You can totally get in shape without a gym. In fact, you can even do it without any equipment.
"Body-weight exercises can definitely help you get fit without a gym," says Gretchen Raddatz, CPT, master coach for Row House. "All you need is a little space."
Better yet, body-weight workouts can double as both cardio and strength training, Raddatz says. "They can keep your heart rate up and challenge your muscular system, delivering an all-in-one workout that burns a ton of calories." (Since body-weight exercises activate multiple muscle groups at once, you build more muscle and burn more calories, making weight loss easier.)
Do just a few sets of squats, mountain climbers and push-ups, for example, and you'll challenge both your lower-body and upper-body strength, your core and your cardio conditioning, not to mention balance and mobility, both of which help with injury prevention, Raddatz says.
In addition to being wildly convenient, body-weight movements are easy to modify and progress so that you can continue to build muscle and strength — and lose weight — as you get fitter, Raddatz explains.
Once you nail push-ups from your knees, you can move onto regular push-ups and, eventually, more challenging variations. In other words, though body-weight exercises are very beginner-friendly, they can become more advanced, just as you do.
Despite body-weight exercises' all-in-one benefits, you shouldn't do them every day, Raddatz says. She recommends giving your muscles 48 hours of rest between higher-intensity body-weight sessions.
Ready for the ultimate do-anywhere sweat? Incorporate this list of body-weight exercises into your routine and you're guaranteed a good workout.
Try picking three moves to create your own body-weight circuit: Do each exercise for 30 seconds, taking breaks between moves as needed. Repeat for a total of 4 rounds. Beginners can also start with 8 to 10 reps of a body-weight exercise and work up to 3 sets over time.
- Begin with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart.
- Keeping your back flat, shoulders back and chest out, push your hips back and begin to sit down toward the ground.
- Lower until your thighs are parallel with the ground (or as low as you can go while maintaining good form).
- Reverse the motion, pushing through your heels to press the hips forward and return to standing.
Mastered the Body-Weight Squat?
Here are 11 other squat variations to try.
- Begin in a high plank, hands directly beneath your shoulders, body in one straight line from toes to hips to head.
- Bending the elbows at a 45-degree angle from the ribs, lower your torso toward the ground until your chest and hips nearly touch the ground.
- On an exhale, extend your arms and return to the high plank.
Need a New Challenge?
Try these 23 other push-up variations for total-body strength.
3. Glute Bridge
- Begin lying on the ground with your feet flat, knees bent.
- With your arms at your sides stabilizing your body, press through your heels to raise your hips up toward the ceiling.
- Pause for a moment when your hips make a straight line between your knees and your shoulders and squeeze your glutes.
- Lower your hips back to the ground with control.
Get Those Glute Gains
Maximize the effectiveness of your glute bridge by avoiding these common mistakes.
- Start with your feet together, arms resting comfortably by your sides.
- Step forward with your right foot and lower your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Your left knee should be nearly touching the floor and your right knee should be over (not in front of) your toes.
- Push through your right heel to return to standing.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
5. Forearm Plank
- Balance facedown on your toes and forearms, keeping your elbows under your shoulders.
- Brace your core muscles to avoid sinking or hiking your hips as you keep your body in a straight line from your heels to hips to head.
Perfected the Forearm Plank?
Kick your core workout up a notch with 10 more plank variations.
6. Crab Walk
- Begin sitting on the ground, feet flat on the ground, hands on the ground behind you, fingers pointing forward.
- Press through your feet and hands to raise your body a few inches off the ground.
- Keeping your hips lifted, walk backward on your hands and feet.
If you find that the crab walk causes wrist discomfort, try turning your hands slightly so your fingers point away from you.
7. Bird Dog
- Begin on all fours, making sure that your head and neck are in a straight line with your spine.
- Simultaneously extend your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you, raising your arm to shoulder height and your leg to hip height.
- Using your core for balance, pause for a moment before lowering your arm and leg.
- Repeat the motion with your left arm and right leg.
Up the Ante
Challenge yourself with these bird dog variations after you've mastered proper form.
8. Bicycle Crunch
- Begin lying on the ground with your hands behind your head, elbows wide.
- Extend your legs at a 45-degree angle.
- Lift your torso and bring your right knee toward your chest, twisting your left elbow toward the knee.
- Extend your right leg and bring your left knee toward your face, twisting the right elbow toward the knee.
- Continue alternating, keeping your upper body off the ground.
9. Double Leg Lift
- Begin lying on the ground with your hands under your glutes for support.
- Lift your legs perpendicular to the ground, keeping your upper body on the floor.
- Slowly lower your legs toward the ground, keeping your back rooted to the floor.
- Raise your legs back to the starting position.
Lower your legs only as far as you can while still keeping your back on the ground. To make it easier, bend your knees.
10. Side Lunge
- Begin standing with your feet together.
- Keeping your left foot planted on the ground, take a big step to the right with your right leg.
- As you plant your right foot, sit your hips back and bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle and pause for a moment.
- Press through your right heel to bring your legs back together.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
Mix It Up
These 20 other lunge variations make it easy to tweak your lower-body routine.
- Start standing, then squat down and place your hands on the ground in front of you.
- Jump or step your feet back into a high plank.
- Keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your ribs, perform a push-up, lowering your chest to just above the floor.
- Press back up into a high plank and jump or step your feet to your hands.
- Jump into the air, lifting your hands above your head.
- As you land, squat back down and repeat.
If you're not quite ready for this whole-body move, try these seven exercises that can help you build up to a full burpee.
12. Squat Jump
- Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart.
- Push your hips back and lower toward the ground, keeping your shoulders back and chest up until your knees form a 90-degree angle (or as low as you can go while maintaining good form).
- From the bottom of the squat, explosively press through your heels to jump into the air, raising your arms above your head.
- Land softly and with control and repeat.
13. Jumping Jack
- Begin standing with your feet together, arms at your sides.
- Simultaneously jump your legs a few feet apart while sweeping your arms overhead.
- Quickly jump your feet back together, sweeping your arms back down.
- Continue jumping your feet together and apart, sweeping your arms at the same time.
14. Mountain Climber
- Begin in a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from your head to heels.
- Drive your right knee toward your chest.
- Quickly extend your right leg back out while driving your left knee forward.
- Alternate legs as quickly as possible.
Maintain proper alignment throughout the mountain climber exercise and keep your shoulders and wrists stacked.
15. Tuck Jump
- Begin with your legs slightly wider than hip-distance apart.
- With a slight bend in your knees, jump up as high as possible, tucking your knees into your chest while in the air.
- Land lightly on your feet and rebound quickly, repeating the motion.
16. Butt Kick
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, arms by your sides.
- Drive your right heel toward your glutes, bringing your left arm in front of you, as if you were running.
- Repeat on the other side, bringing your left heel up and your right arm forward.
- Alternate legs and arms as quickly as possible.
17. Plié Squat
- Stand with your feet much wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointed out.
- Push your knees out and your hips back as you lower into a squat until your legs form a 90-degree angle (or as low as you can go while maintaining good form).
- Press through your heels and use your hamstrings and inner thighs to lift back up to standing.
18. Frog Jump
- Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointing slightly outward.
- Push the hips back and lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can go while maintaining good form).
- Tap the ground with your hands.
- Press through your heels to explode into a jump.
- Land softly back in the squat position and repeat.
Additional reporting by Susy Sedano
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