How To Get A Great Workout Without Equipment

How To Get A Great Workout Without Equipment

Everyone wants to get into shape — but it’s easy to find excuses to put off exercise. Maybe you feel like you don’t have the right equipment, and just don’t want to spend the time and money to seek it out. But what if you don’t really need any gear to work out?

Image adapted from Alex Emanuel Koch (Shutterstock)

To help address that question we have Amy Dixon, a trainer and instructor with FitnessGlo, which recently launched a program specifically about working out without equipment. Here she answers some questions about equipment-free exercise from Lifehacker US readers.

If I wanted to quit my gym membership and run in a park and stop and complete self-made “stations” (such as benches), what exercises would you suggest?

You can absolutely accomplish a lot working out on your own using the benches, bars, stairs and so on. What I would suggest you do, is incorporate a circuit that you can run through as many times as you can in the time you have.

Run or walk to the park if you can. Choose about 4 to 5 exercises that you can do using the equipment at the park like:

  • Front or side step ups
  • Box jumps on a bench
  • Push-ups using a bench or bar
  • Reverse lunges off of the bench
  • Pull-ups if you can using the bar (if that is not doable make sure you incorporate some back extension work in your circuit)

What kind of exercises can someone who is obese do?

I would strongly suggest you start with the basics like walking. Walking is going to be the best thing to get you started and on the right path. Easy stretching and range of motion exercises would also be fantastic for you. GOOD LUCK! You can do this!

I prefer to run outside and get bored and lose motivation when I try to work out indoors. The problem is that during winter that’s less of an option. How do you recommend staying motivated while transitioning to indoor workouts?

Great question and you are not alone! I know a lot of folks that struggle with moving outdoors to indoors. Here are my thoughts:

  • If you have access to a treadmill, I would suggest trying out some audio-based treadmill workouts for some hard-core motivation.
  • If you have enough room in your house, I would suggest working out with a friend that will hold you accountable.
  • A great playlist can also help you stay committed as well as doing a workout DVD or an online fitness class like the ones we have on Having an instructor to guide you and motivate you might just be the push you need.

I would really love to become more flexible (I’m not even close to being able to touch my toes). What stretches would you recommend for greater flexibility?

No worries about not being able to touch your toes. I always like to recommend stretches that are active and dynamic to help keep your body moving comfortably in a pain free range of motion. Here are some great stretches:

  • Standing rotation
  • Standing leg swings
  • Lateral lunge side to side
  • Knee hug to quad stretch
  • Flat back standing hamstring stretch to standing arm extension with a slight back bend
  • Alternating hip circles

Do a good sequence of all of these daily and notice that you are able to move better — after all, that is what flexibility and mobility is all about.

I’ve been trying to go to the gym at least three times a week. The problem is when I get there I always do what I feel like and it’s rarely the same thing. Am I doing myself a disservice because sometimes I walk on the track, sometimes I ride a bike and sometimes I do the elliptical? Should I do the same thing every time? I never go into the weight room cause I know I will just embarrass myself.

I see this all of the time. The good news is that you are going to the gym and you are doing something by varying your cardio workouts. You are half-way there. Here is what I want you to commit to:

First, take a group gitness Class that involves strength training twice a week. Every human being should be incorporating strength training into their workouts. It has so many benefits that it would take me another two hours to list them all…so you just have to trust me that this is a must.

Second, if you can afford it, hire a personal trainer to get you started in the weight room so you know what to do when you go off on your own.

For people looking for strength gains/muscular hypertrophy (beyond body weight) I don’t think an equipment-less workout would be viable. Do you agree? I would love to cut my gym membership.

Correct! If you are going for muscular hypertrophy, you unfortunately have to lift and pull something that is beyond your body weight.


    • Or one of the many apps for Android and Apple and websites which specialise in fitness training that doesn’t require equipment.

      I’m surprised there is no mention of them in this article.

  • I prefer to run outside and get bored and lose motivation when I try to work out indoors. The problem is that during winter that’s less of an option. How do you recommend staying motivated while transitioning to indoor workouts?

    Just get wet. You’re going to sweat anyway. It’s excuses like these that caused your health decline in the first place.

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