No fancy equipment required.

By Jessica Cassity
Updated January 07, 2021
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bodyweight exercises - pictures and steps guide (woman doing pushups)
Credit: Getty Images

Are you worried you don't have the right gear for a good workout? Don't be, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise science at Auburn University Montgomery. Bodyweight moves—exercises that use the weight of your own body as resistance, and that's it—can be just as effective as ones done with weights or on fancy machines. What's more, the best bodyweight exercises translate to real life in ways the butt blaster machine simply can't. (Talk about fitness motivation.)

"Bodyweight moves are functional because you can move freely without being attached to, or even contracted by, a weight machine," says Olson. "Functional moves make us better at the things that really matter in our everyday lives, such as squatting down to pick up groceries or reaching overhead to put something on a shelf."

For equipment-free strengthening, try this bodyweight exercise program, which was designed by Olson, four times a week for six weeks. In that time you'll get stronger overall, which translates to a tighter physique, says Olson. Because the moves can be done anywhere, you can fit in this workout on the fly, even if you're stuck on a conference call or in a far-flung hotel.

8 best bodyweight exercises: Pictures and steps
Credit: infographic by Remie Geoffroi

8 Great Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises - Bodyweight squat
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

1
Bodyweight squat

Works: glutes, hamstrings, low-back, abdominal muscles, and upper back

Step 1: Start standing with feet wider than hips and legs slightly turned out.

Step 2: Bend knees, lowering hips so thighs are parallel to ground. Straighten knees for one rep. Do 20 reps.

Read more about proper squat form.

Bodyweight exercises - Lunges
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

2
Lunges

Works: glues, quads, hamstrings

Step 1: Start standing with hands on hips, right foot about two feet in front of left.

Step 2: Bend right knee over right ankle, lowering hips and left knee toward ground.

Step 3: Straighten right knee, returning to start position for one rep. Do 15 reps. Repeat on left side.

Bodyweight exercises - Bicycle crunch
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

3
Bicycle crunch

Works: abs, obliques

Step 1: Start lying face-up with hands crossed behind head. Draw knees toward chest and lift head, neck, and shoulders off floor.

Step 2: Twist upper body right, drawing left elbow toward right knee. At the same time, extend left leg. Return to start position. Repeat to left for one rep. Do 20 reps.

Bodyweight exercises - Forearm plank
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

4
Forearm plank

Works: full body

Step 1: Bring forearms to the ground with hands clasped and elbows under shoulders.

Step 2: Lift knees and step feet back so weight is on balls of feet and hands, and body is in line from shoulders to hips to heels. Hold for one minute.

RELATED: How to Do a Plank

Bodyweight exercises - Pushups
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

5
Pushups

Works: full body, especially chest, biceps, and triceps

Step 1: Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Lift knees and step feet back so weight is on balls of feet and hands, and body is in line from shoulders to heels.

Step 2: Bend elbows, lowering body toward ground. Straighten elbows to return to start position for one rep. Do 10 reps.

Bodyweight exercises - Calf raises
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

6
Calf raises

Works: calves

Step 1: Start standing with feet under hips.

Step 2: Lift heels off ground, coming onto balls of feet. Lower heels for one rep. Do 30 reps.

Bodyweight exercises - Reverse crunches
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

7
Reverse crunches

Works: abs

Step 1: Start lying face-up with feet lifted toward ceiling and arms open in a V position outside hips, palms down.

Step 2: Slowly lift hips 1 to 2 inches, arcing legs up and toward chest. Slowly lower to start position for one rep. Do 15 reps.

Bodyweight exercises - Super girl
Credit: Remie Geoffroi

8
Super Girl

Works: back, abs, glutes

Step 1: Start lying face-down with arms overhead.

Step 2: Hover arms, head, chest, and legs off ground, pulling waistline away from floor. Hold for one breath then return to start position for one rep. Do 10 reps.