I am 22 and have tried two gyms, but I always fall back to burpees.

I am looking for more exercises that

  • are fun to do.
  • require only bodyweight (and minimal equipment).
  • are intensive and have even more intensive variants.
  • target a wide variety of muscles (including the core muscles).
  • can be done indoors.

What other exercises exist that have similar advantages?

I can only recall these from my monotonous workout:

  1. Burpees
  2. Russian Twists
  • 2
    How would you define intensive? Should it get up your heart rate as high as possible or something? In the end it will be a trade-off between intensity and repetition.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Nov 12, 2011 at 8:34
  • also see: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/3714/…
    – claws
    Aug 22, 2014 at 18:29

6 Answers 6


NerdFitness's Beginning Body Weight Routine and Advanced Body Weight Routine are great places to start for planning an intensive body weight only circuit Some of these require some weight for resistance but just find something heavy around the house to lift and adjust your repetitions per set accordingly.

I personally consider a pull-up bar minimal equipment and if it is at all possible I highly recommend you purchase one. It's pretty hard to beat the pull-up in terms of an intensive compound body weight exercise. Consider a pull-up "program" like The Twenty Pull-up Challenge or The Armstrong Pull-up Program. When you start getting bored do things like alternative your grip (hands facing towards you or away), wide grip, narrow grip, negatives and or tie something heavy around waist for extra fun.

As for intensity, try doing your sets as fast as possible (while still maintaining good form) with no rest in between. Treat it like a circuit. If that's not enough for you try picking three or four exercises and performing them in a pyramid circuit - again trying to complete the sets as fast as possible and without wasting time between switching exercises.

Beginning Body Weight Routine:

  • 20 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

Advanced Body Weight Routine:

  • 10 one legged squats – each side [warning super-difficult, only attempt if you in good enough shape]
  • 20 body weight squats
  • 20 walking lunges (10 each leg)
  • 20 jump step-ups (10 each leg)
  • 10 pull ups [or inverted body weight rows using your kitchen table]
  • 10 dips – bar stools
  • 10 chin ups [or inverted body weight rows with underhand grip]
  • 10 push ups
  • 30 second plank

That pretty much covers my favorites but here are a few extras:

  • Side-planks
  • Star Jumps
  • Diamond Push ups

And last but not least pull-ups, pull-ups, pull-ups all the time. Enjoy!

  • +1 for NerdFitness, that's a nice resource I'd recommend anyone interested in Fitness
    – Ivo Flipse
    Nov 15, 2011 at 8:21
  • Nice post - but I would change the # of pushups in the advanced workout to be at least 30. They certainly shouldn't be the same number as the beginner workout. Aug 1, 2012 at 22:24

First, I want to agree with what other people have said: Pull ups, chin ups, dips, squats, and planks are all extremely good bodyweight exercises. I'm going to suggest a few different ones on top of those.

A few weeks ago, I decided to incorporate some gymnastics moves and exercises into my home workouts. Since some of these moves are extremely difficult, they can be broken down into a set of progressions (and supplementary exercises), which increase in difficulty. I'll include some resources about the specific exercises at the end of my answer. Anyway, these are the exercises that I'm working on right now:

  1. Planche Progressions (a series of exercises that work you up to a full planche)
  2. Front Lever Progressions (a series of exercises that work you up to a front lever)
  3. L-sit

Though my knowledge of gymnastics is very limited, it seems like a recurring concept in gymnastics is that movements can be made much more difficult by decreasing leverage. For example, let's say you're doing a normal push up, so your hands are below your shoulders. Now, scoot forward with your feet (while not moving your arms) so your hands are now in line with your ribs. Try doing the push up again now--it'll be more difficult because you've decreased the "lever arm" of your movement. Try scooting forward so your hands are near your waist and try again...this should be much harder. (This variation of the push up is sometimes referred to as a "pseudo planche push up" and can help strengthen the muscles used in the planche).

So in essence, if you do exercises where you can vary the leverage (like these ones), you have a sequence of exercises of varying intensity. These exercises are also all quite intense to begin with and only get harder. Furthermore, they all will workout your core quite a lot, especially in an isometric manner (i.e. in a static manner like a plank and not a dynamic motion like a sit up), as well as lots of other muscle groups (with the front lever and the planche you have pushing and pulling movements). As a result, these exercises seem to fit your requirements. Also, because of their novelty, I've found them to be really fun.

Some Comments/Tips

  • The front lever will require a pull up bar (hope this is obvious after watching the video), so as other people have mentioned, you should definitely get one if you don't already have one.

  • If you can't hold the first front lever progression (see resources below), work on lifting your knees to your shoulders (while hanging on a pull up bar).

  • Parallettes (the low parallel bars) are good to have but I haven't needed to use them yet (I'm not very far on these progressions). Using the seat of two chairs for working L-sits can work. Also, you can build your own set of parallettes using PVC for quite cheap (see "Drills and Skills" in resources), which is what I'm planning to do.

  • If you're new to these exercises be EXTREMELY CAREFUL. Some of these exercises put a lot of load on your wrists and shoulders, so always make sure to properly warm them up beforehand.

  • Once again, I'm not a professional gymnast, and this is information that I've gathered myself by researching online. If there gymnasts reading this, maybe they can add some additional tips, pointers, and resources.

Links and Resources

  • First, you should read this article, which inspired me to use these exercises in the first place. This article details the basic progressions that you should work on for both the planche and the front lever while providing a much more thorough motivation of why these are good exercises to do.

  • Youtube Videos: Here are some videos that I've found to be helpful, especially the front lever tutorial, which is very thorough.Front lever tutorial, L-sit tutorial

  • Other: Drills and Skills - A website about general gymnastics information that's really useful, including how to build your own parallettes.

  • 1
    Good answer @Curtis, especially by explaining how adjusting leverages can make exercises more difficult
    – Ivo Flipse
    Nov 15, 2011 at 8:21

Burpees are great as you've already mentioned. I was doing them a couple times a week to complement my weight training routine. My goal was to be able to do 100 burpees in 10 minutes, but I never quite reached that level. Because they demand a lot of your muscles and your cardio, it's a good exercise to incorporate into an HIIT routine. Alternating between burpees and something like sprinting would be a killer workout.

But you can make burpees even more challenging for yourself by incorporating a pull up. At this point they're nearly a full body workout, and it's insanely tough...


In my opinion squats are the best overall body exercise; though body weight squats probably won't be as body intensive as you don't have a barbell weight across your back.

Just a fun fact (you're 22, you can probably relate to this unless you're not a gamer), in Final Fantasy Crisis Core, Zack has a mini game where he competes with other soldiers on who can do the most squat thrust in a given time. Trust me, try doing above 50 squats in one go, without stopping, you'll be sweating and your heart's racing.


If you have an iPod or iPhone, I recommend the free Nike Training Club application, which contains a lot of bodyweight or minimal equipment exercises. Some of them include sit-ups, push-ups, jumping rope, planks, tricep dips, squats, and lunges. For some reason, the app is targeted at women, but the exercises seem gender neutral to me.


Here are some ideas:

You may also have a look at the exercises done in the Insanity Workout Video series (Insanity, Asylum and Asylum Vol 2).

However be careful to your body, make safe progressions and always use proper form!

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