5 effective bodyweight exercises that prove you don't need a gym to get fit

Got specific body goals? This quickie workout will train your muscles to work for you 24/7.
Published April 5, 2020 | Updated September 27, 2022

Sure, simply moving more can help you lose weight, and feel fantastic. But to reach all your better-body goals—from running a 5K to rocking a cold-shoulder top or keeping up with your kids on vacation—you need a targeted fitness plan that includes muscle-sculpting strength moves. That’s why we’re launching this new workout series, Find Your Fit. Every other month, we’ll bring you an exclusive action plan that tones a key area of your body, requiring no fancy equipment, and only 30 minutes or less of your time. You can use them as freestanding workouts to concentrate on specific areas of your body or as a great top-to-toe toning master plan. Either way works. Strength plus confidence: It’s going to look great on you.

Starting strong

Think of this zero-gear workout, designed by David Otey, a personal training manager at Equinox Sports Club in New York City, as your primer routine. By learning these basic movement patterns and strengthening multiple muscles at once, you’ll condition your body for the targeted training to come (tune in next issue!). And, thanks to the built-in cardio bursts, this workout burns fat, too. That’s key, because you won’t be able to see definition if your muscles are covered by the soft stuff.

Give yourself a lift

“Strength-training increases your metabolism, helps you feel more energized, and decreases stress on your joints,” says trainer David Otey.

The Bodyweight Workout

Do each move in order, performing 1 minute of cardio (marching in place, jumping jacks, or jumping rope) between exercises. That’s 1 round. Complete 2 or 3 rounds, taking time to catch your breath between each one. Do this workout 3 times a week.

1. Squat

-Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders, and arms extended at shoulder height in front of you, palms toward the floor.
-Push hips back and bend knees, keeping back straight and squatting until thighs are parallel to the floor.
-Rise to complete 1 rep. Do 15 reps.

2. Push-up

-Begin in a high plank position with palms shoulder-width apart on the floor, legs extended behind you. (To make it easier, you can lower your knees to the floor.)
-Keeping body straight from head to heels (or knees), bend elbows, lowering chest toward the floor.
-Push up to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 15 reps.

3. Mountain climber

-Begin in a plank position with palms shoulder-width apart on the floor, legs extended behind you.
-Jump right foot forward, bringing right knee toward your arms. Immediately switch legs, jumping left foot forward as you extend right leg behind you.
-Switch legs again to complete 1 rep. Do 15 reps.

4. Lunge

-Stand with feet a stride’s length apart, right foot forward and left heel lifted; place hands on your hips.
-Keeping shoulders aligned over hips, bend knees until front thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Return to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 10 reps, then repeat on opposite side.

5. Reverse crunch

-Lie face up on the floor with arms extended at your sides, palms on the floor next to hips.
-Bend knees 90 degrees, and raise legs until shins are parallel to the floor and knees are aligned over hips.
-Curl knees toward chest as you lift hips and lower back, then lower to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 15 reps.