Body Weight Exercise Substitutes

In the rare occasion that I grab a workout at a “big box” gym, I always end up competing with other folks for equipment. And it honestly frustrates the living hell out of me …

Like if I’m doing a circuit-style workout where I’m rotating between two or more exercises, inevitably someone hops in and starts using one piece of equipment I’m using for a circuit while I’m doing another exercise in the rotation.

I thought a list of these exercises might be helpful for you next time you’re in a similar situation – at the gym, at home, in a hotel room – and need some good body weight exercise substitutes for moves you normally do in your routine. So here ‘ya go:

horizontal press substitutes (bench/dumbell chest press/machine chest press/etc.)

  • push up (regular or on knees)
  • hands elevated push up
  • push up with rotation
  • close grip push up
  • spiderman push up

vertical press substitutes (shoulder press/machine/etc.)

  • pike/downward dog push up
  • feet elevated push up
  • stick up/wall slide

quad dominant leg substitutes (squats/leg press/etc.)

  • body weight squat
  • prisoner squat
  • 1 leg squat
  • lunge/variations

hip dominant leg substitutes (deadlift/etc.)

  • single leg deadlift
  • step ups
  • squat jump
  • lying hip extensions
  • 1 leg lying hip extensions

vertical pull substitutes (lat pulldown/pull up/etc.)

  • stick up/wall slide
  • pull up
  • chin up

horizontal pull substitutes (seated row/bent row/etc.)

  • inverted row
  • underhand/mixed grip inverted row
  • suspension trainer row

In summary, body weight exercises can be great substitutes for traditional free weight and machine -based moves. The exercises listed in this article are just a starting point for you – the idea is to get you thinking outside the box for more ways you can incorporate body weight training into your existing routine!

Train hard and talk soon –

Forest Vance
Master of Science, Human Movement
Certified Kettlebell Instructor
Fitness Nutrition Coach

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