Want to Get Ripped? Try These Intense Bodyweight Exercises

muscular young man drinking water

You don’t need weights to get ripped. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Not everyone has time for long, grueling gym sessions. Luckily, pumping iron at the gym isn’t the only way to get you the ripped, lean body you’ve always wanted. In fact, bodyweight exercises have become increasingly popular and are often considered more effective than weight training.

Bodyweight training is when you use your own body weight as the only form of resistance in a workout. The exercises don’t use free weights or gym machines.

Bodyweight training is simply more efficient. You don’t have to deal with weights and you can easily transition from one move to the next. Weight training really doesn’t involve much cardio, but by bodyweight training you can kill two birds with one stone. For example, doing burpee sets between strengthening exercises, like push-ups or lunges, can keep your heart working while still developing strength and muscle.

Another benefit of bodyweight training is the challenge. You don’t have to lift excessive amounts of weight in order to challenge yourself. Bodyweight training helps work all of the muscles in your body and are easy to modify to your fitness level. You can add extra reps, change the pace, or add extra movements during an exercise. Plus, you can do bodyweight workouts anywhere without having to rely solely on gym equipment.

If you’re looking to get ripped, we’ve curated five of the best exercises that are even better than pumping iron. Do these moves on vacation, at work, right before bed, or when you wake up in order to get the most out of them.

1. Push-ups

man doing push-ups

Push-ups are great for the back and shoulders. | iStock.com

Push-ups make some cringe, but in reality, they are one of the best bodyweight workouts to get you stronger in no time. There are hundreds of variations of push-ups that make this workout one that you’ll never get sick of. The primary muscle groups that push-ups target are pecs, triceps and anterior delts. It doesn’t matter how many push-ups you can do, rather it’s about how well you do them. They can be totally useless if you don’t do them properly.

“Sure, you could keep adding more push-ups to gauge your progress, but at a certain point, you’ll need to find harder variations if you want to build raw strength instead of strength endurance,” says Al Kavadlo, one of the world’s leading experts in bodyweight strength training and calisthenics, as he wrote in an article for Bodybuilding.com.

There are plenty of ways to do a push-up to increase your ultimate strength.

2. Squats

man doing squats

Squats are great for your glutes. | iStock.com

The list is so far sounding all too familiar. Well, they’re both such popular exercises because they truly work. The squat is the “king of all exercises” according to Bodybuilding.com. Squats work the whole body, but especially your lower body (glutes and legs), as well as a strong emphasis on the core.

You can change your stance to emphasize different muscles, which makes it easy to always switch up this exercise. A narrow stance will work your quadriceps more, while a wide stance will focus on glutes, hamstrings, and adductors. Make sure you go down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Perform many squats at a high intensity to get the most out of this workout.

3. Planks

young woman doing planks

Never underestimate a plank. | iStock.com/capdesign

Planks are arguably the best full-body workout. Planks mainly focus on the abdominals and lower back, but they also work your shoulders, chest, triceps, back, and legs. Remember to contract your abs and squeeze your glutes while holding this position the longest you can.

Another variation of the plank are side planks, which means you stack your legs on top of one another and have one arm straight on the ground. Raise your hips high and feel the burn in your obliques (do each side). Planks with an alternate arm and leg raise are also an extremely effective version of this exercise. Raise your left hand straight out in front of you and your right leg straight up behind you, each parallel to the ground. Hold for three seconds and switch. Your abs will definitely come out of hiding with this one.

4. Pull-ups

man doing pull-ups

Pull-ups are tough. | iStock.com

These are dreaded in the fitness community because they are so challenging. Find a pull-up bar, a door, or a sturdy rod (like in a park while you’re running) to perform this move. The pull-up is a compound upper body exercise, meaning it targets multiple muscle groups and releases a growth hormone. It targets the back and biceps while simultaneously working your core.

5. Split jumps

Woman doing lunges in a gym

Split jumps are perfect for toning the thighs. | iStock.com

Split jumps are similar to lunges, but way more intense. This is a plyometric exercise in which you stand with your feet together and lunge forward with your right foot. According to Muscle & Performance, jump straight up while propelling the arms forward, keeping the elbows bent and, while in the air, switch out your legs and land in a lunge with the opposite leg forward. Repeat and continue switching legs.