You don’t need a gym membership or a room full of fancy equipment to get in the best shape of your life. In fact, the most talented personal trainers like to say that our bodies are our own gym; in other words, you don’t need to go anywhere or spend a ton of money to exercise.
With just a little creativity, you can fit in a big workout in even the smallest space. Whether it’s an office cubicle or apartment, here are 10 no-equipment workouts to help you slim down while boosting your heart rate.
Click the titles to expand for workout details.
You don’t need a treadmill to get a thorough cardio workout. You can get your heart and lungs pumping with some simple kicks. This is an easy, no-frills exercise. While it can be done safely in small spaces, be sure you’re not standing next to anything you might knock over. The last thing you want to do is karate kick a lamp or knock over a plant. Begin the exercise by standing with your back straight. Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms down, and kick one leg up in the air until it reaches your palm. Bring the leg down, and then repeat with the other leg.
Reps: Perform 10-15 reps with each leg, rest and repeat.
Pro Tip: Increase the speed between each kick to maximize the workout.
Push-ups are a basic exercise that target the pectoral muscles, triceps, and anterior deltoids. And yes, military physical trainers are right: you can drop and do 20 just about anywhere – the bedroom, the hallway, or in the small galley kitchen. Push-ups are bare-bones muscle building, but they’re part of every serious athletes training program. In order to do a good push-up, keep your hands positioned on the floor, slightly wider than your shoulders, and keep your body in a straight line. However, don’t worry – this isn’t a cross-fit competition, so it’s okay to go at your own pace.
Reps: Complete a set of 20 push-ups, rest and repeat. Aim for a total of 100.
Pro Tip: To improve balance and boost strength, pause at the top of the push-up and use one hand to tap the opposite shoulder. Switch hands with each rep.
The scissors exercise targets your abdominal muscles, glutes, and inner and outer thighs. Begin by lying on your back with your arms at your sides. Raise both legs towards the ceiling, keeping them straight. Lower one leg until it’s about six inches off the floor. As you raise it back up, lower your opposite leg, creating a scissor-like movement.
Reps: Do 10 reps for each leg, rest and repeat.
Pro Tip: A more challenging variation is the leg lift (see below).
Classic Leg Lifts
Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons would be proud to see you bust out this classic exercise. Whether done lying on your back or on your side (that’s right, you can exercise while watching TV!), leg lifts are super effective. Lift your legs to a 90-degree angle, hold as long as possible, and then lower them down until they hover just above the floor. Leg lifts target the total abdominal area.
Reps: Aim for 30 reps.
Pro Tip: Looking for a real challenge? Alternate between scissors and classic leg lifts.
So there you are, sitting at a table in the boardroom, listening to a co-worker give a report. Here’s an idea – why not try a little multi-tasking? Sit tall, raise one leg until it’s level with your hip, hold for 10 seconds, repeat, and change legs. Office abs is really a secret leg lift, as none of your co-workers know you’re exercising under the table… until, of course, you start breaking a sweat.
Reps: Complete 10 reps with each leg.
Pro Tip: Make sure you choose a seat with enough space. You wouldn’t want to accidentally kick your boss in the shins!
Instead of using your kitchen chairs to sit down and eat, use them to exercise. The elevated lunge targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Place your right foot on top of the chair with your heel hanging off the edge. Then, bend both knees and lower your hips/pelvis towards the ground – that’s a lunge. Exhale, straighten both knees, and come out of the lunge by rising back to the starting position.
Reps: Do 10-12 reps per leg.
Pro Tip: Try mixing in additional exercises to work your core muscles. As you drop your back knee down, twist a DIY medicine ball to the opposite side of your body. Repeat this motion with the other leg, twisting in the opposite direction.
High knees is essentially running in place. Perfect for cramped quarters, perform this move by lifting your knees above hip level and tap your knees on each step. High knees targets glutes, quads, calves, shins, and boosts heart rate. The only bad thing about this exercise is that if you have any downstairs neighbors, it might sound like you’re coming through the ceiling. And it sounds even worse if you have old, creaky wooden floors.
Reps: Do 10 reps per leg, rest and repeat.
Pro Tip: Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees and pump your knees up until they touch your elbow.
Sure, you do look something like a sumo wrestler when you do this exercise, but hey, you’re in the comfort of your own home, not at the gym, where wandering eyes are quick to judge. Stand with your feet apart wider than hip-distance. Keep your abs tight and back straight. Bend your knees and lower yourself down, then rise back up steadily. Sumo squats strengthen the back, glutes, hips, and thighs.
Reps: Begin with three sets of ten reps.
Pro Tip: To add more work for your calves and core, perform the sumo squat with your heels raised.
Who knew you could turn your bedroom into a gym? From wall sits to furniture sets, there are all sorts of creative ways to turn an object in your home into your own personal exercise machine. Take, for example… bed sit-ups. All you need to do is lie on your bed with your back hanging off the edge, cross your arms over your chest, and do sit-ups. This exercise is difficult, but your tummy will be trim in no time.
Reps: Aim for 25 sit-ups and increase to 50.
Pro Tip: Bed sit-ups are safest if someone holds your feet. The last thing you want to do is take a header onto the bedroom floor.
Through stretching, bending, and holding positions, yoga tightens muscles, reduces stress, and improves your overall health. A general rule of thumb states you need 4-6 feet of space in all directions to properly do yoga. This can easily be arranged in an apartment or condo with easy-to-move furniture. After all, when you live in an apartment, you need to make space multi-functional.
Reps: Practice yoga for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: Try these easy-to-do yoga poses to change your state of mind.
Forget about buying that fancy gym membership. It’s just going to collect dust. You can get an effective workout right at home, somewhere in between, well, dusting the living room and catching up on your favorite TV show.