We all have our excuses for not exercising as much as we’d like, and I’m as guilty as anyone. But the truth of the matter is, for most people there are very few legitimate reasons not to exercise on any given day. You can do any kind of workout (resistance training, cardio, flexibility) in just about any environment with nothing more than the clothes on your back.
If time is an issue, your workout doesn’t have to be 30-60 minutes. That’s right, even 10-15 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise is beneficial for both health and fitness. Hight Intensity Interval Training can have especially good results.
So, to help you remove all excuses and barriers to getting a workout in today, here are 7 exercises you can do absolutely anywhere with absolutely no equipment.
The pushup is probably the most well known bodyweight exercises. But what most people don’t know is that there are dozens of variations to the pushup. I’ve done whole workouts based around pushup exercises. Most people are familiar with the standard variation, but you have a lot of options you can try just by tweaking things a bit. Here are a few variations to try out:
- Wide or Close Hands Pushup: Place your hands farther apart or closer together.
- Decline Pushup: Elevate your legs by putting your feet on a chair or against the wall.
- Side to Side Pushup: Make things more dynamic by moving side to side as you pushup or raising one leg off the ground as you do it.
- Knee Pushup: You can even grade the exercise down a notch by dropping to your knees when you start to fatigue.
The functional benefits and array of muscle groups worked make the pushup a quick yet effective exercise for anyone looking for an intense workout in a pinch.
You start a plank by first getting into a position where your torso is parallel with the floor but not touching. Then hold that position for a set length of time, usually anywhere from ‘wow I do feel that in my abs’ to ‘my insides feel like they are about to implode’. Like pushups, planks have many variations. They can be done just like the extended position of a pushup, on your elbows, one armed, on your side, with your hips in the air. If you did just one core exercise (more on that later), this should be it.
Plyometrics is not one exercise, but a type of workout or class of exercises. Plyometric workouts are dynamic, fast paced, and involve a lot of jumping, hence the word plyo. Many exercises built into the popular Insanity workout program are plyometric, which gives you an idea of how intense this type of workout can be. Plyometrics are simple yet effective. In fact, many athletes use this form of training to improve their jumping power and overall fitness levels.
- Jump Squat: The classic example of a plyometric exercise is the squat jump, in which you simply squat and, you guessed it, jump.
- Burpees: Stand straight up and down, go into a squatted position, jump back into a plank, back to squatted position and then jump up. Here’s a great article on how to do a proper burpee.
The beauty of these workouts is that they not only have many possible variations, they can easily be graded to your personal level of fitness simply by performing that at an intensity level appropriate for you.
When you think of poses, I’m sure the first thing that comes to your mind is yoga. Yoga is great in that you can teach it to a child in five minutes, and yet spend your whole life exploring the richness of its traditions and practices. Some starting poses you could pull out just about anywhere include downward dog, warrior one and two, and tree pose.
We typically think of this type of exercise as being used to stretch, but it is quite effective to strengthen as well. I have definitely been more than sore after a good yoga or pilates workout before.
The pull-up is like the opposite to the pushup. The primary muscles involved are in the back. However, many people forget that the pull-up is also a great exercise for the biceps. Like the push-up, you can do several variation of push ups:
- Overhand pull-up: This is your typical/standard pull up.
- Underhand pull-up: AKA chin ups
- Vary your grip width: To assist with working different muscles.
The main downside to the pull-up is that it is slightly more limited in where you can do it. We use this simple pull up bar in our doorway. I find that leaving it up encourages me to work on my pull ups regularly, even when I’m just walking through the door and helps to create an active mindset throughout the day.
Squats are a great functional exercise you can day anytime or anywhere. If you have weight handy you can of course yes your weights, but if not do them without weights or use anything from water jugs to canned goods to add more weight. In fact, squats are so important that they are one exercise highly encouraged for the aging population. As long as you can squat, you can stand up and sit down on your own.
Pistol squats: these easily rival weighted back squats in terms of functionality and difficulty. A pistol squat is a full single leg squat performed with one leg extended out in front of you. It is pretty difficult, especially for beginners, and involves balance as well as strength to perform correctly. To make it easier, you can perform the exercise keeping the heel of your extended leg on the ground, or you can start small and just do a standard two legged squat.
Wall Squats: Another option for squats is the wall squat, which involves putting your back against a wall and sliding down until your thighs are roughly parallel with the floor and holding the position till it burns. Wall squats can also be done one legged.
7. Core Work
Lastly, there is the ever popular core work. While we all want a toned core section, the benefits of a strong core reach multiple areas of our life. And while it’s important to remember that many functional exercises mentioned above will also work to provide you with a strong work, extra core work is still an important part (but not the on
There are dozens of exercises you can do for core strengthening. Core exercises are also notoriously easy to perform with bad form. Most good ab workouts don’t involve tucking your chin or arching your back, as these positions increase your risk of injury and strain.
As I mentioned above, planks are my favorite core exercise. My other favorite core exercises include:
- Leg raises.
- Russian twists
- Crunches get a bad rap sometimes, but they are beneficial if done with proper form.
Integrating Bodyweight Exercises Into Your Daily Life
Now that we have went through the various bodyweight exercises, you may be thinking how do I combine these or use these? What I love about these is they are great when you are rushed and short on time or don’t have the equipment or even videos you may usually have available at home. Think of times you are traveling or perhaps only have 10 minute to get in a quick workout.
Pick out several of the exercises above and shoot for 8-12 reps with 3 sets of each exercise and make it fit in your life! Even just 30 extra pushups 4 days a week is going to help you be a little bit stronger! 😉