We get it: Life can be stressful. With everything going on, how can you possibly fit in time to exercise? Here’s some good news: You can still get an amazing workout without the gym and in the comfort of your own home. In fact, there are plenty of other ways you can get fit, without a membership!
There are a number of exercises you can do right at home — whether that’s in your backyard or living room — that will benefit your health without any gym equipment. And when it comes to working out, the health perks are practically endless.
For one, experts agree that exercise can support your weight loss efforts, and is a great way to keep your heart healthy.1 Staying active could help lower your blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, and make your heart muscle stronger.2
Getting active can even help if you are at risk for having diabetes — studies indicate sedentary people who started exercising were able to lower their insulin resistance.3
So, if you’re crunched for time but still want to reap the numerous benefits that come along with breaking a sweat, try these exercises. You can do them from the comfort of your own home, build your strength and improve your fitness — no gym required! Start with 10-15 repetitions, then add additional reps as you feel more comfortable.
Remember to always consult your physician before starting a new exercise routine.
Photo by Drazen Zigic on iStock
1. Jump rope
To begin your workout, you’ll want to warm up — and a great way to do so is by jumping rope. Think back to when you were a kid: Jumping rope was a quick way to get your heart rate up (and break a sweat).
Try jumping for 2-3 minutes as part of your workout, for a super-effective way to burn calories — and have fun!
Photo by twinsterphoto on iStock
This classic leg move not only strengthens your quadriceps (the large muscles on the front of your legs at the top) and hamstring muscles (the large muscles on the backside of your legs at the top), but it also may help protect your knees from injury so you can keep on exercising!5
The key is to do them correctly, so you don’t end up injuring your back, legs or knees. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should start by placing your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Next, bend down with your hips (avoid curving your back), stop when your knees are at a 90-degree angle, then push back up.5
If you’re at a more intermediate or advanced level, consider adding jumps — after descending, take only a brief pause, then jump quickly upward (this is called a jump squat). The secret: Make sure you land softly, and push your hips backwards in the direction of your heels.
Photo by AzmanJaka on iStock
3. Tricep dip
To work your triceps, you don’t need dumbbells or fancy gym equipment — a chair or firm sofa will do the trick! Not only does this exercise target the back of your arms (the tricep muscle), but it also hones in on others, including the pectoralis major (top of your chest), trapezius (your upper back) and serratus anterior (a muscle that’s connected to your ribs and wraps around to the side of your shoulder blade, helping to move the entire arm).6
Here’s how ACE recommends doing a proper tricep dip: Get started by placing your hands on the seat of your chair and moving your rear off the seat, so that you are holding your body up with your arms. Slowly lower your hips and bend your arms, so that your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Then, push back up to start.
Feel like you need a little pick-me-up at work? You can even do this one using your office chair!
Pro tip: When selecting a chair to practice your tricep dips, make sure it’s stable and heavy enough so it won’t slide out from underneath you. Chairs with wheels should be avoided.
Photo by iprogressman on iStock
Like squats, lunges also target your leg muscles by working your quads and hamstrings, the gluteal muscles in your rear, and your lower leg muscles, too.7
To do this move, step forward with one foot, to the point where your front knee is at a 90-degree angle, and your back leg is parallel to the ground. Then, step your leg back, return to standing, and repeat on the opposite leg.7
Photo by OkinawaPottery on iStock
Even though push-ups may seem daunting, they’re definitely worth doing — they work numerous muscles, like your core, pectoral muscles and triceps, according to the Mayo Clinic.8
Because this traditional exercise relies solely on body weight — like the other moves, it’s another great exercise without gym equipment.
If the classic version seems too difficult (and don’t worry if it does!), you can try a modified version. Here’s how to do it: Get on all fours, and keeping your core tight, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the ground. Then, push up, making sure to keep your back straight. For more of a challenge, raise your knees to do the push-ups (just use proper form, making sure your hips stay lifted and back stays straight to avoid injury).
Photo by nattrass on iStock
6. Jumping jacks
Though they may seem like an activity you used to do in P.E. class, they’re still an effective exercise. So much so, that ACE reports they can activate every muscle in your body, and get your cardiovascular system pumping.9
If it’s been a while since you’ve done a jumping jack, here’s a refresher: Stand with your arms by your sides. Next, jump your legs out, shoulder-width apart, while bringing your arms up over head. Then, jump and bring your legs back to your starting position, while you simultaneously bring your arms down by your side and repeat.
Photo by Aleksandr Kondratov on iStock
This move is a three-in-one — it works your core, glutes and hips. Plus, it’s a great move for beginners, or people who are just getting back into exercise.
To do this move, lie on your back and bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the ground.10 Next, contract your abdominal muscles and lift your hips and rear off the floor, then slowly bring your hips and rear back down. For more of a challenge, lift one leg up for half the reps, then lift your other leg for the rest.
As a reminder: Be sure to avoid arching your back (which can happen if you try and push your hips up as high as possible).
Enjoy doing these moves at home — you can go through them all at once, or squeeze a few in throughout the day. Here’s to exercising even when life gets crazy-busy, and to working out without a gym!
What's your favorite workout move? Let us know in the comments below!
Leslie Barrie has a health writing and editing background, and holds her master's degree from Columbia University Graduate Journalism School. Over the past 10 years, she has worked at various magazines in New York City, such as Woman's Day, Health, Seventeen, and more. When she's not writing about health, she likes living it — she enjoys running, hiking, swimming, and yoga (even though she's not the best at it, it helps her to relax!).
Favorite healthy snack: a piece of dark chocolate with a handful of almonds
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.
Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig