When it comes to training and our fitness, sometimes hectic schedules, travel or life in general get in the way. We might be too crunched to make it to the gym, or we may not even want to go to a gym, but we still want to take control of our fitness.
Not to worry because in this post we’re going to breakdown nine easy bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere and that require zero equipment.
You can watch all the movements in action in the video below, or keep reading as we break each exercise down. We also have three workout ideas at the end to put these moves together.
Lower Body Exercises
Our biggest muscles are found in our lower body, including our quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. However, if we’re sitting for most of the day, a lot of these muscles are remaining dormant. It’s important to get them moving and active to strengthen them up.
One of the single best movements to get all of our lower body muscles working is the squat. For the squat we want to set up with our feet underneath our shoulders and our weight in our heels. Take a big breath in and squeeze your abs.
Start the squat by pushing your hips back and down. Make sure your back stays upright and your weight remains in your heels. Lower all the way down until your hips go below your knees.
Come back up from the bottom of the squat by squeezing your quads (the muscles in the front of your legs) and your glutes (the muscles in your butt). Exhale at the top after you stand up.
Beginner levels can customize the squat by squatting to a higher target, such as a chair, or by doing an assisted squat and holding onto something as you squat down.
Advanced levels can customize this by hugging something with weight into your chest (bag, water bottle, etc).
Standing tall, take a step back and gently lower your back knee to the ground. Keep your core tight, so your body remains upright. Stand up by pressing into the ground with your forward leg, using your quads and glutes to straighten up your body.
Once you’re standing up, repeat the movement with your opposite leg.
You can customize this movement by lunging partially down and not lowering your knee all the way to the ground or you can do an assisted lunge and hold onto something to help get yourself up.
Upper Body Exercises
These movements are going to focus on our upper body, including our shoulders, chest and back.
Push-ups are excellent for strengthening our chest and shoulders.
With the push-up you want to start in the plank position, so your arms are locked out and your shoulders are stacked above your wrists. Lower your chest to the ground, keeping your arms tucked by your side.
Avoid flaring out your elbow as you lower down (something you commonly see in stock photos on fitness blog posts). That is not the best way to do a push-up, but it is a great way to get elbow tendonitis.
Also, a full push-up is making sure you get your chest tapping the ground. Just lowering down halfway is not a push-up.
Once your chest is on the ground, activate the muscles in your shoulder, back and arms and press up, locking arms out.
Some ways you can customize this is by lessening the load on your arms. That means taking some weight off of your body by doing push-ups off of your knees.
Another modification is increasing the angle of your body, which also helps lessen the load on your shoulders. You can do push-ups off of an object, such as a bench, chair or table. You can even go vertical off a wall. Just make sure you feel some tension in your muscles as your lower and press out, and that your chest hits the chair/wall/target.
Dips are excellent for strengthening your triceps, which are the muscles in the back of the upper part of your upper arm.
For the dips, place your palms behind you on a bench or a chair. Keep your core tight. Straighten out your legs and then lower yourself, getting your shoulders level with your elbows. Then, using your triceps, press up and lock out your arms.
You can customize this movement by bringing your legs closer to your body so you lighten some of the weight that you’re going to be pressing up with your arm.
You can also customize this by going off of a higher target, such as a countertop or a table. Just make sure it’s sturdy enough for you to press through without it tipping over.
These movements are going to help strengthen our core or abdominal muscles, which is extremely important not just for a 6 pack but our overall health.
Set up for the sit-up by lying on your back. You can bring your feet into a butterfly position or keep your legs straight.
Activate the muscles in your core and sit up, avoiding the use of your legs as a lever for momentum. Touch the ground by your feet, then lower yourself back down while still keeping tension in your abs instead of just collapsing back. Reach your arms back and tap the ground by your head.
If you cannot do the full range of motion you can customize this by doing crunches or sitting up as much as you can while squeezing your abs. Work up to doing the full range of motion at your own pace.
V-ups are a slightly more advanced movement for working on your core. They also work on the lower part of your abdomen.
With a V-up start by lying on the floor with your legs straight and arms pointing overhead.
Engaging your abs, lift your legs and hands up, touching your feet while balancing on your hips. Keep your legs and arms as straight as possible, the goal being to look as much like a V as possible.
You can modify this by doing knee tucks where you bend your knee as you lift your chest up and balance on your hips.
Another customization is doing leg raises. While lying on your back, lift your straight legs up as high as possible, then lower them back down. This is still a great way to engage the lower part of your abdomen.
Our third core movement is plank. Planks are a static movement and they are excellent for strengthening our core. A plank is basically the position you’re in at the start of a push-up.
Set up with your arms nice and straight, shoulders stacked above your wrists. You want to keep your core nice and tight to keep your body in as straight a line as possible.
You can customize the plank by going off of a higher target, such as a chair, table, or bench. Something that’s sturdy enough to support pressing off of.
Our last group of movements focuses on building up our aerobic capacity or engine. Basically, these movements are designed to get our heart rate up which increases our workout intensity which makes shorter workouts more effective at getting fitter.
The goal with a burpee is to get all the way to the floor and hop back up as quickly as possible.
There are a couple of ways to move through this movement. The quickest way, and our target execution of a burpee, is to jump into every position.
Place your hands on the floor. Jump your feet back so you’re in a plank position. Lower your chest to the ground. Press up, jump your feet forward. Then finish by standing up and hoping.
If the jumping gets to be too much, you can break this down into more individual components. You can step back, one leg at a time, and bring down one hand at a time. The goal here is to get your chest all the way to the floor and then stand back up, adding a hop at the end.
Lastly, we have jumping jacks. You probably did this in grade school. You’re going to jump your hands and your feet out and then bring them back together.
You can customize this by doing side jacks. You’re basically doing the same movement but shifting side to side and omitting the jumping part, which is less impact on your knees if that is an issue for you.
So those are nine easy bodyweight movements that require zero equipment and you can do them anywhere. With a couple of those exercises, you probably saw that it’s easy to add some weight if you want to make it a little bit more challenging. But if you’re just starting out, just using your bodyweight is potent enough when at a higher intensity.
Zero Equipment Workouts
So let’s incorporate some of these movements into some workouts. Really, the sky and your imagination is the limit as far as mixing and matching these exercises into a workout.
Here are three workout templates, with some example movements, that you can use. Feel free to swap out any of the movements to fit whatever your goals are or whatever you’re feeling for the day.
50 Jumping Jacks
20 Sec Plank
With The Pyramid we’re going to start with a big number of reps then the number will get smaller and smaller until we reach the top of the pyramid.
This is a template. It is supposed to work well for you, so if those numbers are too high to start with you can always customize. Cut it in half. Do 25, 20, 15, 10. Find what works well for you.
Beat the Clock
1st Min: 1 squat, 1 push-up, 1 sit-up
2nd Min: 2 squats, 2 push-ups, 2 sit-ups
...add 1 rep each minute
For Beat the Clock you’re going to pick two or three movements, such as squats, push-ups and sit-ups. Start a timer and do one rep of each movement within the first minute. Then, the second minute, you’re going to do two reps of each movement. Third minute you’re going to do three reps of each movement, and so on.
The goal is to complete the total number of reps that each progressive minute calls for within that minute. Obviously this is going to get much harder as the clock increases because you’re going to have more work to do. Aim to get into the eight and nine minute range. See if you can get beyond the 10 minute range.
Of course, it’ll be easier if you just have two movements to do verses three movements to do. Find what feels good. This is fun if you’re pressed for time because it starts off a little easy so you progressively warm-up and get into the movements. Then, very, very quickly, it starts getting very, very challenging.
Cycle Through for 10 Minutes
10 Reverse Lunges
Set a 10-minute clock. Pick one movement from each of our groups, like burpees, V-ups, dips and reverse lunge. In those 10 minutes, you’re going to cycle through doing 10 repetitions of each movement. Once you hit the end, you’ll repeat, starting from the beginning, trying to get in as many rounds of those movements as possible during that 10-minute window (AMRAP: As Many Rounds as Possible).
These are just a few ideas to get you going, but the sky is the limit. Find something that works well for you.
For more videos and posts like this, check out our past workouts here. And if you’d like something more frequent, we deliver a brand new workout video every single day at NTX Go.
I hope you found some useful exercises and workouts in this post. Let me know in the comments below which movements and workouts you’re going to try out!