10 Lightweight/Bodyweight Exercises That Will Kick Your Ass!

1. The DB fly-pullover-press.

I'm not sure what you'd call these, but an old school friend of mine showed me these one time when we were both prepping for a competition.

It's an exercise that is geared towards chest/serratus tie-in.

What you want to do is grab a light pair of dumbbells you can control and lay on either a flat bench or a decline bench.

There are 3 parts to the exercise; you start with a DB fly, then you do straight arm pullovers w/ both DB's, then finally a press…that counts as 1 rep and you perform this for 8-12 reps.

2. 1-arm cable press-downs.

Here you will grab the end of a cable with no attachment, just your hand grabbing the cable just above the metal part used for attaching handles.

You will do a press-down with 1 arm at a time and what you want to do is lock down on your tricep like you're posing it.

It doesn't take much weight to get a good squeeze in your tricep, maybe 10-20 lbs for most guys.

These are great as a burn out at the end of a tricep workout and I will usually hit a couple sets of 20 reps/arm on these.

3. Posing cable fly's.

These are a great way to warm up your chest or to do at the end of a workout.

You go to a cable cross and grab each side like you're going to do a normal cable fly.

Only what you want to do here is slow down the motion and hold every rep at the end of the movement for a count of 6-8 seconds to simulate a most muscular pose.

In your mind you want to think of a panel of judges sitting below you and telling you to hit a “most muscular pose” and I like to perform sets of 6-8 reps with a good 6-8 second hold and squeeze on each rep.

Not only are these good as a warm up, but they're good when it comes to time under tension and squeezing the ever-loving shit out of your pecs.

4. The 1 minute chin-up.

This is a great way to nail your stubborn biceps (and a serious test of your manhood!)

You will perform a single chin-up here.

Starting at the fully extended with your palms facing you, you will gradually pull yourself up slowly to the top for a count of 30 seconds.

You may want to have a friend with a watch to help you and let you know how many seconds you have left until you hit 30 seconds.

Next, you will slowly lower yourself for another count of 30 seconds. It's only 1 rep, but it's basically 1 minute of your biceps squeezing as hard as they can and it can be a living hell!

You may find your biceps more sore from just doing this than doing 10 sets of what you've been doing!

5. The 1 minute dip.

Just like the 1 minute chin-up, here you will perform a single dip for 30 seconds up, followed by 30 seconds down. It's total muscle control here!

6. The hyper-extension/rear delt raise.

What you will do here is go to a hyper-extension station (the thing at a 45 degree angle that locks in your legs, and you raise yourself up with your lower back and hands across chest).

What you want to do here is grab a small weight plate in each hand.

You will want to use something very light such as 5 lb dumbbells, MAYBE 10's.

You will begin the movement by lifting your body with your lower back.

At the top of the movement you will finish off by pulling your arms outward and hands back as if you were doing a rear delt raise.

I have found these to be great as a finisher for higher reps of 20+ per set.

You'll feel a serious burn in your back and rear delts!

7. The 20 second negative calf routine.

For stubborn calves, try these on for size!

I usually do these on a seated calf press that is plate loaded (Hammer Strength calf press) but you can use a leg sled for them, do them standing, or even seated.

After a few warm-ups you will load the weight down and prepare yourself for one ultimate set of all-out war!

You will perform  your calf raise or press and slowly lower it for a count of 20 seconds, then back up for another rep.

You will do 1 set of as many as possible under 20 second negatives on each rep!

When I do these it hurts most people just to watch it!

8. Lever push-ups.

This is one hell of a bodyweight exercise that will humble you pretty quick!

What you want to do is get in regular push-up position, only you will be working 1 pec at a time here, because you're going to take one arm and stick it straight out to your side and rest your hand on a medicine ball.

You will lower yourself on 1 side for a desired rep count (in my case a count of 20 reps/side) then you switch sides/arms.

9. Bodyweight squats.

Who would ever think that a high rep set of squats with just your own bodyweight would have your legs shaking so badly?

Even if you're a 500+ lb squatter, I urge you to try these either as a warm-up or a finisher.

It's simple, you perform squats with just your body for a single set of 100 reps.

You want to move quickly here, but in a steady and pumping sort of fashion.

Watch how pumped up your quads get after doing these!

10. 45 lb plate shrugs.

These are the only trap exercise I've done in the past 6 years outside of indirectly hitting them from deadlifting.

The principle behind holding 45 lb plates to shrug with is this; you can get the weight closer to your body and in direct line with your traps.

If I was to take a marker and draw straight down your body from your traps to your hands, the line would be much straighter with your hands when you're holding plates against your legs rather than your hands kicked out from dumbbells hitting your quads.

What this does is it allows your traps to pull up in a more natural motion, and since your hands are closer to your body and in line with your traps, you can pull the weights much higher and you feel a much better mind/muscle connection.

You want to try to tilt your head slightly downward while facing a mirror, and get your traps to come up to ear level. Pause at the top and squeeze for 1-2 seconds, then let your arms stretch downward as far as your traps will let you go.

Repeat… I feel these better than any heavy dumbbell shrug or barbell, and my traps seriously took off into new growth when I ditched the heavy DB's and barbells and started doing plate shrugs.


6 thoughts on “10 Lightweight/Bodyweight Exercises That Will Kick Your Ass!”

  1. Bodyweight squats are a killer. I thought id have good endurance because my back squat is my best lift but i was pouring sweat after a set of 100.

    I was squatting down to just above parallel and going quickly. I found if i went ass to grass my knees were beginning to hurt. I wasnt fully locking out at the top of the lift either.

    It sounds easy but its a great finisher, up there with Bears for knocking the hell out of me.

    Im going to try the 1 minute chin up tomorrow.

    Since I’ve bulked up my pull ups have gone to shit. What advice would you give for building that strength back up?

  2. Hey John if you had tine could to demonstrate these in a youtube video. Some are tough to picture and i want to make sure I’m doing them correctly.

  3. Great list.

    For bodyweight squats I like to do 1 squat, 1 second rest, 2 squats, 2 seconds rest and so on up to 15 and then back down again.

    This is 225 reps total and it’s a killer.

    I’m working up to a 20+ rep pyramid.

    Also slow upright kettlebell rows with a towel are a good home alternative to plate shrugs in my experience.

    • I like that one, upright kettle bells with a towel, never tried it but I can already see the crazy mind muscle connection that would bring!!!


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