Bodyweight Workout

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Tone your arms, core, butt, and legs with this speedy, efficient routine you can do anywhere.

No matter your goal, no summer shape-up plan is complete without strength training. A stronger body helps you power through hikes or swims—and makes it easier to haul luggage or walk while sightseeing on vacation. Trying to shed a few pounds? Strength training will help you lose fat while building lean muscle.

The beauty of this bodyweight workout: You don’t need any special equipment, and you’ll tone your arms, core, butt, and legs in just five moves. Plus, you can make each move easier or harder for your needs—it’s up to you!

How the Bodyweight Workout Works

All you need is some open floor space and an elevated surface, like a sturdy bench or couch. If you’d like support during exercises, feel free to use a wall, chair, or counter.

Warm up with at least three to five minutes of walking or the warmup exercises from this 20-minute cardio follow-along workout. Then, perform each bodyweight exercise below in order for one round, resting as needed. Do one to three rounds total. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

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Bodyweight Exercise #1: Side Slide and Hold Squat

Do 21 reps total

Take a wide stance with your knees and toes pointing forward, and squat down slightly. Shift your weight to your right foot, making sure it’s planted firmly and your right knee is aligned with your foot. Your left leg should be straight but not locked. Draw your lower belly in, and lift your chest.

Raise your arms in front of you at shoulder level. Shift your weight to your left foot, pause, and then shift back to your right foot. That’s one rep.

Keeping your arms at shoulder level, cross your arms. Shift side to side. That’s two reps.

Lower your arms toward the floor, but continue to engage your core and lift your chest—don’t let your upper body collapse forward. Shift side to side. That’s three reps.

Repeat for 21 reps total.

Make it easier: Take a narrower stance, or don’t squat down as far. If coordination is a challenge, focus on the lower-body movements before adding arm movements.

Bodyweight Exercise #2: Plank Hold with Foot Tap

Do 10 taps with each leg

Place your hands on the edge of a sturdy bench or couch, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Move your feet back until you are at a comfortable angle, keeping your arms straight and perpendicular to your body.

From here, tap each foot forward, then step back to return to plank. Maintaining this position, bend your arms to lower your body slightly, and push back up. Do 10 taps with each leg.

Make it easier: Bend your knees in slightly instead of tapping the floor with your foot.

Make it harder: Bend your arms for a full pushup, or perform the move on the floor instead of a bench.

Bodyweight Exercise #3: Squat with Arms 3 Ways

Do 12 reps total

Stand tall with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart. Hold your arms in front of you at shoulder level, and brace your core. This is your starting position.

From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to slowly lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Pause, then push through your heels to slowly return to starting position.

Keeping your arms at shoulder level, cross your arms. Squat and return to starting position.

Lower your arms toward the floor, but continue to engage your core and lift your chest—don’t let your upper body collapse forward. Squat and return to starting position.

That’s one rep. Do 12 reps total.

Make it easier: Don’t squat down as far, or lower your body onto a chair. If coordination is a challenge, focus on the lower-body movements before adding arm movements.

Bodyweight Exercise #4: T-Row with Arms 4 Ways

Do 12 reps of each arm movement

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and brace your core.

With palms down, raise your arms out to your sides to shoulder level, and lower. Do 12 reps.

With palms down, raise your arms in front of you to shoulder level, and lower. Do 12 reps.

With palms up, raise your arms out to your sides at shoulder level, and circle them backward. Do 12 reps.

Bend your arms at 90-degree angles at shoulder level so your forearms are in front of your face. Pull your shoulder blades back to open your arms and form a goal post, and close. Do 12 reps.

Make it easier: Raise or open your arms only as far as comfortable.

Bodyweight Exercise #5: Step Back Rotational Reach

Do 10 reps with each leg

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step back with one foot, gently rotating through your core and reaching behind you. Step up to return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 10 reps with each leg.

Make it easier: Take only a small step back, or reach for your hip instead of behind you. If it’s not safe or comfortable for you to do twisting motions, keep your hands on your hips as you step back.

Make it harder: Take a bigger step back, or gently gaze behind you as rotate.

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