There are so many bodyweight workouts and exercises on the internet. I have always wondered which bodyweight exercises are the most effective. I'm trying to create my own bodyweight workout for the entire body so if you have some exercises that really worked for you then can you share them with me?
I was really into powerlifting but due to this pandemic I can't go to the gym anymore.
So I started doing calisthenics/bodyweight exercise, for me the most useful exercise are these:
- pull ups: perform them controlled with full range of motion, then chin over the bar and arms fully extended when you descend. This exercise will mainly work your back and your upper body
- dips: this exercise depends a lot on your shoulder mobility, so I would recommend starting to stop a dip by reaching a 90 degree angle with your elbow, as you get strong you can begin to go down and break this angle. This exercise will work your triceps and pecs
- handstand push-up to wall: stand vertically with your back against the wall, in this position get your head in contact with the floor and return to a vertical position. This exercise will work your shoulders a lot.
- push ups: This exercise will work mainly your upper body (pecs and triceps), you can change the hand position to get the exercise harder and more focus on the triceps
If you still want to train legs bodyweight (I mean you can, but weight training remains the best for developing legs, at least for me... let's say that bodyweight training for legs is only effective if you are a beginner) I will suggest doing single legs squats also called pistol squat (this one could be challenging, it also involves a good amount of balance and flexibility), squats, squat jumps on box (this exercise destroys my legs every time, though I can squat x2 my bodyweight, for me is one of the best bodyweight exercise for legs) and lunges.
Regarding the abs area I highly suggest to incorporates in your routines exercises like L-sit, hollow body position and dragon flags.
As you get stronger you can start adding skills such as Handstand, Front lever, Back lever and Planche into your routine. (Be aware that those skills takes time to learn and lots of conditioning so please don't rush the process).
I will also suggest you to add to your workout routine some basic stretching exercise like the pike (If you can try to incorporate both dynamic and static strech).
As I guess you are a novice in strength training I would suggest to start with a full-body workout, this means that in a session you try to train as much different muscles as possible. I found that this was more fun and easier to stick to than a split schedule which requires more time and dedication. As you tagged your post with strength-training, this answer will be focussed on that. If you want to go for more cardio, you can try running ;)
You also probably saw the recommended routine on the bodyweight fitness subreddit and I would recommend this one as well, it hits all the important muscles and has progression for each of the moves so that a novice can also perform the routine and build up to the big exercises. The big pro of this routine is that it is laid out for you, you don't have to think much about it and just perform it. After you have done this for some months you will be ready to choose on what to focus based on your goals (Muscle ups? Human Flags? Planches? One handed pushups? Hamstring curls?)
A good book on the subject is Overcoming gravity, it has a lot of information and even more progression charts and information on how to structure your training. I think it will be too much information to start with and it can lead to not even starting at all since there will be too much choice :)
Most effective exercises are the ones you can stick to!
I am not a professional. I like to keep it simple and say that push-up is the best exercise. The 30-day push-up challenge is a thing because it is so simple.
Here are other exercises I like:
- Squats: you will probably need weights (won't be a bodyweight workout)
- Running: it will stress your joints if that is your concern
- Burpees: great cardio but does not help you build muscles
If you do not know where to start, I challenge you to try 100 push-ups every day for 30 days first.
These are the most effective bodyweight exercises for getting a body like you want:
- hanging (better for lower abs) or dips-position (better for serratus) leg raises, 4x8 up to 90° with bodyweight, move to 4x12 when you're strong enough, you can do then do toes-to-bar which is harder. You can also do similar rep ranges with weight in between your feet when you are strong enough.
- opposite-knee-opposite-elbow mountain climbers (ab exercise: hold a pushup position at the top, bring your left knee to your right elbow using your abs, then put it back, repeat with other leg) very high volume (sets of 20+)
- handstand training
- a pushup programme (just something to keep you motivated and committed, maybe hundrepushups.com or anything else you find that gives you rest days)
- lateral raise variations and for shoulders (standing straight for side delt, leaning forward for rear delt), do higher volume and lower weight (use a household object): 5x15 or 5x20
- running (see if you can find a programme you like) - get really good at running. The dude in the pic hides his legs, and I guess legs won't be the most important to you either. But running will keep your legs looking fit and also it will keep you extremely healthy, give you a strong heart as a foundation for the rest of your training, and it will burn your calories
- (less relative to the rest) pullups 4 sets of as many as you can do, when you can do 4x8 you can start adding a little weight
And if you want to see real progress, you should find a fitness hobby that you enjoy that will build you this body: train boxing with friends, or learn breakdancing powermoves, or do gymnastics, or do a competitive sport