When the desire to exercise hits but you don't have access to a gym, free weights or even resistance bands, you have a built-in system that allows you to still get a great workout: your body. What's more, you can make a super simple body-weight workout tailored to your fitness level and goals.
Combine two of the most accessible and versatile moves around — squats and push-ups — to strengthen both your upper and lower body. They're both functional movements, meaning they have help you build strength and injury-resistance for your everyday tasks.
Plus, you'll be in good company. The American College of Sports Medicine listed body-weight exercise as the top fitness trend for 2020. Try this 20-minute workout with only push-up and squat variations for an effective and efficient full-body workout.
Try This 20-Minute Squat and Push-Up Workout
The below routine is a circuit workouts, meaning you'll complete a series of exercises in quick succession to challenge your endurance and improve muscle tone. The American Council on Exercise describes it as a high-volume — meaning lots of reps — and low-weight session. Squats and push-ups fit right in!
When you incorporate different squat and push-up variations, you emphasize different muscles, providing you with a comprehensive workout. For example, in this routine, triangle push-ups target your triceps, while Spiderman push-ups work your obliques. And while squats focus on lower-body endurance, jump squats improve lower-body power.
Do: 3 to 5 minutes of walking or marching in place.
Do: each exercise for 1 minute each, back to back with no rest. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit one more time.
Move 1: Body-Weight Squat
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
- Bend your knees and hinge your hips to squat down. Reach your arms in front of you.
- Aim to get your thighs parallel to the floor or below, depending on your mobility.
- Press through your heels to return to standing.
Move 2: Push-Up
- Get into a high plank with your hands under your shoulders and legs extended out straight.
- Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your torso and lower your chest to the floor.
- Press back up to straight elbows.
To make push-ups easier, try the incline modification with your hands braced against a wall or on a chair. You can also modify by dropping to your knees.
Move 3: Jump Squat
- Sit down into a squat by bending your knees and hinging your hips back. Extend your arms out in front of you.
- Swing your arms back behind you as you jump up into the air so that your feet leave the floor.
- Land back into the squat to protect your knees and go right into the next rep.
Move 4: Spiderman Push-Up
- Start in a high plank with your hands under your shoulders and legs extended out straight.
- Bend your elbows into a push-up and simultaneously pull your right knee toward your right triceps.
- Return the leg back to the floor as your press back up.
- Repeat on the other side.
Move 5: Plie Squat
- Stand with your feet wider than your hips and toes turned out slightly.
- Bend your hips and knees to squat down. Your back should be straight and your chest lifted.
- Press back to standing.
Move 6: T Push-Up
- Perform a standard push-up.
- At the top, lift your right arm up and rotate into a side plank, stacking your hips over each other.
- Return to a high plank.
- Repeat, but this time, lift your left arm and stack into a side plank on the other arm.
Move 7: Split Squat
- Stand with your feet staggered, one a few feet in front of the other.
- Squat down by bending the knee and hip of the front leg. Your back heel will lift slightly as you lower down.
- Do 30 seconds with one leg forward, then switch.
Move 8: Decline Push-Up
- Place your feet on an elevated surface (coffee table, couch, stair, step) and your hands on the floor.
- Perform a push up in this position and press back up.
If decline push-ups are too difficult, stick with regular, incline or knee push-ups.
Move 9: Single-Leg Squat
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your right leg off the ground and out in front of you.
- Bend your left knee to go as low as you can and rise back up, maintaining your balance.
- Do 30 seconds before switching to balancing on the right leg.
If single-leg squats are too advanced, rest your right foot on the ground for more stability and lessen how low you go in your squat. Or stick with regular squats.
Move 10: Close-Grip Push-Up
- Get into a push-up position, but place your hands closer together under your chest.
- Bend your elbows to lower your chest. (You might not be able to go as low as you did with standard push-ups.)
- Press back up.