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Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises You’ve never Heard Of

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Filed Under (Fitness, General) by Rick Kaselj



Today, I got an article from Scott Rawcliffe.

Last year, I saw Scott at a conference in San Diego. He was talking about bodyweight exercises. He did a fantastic job so Scott and I have teamed out to put out a new resource for health and fitness professionals called Bodyweight Corrective Exercises.

Enjoy the article and check out Bodyweight Corrective Exercises.

Rick Kaselj, MS

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Doing a new exercise just for the sake of doing something different is not smart training, because everything we give our clients should be bringing them closer to their goals. And although you may have not seen any of these exercises before they all have a very specific reason as to why you would use them.

Top 5 Bodyweight Exercises You have never Heard Of

#1 – McKenzie Press Up

If you are familiar with the McKenzie press up used with people rehabbing lower back issues don’t get these two confused. Although they look similar, they are different. But before I tell you how to do it, any clients who have any type of extension based low back pain should not do this exercise.

McKenzie Push Up

  1. Lay on your stomach, with the hands in a diamond position underneath the chest.
  2. Make sure that the elbows stay off the floor, and the hips (ASIS) stay in contact with the floor for the duration of the exercise.
  3. Keeping the head and chest up, press your body up as high as you can without the hips/ASIS coming off the floor, then lower your body down to the floor under control.
  4. If you allow yourself to drop your head or chest you will not get the most out of the triceps.

This is a targeted triceps exercise and I like to use it with two types of clientele. The first is for clients who struggle with push ups, especially when there is no option of elevating their hands to make it easier. Once your client is no longer able to perform any more push ups, either from their feet or knees, have them drop down and finish off with the McKenzie push up.

The other way I like to use the McKenzie push up is as a finisher or burn out exercise straight after a triceps exercise. For example, if my client has just finished a set of triceps push ups I’ll have them go to failure with the McKenzie push up.

#2 – Manual Pulls

One of the hardest things to work with only bodyweight is the upper back, and that’s where manual pulls come in. Although you won’t develop maximal strength like you would with a pull up or TRX row, you’ll at least be able to build up some endurance and have an option for all fitness levels to do.

Manual Pulls

  1. Stand tall in good posture.
  2. Cusp fingers together and keep forearms 
parallel with the floor.
  3. Retract shoulder blades together and then try 
to pull fingers apart laterally.

#3 – Standing Wall Lean

This is the perfect exercise for all the desk jockey’s that you train. Let’s face it, we all sit way too much and it affects our posture. The deep cervical extensors are too weak to hold our head in the right position, and no amount of stretching the pecs, neck, and lats will fix this problem without getting stronger. Enter the standing wall lean.

Although it may not look like much, it definitely works, but I must warn you, try this before you give it too your client. If you’re anything like me you’ll probably start way to far off the wall and learn quickly that this is no joke.

Standing Wall Lean

  1. With your heels 6-12 inches from the wall lean back until your glutes, upper back and top of the head touch the wall.
  2. By pressing into the wall with your head push your glutes and upper back off the wall, keeping a tall body position (ear, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle all in line).
  3. Hold for 60 seconds then rest 5 seconds and repeat 3 total times to get 3 total minutes of work (as this will give you a postural strengthening stimulus).
  4. When you step away from wall you should feel that your head and neck have been picked up and back.

#4 – Straight Leg Marching

Another muscle that is sometimes hard to hit with only bodyweight is the hamstring. This one is deceptively difficult; especially if you’re client has weak hamstrings and lazy glutes. All we’ve done is just changed the biomechanics around a little and voila, hamstring overload.

Straight Leg Marching

  1. Lay supine on the floor, legs with a slight bend (170 degrees) in the knees and hands out to the side.
  2. Pushing through your heels, go into a posterior pelvic tilt and lift the hips off the ground.
  3. Keeping your hips level and not letting them drop, lift one heel 1-3 inches off the ground.
  4. Put back down and repeat with other leg.
  5. Ensure that you do not lose the posterior 
pelvic tilt or you will start to use the lumbar erectors.

#5 – Wombat Squat

This is a very deceptive exercise, and I don’t think I’ve ever shown this exercise to someone without getting a look back from the client like “that’s going to be way too easy”. This is also the exercise that I show at conferences that gets me the most emails back from trainers. They love telling me how much their client’s legs burned after doing it.

So if you’re looking for a great quad exercise for your clients, here you go. You didn’t think I’d leave you without an Australian inspired exercise before this post was over did you?

Wombat Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward/slightly externally rotated.
  2. Reach down inside of your knees and grab underneath your toes.
  3. Pull yourself down into the deepest squat you can, then without letting go of your toes straighten your legs as much as possible.
  4. For most people they will not be able to straighten the legs, which will keep the tension on the quads for the duration of the exercise.

Like I said at the beginning of the post, don’t just throw these at your clients tomorrow morning because you’ve learned some new exercises. Make sure that they fit with you clients needs, but I’ve been specific in picking these exercises because most people are weak in the upper back and hamstrings so at least a couple of these should fit.

Remember, your client could always search “cool new bodyweight exercises” on the internet, but they come to you to give them the ones that fit for them.

If you are health & fitness professional and looking for a resource that gives you the tools and exercises to help yourself and your client move better and get great results, then check out Bodyweight Corrective Exercises, here:

Bodyweight Corrective Exercises

Scott Rawcliffe

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