Before we had treadmills, jump ropes and medicine balls, it was still possible to get a great workout using just our body weight. No need for expensive equipment. Just use your imagination and get back to basics.
The classic equipment-free bodyweight exercises are pushups and pullups. Pushups are great because there are so many variations. Do them on your knees if you are deconditioned or, if you’re one of those for whom deconditioned doesn’t begin to cover it, do them standing up with your hands on the wall. You can change hand position to target different muscles or even take away one hand, if you dare. The pullup speaks for itself. You get a great workout just pulling your body weight up as many times as you can.
Two bodyweight exercises that are great for working legs are the squats and lunges. And like the pushup, there are a number of variations. Increase the difficulty level and get your heart rate up by adding propulsion moves or incorporating jumps.
For core strength, add some planks to your routine. Again, there are so many different variations. Front and rear planks work the front and back of the body, while side planks work your obliques. All can be done on your elbows or hands and on knees or toes (elbows and knees for beginners, hands and toes for pros). A good rule is to try to hold your plank for a minute or two with perfect body form. You can add time or reps for more intensity. If you are a beginner, shoot for 20-30 seconds and build from there.
To ramp up these strength exercises, add a few bouts of bodyweight intervals for cardio. For example, do three sets of 15 pushups followed by 50 jumping jacks, then three sets of 10 pullups followed by 1 minute of invisible jump rope. When you’re ready, add to that 30 seconds of propulsion squats then drop down to the floor for two 1-minute planks with 20 seconds of rest in between. Next you can add 50 mountain climbers and 2 minutes of wall sits. You get the idea. After a full round of this lineup, rest for 1 minute then repeat two to three more times, resting for 1 minute between each set. As you build up strength, add more sets with shorter periods of rest. And remember to change up the content of your equipment-free exercise as you please — the possibilities are endless.