Top 25 equipment-free exercises

Last updated 05:00 28/11/2013
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PUSH IT: When using your own body weight for resistance provides great results, there's no excuse to get your sweat on.

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Even if you've nixed your membership at the gym, there's no excuse to skip your workout.

Forget the days of hauling around free weights, and focus on using your greatest tool - your body's strength - with these exercises.

If you're trying to specifically focus on your upper body, lower body, or core or you want some new plyometric moves to get your heart rate up, we've rounded up the 20 best equipment-free exercises.


1. Upper Body: Push-Up

- Start in a plank position, with palms spread out evenly and your shoulders over your wrists and legs out behind you. Pull your belly button in, and keep your back straight.

- As you lower and exhale, bend your elbows outward to the sides. Hold at the bottom before you raise back up to complete one rep.


2. Upper Body: Triceps Dips

- Position your hands shoulder-width apart on a secured bench or stable chair.

- Move your bum in front of the bench with your legs bent and feet placed about hip-width apart on the floor.

- Straighten out your arms, and keep a little bend in your elbows in order to always keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints.

- Now slowly bend at your elbows and lower your upper body down toward the floor until your arms are at about a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your back close to the bench.

- Once you reach the bottom of the movement, slowly press off with your hands, and push yourself straight back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.


3. Upper Body: Push-Up Walks

- Come into a plank position with your arms and legs straight. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders and your feet hips-width distance apart.

- Keep your torso parallel to the floor, and lower your right forearm to the mat and then the left, coming into elbow plank.

- Then step your right hand back onto the mat, and then the left, pushing yourself back up to plank position. This completes one push-up walk.


4. Upper and Lower Body: Pure Barre Leg and Upper-Body Lifts

- Begin by lying down with your belly on the mat, toes together and knees apart.

- Ground your palms on the floor, placing them on top of one another with your forehead resting on the back of the hands.

- With your legs still floating off the ground, lift your forearms up in one motion.

- Keep your back and seat engaged while you lift your upper and lower body together. Do this 10 to 15 times.

- Now, stay lifted as you extend your arms back behind you to grab hold of your ankles.

- Relax your shoulders, and stay active in the stretch for 10 counts to complete one cycle.


5. Lower Body: Sumo Squat

- Stand with your feet wide, toes pointing out. Hold your hands comfortably in front of your chest to help you stay balanced, and bend your knees, lowering your hips deeply so your thighs are parallel with the floor. Make sure to keep your weight back in your heels.

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- Then rise back up, straightening the legs completely and squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement to get the most out of the exercise.

- This counts as one rep.


6. Lower Body: Basic Squat With Side Leg Lift

- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, feet parallel. Hold your hands out in front of you for balance. Bend your knees, lowering your hips deeply so your thighs are parallel with the floor, keeping weight back in your heels.

- Then rise back up, straightening the legs completely and lifting the left leg out to the side, squeezing the outer glute.

- As you step the foot back into shoulder-width position, squat down again. Then stand up and do a side leg lift on the right side. Lower the leg back to the starting position. This counts as one rep.


7. Lower Body: Side Saddle Leg Lift Series

- Start on your side with your legs extended, flexing both feet. Place your top hand on the ground in front of your abs and your supporting arm under your head. Make sure your bottom leg stays extended for the whole duration of the series.

- Keeping the energy reaching out through your flexed heels, lift your top leg up about six to eight inches from the floor. From here, make tiny pulses upward 20 times. Holding your leg at the highest point of your lift, draw one-inch circles with your heel for 20 reps.

- Keeping your top leg lifted, bend and straighten your knee. Do this 20 times while not letting your thigh lower as you press through the heel to lengthen your top leg to the straightened position. For an even greater burn, finish this series with lifts in a bigger range of motion, taking the foot all the way toward the ceiling and back down, 10-20 times.

- Do the entire series on the other side to complete this exercise.


8. Lower Body: Single-Leg Bridge Lift

- Lie on your back, and place your hands on the floor for stability as you bend one leg and lift the other leg off the ground.

- Then, pressing your heel into the floor, lift your pelvis up, keeping your body in a stiff bridge position.

- Slowly lower your body to the floor and repeat. Switch legs to complete one rep.


9. Lower Body: Lunge

- Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up (pick a point to stare at in front of you so you don't keep looking down). Always engage your core.

- Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn't touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. This counts as one lunge.


10. Core: Elbow Plank

- Start on the floor, resting on your forearms and knees.

- Step your feet out one at a time, coming into a plank position.

- Contract your abs to prevent your booty from sticking up or sinking. Your spine should be parallel to the floor, with your abs pulling toward the ceiling.

- Hold for 30 seconds, and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.


11. Core: Mountain Climbers

- Start in a traditional push-up starting position - shoulders over hands and weight on just your toes.

- Bring your right foot forward, bending the knee and putting weight on the ball of your foot.

- Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward while moving the right leg back. This completes one rep.


12. Core: Bicycle Crunches

- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground (pull your abs down to also target your deep abs). Interlace your fingers, and put your hands behind your head.

- Bring your knees in toward your chest, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground.

- Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward the left knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.

- Now switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep (and to create the "pedaling" motion).


13. Core: Scissor Abs

- Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides, palms pressing into the floor. You can place your hands under your pelvis if you feel the need to protect your lower back.

- Bring both legs straight up toward the ceiling, engaging your abs and pressing your lower back into the ground.

- Keeping abs pulled in and lower back on the ground, slowly lower your left leg until it's a few inches above the floor, then scissor your legs, lifting your right leg up. This completes one rep.


14. Core: Quadruped

- Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Remember to keep abs engaged and your back flat.

- Reach out with your right hand, and extend your left leg out behind you.

- Round your back and head to connect your right elbow with your left leg under your body. Extend your right hand and left leg back out.

- Switch sides to complete one rep of this exercise.


15. Core: T Push-Up

- Begin in plank position.

- Bend your elbows lowering into a push-up.

- Straighten your arms and lift your right arm toward the ceiling, twisting into a side plank to make a T shape with your body.

- Rotate back to plank, placing your right palm on the floor to lower into a push-up.

- This time as you straighten your arms, rotate to the left lifting the left up. Return to plank.

- Continue this exercise, repeating an equal number of times on both sides.


16. Core: Tabletop Lift

- Start in a tabletop position. Inhale, and as you exhale, lower your hips and straighten your legs so your hips are hovering above the floor.

- Flow back to the tabletop position to complete one rep.


17. Core: Creepy Crawly Push-Ups

- Come into plank position. As you bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your torso toward the floor, bend your left knee and touch it to your left elbow.

- As you straighten your arms, come back to plank position with your left foot next to your right. Now lower your torso and touch your right knee to your right elbow. Then return back to plank position. This counts as one rep.


18. Core: Swimmer

- Begin on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you.

- Keeping your neck neutral and in line with your spine, lift your feet, arms, and chest from the floor.

- Begin to "swim" by lifting your opposite arm and leg a little higher, and then alternate sides, making a fluttering motion.

- Continue this movement for 30 seconds to complete one cycle.


19. Core: V-Sits

- Lie on your back, and reach your arms rigidly to your side, off the floor. Lift your legs off the floor, and point them so they are at about a 45-degree angle. Lift your head so your shoulders are off the floor as well.

- When ready to begin, lift your upper torso off the floor and bend your knees. You can lean back to make this move harder or come up more to make it easier. Lower back down to the floor so your legs are straight out and your back is on the floor, but not your head, shoulders, or legs.

- Repeat for one minute. Keep your abs engaged as you perform this move instead of relying on gravity; if it gets too hard, then keep your knees bent as you lower down.


20. Core: Reverse Crunch

- Lie on your back on the floor. Place your hands on the floor beside you.

- Bring the knees in toward the chest with your feet together.

- Use your abs to slowly curl the hips off the floor and into your chest, and then slowly lower them back to the starting position to complete one.

- Repeat for one minute. Don't swing your legs to create momentum; use your abs to control your movement.


21. Plyometrics: Cross Jacks

- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out to either side with palms facing down. This is the starting position.

- Jump and cross your right arm over your left and your right foot over your left. Jump back to the starting position, then cross with the opposite arm and foot. This counts as one rep.

- Continue alternating sides and repeating this movement until you complete 25 reps. Be sure to keep up the pace and not allow too much time for recovery between jumps; this way you'll be sure to keep up your heart rate and engage your whole body.


22. Plyometrics: Jumping Lunges

- To begin, start standing tall with your feet staggered, your left foot slightly in front of your right. Making sure you're not too stiff, keep your stance active with your knees bent in a slight but not full lunge.

- With your core engaged, push off the bottom of both feet into a jump, switching the position of your feet in midair, landing in a basic lunge with your right leg in front.

- Without rest, repeat this movement, alternating which leg is in front. This completes one rep.


23. Plyometrics: Jump Squats

- Begin in an athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart and arms bent with hands at chest level. Bend knees, and come into a full squat.

- Jump up as explosively as you can, reaching for the ceiling.

- When you land, lower back into the squat position to complete one rep.


24. Plyometrics: Burpees

- Begin standing. Bring your hands to the floor just in front of your feet; jump your feet into a plank position.

- Do one push-up.

- Jump your feet back to your hands, and from this crouched position, jump up, similar to a squat jump.

- Jump as high up as you can. This completes one rep.


25. Plyometrics: Side Skaters

- Start in a small squat. Jump sideways to the right, landing on your right leg. Bring your right leg close to your left ankle, but don't let it touch the floor.

- Reverse direction by jumping to the left with your left leg to complete one rep.

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