No Equipment Necessary
Bodyweight exercises are just what they sound like...exercises using your bodyweight as resistance. Who knew you could get fitter just by lifting your own body? These are literally do-anywhere exercises. You can do them in your living room, your hotel room, your office, your beach cottage porch, your Aunt Myrtle's guest room during the holidays...anywhere.
Bodyweight exercises are good for any fitness level from beginners to pro athletes. They are cost efficient (no equipment or gym membership needed). In fact, a bodyweight exercise program is probably the most affordable home fitness program there is.
They're also time efficient (no set-up time and transition between exercises is immediate).
There are dozens of bodyweight exercises for every muscle group like sit-ups, push-ups, lunges and squats just to name a few. They are easy to learn and easy to modify which makes them a great addition to any workout even if you do have equipment. Use bodyweight exercises to create a full body program for at home or when you're traveling or just add a few exercises to your regular routine for variety.
No equipment, however, doesn't mean you can throw caution (and proper form) to the wind. As with any exercise program, it's important to use good form to avoid injury and to get the most benefit from the program. Pay attention to your body as you are exercising. If anything doesn't feel right, make adjustments.
13 Do-Anywhere Bodyweight Exercises
- Lunges - Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Begin lunge by stepping forward with right foot. Lower into lunge by lowering left knee towards ground and keeping right knee over right foot and ankle. Pause at the bottom of the lunge and step back to starting position. Repeat, stepping forward with the left foot. (Variations: Walking lunges - as you finish the first lunge, immediately step forward with left foot instead of stepping back to the start. Lateral lunges - step to the side instead of stepping forward to begin the lunge. Back lunges - step backwards instead of forward to begin the lunge.
- Squats - Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward. Slowly lower into squat keeping knees aligned with toes and don't let your knees go too far forward. Keep back straight and head up. Raise your arms up in front of you as you squat for balance. Return to starting position and repeat. (Variations: Sumo Squat - begin with feet spread very wide apart and toes pointed out at an angle. Be sure to keep knees aligned with angle of toes as you squat. Off-set Squat - do a standard squat but have one foot elevated on a step or bench. Be sure to switch sides so you do reps with each leg elevated.)
- Crunches - Lay flat on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Cross arms over your chest. Lift head, shoulders and chest off the floor by contracting your abs. Pause and return to start. (Variations: Bicycle crunch - Start in standard crunch position. Lift feet into air so knees are bent and lower legs are parallel to floor. Contract abs, bringing left elbow and right knee towards each other. Repeat on opposite side. Reverse crunches - Start in standard crunch position with arms on floor along side hips. Lift feet in the air so knees are bent and lower legs are parallel to ground. Contract abs to pull knees toward your head and lift your hips off the floor. Lower and repeat.)
- Push-ups - Start in a push up position on the floor by supporting yourself on your toes and hands. Your arms should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels, bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest towards the floor. Bend your elbows to at least 90 degrees, pause and return to start. (Variations: Wide push-ups- Position your hands wider than a standard push-up. Triangle push-ups - Position hands so that thumbs and first fingers of both hands are touching each other forming a triangle. Feet-elevated push-ups - do standard push-ups with feet elevated on a bench or step.)
- Pull-ups - Be sure to use a sturdy, stable bar for this exercise. The bar should be high enough that you can hand with arms straight and your feet are not touching the floor (or bend your knees to keep your feet off the floor). Position your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you. Start with arms straight and raise yourself until your chin is just at or above the bar. Slowly lower and repeat. Keep your body as steady as possible and don't swing. (Variation: Do the same exercise holding the bar with palms facing you.)
- Tricep Dips - Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your palms on the edge of the chair on either side of you. Supporting yourself on your hands, walk you feet out in front of you. Your arms should be straight up and down. Slowly lower yourself below the front edge of the chair by bending your elbows to 90 degrees and supporting your weight with your arms. Press through your palms to straighten your arms back up and repeat.
- Hip Bridge - Lay flat on the floor with knees bent and arms on the floor along side your hips. Feet should be planted flat about hip-width apart. Press through your heels and squeeze hamstrings and flutes to raise your hips into the air. Knees, hips and shoulders should be in a straight line with body supported by feet and shoulders.
- Burpees - Start in standing position with feet slightly apart. Squat down and place hands flat on the floor along side your feet. Jump your feet back so you are in a push-up position. Pause for 1 count and jump your feet back to the start and stand up. Repeat. (Variations: Do a push-up while in the push-up position or jump into the air at the end before you begin the next rep.)
- Planks - Start in a push-up position but support your upper body with your forearms instead of hands. Elbows should be directly under shoulders and hands flat on the floor. Keep your body in a straight line with core tight. Hold plank position for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Relax and repeat.
- Supermans - Lay flat on your stomach with arms overhead. Lift opposite arm and leg a few inches and hold for 3 seconds. Lower and repeat with other arm and leg.
- Mountain Climbers - Start in push-up position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Bend left leg up under your chest. Jump and switch feet. Repeat, alternating feet.
- Wall Squats - Lean against a wall with feet shoulder-width apart and about a stride length away from the wall. Slowly slide down the wall until you are in a "seated" position. Knees should be bent at 90 degrees. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more.
- Calve Raises - Stand on the edge of a step, bench or low chair with heels extended off the edge. Hold the stair rail or another sturdy object lightly for support. Keeping knees straight, lower heels slightly below the top edge of the step. Push up on you toes by contracting your calves to lift yourself. Lower back down and repeat.