Working out with no equipment whatsoever limits your exercise options, but doesn’t end them. You can still work your major muscle groups by doing body-weight exercises that don’t require weights, a bench or any other tools. In the long run, it’s better to vary your workouts by mixing in exercises that require equipment. But if you’re stuck at home or you just want to change up your routine, you can strengthen your muscles by using your body weight as resistance.
Warm up before your body-weight exercise routine with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking or light jogging. The aerobic exercise raises your core temperature and prepares you for the workout.
Work most of your major muscle groups by performing bear crawls. Begin on your hands and knees with your back straight and abs contracted. Lift your right hand and knee off the floor and move them forward simultaneously, and slowly. After your hand and knee return to the floor, use them to pull yourself forward and then repeat the move with your left hand and knee.
Return to your hands and knees but extend your legs backward so you’re balanced on your palms and toes to do pushups. Begin with your arms extended and your body straight from head to feet. Lower your chest to the floor and then push yourself up to the starting position while keeping your body straight at all times. Pushups work your chest and shoulders. Do the same exercise with your hands close together, below your upper chest, to target your triceps.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor to do single-leg glute bridges, which strengthen your back, hips, glutes and legs. Tighten your abs, raise your left knee and grasp your lower thigh with both hands. Pull your knee closer to your chest and then raise your hips above the floor, so your body forms a fairly straight line from your shoulders through your right knee. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Return slowly to the starting position. Perform equal numbers of reps on both sides.
Rotate to a face-down position to perform supermans for your back, hips and shoulders. Straighten your legs and extend your arms over your head so your body forms a straight line. Slowly raise your arms and legs off the floor, keeping them straight. Maintain your position for a few seconds and then lower your limbs to the floor.
Perform squats by standing erect with your feet about hip-width apart or a bit wider. Brace your abs and then bend your knees and hips simultaneously to lower yourself, as if you were sitting straight down. Try to descend until your thighs are about parallel to the floor and then push yourself up to the starting position. The deeper you bend, the harder you’ll work your muscles. Squats work your abs and your entire lower body, particularly your quads and glutes.
Use a heavy piece of furniture, such as a couch, to build your hamstring muscles. Kneel on the floor with your ankles secured below the couch's front edge. Alternatively, have someone press down on the backs of your ankles. Keep your body straight from your head to your knees as you lower yourself to the floor. Use your hands to brace your descent. When your chest is a few inches above the floor, immediately rise back to the starting position. Push off the floor with your hands as little as possible; let your hamstrings do most of the work.
Stand on the floor, or with the balls of your feet on the front of a step, to do calf raises. Push through the front of each foot to raise your heels as high as possible. Lower your feet slowly to the starting position. As you'd expect, calf raises build your calf muscles.
- American Council on Exercise: Bear Crawl
- WildmanTraining.com: The 8 Best Bodyweight Exercises Known to Man!
- Muscle & Fitness: 5 Best Bodyweight Training Exercises
- Men’s Fitness: Back to Basics: The Best Bodyweight Exercises
- American Council on Exercise: Glute Bridge Single Leg Progression
- American Council on Exercise: Bodyweight Squat
- ExRx.net: Standing Calf Raise
- ExRx.net: Close Grip Push-Up
- American Council on Exercise: Supermans
- ExRx.net: Self-Assisted Hamstring Raise (On Floor)