Get a lift from body-weight workouts

Regular exercise doesn’t always conform to your schedule or mood. Sometimes you’re crunched for time. Sometimes your typical workout feels uninspired. Sometimes you just need a quick jolt to jump-start your day.

When these moments arise, your body can lend a hand.

“Body-weight exercises are not only versatile — as you can do them anytime, anywhere, without any equipment — but they help improve everyday movements,” says Shawn Pedicini, a physical therapist specializing in sports and orthopedic injuries with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.

Muscle activation

One of the main advantages of body-weight movements is that they activate the smaller stabilizing muscles that sometimes get missed when you use gym machines or dumbbells. As their name implies, stabilizer muscles help to stabilize larger muscles so they can more effectively do their job.

“This comes in handy for daily activities that require balance and stability, like climbing stairs, squatting, twisting, and reaching,” says Pedicini.

It only takes a few body-weight exercises for an all-around workout. The following is a simple three-move routine that hits the major muscles. It consists of push-ups (arms, shoulders, chest), lunges (buttocks, legs), and a plank pose (core).

To complete one circuit, do eight push-ups, eight lunges on each side, and a plank pose for 15 to 30 seconds. Rest for a minute and then repeat the circuit two more times, with a rest period in between. The entire routine takes about 15 minutes to complete.


Begin in a full plank position with your arms extended, palms flat and just below shoulder level, feet together or about 12 inches apart. Keep your back straight and your weight evenly distributed.

Movement: Look down and lower your body until your elbows are at 90° (or go to the floor to rest, if needed), and then push back up to complete one rep.


  • Keep your head in line with your spine.
  • Hold your core tight.
  • Don’t bend at the hips.

Make it easier: Do a modified version from a hands-and-knees position. Another option is inclined push-ups, in which you place your hands on a counter or wall at a 45° angle, which puts less strain on the wrists and shoulders.

Make it harder: Slow your tempo and take two to three seconds to go down and one second to go up.


Stand up straight with your right foot one to two feet in front of your left foot. Shift your weight forward and lift your left heel off the floor.

Movement: Bend your knees and lower your torso until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your hands on your hips or place them on your knee for stability. Hold, then return to the starting position. Finish all eight reps, then repeat with your left foot forward. This completes one set.


  • Don’t extend your front knee past your ankle.
  • In the lunge position, keep your shoulder, hip, and rear knee aligned.
  • Don’t lean forward or back.

Make it easier: Lower your torso only halfway. Hold on to the back of a chair with one hand to help yourself balance.

Make it harder: Hold for four counts in the lunge position before returning to the starting position. Or hold dumbbells in each hand as you lunge.


Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips.

Movement: Tighten your abdominal muscles and walk your hands forward. Lower your upper body onto your forearms. Clasp your hands and align your shoulders directly over your elbows. Raise your knees off the floor so your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.


  • Keep your neck and spine aligned.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles so your belly doesn’t sag.
  • Look at the floor and not up, which can strain your neck.

Make it easier: If resting on your forearms is painful, do the plank from a starting push-up position with your arms extended. If you have back pain or other back issues, do the plank on your knees, or lean against a counter with your body at a 45° angle.

Make it harder: As you hold the plank, try alternating leg lifts, raising one leg for a second or two and then repeating with the other leg.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? (Genesis 18:24) And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” (Genesis 18:26)

And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’” Jacob thought, “I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.” (Genesis 32:20)
to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. (Genesis 50:17)

“Forgive my sin, just this once, and plead with the Lord your God to take away this death from me.” (Exodus 10:17)
Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. (Exodus 23:21)

Moses Intercedes for Israel The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.” (Exodus 32:30) So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. (Exodus 32:31) But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!” (Exodus 32:32)

The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6) I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:7)

And he said, “O Lord, if it is true that I have found favor with you, then please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.” (Exodus 34:9)
just as he does with the bull offered as a sin offering for the high priest. Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:20) Then he must burn all the goat’s fat on the altar, just as he does with the peace offering. Through this process, the priest will purify the leader from his sin, making him right with the Lord, and he will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:26)

Then he must remove all the goat’s fat, just as he does with the fat of the peace offering. He will burn the fat on the altar, and it will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:31) Then he must remove all the sheep’s fat, just as he does with the fat of a sheep presented as a peace offering. He will burn the fat on the altar on top of the special gifts presented to the Lord. Through this process, the priest will purify the people from their sin, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:35)

The priest will then prepare the second bird as a burnt offering, following all the procedures that have been prescribed. Through this process the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven. (Leviticus 5:10) Through this process, the priest will purify those who are guilty of any of these sins, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the flour will belong to the priest, just as with the grain offering.” (Leviticus 5:13)

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