3 Ways To Make Bodyweight Exercises Harder


I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit, bodyweight exercises are easy right? I go to the gym and throw around weights 4-5 times per week, so how are bodyweight exercises going to challenge me and keep me progressing?

Anyone else feel like this?

Turns out I was wrong, especially when you take into account the strategies below which I’m going to run you through today.

bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight exercises can be great way to continue progressing, building muscle and burning fat. The only thing you will struggle to do is build maximal strength. However, with bodyweight exercises the least you’ll do is prevent your body from losing all strength. Making the process of returning to your strength training a lot easier.

Without further ado, here’s 3 strategies you can use to make your bodyweight exercises harder.

Exercise selection/Hand and feet placement 
It goes without saying, changing exercises is a great way of progressing or regressing movements. For example, a one leg squat is going to be harder than a standard two leg squat. Another thing you can think about is adjusting your hand and feet position on various exercises. As a general rule – as feet come close together (in a squat or plank etc.) it becomes harder, the wider they are the easier. With hands somewhere in the middle is easiest, whereas the two extremes of wider or closer become challenging in their own right.

Exercise tempo
This is my favourite variable to progress exercises. This simply refers to the speed at which you perform an exercise. Obviously the slower you go the more tension you create in the working muscles and thus the harder is becomes. For example try 10 reps of bodyweight squats performed as fast as you can. Now do 10 going 3 seconds down and 3 seconds up! Feel the difference? You can even include short holds between the positive and negative portion of reps too. 

Rest period reduction
Shortening the time you take to rest between exercises is a great way to keep your heart rate up and burn more calories. It also means you’ll get your workout done in a shorter amount of time. Win win!