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The Top 12 No-Equipment Workouts

The Top 12 No-Equipment Workouts

If you've ever skipped a workout because you were a) pressed for time, b) in a confined space, or c) lacked your usual dumbbells or resistance band, you're not alone. After all, it's easy to believe that if the conditions aren't just right for a workout, you're better off just waiting until the timing is right.

Trainers, on the other hand, are quick to debunk the notion of pounding out a workout when you don't have access to your usual equipment or space. Sure, they know their way around a gym floor and a smart workout program, but they also know that when you're traveling, extremely busy, or simply don't want to deal with the gym, a routine of challenging bodyweight exercises will suffice.


Not to mention that bodyweight exercises can be just as effective as equipment-based exercises. Your own body is an incredible tool for challenging your muscles when combined with a little gravity.

Here are the no-equipment exercises that top trainers swear by for both their clients and themselves. Whether you're looking for a cardio boost or want to work your legs, butt, core, arms, or all of the above, there's a go-to exercise for everyone. There's no need for whistles or bells—er, kettlebells


Push-Up

For a reason, McAlpine's favorite on-the-go exercise is a classic: Push-ups are one of the most powerful bodyweight exercises available. "This move will primarily target your chest, triceps, and anterior deltoid muscles (the front of your shoulders)," explains McAlpine. It also works your core hard. Plus, there's something badass about working on push-ups and seeing your progress over time.


  • Begin in a high plank position, with your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, wrists stacked under your shoulders.

  • Inhale as you bend your arms to lower your chest to the floor, keeping your body in one long line and your core engaged.

  • If you are unable to maintain a flat back or fully bend your arms so that your chest almost reaches the floor, lower your knees to the floor and perform a modified push-up from there.

  • Exhale as you push yourself back up to the starting position.


McAlpine recommends doing as many reps as you can while maintaining good form, and repeating for 3 to 5 sets total (resting for about 1 minute in between each).



Swimming in the Air

"This is one of my go-to home workouts because it strengthens the postural muscles," Bloom says. In other words, it's great for targeting your posterior chain (or the backside of your body), which is important for improving posture, preventing back pain, and ensuring you have balanced strength—all of which are important for overall health, both in and out of the gym.


  • Lie on your stomach, arms extended overhead by your ears.

  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your chest, arms, and legs off the floor.

  • Flutter your arms and legs up and down while keeping your feet off the ground.

Reps suggested: Inhale for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and repeat for a total of 16 seconds. Perform three sets, resting up to one minute between each.


Punch Superman


Walsh's go-to exercise, like Bloom's, focuses on the backside of the body. "If you do it correctly, it really works the back, shoulders, and buttocks.


  • Lie on your stomach, arms extended overhead by your ears.

  • Squeeze your buttocks and lift your chest, arms, and legs off the ground.

  • Pull your elbows in toward your sides and punch overhead while keeping your arms and legs off the ground.

  • Rep this punching motion, hovering your arms and legs above the ground the entire time and engaging your glutes.


Reps: Start with 10 seconds and work your way up to three to five sets. Walsh suggests that as you improve, you try to increase the number of seconds.


Split Squat Bulgarian

While a Bulgarian split squat isn't technically a zero-equipment move, it can be done pretty much whenever and wherever you want. DiDomenico explains, "It works many muscle groups and can be done with any lifted surface, such as a couch, bench, small table, or even an airport chair." The move works your quads, glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings, and even your calves.


  • Place your back to your "bench." Place the top of your right foot on the bench, shoelaces down, with your left foot on the floor a few feet in front of the bench.

  • Engage your core by placing your hands behind your head.

  • Lower into a split squat by bending your knees. Ideally, your left knee should form a 90-degree angle, with your thigh parallel to the ground and your right knee hovering above the floor. (Quick position check: your left foot should be stepped out far enough that you can do this without allowing your left knee to go past your left toes—if you can't, you're in the wrong position.)move your left foot away from the bench.)

  • Return to the starting position by driving through your left heel.


Reps: DiDomenico recommends doing 15 to 18 reps on one leg before switching sides. Perform four sets of four on each side.


Bulgarian Split Squat to Push-Up Decline

If you're tired of traditional Bulgarian split squats, Swan's amped-up variation incorporates your upper body for a true total-body workout. "This combination move works your legs, butt, chest, back, arms, and core," Swan says, "and it not only hits all the major muscle groups—it also allows you to work on balance." Give it a try and you'll understand why.

Begin in the position shown above for a Bulgarian split squat, with your left foot on the floor and your right foot on the bench. Bend forward at the hips and place both hands on the ground outside your left foot after lowering into a split lunge with your left knee bent.


  • Lift your left foot and place it beside your right foot on the bench to form a decline plank, then bend your elbows to lower your chest to the ground for one decline push-up. To make it more difficult, keep your left foot hovering above the bench rather than placing it down.

  • Depending on how far you are from the box, you may need to walk your hands forward a few inches before performing the push-up in order to fully extend your legs. You can also compensate for distance by bending your knees slightly (as shown) so that you don't have to shuffle. Just remember to keep your core engaged and your back flat.

  • Straighten your elbows to push yourself back up, then bring your left knee in toward your chest and place your left foot back on the floor.

  • Return to the starting position by removing your hands from the ground and standing up.


Reps are suggested to be 6 to 10 reps on the same side, then switch sides, according to Swan.


Tricep Dip on One Leg

While many arm exercises target the biceps, this simple isolation exercise targets the triceps, or the backs of your arms. (If your biceps are working overtime, this is a great way to ensure you're developing balanced upper-body strength.) "This area is heavily targeted by hugging your elbows in toward your body and using your own bodyweight," says Speir. And it's very simple to do anywhere.


  • Sit on the ground, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, about hip-distance apart. Put your hands behind your back, fingers pointing in the direction of your body.

  • Lift your hips off the ground to get your buttocks off the ground, then shift your weight back into your hands and lift your right leg toward the ceiling.

  • Bend your arms so that your buttocks are just above the ground. When you lower down, keep your elbows tight against your body and avoid flaring them out at an angle.

  • Straighten your arms to return to the starting position.


Speir suggests doing 20 reps on the same side, then 20 reps with the other leg toward the ceiling.


Breakdancer

Tamir enjoys watching breakdancers, also known as sit-outs. "The sit-out requires mobility, stability, strength, and coordination," he says. They target your upper body, glutes, and core. Plus, once you've mastered the movement, you can begin to speed it up, transforming it into a low-impact cardio exercise.


  • Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

  • Raise your knees off the ground slightly.

  • Extend your right leg underneath your torso, rotating your body to open up to the left side while keeping your butt low.

  • Put your left arm out in front of you (as shown). Extend your arm out to tap your right foot once you've gotten comfortable with the move and want an extra balance challenge.

  • Return to the starting position and do the opposite side.


Tamir suggests doing 15 reps on each side (alternating back and forth) and 3 sets total.



The Glute Bridge

Borden recommends all types of glute bridges for activating your glutes, especially while driving. "Travelling means a lot of sitting," she says. Our hamstrings and hip flexors all shorten and tighten when we sit for long periods of time." This can make it difficult for your glutes to engage over time. in the way they should, both in the gym and in everyday life (this is also known as dead butt syndrome). Incorporating glute bridges into your routine can help.


  • Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet hip-width apart on the floor

  • Squeeze your glutes and abs and push through your heels to lift your hips a few inches off the floor, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

  • At the top, pause and squeeze your glutes, then slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position.


Rep suggestion: Do 30 reps, and then do 15 with your left leg extended toward the ceiling and 15 with your right leg extended, suggests Borden.


The Runner's Crunch

Marraccini's favorite exercises when she works out without equipment are all core-related. According to Marraccini, "a strong core never goes out of style." This makes sense, given that having a strong and stable core is necessary for both everyday movements and exercise. Runner's crunches work your entire core as you sit all the way up, including your obliques, lower back, hip flexor muscles, and rectus abdominis, whereas regular crunches only target the upper portion of your abdominals (which is what you probably think of when you think "six-pack" muscles).


  • Lie completely flat on your back. Place your hands lightly behind your head and open your elbows to the sides.

  • Sit all the way up, with your back to the wall. Bring your right knee to your chest and your left elbow to meet it as you sit up (or as close as you can get it). Maintain a few inches of space between your left leg and the floor.

  • Lower your back and leg back down (without allowing your legs to touch the floor if possible) and repeat on the other side.


Reps suggested: According to Marraccini, 10 reps is a good starting point, followed by 3 sets of 10 reps. Alternatively, set a timer for 30 seconds and try to complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP) for three sets, resting for 15 to 20 seconds in between.



Push-Ups and Burpees

You can't talk about ultra-effective no-equipment exercises without mentioning burpees (especially when a push-up is incorporated). "A burpee with a push-up is a full-body exercise that works your core, arms, quads, glutes, and hamstrings," Harbison explains. "[They also] rapidly raise your heart rate, particularly if you add an explosive jump at the end of the movement." Check your strength. Cardiovascular exercise is completed.


  • Stand shoulder-width apart with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.

  • Squat to the floor and reach forward to place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor.

  • Kick your legs straight out in front of you to form a high plank with your hands stacked beneath your shoulders.

  • To complete one push-up, bend your elbows to lower your chest to the ground, then straighten them.

  • Squat your lower body by jumping your feet towards your hands. Jump into the air straight up, reaching your arms overhead.


Reps suggested: Perform as many reps as you can in one minute, rest for 20 seconds, and then repeat.



Mountain Climbers Burpee

Harrison is also a die-hard burpee fan. "It's a full-body exercise that raises your heart rate, and it can be progressed and regressed in a variety of ways," she says. (Psst—here are nine different ways to do a burpee, regardless of your skill level.) "I also really love mountain climbers for some of the same reasons, so why not combine them?" she says of her go-to burpee. The combination of the two will raise your heart rate and provide a significant cardio challenge.


  • Stand shoulder-width apart with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.

  • Squat to the floor and reach forward to place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor.

  • Kick your legs straight out in front of you to form a high plank with your hands stacked beneath your shoulders.

  • Holding your plank, bring your right knee in toward your chest, then quickly switch to your left knee. That is one rep. Switch sides for 4 to 10 reps, finishing with both legs extended in a high plank.

  • Squat your lower body by jumping your feet toward your hands. Jump into the air straight up, reaching your arms overhead.


Reps suggested: Do this movement for 30 seconds, then take a 30-second break. Continue for as many sets as you have time for.


Curtsy Lunge to Hop Reverse Lunge

To spice things up, Lovitt likes to combine two lower-body classics—a curtsy lunge and a reverse lunge—into one creative exercise. "It's an enjoyable and effective compound movement." Compound movements are exercises that engage more than one major muscle group, allowing you to do more work in less time—this one primarily works your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and inner thighs (and keeps things interesting if you're tired of working your lower body with regular bodyweight squats or lunges). This particular combination is as follows: curtsy lunge, reverse lunge, hop (bonus! ), reverse lunge, repeat.

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend both knees and step your left foot diagonally behind you to lower into a curtsy lunge.


  • As you bring your left knee back to hover next to your right, drive through your right heel to stand back up.

  • Then, take a step back with your left foot (about 2 feet) and bend both knees to lower into a reverse lunge, creating two 90-degree angles with your legs. Your shoulders should be directly above your hips and your chest should be upright in this position (not leaning forward or back).

  • Right shin should be perpendicular to the floor, and right knee should be stacked above right ankle. Your buttocks and core should be tense.

  • To stand, push through the heel of your right foot, and as you do so, drive your left knee toward your chest and hop on your right foot.

  • Step your left foot back once more to perform another reverse lunge.

  • To return to the starting position, push through the heel of your right foot.

  • Continue with the next rep, beginning with a curtsy lunge on the same leg.

Reps: Lovitt suggests doing 12 to 15 reps on one leg before switching to the other. Do two sets on each side.

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