The 44 Best Bodyweight Exercises: The Ultimate Guide for Working Out Anywhere!

Deadshot does his bodyweight training, in between "jobs."

Here are the 44 best bodyweight exercises you can do to build muscle and burn fat, no gym required! 

These are the exact exercises we start our coaching clients on, and many perform them from their house or apartment.

In a hurry? Sign-up for our free weekly newsletter and we’ll send you PDFs of our “Work Out at Home” guides!

We’ve organized the exercises in today’s guide by major muscle groups (click to jump to those movements):

Plus, we’ll pull it all together at the end so you can create a complete bodyweight workout routine!

Alright, let’s get to it.

Advanced Bodyweight Workout Circuit: A Full Body Routine You Can Do At Home

Once you get good at advanced bodyweight exercises, you can bust out moves like this!

Want to get strong but hate the gym?

No problem!

With today’s Advanced Bodyweight Routine, you can burn fat, build muscle, and get a great workout in! All with no gym membership required!

It’s the kind of workout we build through our online coaching program. If you’re in a hurry, sign-up for our free weekly newsletter and we’ll send you PDFs of our “Work Out at Home” guides!

If you’re ready, click the sections below to get right into the action:

Alright, let’s do this thang.

How Many Calories Should I Eat Every Day? A TDEE Calculator for Total Daily Energy Expenditure

These LEGOs are learning about their BMR and TDEE so they can calculate their calorie needs.

“Steve, how many calories should I eat every day? I have goals!”

Great question.

Knowledge is power. So today, we are going to make you more powerful by calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

A gif that says "I have the power"

Of course, “knowing is half the battle.” The other half is using your newfound knowledge to achieve your goals!

Fortunately for you, we’ve helped thousands of Online Coaching Clients lose weight and get healthy, and TDEE is just one of many factors we consider when building a specific strategy for somebody’s goals.

Okay FINE, I’ll share the other factors and strategies below too.

Simply click on the section below for quick reading, though I’d recommend you read the whole enchilada to properly apply TDEE to your life:

Okie dokie, let’s jump right in.

Paleo Diet Beginner Guide: 7 Things To Know Before Eating Like a Caveman!

This LEGO Caveman wants to learn more about the Paleo Diet too

So you wanna learn about the Paleo Diet, aka “the Caveman Diet,” eh?

Paleo is one of the most popular diets on the planet (up there with the Keto Diet), and I bet you have questions.

Welp, I got answers, my friend!

In addition to helping people “go paleo correctly” with our Online Coaching Program, we also create epic guides like this one that cover all the basics.

Below in this guide, I’m going to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the Paleolithic Diet (click to go right to that section):

INTRODUCTION TO PALEO:

WHAT CAN I EAT ON THE PALEO DIET?

SHOPPING LIST AND EATING PLAN

IS PALEO DANGEROUS?

Now, this guide is SUPER long, so we took the liberty of converting it into a nicely designed guide for easy consumption (not literal consumption, unless you print it on bacon).

Grab your Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet free when you sign up in the box below:

If you can actually apply the rules of the Paleo lifestyle, you can get some pretty solid results.

As the great Mr. Flintstone once said, “Yabadabadooooo!”

The Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet

This sausage is definitely Keto, smart move Trooper.

If you have questions about the Keto Diet, well my friend, you’ve come to the right place!

We help our coaching clients completely overhaul their nutrition, including going low-carb, and today we’ll give you everything you need to start a Ketogenic Diet. 

We’ve learned a lot by helping people begin the Keto Diet: there’s plenty of good, there’s plenty of bad, and there’s plenty of ugly

Today, we share with you what we’ve discovered. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in our GINORMOUS Guide to the Keto Diet (click to skip to that section):

Whew. It’s a lot to cover. Even just typing out the Table of Contents was exhausting.

But hang in there!

You’ll learn how to do Keto right, plus I’ll share cute animal gifs to make sure you’re still paying attention, like this one:

This carrot will definitely knock this bunny out of ketosis.

If you don’t have a lot of time, but do want an exact plan to follow, I got you. Since this is a MASSIVE article (the longest published on Nerd Fitness!), if you’d rather read it in a snazzy digital guide form, you can download our Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet free when you sign up in the box below:

And yes, that is an egg wearing a cape of bacon.

Okay, let’s get into KETOOOOOOOO…

Going Plant-Based: Following a Vegan Diet for Fitness

What is the CICO (Calories In, Calories Out) Diet? How to Count Calories for Weight Loss

Yeah, it can be confusing when you don't understand CICO.

It’s time to learn about The CICO (“calories in, calories out”) Diet!

You probably have questions like

Steve, does CICO work? 

Will counting calories help me lose weight?

Okay, what the hell IS a calorie?

Well my friend, you’ve arrived at the right place!

I’ve been writing about this stuff for 13 years, and our team of nerdy experts help our Online Coaching clients with all types of diets (including CICO). We are really flippin’ good at it!

Here’s what we’ll cover to answer the question: “What is CICO?”

It’s time to get started!

What Is the CICO Diet plan?

I guess this is kind of CICO, in a way

“CICO” stands for “Calories In, Calories Out.”

The CICO Diet is a weight-loss strategy where the participant tries to tip the balance of what they eat (calories in) against what they burn (calories out).

That’s pretty much it.

It doesn’t really matter what food you eat, because there are no restrictions on any specific food groups with CICO. 

It also doesn’t matter what exercise you do (if any).

As long as you get the equation right, and the calories you eat are lower than the calories you burn on a daily basis, you’re good to go.

Naturally, Barney would like CICO, because it doesn't forbid beer.

The CICO Diet is really simple and has helped quite a few people lose weight

This is likely why the CICO Diet has grown in popularity in the subreddit r/loseit

Is Losing Weight Really About Calories?

One way to lose weight is to be eaten, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Yes. Losing weight actually does come down to burning more calories than you consume.

It’s about as close to fact as we can get in nutrition science.[1]

As we address in our guide How to Lose Weight (The 5 Rules of Weight Loss), our bodies obey the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Thermodynamics: 

To lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume regularly. 

With this knowledge, it makes sense to design a diet specifically around this principle: match the calories you eat (in), with the calories you expend (out).

No other food rules need to apply:

As long as you meet your calorie goal, you can forget about the rules of any specific diet.

I can see why CICO might appeal to the Joker...

This appeals to me personally, because I’ve created my own guidelines for how to eat, and I don’t pledge allegiance to any particular dieting strategy.

Because I’m a mind-reader, I know your next question is likely…

Does Calorie Counting Work? (CICO and Weight Loss)

You can totally eat Dim Sum on CICO!

In principle, CICO works.

In practice, it becomes a little more complicated. 

Okay, fine, A LOT more complicated.

That’s because a lot of things influence “calories in.” 

Ditto for “calories out.”

Let’s break some of this down.

Here are some of the things that impact “Calories In:”

  • Appetite: how hungry we are is going to drastically affect how many calories we consume. Hormones, body composition, and our tastes and preferences will all impact our appetite.[2] 
  • Calories absorbed: the preparation of food will affect the bioavailability of calories. For example, cooking starches (like potatoes) generally increases the calories available.[3] Your own individual gut microbe can also influence the amount of energy extracted during digestion.[4] So will the macronutrient content of the food you eat.
  • Psychological considerations: your stress levels, sleep quality, and certain conditions like PCOS can all impact the regulation of hormones, which can influence your metabolism and appetite.[5]

Oh, and all of the above assumes we’re actually tracking calories accurately. Which pretty much nobody does. Ever. But I’ll get to that shortly. 

And remember, this is only half of the equation.

I'll be honest, I don't really know what's going on here...

Here are some of the things that impact “Calories Out:”

  • Energy burned while resting: your Basal Metabolic Rate is a count of how many calories you burn at rest and will be controlled by your age, weight, height, biological sex, muscle composition, etc. 
  • Energy burned through Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT): do you fidget a lot? That increases your NEAT, or the energy you burn doing stuff other than exercising. Think tapping your feet, twirling your hair, using your hands when speaking, etc. Even just an hour of this kind of movement can accumulate an extra 300 calories burned.[6]
  • Exercise: of course, how much you intentionally exercise will impact your calories out, although perhaps not as much as most people think (more on this later).

This is only scratching the surface on what determines “calories in, calories out.”[7]

The important thing to consider here is that none of the above invalidate the basic premise of an energy deficit being necessary for weight loss. 

These factors will just influence one end of the equation or the other. 

For example, let’s chat about protein and CICO:

  • Eating plenty of protein has been shown to help keep people feeling full and satiated.[8] So lots of protein can help folks lose weight, not because it changes the requirements for weight loss, but because it might allow them to get through the day less hungry (lowering their “calories in.”)
  • Adequate dietary protein can help with building and maintaining muscle.[9] The more muscle someone has, the more calories they’ll need to maintain it (raising their “calories out.”)[10]

Read our guide “How much protein should I eat?” for more on this subject.

To recap this section: from a biological perspective, eating fewer calories than you burn is 100% necessary for weight loss. 

But all sorts of things impact the number of calories we eat and the number of calories we expend. 

This is going to lead us to…

The Problem With CICO (Humans Are Bad Estimators)

Yeah, humans (or LEGOs) aren't good at estimating calories.

The majority of the problems people have with CICO is that it allows nutrient-deficient food to enter the diet, only limiting “how much.”

They’ll argue that people should be eating fruits and vegetables, lean protein, avoiding processed foods, and blah blah blah… 

We all know this. 

You don’t need someone else telling you to eat your veggies.

Eating veggies for health is a no-brainer.

This isn’t the problem with CICO. 

The problem with CICO is it’s really hard to estimate “calories in” and “calories out.”

Like, REALLY hard. We humans are TERRIBLE at it. 

Take “calories in” or how much we eat: people generally UNDERestimate how many calories they consume by about 30-40%.[11] Even dieticians, who are specifically trained in nutrition science, underestimated how much they eat.[12]

Millhouse is probably just realizing the issue with CICO

“That may be true Steve, but don’t worry about me. I read the label on everything I buy so I know exactly how many calories I’m eating.”

Well, are you aware that the FDA allows a 20% leeway on total calories identified on packages?[13] Meaning that 100 calorie drink of Orange Juice might actually be 120?

If you’re a food manufacturer, which way are you going to lean towards? Especially when you know people might scrutinize the calories of your nutrition label in an effort to lose weight.

This isn’t just paranoia: this study found that packaged snack food generally contains MORE calories in it than advertised.[14]

Yeah…and remember, this is only half of the equation. 

It’s about to get even worse.

People are also really bad at estimating “calories out.” 

When folks self-assess how many calories they burned by exercising, they’re generally WAY OFF, by as much as 50%![15]

Oh, and those fitness trackers we wear?

Our Fitbit trackers can help us with analyzing trends and getting in more steps.

They’ve been shown to be inaccurate, some by up to 90%![16]

That’s why we made this infographic on tracking “calories out”:

This infographic shows calorie discrepancies from fitness trackers compared to actual calories burned.

This is the main problem with CICO: we’re stuck with educated guesses for “calories in” and “calories out.”

So we underestimate the calories we eat by 40%. And then we overestimate how many calories we burn by 50%.

No WONDER we think our metabolism is broken if we can’t lose weight!

The truth is we’re unknowingly eating too much, and/or moving too little.

Ugh.

Heck, even how many calories you need a day (your baseline or Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is an estimate, something we acknowledge in our calorie calculator, which you can play with right here:

THE NERD FITNESS CALORIE CALCULATOR

Total Daily Energy Expenditure Calculator
Male/Female
Use age in years.
Use pounds (lbs). If using metric system, multiple kg times 2.2 for lbs.
Use inches. If using metric system, divide cm by 2.54 for total inches.
Your BMR is an estimate of the total calories burned a day, while in a state of rest.
For "Activity Level," veer toward the side of less active. Studies consistently show that people are not as active as they self-assess.
Your TDEE is an estimate of the total calories burned during a single day, when exercise is factored in.

 

In summary: balancing “calories in against calories out” is really all quite messy when you get right down to it.

Does that make all this hopeless?

Not even remotely.

But it does give us some context if you can’t seem to lose weight.

Tips for Sustainable Weight Loss (Next Steps)

A plate that that contains a portion of protein, healthy carb, veggies/fruit, and unsweetened drink.

This post is not made to dissuade you from trying The CICO Diet.

I actually encourage everyone to track their food and calories for one week, because it’s often an eye-opening experience on how much they’re truly eating.

If possible, take a few days and use a cheap food scale instead of just eyeballing it. You’ll be shocked about the actual portion sizes of some foods!

When it comes to sustainable weight loss, here at Nerd Fitness, we encourage two paths:

  • Make small tiny changes towards “real food” (like the Nerd Fitness Healthy Plate above).
  • Make small tiny changes towards a strength training practice.

Both of these strategies can dramatically – and positively – influence “calories in” and “calories out” respectively.  

In our Guide to Healthy Eating, we explain why every website tells you to eat vegetables (which we also tell you): vegetables are full of nutrients, contain lots of fiber to keep you full, and are generally low in calories.

These image shows some real food, critical if you're trying to lose body fat.

Eating lots of vegetables, or “real food,” will help you naturally lower “calories in.”

How about another example to think about? Here are 200 calories of a blueberry muffin:

Yeah, you don't even get the whole muffin.

Compare it to 200 calories of broccoli (Thanks to wiseGEEK):

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

Which one do you think you’re likely to accidentally overeat for your calorie allotment?

Right.

For our other strategy, the Strength Training 101 series explains why growing strong is important for fat loss: 

Building muscle takes a lot of calories (and so does maintaining it).

In other words, a stronger version of yourself will require more calories.

Miss Piggy pulling bars apart in jail.

And will be able to escape from jail easier. 

This will naturally raise your “calories out.”

The trick with it all is the “make small tiny changes” bit.

We’ve seen over and over that small steps (eating one new vegetable a week, a simple bodyweight workout) create momentum. Over time, these small changes are the keys to permanently getting healthy.

The entire Nerd Fitness Coaching program is based on this premise.

So what should you do now? Pick a small change and get going!

Here are some options for a healthy new habit:

The most important thing you can do now: start!

If you wanna win a race, you need to start it!

The exact “small tiny change” doesn’t matter so much, just pick one you feel comfortable with and get going! Once that habit becomes sustainable, pick a new one! And so on and so on…

We’ve seen it time and time again here that this is the true path towards success.

Boom!

Still here? Want some more guidance? An exact plan to follow on where to go next?

Alright, you got it, but only because you’ve been nice this whole time.

Here’s how Nerd Fitness can help:

#1) Our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program: a coaching program for busy people to help them make better food choices, stay accountable, and get healthier, permanently.

You can schedule a free call with our team so we can get to know you and see if our coaching program is right for you. Just click on the image below for more details:

Your NF Coach can help you lose weight and get healthy!

#2) If you want a roadmap for getting in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app will help you exercise and eat better, all while you build your very own superhero.

Interested?

Try your free trial right here:

#3) Join The Rebellion! We have a free email newsletter that we send out twice per week, full of tips and tricks to help you get healthy, get strong, and have fun doing so. 

I’ll also send you tons of free guides that you can use to start leveling up your life too:

Alright, I think that about does it for this article.

Now, your turn:

What are your thoughts on The CICO Diet?

Do you have a strategy for balancing “calories in” and “calories out”?

Think I’ve got it all totally wrong? 

Let me know in the comments!

-Steve

PS: Make sure you read the rest of our content on sustainable weight loss:

###

GIF Source: Millhouse, Barney Thumbs Up, Joker, A Beautiful Mind, Leo “duh,”

Photo Source: A Surprise Performance Appraisal, Against the Current, There is always a bigger fish, Dim Sum Trike, miam miam

40 Fun Ways to Exercise (Without Realizing It)

Have fun while exercising!

I know plenty of people who hate exercise but WANT to find a way to like it.

And that’s what today’s post is all about:

Exercising in a way where life doesn’t suck AND helps you reach your goals.

Luckily, this is exactly what we do for a living!

I know what it’s like to hate exercise, and ALSO want to lose weight and see results. Ugh.

We’ve built an entire company and community around helping people overcome these obstacles – our Online Coaching Program helps people find exercises they love, and also how to make the right nutritional choices.

We are all on a unique journey and we’d love to help you with yours!

How to Do a Handstand: Get Your First Handstand in 30 Days

Today we teach you how to do a handstand!

A handstand is one of the coolest exercises ever, but it’s also one of the most advanced moves to learn.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.

Today you start your journey to the Upside-Down!

We'll start your journey to the Upside-Down with Handstands today!

Ah, not that Upside-Down…we’ll keep you in this dimension.

We’ve helped many of our coaching clients achieve their first handstand and today we’ll share with you how it’s done with this guide!

We’ll treat it like a video game, progressing you from complete noob to Level 6: Handstand Master. 

We’ll go over the following (click to flip to that section):

The tutorials ahead are from our premium course Nerd Fitness: Handstands, which you gain access to under a Nerd Fitness Prime membership. I would encourage you to check out if you like what you see here.

Alright, brace yourself to get flipped-turned upside down.

How to Find a Good Personal Trainer or Coach: 5 Mistakes to Avoid!

Two Legos about to workout together.

Before you fork out some cash for a personal trainer, read this guide!

It’ll help you spot the difference between a bad personal trainer and an AMAZING trainer. 

And trust us, having the right trainer can make ALL the difference in the world.

There’s nothing worse than spending 6+ months in a gym (and thousands of dollars) with a trainer, only to step on the scale and realize that you haven’t made any progress.

It’s…

someone singing "The Worst"

I’ve worked with good trainers and bad trainers over the past 16 years, have worked with the same online personal trainer since 2014, and we have a team of 15 personal trainers on Team Nerd Fitness.

Long story short, we know our stuff, and we’ll give it to you straight.

Whether or not you want to check out our 1-on-1 Online Training Program, this guide is going to help you with all the details.

In this guide we’ll cover the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to personal trainers – both in-person and online:

3 HIIT Workouts for Beginners: Start Interval Training and Sprint Running!

This biker loves interval training.

This High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) guide is probably the best interval training guide in the galaxy.

My justification for such a bold claim?

We’re really good at this stuff, AND we have dinosaurs and Muppets.

Plus, lots of great gifs:

This runner can't do interval training.

We build custom interval training programs just like the ones in this guide for our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients, including workouts for at home, the gym, or even while traveling.

In this Ultimate Guide to Interval Training, we’ll cover:

If you’re interested in starting a HIIT practice (which you are, ’cause you’re here), you may want to try our new app! It contains a fun adventure that will take you from sitting on your couch to a full HIIT workout – with plenty of benchmarks in between for you to find your groove. No guesswork needed, just jump into the app and follow it’s next steps.

You can sign-up for a free trial right here:

Alright, let’s do this thang.

How to Gain Weight Quickly: 12 Tips On What to Eat & How to Train

SteveBeforeAfter

So you want to gain weight fast (and safely)? 

You’ve come to the right place, because this is what we do!

This guide covers the exact weight gain strategies I’ve used to go from my “before” (on the left above) to reach my “after” (on the right above). Believe it or not, that “before” photo is me after a DECADE of strength training and trying to get bigger.

It’s the stuff in this guide that finally allowed me to actually get results (the after).

It’s also exactly how we help our online coaching clients: nutritional guidance and workout plans that line up with their goals.

Oh, and if you sign up in any of the yellow email boxes throughout, you can download our “Gain Weight and Build Muscle” Shopping List and Cheat Sheet to hang on your fridge!

Let’s start putting on weight right NOW.

These are the 12 lessons I wish I knew when I started trying to get bigger (click to jump right to that lesson):

NUTRITION

  1. How to eat to gain weight.
  2. What foods should I eat to gain weight?
  3. How much protein do I need to gain weight?
  4. How many carbs and fats should I eat to gain weight?
  5. How fast can I gain weight and get bigger?

STRENGTH TRAINING

  1. What exercises are best for weight gain?
  2. How to get stronger and build muscle.
  3. How many days should I exercise to gain weight?

RECOVERY

  1. How much sleep should I get to gain weight?
  2. Should I do cardio while trying to gain weight?
  3. Can you build muscle without gaining fat?
  4. Gain weight, get bigger, and supercharge your results.

Let’s get to it!

A Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit: 8 Things to Know Before Your First CrossFit Workout

Today we teach you everything you want to know about CrossFit.

This guide will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about CrossFit but were too afraid to ask (including Is CrossFit good for losing weight?).

If you’ve ever questioned why people run around parking lots with sandbags, you’re in the right place.

Many of the coaches in our Online Coaching Program have been CrossFit instructors or gym owners, so this is what we do best: help people start strength training confidently and without injury.

CrossFit can be AMAZING…for the right person…with the right CF coach.

Luckily, this guide is going to help you figure out both of those things!

In this Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit, we’ll cover:

Let’s jump right in!

7 Ways to Measure or Calculate Your Body Fat Percentage (and Lower It!)

Cartoon images of body shapes

Today we are going to teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about body fat percentage but were too afraid to ask.

We’ve been helping thousands of people get their body fat percentage to their desired level through our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, and I’m pumped to share with you our strategies in this guide.

Plus, lots of cute animal videos as rewards for reading each section.

Even wombats want to learn about how to measure body fat percentages

Fair warning: lots of half-naked people of all different shapes and sizes in this guide!

In this Body Fat Measurement Ultimate Guide, we’ll cover:

If you have been struggling with your weight (and having too high of a body fat percentage) for a while, I know how frustrating that can be.

It’s why we built our popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching program, so this time things can be different. Your NF Coach will help you track the right metrics (like body fat percentage) and set the right goals.

How to Improve Your Grip Strength & Wrist Mobility: The 6 Best Exercises

Improve your grip strength and wrist mobility with barbells

Do you find your grip a limiting factor in the gym (I see you chin-ups and deadlifts)?

Or in everyday life (looking at you, pickle jars)?

If so, don’t worry! We’ve got a handle on this (pun 100% intended).

As the lead trainer of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, I’m going to outline a number of helpful, handy (sigh) stretches and exercises to help eliminate pain and build you some powerful, useful hands and a strong grip.

Now, it goes without saying that the hands and forearms are anatomically complicated areas.

I am also not your mother, or your doctor. If anything in the article below causes pain, or your pain is not alleviated by these stretches – call in the pros!

See a physical therapist or sports massage practitioner.

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