Top 10 Bodyweight Exercises Burn Major Fat

What do you mean you don't have any equipment to workout?  You have a body right?  Got 10 minutes?  Go!  Here are 10 proven fat-burning and body-shaping bodyweight exercises to get your body lean.

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1. Prime-Time Prisoner Squats

The squat works major muscle groups. To recruit more muscle fibers during workouts and improve your fat loss success, focus more on multi-joint or compound exercises like the squat.  Research shows that the abdominal muscles are engaged more when doing squats than they are doing many of the more popular ab exercises.

Squats have a greater impact on your body's muscle-building, metabolism and energy expenditure than probably any other exercise.  Your legs (especially quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes), abdominals and lower back are targeted.   Even your arms and shoulders will feel the effects of the exercises.

How to do Prime-Time Prisoner Squats

a. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart with your toes pointing slightly outward.

b. With your hands behind your head, keep your chest up and shoulder blades down and back throughout the range of motion. Brace as you do the exercise (like taking a punch to the gut).

c. As you descend, push your glutes back as if sitting down and bend at the hips and knees. Keep your knees aligned with your toes (don't let your knees "cave in" or protrude outside the feet). Also, don’t let your knees pass over your toes and stay back on your heels.

d. Don’t lean forward and maintain the natural arch in your back.

e. As you ascend, contract your glutes and explode back up to the starting position (like jumping without jumping). That is one repetition.

Primetime prisoner squats will also improve your leg power (how fast your muscles can produce force), vertical jump, speed and workout efficiency (do more work in less time).

2. Pushups Complex

Do a variety of pushups during your workouts.  Close-grip pushups, stability ball pushup (pictured below), power pushups, regular pushups, incline pushups, decline pushups, uneven pushups.......Pushups are one of the all-time best bodyweight exercises.  See 7 Pushups here.

Try the stability ball pushup as an advancement from regular pushups. The stability ball pushup requires you to balance your body and improves core strength.

The stability ball pushup requires more muscles to be activated, such as stabilizers and core muscles.

Do the stability ball pushup this way:

a. Lay your chest on the stability ball.

b. Put your hands at the sides of the ball. With your toes on the ground, keep your legs straight.

c. Push your body up until your arms are almost straight (don't lock your elbows). Keep your body in a straight line and your torso braced.

d. Hold and balance for two seconds.

e. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

3. Mountain Climber Cross-Body

This exercise will build overall strength and help tone your "six pack" and obliques. Mountain climbers cross-body also works the calves, quadriceps, glutes, back, chest, triceps and shoulders.

a. Start by getting in the push up position with your arms fully extended. Keep your hips and torso in a straight line. Don't let your hips sag and don't point your butt in the air during this exercise.

b. Do the exercise by moving your left knee straight up and across your body to the right armpit area (keep your abs braced). Also, don't let your foot touch the ground as you do the movement. Move your left leg back to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Alternate your leg movements until you have completed all repetitions.

4. Step Ups

The bodyweight step up is one of the best leg toning and strengthening exercises available to you. It will help you burn more fat in your legs.  Step ups will also improve your dynamic balance. Its not that easy to balance all your weight on one leg (with good form) while stepping up onto a platform.

a. Face a bench or platform (knee high) and put your right foot on the bench. Your knee should be bent 90 degrees. Don't do this exercise with dumbbells until you have mastered the bodyweight version.

b. As you lift your body on your right leg, keep your body erect (don't bend over) and look straight ahead. Balance on your leg for 1-2 seconds and descend. Don't let your left foot touch the platform.

c. Do all required repetitions on the right leg and switch to left leg.

You may have to start with a platform lower than knee-high. Your hamstrings and butt will be worked more with a higher platform.

5. Bulgarian Split Squat

This is a great one-legged exercise to balance out your muscles.  

Stand upright with your left foot on a knee-high platform and descend until your right thigh is parallel to the floor.  Lift your body back up to the starting position.   That's one repetition.  Do all repetitions on one leg and switch to the other leg.  Keep your torso upright throughout the movement.

6. Ab Ball Rollout and Ab Ball Jackknife (Superset)

This challenging superset will improve your strength, balance and coordination.

Do the ab ball jackknife this way:

a. Place both shins on the stability ball with both hands on the ground (arms straight). Keep hands a little wider than shoulder width. Keep your body in a straight line from head to feet.

b. Roll the ball toward your chest with your legs together. Bend your knees to your chest as far as you can. The movement should be controlled and steady throughout.

c. Roll the ball back to the starting position. That's 1 repetition.

Do the ab ball rollout this way:

a. Start with the ball in front with your elbows on the ball.

b. Roll the ball out slowly and keep your abs braced (as if taking a punch to the gut). As you straighten your torso you will feel your abs stretch and extend. Return to the starting position.

Don't be afraid to try this superset! You will see results fast.

7. Dead-Hang Pullups

The dead-hang pullup is a great bodyweight exercise to build upper body muscle mass and burn fat.  You will also develop better definition and sculpt your upper body as you add sets and repetitions over time.  

The pullup is one of the best exercises you should be doing.  Don't be afraid of the exercise.  If you can't do any, start by doing 1 pullup and progress.  You could also strengthen your back muscles with the lat pulldown and dumbbell row.

The pullup is not just a back muscle exercise. Pullups work your lats (and other back muscles), core, shoulders, arms, chest, biceps and improve grip strength.

Do the basic overhand grip, dead-hang pullup this way:

a. Hang from a pullup bar with your palms facing away from your body, your arms straight and your feet crossed together with legs bent about 90 degrees. Pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar.

b. A wider grip (greater than shoulder width) will work your lats more. A closer grip (shoulder width or less) will work your middle back muscles more.

c. If you lack grip strength, you can use straps to help.

d. Don't jut your chin out (it strains your cervical spine).

e. Don't swing. It makes the pullup easier by using momentum. You need to pullup, not swing up.

f. Don't let your chest collapse because that puts too much stress on your shoulders.

g. Don't arch your lower back too much. You want your abdominal muscles to be engaged when you do the pullup. Keep your torso braced (as if taking a punch to the gut) during the pullup.

h. When you start the pullup, drive your shoulder blades down and squeeze them together. This will engage your shoulder stabilizers more.

8. Inverted Rows

Include bodyweight inverted rows in your workout routine to work your back muscles in a different way. Doing different exercises for a specific muscle group can give you faster results or help you break through a plateau. 

Inverted rows build strength in your upper back, shoulders and arms. Your core muscles are also engaged during the movement. Inverted rows also improve your stabilizing strength in the low back, glutes and hamstrings.

1. Hang from the bar of a Smith Machine (back to the floor but not touching) and pull your chest up to the bar.

2. Keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement and brace your abs. Also, keep your head in line with your torso. Don't drop the head or jut it forward.

9. Sprint Intervals

Sprinting activates your bulkier, shapely fast twitch muscle fibers. These fast twitch muscle fibers lie dormant when you do slow-paced cardio sessions (hint). Sprinting will really burn the fat on your butt, hips, thighs, hamstrings and lower legs. Fat will also be burned on your upper body.

It is important to properly warmup before doing sprinting intervals. A proper warmup is a dynamic warmup such as doing 5-10 minutes of jogging, walking lunges, half-speed sprints and three-quarters speed sprints. Do static stretches after your workout to bring your muscles back to normal length.

To sprint efficiently and avoid injuries, you need to master correct running mechanics.

A 20-minute sprint interval workout is very simple.  Do it this way:

  • Run a 50 to 60 yard sprint
  • Walk back to start line
  • Run a 50 to 60 yard sprint

Do this type of workout no more than 2 times a week. This will allow your body to recover from this intense form of exercise.

10. Clock or 3-D Lunges

Add clock lunges to your exercise routine to better sculpt your butt, hips, upper legs and lower legs and help them look better in 3-D space.

Many of you do forward lunges, reverse lunges and walking lunges. These exercises work your lower body in one plane of motion (sagittal). I don't see enough people doing side lunges and transverse lunges.

When you do the lunges, don't let your front knee go past your toes and don't let your back knee touch the ground on the descent. Also, don't let the front thigh go past parallel to the ground.

To work your hamstrings more, lunge out further with the front leg. A shorter lunge will work the quadriceps more. Most people need more hamstring strength to prevent knee injuries.

If you will do clock lunges, you are covered in all 3 planes of motion, your legs will look better and they will be more balanced.

Do clock lunges this way:

Lunge with your right leg at 12 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock. That’s 1 repetition for your right leg. Lunge with your left leg at 12 o’clock, 10 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 6 o’clock. That’s 1 repetition for your left leg. Maintain upright posture throughout.

If you need bodyweight workouts that you can start at your own level, check out the Free download below (it has beginner, intermediate and advanced levels):

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES


About Mark


Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.