CrossFit expert ranks 10 bodyweight exercises from easiest to hardest

Can you do any of these?

Man doing a box jump in a crossfit gym
(Image credit: Getty)

Crossfit is growing in popularity; not only is it brilliant for increasing your overall fitness levels, but your strength, endurance, cardiovascular health and it even builds muscle too. But one thing that can easily put people off giving it a go in the first place is the thought of all the intimidating equipment involved, like gymnastic rings, Olympic barbells, kettlebells etc. Although, it doesn’t need to. While more advanced CrossFitters will use these bits of equipment to up the intensity of their workouts, there are plenty of bodyweight exercises and workouts they incorporate, some of which you can easily do at home (like this 10 minute beginner-friendly one).

“One of the best things about CrossFit is that you can scale it to any fitness level, so everyone can enjoy taking part,” says CrossFit Coach, Lucy Campbell, who was also the Fittest Woman in the UK back in 2022. “Intensity is relative, which means the goal is to work hard within the limits of your own physical and psychological capacity. Everyone turns up to work hard and have fun."

If you aren't quite ready to join your local CrossFit gym yet and want to remain at home and start off with some easy bodyweight exercises, that's cool. We actually got Lucy to rank the easiest to hardest bodyweight exercises that CrossFitters do. One to five you'll have no problem smashing in your front living room, but save six to 10 for some coach guidance and a CrossFit gym, for sure.

CrossFit bodyweight exercises ranked easiest to hardest

Woman doing dumbbell squat

(Image credit: Getty)

1. Squats

You either love them or hate them, but in CrossFit this compound exercise is essential, so you kind of need to find a way to love them. “It’s a foundational movement in CrossFit; the building block of more advanced weightlifting and powerlifting," says Lucy. "Master the air squat and you’ll have a great base to build from.”

Targets: The muscles in your lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. 

2. Lunges

Walking lunges or lunges are another lower body movement that require balance, coordination, and stability. Whereas the air squat is a bilateral movement (both legs moving in the same motor pattern, the lunge is unilateral with your feet not in the same position.

Targets: The same lower body muscles as the air squat, with additional focus on the hip flexors. 

3. Box jumps

Box jumps require, you got it, a box, that you jump onto either step or jump back down. “They are excellent for developing explosive power in the lower body, coordination and agility” says Lucy. You don’t need to have a box to be able to do these at home though, just a sturdy surface and you’re good to go.

Targets: The quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. 

Gym training with gymnastics rings in gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Push-ups

Learning how to master push-ups can be really tough, but remember, you can always do them on your knees, or this hack will help you do them easier. “They improve your upper body strength, engage the muscles in your back and help improve overall posture, as well as strengthening the core,” says Lucy.

Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. 

5. Pistol-squats

You won’t see us include many pistol squats in T3 workouts, purely for the fact they’re really hard. A pistol squat is a single-leg squat where you balance on one leg while the other leg extends straight out in front of you and is much more challenging than an air squat.

Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles 

6. Pull-ups (kipping/butterfly)

These involve gripping a bar with an overhand grip and pulling your body up until your chin is above the bar. But CrossFitters take this to the next step with the Kipping and butterfly, which are more difficult variations of pull-ups, as they incorporate momentum from the lower body to assist with the movement. “In CrossFit we always recommend that you develop sufficient strict strength capacity to be able to complete multiple strict repetitions before you start thinking about kipping,” says Lucy. If you struggle with them, give this push-up hack a go.

Targets: The back muscles, including the lats and rhomboids; biceps, forearms and core muscles. 

Woman doing push up

(Image credit: Getty)

7. Toes to bar

Now we're getting to the real tough stuff — toes to bar is, quite simply, where you bring your toes up to touch the bar you are hanging from. This exercise requires upper body and core strength, grip strength and coordination, it's not one for the newbie, that's for sure!

Targets:  The muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, abdominal muscles, the obliques and hip flexors. 

8. Ring dips

You know any exercise that uses gymnastic rings requires a lot of body strength and phenomenal core strength too and ring dips are no exception. They involve supporting your body on gymnastics rings and lowering yourself by bending your arms until your shoulders are below your elbows and then pushing back up.

Targets:  Chest, triceps and shoulders

9. Bar muscle-up

This is such a cool move that many dream of mastering and it combines a pull-up with a transition to a dip on top of the bar. "If you haven't developed a good basis of gymnastics strength and body awareness I recommend you work with a coach in person to learn the technical aspects of this movement," says Lucy.

Targets: Back, shoulders, chest and arms 

10. Ring muscle-ups

When it comes to the hardest CrossFit bodyweight exercises, the ring muscle-ups steal the top spot. It's regularly seen at the CrossFit Games and requires athletes to  pull themselves up on the gymnastics rings and transitioning into a dip, similar to the muscle-up, but even more unstable. "They demand exceptional upper body strength, stability, coordination and body control," says Lucy. Again, she recommends you work alongside a coach to master this move.

Targets: Back, shoulders, chest and arms

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.