At home bodyweight workouts can be some of the most invigorating workouts. As long as you have a bit of space to move around in and a mat for comfort, you can get a challenging workout at home without any equipment. Be sure to focus on that mind to muscle connection and maintain proper form and technique and make sure you give yourself a 30 to 60-second rest between sets.
Choose six to 10 of the exercises to perform below, grab your mat, water and your best workout playlist and you’re ready to go!
Lower Body Exercises
Squats are a great compound exercise, which means they work multiple muscle groups at the same time. They work the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles. Start off by standing with your feet shoulder width apart with your weight on the balls of your feet and your knees soft. With your arms stretched out in front of you parallel to the floor, bend your knees and drive the hips back as you lower to the ground, stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are roughly at a 90 degree angle. Your knees should be in line with your toes and should not stick out over them.
Hold for three counts before straightening your legs, driving your weight through your heels. Remember to keep your core strong, shoulders back and your upper body straight but allow it to naturally tilt. Perform 10-15 reps for a total of 3 sets. Note: Because compound exercises work multiple muscles at a time, they should be performed at the beginning of the workout.
Lunges (Forward Lunge)
Like squats, lunges are a compound exercise which works the quads, hamstrings, glutes and and calf muscles. Start by standing with feet hip width apart, keeping the core strong and upper body straight. Take a generous step forward with the left leg and shift your weight into the heel of the left foot as you bend both your knees. Lower the body until both knees are roughly at a right angle and the thigh of your forward leg is parallel to the ground.
The upper body should be centered between both legs. Push yourself back up to the starting position through the heel of the forward foot. Switch legs and repeat 12 reps per leg for 3 sets.
This exercise may look easy but it definitely makes you feel the burn! Like the name suggests, the muscle we are targeting here are the calf muscles. Standing with feet hip width apart, knees soft, slowly shift the weight to the balls of the feet, lifting the heels off the ground. When your weight is on your toes, squeeze the calf muscles and slowly lower the heels back down to the ground. Repeat for 3 sets of 20 reps.
Single Leg Deadlifts
Deadlifts are a great way to work the hamstring muscles (the muscles in the back of the thigh) and the glutes. Classic deadlifts are done standing on two legs using barbells or free weights but when using only bodyweight, it’s more impactful to do deadlifts one leg at a time. Stand on the right leg with knees soft, slightly bent and your weight on the ball of the foot. Slowly bend at the hips keeping the upper body straight and lower it to the ground reaching the opposite arm to the leg you are standing on to the ground for balance. You can slightly bend the knee but keep your standing leg relatively straight.
The free leg should extend back and align with the upper body, parallel to the ground. The body should now look like a “T” shape. Bring the free leg towards your standing leg while simultaneously lifting the upper body upwards by pushing the glutes forward. If you need to modify this exercise for balance you can gently hold onto a wall or chair for extra support. Repeat 12 reps per leg and repeat each set 3 times.
Curtsy lunges are one of the many variations of the lunges that also targets the inner thighs. Stand with your feet hip width apart, and your hands on your hips. Lift the right foot and take a step back crossing the left foot and placing the toes on the ground. Bend your knees and lower the body, keeping the weight between both legs. The left thigh should be parallel to the floor. Push off from the toes of the right foot and return to start. Switch feet and repeat 12 reps per leg for 3 reps.
This exercise may have a strange name but it is great at targeting the glute muscles! Lay face up on the floor with your feet on the ground and the knees bent. Lift the glutes into the air by squeezing them and slowly raising the pelvis upward so the upper body is in a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. The back should be off the ground with the weight on the shoulders and the feet. Hold for 3 seconds before lowering the glutes back down to the floor. Repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Women’s Health magazine states that donkey kicks not only work the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in the glutes) but also the core and the shoulder muscles. Get on all fours with the arms directly below the shoulders. The upper body should be flat and should meet the thighs at a 90 degree angle.
Lift the right foot up to the sky, keeping the knees bent in a 90 degree. Squeeze the glutes when the leg is extended up towards the ceiling and slowly lower the leg back down to start. Repeat for 12-15 reps then switch legs to complete your first set. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.
Lateral (Side) Lunges
As you can tell there are many ways to do a lunge – and they don’t stop here! Shape magazine explains that lateral lunges are great for targeting the gluteus medius which is the side of the glutes. Stand with feet hip width apart and your hands on your hips. Take a generous step to the left and bend the left knee while keeping the right leg straight. The upper body should be slightly tilted and hips should be back as the left knee aligns with the left foot. Push up off the left foot and return to the standing position.
You can choose to alternate legs or repeat the exercise on the same leg for the continuation of the reps before switching legs. Perform 12 reps per leg for 3 sets.
Upper Body Exercises
Push-Ups (Modified Push-Ups)
One of the best compound exercises for the upper body is push-ups. They work the pecs, triceps, the back of the shoulders and the core. To execute a push-up, go on all fours with arms shoulder width apart, directly below the shoulders and toes on the ground. Lower the body slowly to the ground, bending the elbows to a roughly 45 degree angle to the body. Keep the core engaged to make sure there is no arch in the lower back or a rounding hunch in the spine. Push the weight of your body up through your hands back to the starting position.
If this is too challenging, follow the same upper body instructions but instead of your toes, place your knees on the ground. Aim to do 3 sets of 12 reps for this exercise. However, the number of reps per person will differ depending on their strength. I recommend doing push-ups until failure, resting for 30 seconds and repeating the set for a total of 3 times. If you can only do a handful of push-ups in the standard position, drop your knees to complete the rest of your reps before finishing the set.
We begin this exercise in the downward dog position with feet on the ground hip width apart and hands on the ground slightly wider than shoulder width apart and butt in the air. Your body should be in an upside down “V” shape. From here, bend your elbows lowering the upper body to the floor but stopping before your head touches the ground. After a slight pause, push up through the hands until the arms are straight. Make sure you don’t lock your elbows and you don’t lift your head back or it will cause a neck strain. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.
For this exercise you can use the floor but it helps to use a chair or a bench if you have one. Place your hands shoulder width apart on a chair with your butt just off the front and your feet on the ground, legs extended in front of you. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows to a 90 degree angle. Press into your palms to lift yourself back up to the starting position.
Make sure not to lock your elbows at the top! Keep them soft to avoid injury. If you don’t have a chair or bench you can do the same movement with your hands on the floor and your legs slightly bent. Repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
One of the best exercises to work the abdominal muscles is the plank! It also doesn’t hurt that not only does it work several of the abdominal muscles, it targets the shoulders/arms and the glutes. Begin on all fours with your feet hip width apart and your forearms on the ground with the elbows directly underneath the shoulders and hold. The body should be in a straight line from head to toes with your face looking down at your hands. The key to a good plank is a flat back and consistent breathing – inhale through the nose and out through the mouth. To keep a neutral back, squeeze the abdomen and tilt the pelvis in towards your belly button to prevent an arched back.
How long you hold for will depend on each person’s fitness level. Beginners should aim for 15 seconds and eventually work their way up to holding the position for 60 seconds. For this exercise, each time the position is held is one set rather than one rep. For example, a beginner would hold the position for 15 seconds, rest for 30-60 seconds and repeat two more times. If that proves too difficult, it is okay to start with the knees on the floor rather than the toes. If you start in a modified position, try to hold the plank as long as you can.
While the plank already works several muscles at once, the side plank really targets the oblique muscles (the side abs if you will). Begin laying on your right side with your right forearm on the floor, elbows directly underneath the shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor with your weight on your forearm and the side of the right foot, left arm extended upwards in the air. Hold the position for 15-60 seconds based on your current fitness level. Make sure the hips don’t slowly dip throughout the hold! Switch sides and repeat for 3 sets.
For modification of this exercise to make it easier, instead of placing the weight on your feet, keep the side of the knees on the ground. To make this more challenging, add dips before or after a 30 second hold. Example: 15 hip dips followed by a 30 second hold.
This exercise not only works the core, it also adds a little cardio and will get your heart pumping! Assume the push-up position with both hands and toes on the floor. Engage the core and lift one foot off the ground and bend the knee, driving it up towards the chest and returning it back to the floor. Immediately lift the left foot and perform the same motion for a total of 12 reps per leg (24 in total) for a total of 3 sets.
Laying on your back with your lower back pressed into the floor, lift your head and shoulders up and place your hands behind your head. Lift your knees up to a 90 degree angle, shins parallel to the ground. Extend the right leg outward, straightening it and bring the left knee in towards the chest while twisting your upper body bringing the right elbow to the left knee. Switch sides and continue the same movements for 24 reps (12 on each side). Rest and repeat for 3 sets.
Make sure not to tug on your neck but to keep the core engaged to work the abdominal muscles and prevent any strain on the neck.
Crunches and sit ups work different parts of the abdomen however, sit ups can be challenging for beginners – especially if they don’t have a partner to hold onto their feet. Start with the classic crunch and over time, work your way up to the sit up. Lay with your back on the ground, knees bent and feet on the floor. Place hands behind your head but do not pull your neck. Engage the core and lift your shoulder blades off the ground and hold for a moment before slowly returning the shoulders to the floor.
When you feel like you have enough core strength, try engaging the core and bringing your upper body completely off the floor to a full sit up where your chest meets your knees. Aim to repeat for 15-25 reps for a total of 3 sets.
Straight Leg Raises
Leg raises are an exceptional exercise to target the lower abdominal muscles which are always the last part of the abdomen to reveal itself. Start by laying on your back on the floor with your legs in the air, perpendicular to the floor and your arms on the ground next to your sides. Slowly lower your legs to the ground keeping them relatively straight and stopping when your heels are a few inches from the ground. Hold for a brief pause before slowly returning the legs to the start position. Repeat 15-20 reps for 3 sets.
Starting in the same position as the leg raises, lay face up on your back with your legs extended straight up in the air. Extend your arms towards your toes and lift your shoulders off the ground slightly. Using your core, lift your shoulders off the ground further by trying to touch your toes and return to the starting position. Be mindful not to heave the body upward and to only lift the body as far as it is willing to go without any strain. Repeat 15-20 reps for 3 sets.
Russian twists target the entire abdomen – obliques included! To perform this exercise, sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Lean back so the upper body is at a 45 degree angle and lift your feet off the ground a few inches. Twist the torso side to side, keeping the core engaged. Continue for 10-15 reps per side to complete a set for a total of 3 sets.
The reverse crunch is not as common as the classic crunch/sit-up, but it should not be forgotten! The reverse crunch works the lower abdominal muscles and looks easy but is very effective. Lay on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Place your arms by your side for support. Engage the core and lift the feet off the ground and drive the knees in towards the chest. Keeping the knees bent, slowly lower the feet back down and stop when the feet are a few inches from the ground to complete one rep. Continue for 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
Another great exercise to target the lower abdominal muscles is the flutter kick. Lay on your back on the ground with your legs extended and your arms by your sides for support and balance. Engage the core and lift your legs a few inches of the ground. Lift the left leg roughly a foot above the right foot and then immediately kick the right foot up as you lower the left, making little flutter movements or kicks. Keep the head on the ground and try not to look up or you may cause strain in the neck. With each kick being one rep, complete 12-15 reps per leg for a total of 3 sets.
The superman exercise works the lower back and the glutes. It’s important to train the back muscles if you want to support a strong core. Lay face down on your stomach on the floor with your arms extended straight in front of you. In one fluid motion lift your arms and legs off the ground a few inches, keeping the head down. Your back should be arched and your chest should be just off the ground. Hold for up to 5 seconds and slow lower your arms and legs back down. Repeat 12-15 sets with 3 reps.
Ah, the dreaded burpee. I’ll admit I don’t enjoy performing this exercise but I do appreciate how they benefit cardiovascular endurance which is why I like to incorporate them into my workouts where it’s appropriate. This exercise can be done at various levels of intensity which is great for not only beginners but also for the more experienced. For beginners, start this exercise in the standing position. Place your hands on the ground and jump your feet back into a push-up position. Jump the feet back in towards the hands and return to the standing position. If this still proves to be too challenging, place feet back one at a time as well as back in when returning to standing.
How do you make a burpee more challenging? Start by adding a small jump (or a for the expert level, a tuck jump) before assuming the push-up position. From there you can complete an actual push-up before returning to the standing position. However you choose to perform a burpee, complete 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
As we learned from the squat exercise, we want to stand with our feet shoulder width apart and our shoulders back. Bending at the knees, drive the hips back and stop when the knees are in a 90 angle. From here, jump up into the air high enough that you can extend your legs straight (but not locked) in the air and land back in squat position for one rep. Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Start this exercise in the standing position with soft knees and the weight on the ball of the feet. Jump both feet out to the side just past shoulder width apart while simultaneously extending the arms from your sides to above your head like you’re making a snow angel. Jump your feet back in and sweep your arms back to your sides for one rep. Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 15-20 reps. Or time each set by performing as many reps as you can in 30-45 seconds.