The 8 Best Full-Body, No-Equipment Exercises, According to Trainers
While we’ll always love a dumbbell, kettlebell, or resistance band workout, there’s something empowering about knowing that all we really need to challenge our muscles is ourselves. Yes, we’re talking about bodyweight workouts. Though they’re sometimes overlooked, the right combination of full-body, no-equipment exercises can help you achieve any goal, from building strength to working up a sweat.
“Bodyweight exercises refer to moves that use your own body weight to provide resistance against gravity,” says Tara Nicolas, a Nike Training Club trainer. And while you might think that bodyweight exercises are naturally easier than moves that require equipment, you’d be wrong.
“I personally learned that the hard way during the pandemic,” Nicolas says. With gyms closed and at-home weights on serious backorder, the trainer turned to full-body, no-equipment exercises to get her sweat on – and ended up more exhausted than she’d thought possible.
“Using equipment is fun, but you have ‘help’ in a way. With bodyweight exercises, you have to create all the force on your own, and when you get tired, you can’t flub it. It’s like, I have to pick my own ass up off this floor,” Nicolas says.
So while bodyweight workouts can leave you just as tired and sore as powerlifting, there are full-body, no equipment exercises for every level of fitness. And Nicolas notes that bodyweight workouts can be a “safe space” for people who are intimidated by heavier weights – or have used them before and gotten injured.
They can be super functional too. “Bodyweight exercises mimic what you’re going to do in the real world, and encourage you to have more body awareness,” Nicolas says.
No-equipment exercises can also be surprisingly fun, because they encourage you to get out of the gym and find new ways to move your body – whether you’re incorporating bodyweight moves into a dance cardio class, or getting outdoors and using a park bench to support your workout.
The following eight full-body, no-equipment exercises aren’t a full workout, but represent a selection of moves you can plug into your routine to strengthen your muscles and get your heart rate up.
Listen to your body and modify as needed; bear crawls or inchworms might not be the right moves for people with wrist pain, for instance, and some people may need to work their way up to a full squat jump.
And one last piece of advice? Grab a sweat towel – you’ll probably need it.
– Additional reporting by Abbey Stone and Mirel Zaman