Looking for a workout you can do anywhere? Try these five basic exercises to tone and strengthen your body.
Although it’s important to do a wide variety of exercises to create a balanced fitness routine, some exercises simply give you more “bang for your buck” than others.
These choice exercises are excellent because they are:
– Customizable for beginners
– Easily done anywhere – no equipment required
– Simple to perform
– Effective for quick results
By working these five moves into your exercise regime, you’ll increase lean muscle tone, help burn off unwanted body fat, and become the most fit version of yourself.
The best part: You won’t spend a dime and you don’t even have to leave the house.
Let’s go over each exercise, the main benefits and muscle groups targeted, and then how to do them effectively.
The Beginner’s Workout You Can Do Anywhere
Squats | 8 reps
Because your butt muscles are the largest and most powerful group in your entire body, this exercise definitely tops the list. While the glutes are worked the most in this exercise, squats utilize every muscle in your lower body, including the hamstrings and quads.
Squats are an important functional exercise because they mimic the action of sitting and standing – essential skills for people of all ages.
While there are many variations of squats, you can start with the most basic: the bodyweight squat with arms extended.
How to Do Squats:
- Stand with your feet at least shoulder-width apart (wider if you struggle with hip flexibility).
- Reach your arms out straight in front of your chest.
- Inhale, keep your core tight and back straight, and bend at the hips to lower down as if you’re sitting in a chair. Aim for a 90-degree bend in your knees.
- Shift your weight back so you feel more pressure in your heels than in your toes.
- Pause at the bottom for one second, then on an exhale, flex your butt and legs as you press into your heels to rise up again.
- Complete 8 reps, remembering to inhale as you lower, pause briefly at the bottom, and exhale as you rise up.
Push-Ups | 6 reps
The push-up is arguably the world’s best upper body exercise. The main focus is on the chest and arm muscles, and it encourages strength and stability throughout your entire body.
How to Do Push-Ups:
- Start in an all-fours position, placing your hands below your shoulders.
- Lift your knees off the ground to form a high plank, and step your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Tighten up your core muscles and keep your head in a neutral position as you inhale to bend at the elbows to lower your chest towards the ground.
- Once your elbows reach a 90-degree bend, exhale as you press your palms firmly into the ground to rise back to the top.
- Complete 6 reps, remembering to flex your chest and arm muscles.
Tip: Do not drop your chin or allow your belly to sag. Ensure your body remains in a straight line throughout the movement. If this is too difficult, try a modified version of the push-up with your knees on the floor.
Superman | 6 reps, holding each lift for 3 seconds
Our back muscles are typically the most neglected of the whole body.
We spend so much time hunched over at computer desks and slumped in our chairs, making it even more essential to do exercises that strengthen your back and reverse your slouchy posture.
The Superman exercise targets your entire posterior chain, meaning all the muscles on the back side of your body, primarily the lumbar muscles in your lower back.
(Hands behind head is an alternative variation; it is slightly easier and stretches the chest as well.)
How to Do the Superman:
(Hands behind head is an alternative variation; it is slightly easier and stretches the chest as well)
- Lie belly down on the ground and extend your arms and legs out long.
- Exhale, then flex all the muscles in your arms, back, butt and legs as you lift your arms and legs off the ground.
- Pause for three seconds at the top (imagine you are Superman flying over the city!).
- For a modified version, place your hands lightly behind your head with your elbows out wide. (Bonus: you’ll get a chest stretch, too).
- Take a deep inhale and lower slowly back down, with control.
- Complete 6 reps, remembering to exhale with each lift and inhale as you lower.
Sit-Ups | 6 reps
Core work is essential, especially if you have a desk job or a life that includes lots of sitting. When we sit, our ab muscles relax and soften. Sit-ups can help strengthen all of your core muscles, including your rectus abdominus (the six-pack muscles) as well as external and internal obliques.
How to Do a Sit-ups:
- Sit on an exercise mat with your knees bent and feet planted firmly on the ground.
- Lie back and lift your arms straight above your chest with fingers pointed to the ceiling.
- Lift your head, neck and upper shoulders off the ground to begin engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Exhale to roll up towards your knees as you reach forward.
- Flex your abdominal muscles at the top, then inhale as you gently roll your spine back down to the ground one vertebrae at a time.
- Complete 6 reps, remembering to exhale with each sit-up and inhale on the way down.
Tip: Controlling your descent is important – this is where your abs get the majority of the benefit. Avoid dropping back down to the ground; instead, roll back down with control.
Mountain Climber | 10 reps per side
Think of mountain climbers as running, horizontally. They are an excellent body weight cardio movement with very low impact on the knees. You’ll feel your abs working as well.
Since this exercise is so quiet, low-impact, and small-space-friendly, it tops the list as the number one best cardio move.
How to Do Mountain Climbers:
- Start in a high plank position with your hands lined up beneath your shoulders.
- Lift one knee up in-between your elbows, then hop to return your leg to its starting position while switching to lift the other knee up.
- Move quickly and continue alternating both legs, getting into a rhythm that feels like a running pace.
- Continue breathing and avoid holding your breath.
- Count 10 steps total, 5 on each side, then rest.
Tip: The faster you move, the higher your heart rate will climb. Adjust the intensity level with your speed.