No Equipment? No Problem! Here's the At-Home Beginner Workout for You
Many new exercisers experience the pitfall of decision fatigue: they scan the Internet — or wander through the gym — in search of the perfect program, and end up overwhelmed by options. Machines? Bands? Weights? Cardio? Dance? Kickboxing?
Despite appearances, exercise is simple at its root: you work your muscles a little harder than they’re used to, get your heart rate up, and sweat a little. Then you rest, recover and do it again in a day or two.
Regardless of your goal — more muscle, more energy, or that perennial favorite, less fat — those are the basics, and they work for everyone.
Below is a beginner’s workout that’s about as basic as it gets: no equipment, no gym, no rep counting necessary. You’ll just get your mat, towel, and water bottle and go. Soup to nuts, it will take you less than 30 minutes.
Directions for Beginner’s At-Home Workout
Prior to the workout, warm-up for 5-10 minutes using a combination of easy calisthenics and dynamic stretching, focusing on areas that feel tight.
Perform the five exercises below as a circuit, resting 15 seconds between exercises and 60 seconds between rounds. In the first circuit, for example, you’ll perform a set of Pilates Crunches (all sets should last 30 seconds), rest for 15 seconds, followed by a set of Lateral Glute Walks, another 15 seconds of rest, and so on, until you have completed a single set of all five exercises. Rest 60 seconds, then repeat the entire sequence one, two, or three more times, depending on the time and energy you have available.
Each work period lasts 30 seconds, during which period you’ll perform as many good-form reps as possible.
After the workout, do some light stretches for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Repeat the workout no more than three times per week on nonconsecutive days.
1. Pilates Crunch
Target muscles: Abdominals
Lie on your back; bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor, forming a reverse “table top” position with your legs: thighs vertical, lower legs parallel to the floor.
Keeping your feet together, spread your knees wide.
Keeping your elbows wide, place your hands behind your head.
Draw your belly button towards your spine and keep it there throughout the move.
On a breath out, lift your head from the floor and draw your right elbow towards your right knee.
Return to the starting position and repeat four times.
Perform the movement four times to your left.
Continue alternating four reps one way, then the other, for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: Perform the same move with your feet flat.
2. Lateral Glute Walk
Target muscles: Glutes
Assume a low athletic stance, back straight, knees bent, feet parallel and wider than shoulder-width, arms extended forward.
Keeping your feet parallel and maintaining a tight belly and a low stance, step your right foot to your right as far as possible.
Step your left foot the same distance to the right, keeping your feet parallel.
- Take another step with your right foot, and straighten your right leg to stand up as you slightly lift your left foot off the ground.
- Repeat the entire sequence again, moving to your left, staying low and keeping your feet parallel the entire time.
Continue alternating directions every four steps for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: Take smaller steps, and maintain a higher stance.
3. T Push-Up
Target muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, abdominals
- Assume a push-up position with your feet hip-width apart, your body straight from head to heels, and your hands in line with (but slightly wider than) your shoulders.
- Keeping your elbows tucked, lower your chest to within a few inches of the floor.
- Pause, and then push back up, rotating up to your left and pivoting onto the sides of your feet as you raise your left arm straight towards the ceiling (your body should form a sideways “T”).
- Return to the starting position and repeat, this time rotating up to your right. Continue alternating sides.
Make it easier: Perform the set with your knees dropped to the ground.
4. Isometric Bodyweight Squat
Target muscles: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings
With your feet parallel and slightly wider than shoulder-width, slowly bend your knees and hips, taking a five-count to sit fully back until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor—or as far as you can while keeping your lower back in a natural arch.
Keeping your chest up, reverse the move, slowly standing back up, and repeat for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: Drop halfway down on each rep.
5. Prone Superman
Target muscles: Spinal erectors, upper back, shoulders, glutes, hamstrings.
Lie prone (on your stomach), arms extended forward.
Reach your arms powerfully forward and lift your arms, legs, head, and upper chest off the floor as high as possible.
Squeeze your back muscles for a one-count, then reverse the move and repeat for 30 seconds.
Make it easier: Lift only the arms, head, and chest off the floor.
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