No equipment? No problem. You can still get a full-body workout using just your own weight as resistance.
Mix and match these 18 exercises for a full-body workout.
Body-weight exercises are ones that use only your body weight as resistance. That means no dumbbells or fancy gym equipment are required — and you can knock out a workout wherever you are. That convenience factor is a major perk.
Body-weight exercises are great for boosting your fitness, metabolism, and endurance, according to the Mayo Clinic. And an article published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal found that using only body-weight moves during high-intensity circuit training is an efficient way to decrease body fat, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 max) and muscular fitness. A small study published in Physiology & Behavior in October 2016 confirmed that muscle growth can happen even if external resistance isn’t applied.
Depending on your current fitness level, your ability to build bulky muscles may be limited, says Rondel King, CSCS, a corrective exercise specialist and personal trainer in New York City.
“If you do body-weight exercises, you won’t necessarily develop large amounts of muscle tissue,” King says. Your body weight alone likely isn’t going to place enough stress on the body to fuel substantial muscle growth if you’re a regular exerciser already, he explains — but these exercises can go a long way toward building up strength for athletic activity, preventing injury, getting toned-looking muscles, and promoting healthy functioning for daily living.
Body-weight workouts are also a great starting point if you’re new to exercise. Body-weight exercises help you build an understanding of correct form and movement first, and get stronger in the process, explains CJ Hammond, a NASM-certified personal trainer with RSP Nutrition in Los Angeles. “Before one can start adding resistance with weights and bands, you must master body-weight movements.”
“You should gain control of your body and go through body-weight exercises and make sure you can do that without resistance before you start adding weight,” King says.
How to Complete a Body-Weight Workout
Combine a few of these exercises to create your own at-home workout, or add them to an existing workout. Ideally, you want to work each muscle group at least twice a week, Hammond says. Here, he recommends the best body-weight moves for each muscle group.
These exercises can be adapted for people of all fitness levels. Hammond recommends doing four sets of each of the exercises below. If you’re a beginner, start with two sets of 15 reps and increase the number of sets as you get stronger. And if you have an injury or illness that may limit your ability to safely exercise, check with your doctor before starting any new workout program.
Note: Some of these moves suggest using a yoga mat. If you don’t have one, try using a folded towel or completing the exercises on carpet to lessen the impact on your hands or knees.
Start on your hands and knees on a yoga mat on the floor, with your hands resting slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. Straighten your legs out behind you so you’re being supported by your hands and the balls of your feet. Keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels (holding your head up in line with your spine). Bend your elbows and lower your chest until it nearly touches the mat. Pause and then push yourself back up to the starting position. Beginner modification: Complete the push-up with your knees on the floor. One set is 12 reps.
- Push-Up Shuffle
Complete a push-up (either on your knees or with your legs extended behind you, depending on your fitness level). Then, keep your core engaged and shuffle your right hand and right foot a step to the right side. Bring your left hand and foot to meet them. Complete another push-up there. Return to center and repeat on the opposite side. One set is five shuffles in each direction.
- Isometric Chest Squeeze
Stand with your hands in front of you with a 90-degree bend in your elbows. Hold your hands together and squeeze your chest as hard as you can. Hold the tension for up to 30 seconds and release; that’s one rep.
- Triceps Dip
Sit in front of a bench or the end of a couch with your legs extended out in front of you away from the furniture. Position your hands on top of the furniture behind you with your hands about shoulder-width apart and your fingertips pointing toward your body. Straighten your arms and pull your body up so it is hovering over the floor. Then engage your triceps muscles as you bend your elbows until they’re at about a 90-degree angle. Press down from your hands and straighten your arms to return to the starting position. You should be supporting most of your body’s weight in your arms to get the greatest benefit from the move. To make the exercise easier, keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. One set is 12 reps.
- Plank Up-and-Downs
Get into a plank position on the floor: Your hands should be on the mat with your shoulders directly above them, legs extended straight back behind you, toes on the mat, and your body forming a straight line from top of head to heels. Lower your left elbow down to the mat and then lower your right elbow down to the mat so you’re now in a forearm plank. Keep your core engaged and your body in a straight line. Push up and straighten your right arm. Then straighten your left arm as well. Repeat for 30 seconds, switching off which arm goes first; that’s one set.
- Triangle Push-Ups
Settle into a plank position but place your hands close together under your chest and form a triangle with your index fingers and your thumbs (your thumbs should be in a straight line forming the bottom side of the triangle). Lower your chest toward the floor as if you were doing a regular push-up, keeping your elbows close to your body. Pause at the bottom and then push off the floor to return to the starting position. Modify by completing the push-up with your knees on the floor or by moving your hands slightly wider than the triangle shape. One set is 12 reps
Lie facedown on a mat with your arms extended in a Y position overhead and your legs are extended directly behind you on the mat. Using your back and shoulders, lift your chest and arms off the mat. Hold and then lower into the starting position. One set is 15 reps.
- Bird Dog
Position yourself on your hands and knees on your mat with hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. While keeping your core engaged and stable, raise your right arm straight in front of you and extend your left leg straight out behind you, reaching both away from the body at the same time so both are parallel to the floor. Hold, engaging the hamstrings and glutes; then bring your arm and leg back to center. Repeat with your left arm and right leg. Complete 15 reps on each side for one set.
- Superman T
Lie facedown on a mat with your arms extended out to your sides so your body is in a T position. Using your back and shoulders, lift your chest and arms off the mat. Hold and then lower into the starting position. One set is 15 reps.
Core and Abdominal Muscles
Start on the mat on your hands and knees with your hands beneath your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you so your toes are pressing into the floor to stabilize your body. Keep your neck in an unstrained, neutral position with your eyes focused on a spot on the floor about a foot in front of you. You should feel your legs and glutes working to hold your body steady. Your body should be forming a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds, or as long as you can manage; that’s one set.
- Bicycle Crunches
Lie on your back with your arms bent and your hands touching the back of your head (but not fully supporting it). Pull your knees up and into your chest as you lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Extend your right leg straight out in front of you (making a 45-degree angle with the floor), while simultaneously twisting your upper body toward your left knee, so your right elbow is extending toward your left knee. Hold and then repeat in the opposite direction with your left leg extended and your left elbow twisting to meet your right knee, for a total of 30 seconds for one set.
- Side Plank
Lie on your side with your forearm on the floor at a 90-degree angle pointing away from you on the mat (chest and upper body are lifted off the mat) and your legs extended so your body is in a straight line on the mat. Stack your feet on top of each other and lay your top arm on your waist. Lift your hips off the floor while holding your core tight. Your body should form a straight line from top of head to heels. Lift your top arm straight up into the air so it’s perpendicular to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds or more. To make it more challenging, lift your top leg up and down as you hold the plank. Switch sides and repeat; that’s one set.
- Jump Squats
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge from your hips and bend your knees to lower into a squat position, as if you’re sitting down in a chair. Keep your weight in your heels and your chest up throughout the movement. Pause at the bottom, then drive through the heels as you jump straight into the air. Land softly on your feet and immediately lower into a squat to repeat. One set is 10 reps.
- Reverse Lunge
From a standing position with feet together, step your right foot directly behind you. Lower your hips and drop your right knee so it’s bent at a 90-degree angle and your right heel is off the floor. As you bend your left knee, it should form a 90-degree angle, too — and be careful not to let that knee shift farther forward than your left foot. Keep your back upright and eyes looking straight ahead. Squeeze your glutes, quads, and calves as you press your left heel into the floor, and bring your right leg forward to return to standing. Do 10 reps and then repeat on the opposite leg; that’s one set.
- Donkey Kicks
Start on your mat with your hands and knees on the floor. Tuck your chin slightly into your chest. Keep your core tight and lift your left leg up toward the ceiling, as if you’re trying to press the bottom of your right foot into the ceiling. Your knee should maintain a 90-degree bend the whole time. Be careful not to arch your back or shift your hips as you move your leg. Hold, and then bring your leg back down to the starting position. Repeat for 12 reps and then switch sides; that’s one set.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. In one fluid motion, lower your body into a squat (hinge at the hips as if sitting in an imaginary chair, holding chest and upper body upright), place your hands on the floor in front of your feet and jump your feet back so you land in a plank position. Then, jump your feet back to where they were near your hands and complete a powerful jump straight into the air. To make it more challenging, add a push-up before jumping up from the plank. If you’re a beginner, stand up after jumping out of the plank position (eliminating the jump into the air at the end). One set is 10 reps.
- Mountain Climbers
Start in a plank position. Engage your core as you lift your right leg slightly off the floor and bring your right knee toward the center of your chest. Return the right leg back to plank position as you switch sides, drawing your left knee into your chest. Continue switching back and forth at a quick pace for 30 seconds; that’s one set.
- Bear Crawls
Start on the floor with your hands and knees on the mat, keeping your back flat and your wrists beneath your shoulders. Lift your knees off the floor about an inch so your weight is being supported by your hands and toes. At the same time, step your right hand and left foot forward while staying close to the floor. Then move your left hand and right foot forward. Repeat up the length of the mat and then reverse directions (up and back down your mat is one rep), ideally for 20 reps; that’s one set.