the movement and out during the hardest part. For example, when performing a squat or push up, breathe in as you lower yourself down, then breathe out as your press back up. As you exhale through your mouth, think about contracting your abdominal muscles to brace your core.

You can stay up to date with new workouts and fitness tips on my Instagram.

Advertisements

Share This

Add a comment

Related

How to fix weak glutes – 4 exercises targeting glutes not legs (video)

About 3 months ago, I started a strength training routine specifically for my glutes. I wanted to see if it would help with the...

10-minute Stretch: Full Body Cool Down Routine at Home (video)

This 10 minute stretch routine can be done after training as a cool down. You can easily do it at home after a home...

Home workout: 20-minute Full Body with Dumbbells (video)

This 20-minute full body dumbbell workout covers upper body, lower body and core. If you don't have dumbbells, you can just hold two household...

Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr press conference – live stream video

Boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr square off in an eight-round exhibition bout with WBC Front Line belt on the line on...

Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz final pre-fight press conference – live stream video

Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz faceoff in the scheduled for 12 rounds world championship bout with WBA super featherweight and WBA lightweight titles...

Bellator 250 results – Mousasi vs Lima for middleweight title, prelims live stream video

Bellator 250 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT on October 29. In the main event former middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (46-7-2)...

Sign up for FIGHTMAG Weekly Newsletter

Top stories delivered to your inbox

Inoue vs Moloney pre-fight press conference – live stream video

Three-division champion Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) defends his IBF and WBA bantamweight titles against Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday, October 31...

Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr press conference – live stream video

Boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr square off in an eight-round exhibition bout with WBC Front Line belt on the line on...

Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz final pre-fight press conference – live stream video

Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz faceoff in the scheduled for 12 rounds world championship bout with WBA super featherweight and WBA lightweight titles...

Bellator 250 results – Mousasi vs Lima for middleweight title, prelims live stream video

Bellator 250 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT on October 29. In the main event former middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (46-7-2)...

Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora final pre-fight press conference – live stream video

Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora square off in a twelve-round heavyweight battle on October 31 at The SSE Arena, Wembley in London, England. The...