A great workout doesn’t require a roomful of expensive equipment
Although exercising without equipment — AKA calisthenics — has been around for thousands of years, being stuck at home during a worldwide pandemic has sparked a new interest in this practice.
Fortunately, you have everything you need to get fit or challenge yourself to improve your current fitness level.
The key to making it work? Flexibility. No matter how much space you have in your home, time in your busy schedule or where you are on your fitness journey — at-home bodyweight exercises can work for everyone.
Your body has everything you need to create a powerful, practical workout. Here are five of the best at-home bodyweight workouts for every fitness level, from a former couch potato just starting out to an elite-level athlete.
And remember: As you move forward on your fitness journey, adjust or modify these exercises to raise the difficulty level.
Bodyweight exercises: Do three sets of each. You can mix and match to keep yourself engaged as often as you’d like.
For this very simple exercise, you need just some standing space. If you’re a newbie, consider adding a chair behind you. And if you’re an expert, you might want to clear the area around you for some jumping.
How to do them:
Plant your feet squarely, hip-width apart.
Keep your back straight and make sure your feet stay on the floor. Drop your hips back and bend your knees as if you were sitting down in a chair.
Go lower until you reach a 90-degree angle (or as far as you can manage. Consider adding a chair behind you for support if you need it). Hold for a moment, then push back up through your feet into a standing position.
That’s one repetition. Repeat 10 times. That’s one set.
Too easy? Consider adding a jump between each squat to turn this static exercise into an explosive one.
What about an exercise that you do every day without even realizing it? To complete this one, find yourself a set of stairs or a sturdy bench or table.
How to do them:
Face the steps or bench. If you are unsure of your balance, make sure there is a wall or something to hold.
When you’re ready, step up with your left foot and land on the raised surface.
Keep your body erect (chest up!) and push through that left leg to fully get onto the step. If you can, drive your right knee up to your chest.
Keeping complete control, place your right leg back on the floor behind you and then your left leg.
You can alternate legs or do 10 reps with each and then switch.
Too easy? Add a backward lunge as that back foot hits the ground. This will create a compound exercise that works more muscles!
This static exercise turns your body into an ab-building machine. Although basic in theory and form, planks are impactful and reach your deep, inner-core muscles. This strong core is necessary to help you stabilize your entire body.
How to do them:
Get into a pushup position.
Shift your arms so your elbows are on the ground instead of your hands. Keep your hips up so your body forms as straight a line as possible.
Hold this position for 20 seconds.
Too easy? Start increasing that time by 10-second intervals until you find a time that is challenging for you. I like to do one to 2 minutes, depending on my day.
You can also switch it up with side planks or do planks on one leg.
Your body has the ability to hold your own weight above the ground. You just need to build the strength in order to do it. If you need to modify your pushups to complete this exercise, that’s OK.
How to do them:
Similar to a plank position, your hands should be shoulder-width apart or a bit wider. Lift up with straight arms and elbows locked out. Keep feet together and go up on your toes.
When you’re ready, lift your knees off the ground to fully hold your weight with your hands and feet. If you need, keep your knees on the ground.
Lower yourself down to the ground using your arms. Your chest should nearly touch the floor. Keep your body in a line.
Pause for a moment when you’re near the ground, and then push yourself back up with your arms. That’s one rep.
Too easy? Consider slowing down the movement, which creates more resistance.
You can also change up the positioning of your hands to work different muscles.
Restricted to a small space but still need to get your energy out and heart racing? High-intensity Tabata training is the perfect cardio workout to burn through calories in a short time — with little to no space needed.
How to do it:
Pick your favorite type of bodyweight cardio. This can be “mountain climbers,“ jumping jacks, running in place, high knees, burpees, etc.
Perform the Tabata series: Complete as many reps as you can in 15-20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds.
Repeat until you reach a total of 5 minutes.
You may have to adjust your time depending on your fitness level. Consider increasing your rest or work time, depending on your needs.
Ready to get started? With this bodyweight workout, you don’t need anything other than yourself. No excuses. So whether you’re getting back into working out, taking that first fitness step or upping your at-home workout game, I hope these exercises can challenge you to meet your goals.