The best workouts that don’t require any equipment, according to personal trainers
Airports. Conferences. Deserted islands? You just never know when—and where—you might need to get in a quick sweat.
One of the most commonly used excuses? “I was on the road with nowhere to work out and no equipment to use!”
Well, good (bad?) news: People who have dedicated their professional lives to defying Newton’s First Law (you know them as “personal trainers”) don’t often have the luxury of skipping a sweat session. Next time you find yourself in need of a workout but without any of the things you think you need to get one, we got them to share the best workouts and circuits and exercises you can do anyway—no gear required.
- 10 body-weight squats
- 10 push-ups
- 10 Supermans
- 20 crunches
Do each exercise, says Peterson, with “minimal rest, if any,” for between five and ten rounds. If that’s too easy, try these variations for increased difficulty.
- When you come out of your squat, incorporate a triple extension by raising yourself to the tops of your toes before dropping back down.
- Vary your hand position on the push-ups. (Try criss-cross push-ups, which we’ve told you to do before.)
- Vary your leg width on the Supermans.
- Change your leg position on the crunches. (Take them off the floor and onto a chair, for example.)
Fitness and wellness coach Gideon Akande takes a similar approach to Peterson, using multiple motions and tempos to combine upper- and lower-body strength-building exercises with a calorie-incinerating cardiovascular workout. (Never fear: He also provides helpful instructional videos for each component.)
For each exercises, do 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest, for a total of three rounds. And if that doesn’t quite tickle your fitness fancy, he put together another series—squat hold to reverse lunge, shoulder-tap plank jacks, V-sits, and burpees—that looks equally as, uh, fun.
Body transformation specialist Ngo Okafor gets even little bit more inventive, for those dreaded moments when you discover that your much-hyped hotel gym in fact “looks kind of nasty, and nothing really works.”
1. Take a towel—technically not gear!—and run it underneath the seat of a chair—also technically not gear!—and, with the back of the chair facing away from you, do a set of biceps curls. This works only with standard, four-legged chairs in the 10-to-15 pound range, although if you can figure out how to manage it with your caster-mounted office chair, more power to you.)
2. Set that chair down, and use it to do triceps dips.
3. Again using the chair—a staple of the no-gear best workouts space—and do a set of step-ups with each leg. (Definitely don’t do this one with a chair that rolls.)
4. Bicycle crunches on the floor.
60 seconds of mountain climbers.
Okafor says he does 20 reps of the first four movements, but he looks like this—so maybe ease your way in with 10. Do four rounds, total. He recommends resting as needed, but to make sure you keep your heart rate up. Find your sweet spot somewhere between “painfully out of breath but not really resting” and “dying.”
For those sticklers who object to this regimen as a violation of the no-equipment stipulation—what are you, trapped in a shipping container?—Okafor has a go-to airport circuit, too, no chair required: four rounds of 20 squats, 20 lunges (with each leg), and 30 bicycle crunches. Maybe you’re thinking: the airport? But don’t people give you weird looks? “Of course,” Okafor says. “But they’re usually out of shape.” Spoken like a man who isn’t one bit afraid to curl a chair with a towel.