When it comes to no-equipment exercises, it’s best to subscribe to the Navy’s KISS principle—Keep it simple, stupid. Straightforward, compound moves that hit all the major muscle groups don’t have to be overly complex. In fact, bodyweight workouts should be less about reinventing the wheel and more about sound programming.
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Reebok ONE trainer Maillard Howell points out that with the right equipment-free workout, you can spike your heart rate quickly, boosting your metabolism while improving both cardiovascular and muscular health. Plus, circuit-style routines can be completed quickly, offering stellar results in a modest amount of time. The next time you can’t hit the gym, try this eight-move circuit from Howell—perform each exercise back-to-back as described, cycling through the routine three to four times.
No surprises here, the bodyweight squat hits all the major muscle groups of your lower body. Focus on keeping your chest up and your weight in your heels as you press your hips back before bending your knees. Aim to get your thighs at least parallel with the floor, but if your hips are mobile enough, take the squat lower. Perform squats at a steady pace for 60 seconds before moving to the next exercise.
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Now that your legs are nice and warm, fire up your quads, glutes, and hammies by lowering yourself into a bodyweight squat, then holding it as long as you can. Aim for 10 to 30 seconds per hold, release to a standing position, then immediately perform the exercise again. Perform 10 repetitions before moving to the next exercise.
Nothing torches your entire body like a burpee. This full-body movement hits just about every muscle group while increasing your heart rate substantially. Start with your feet hip-distance apart. Squat down, placing your palms on the floor beneath your shoulders. Jump your feet back so your body’s in a high push-up position. Lower yourself to the floor, then press yourself back up to the high push-up. Immediately hop your feet back to their starting position, then explosively jump into the air. Land on the balls of your feet with your knees and hips slightly bent to absorb shock. Reset and continue, performing 15 reps before moving to the next exercise.
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High Plank Hold
The high plank hold will isometrically fire up your shoulders, chest, triceps, and core. You can even hit your quads and glutes as you contract these muscle groups to help keep your body in a straight line from heel to head. Like the squat hold exercise, you’ll hold a high plank as long as you can, aiming for at least 20 seconds before lowering yourself to the floor. Rest for a second before immediately resetting and performing the hold again. Perform 5 repetitions before moving to the next exercise.
Now that your anterior chain (all the muscles of the front half of your body) are sufficiently fired up, it’s time to take them to failure. Perform as many full pushupsas you can with perfect form, lowering your chest almost all the way to the floor while keeping your core tight and your body straight. When you can no longer maintain perfect form, move to the next exercise.
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Broad jumps develop explosive strength and power while targeting the muscles of your lower body and core. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees and hips slightly bent, Swing your arms behind you, lowering yourself into a semi-squat before swinging your arms forward and jumping as far as you can in front of you. Land on the balls of your feet with your knees and hips slightly bent to absorb the shock. Immediately reset and perform the action again. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
Sit-ups, performed correctly, are an excellent way to strengthen your abdominals. The trick is to keep the movement slow and steady avoiding any “pulling” action with your arms or the use of momentum by “throwing” your body forward toward your knees. Try lowering your torso to the ground for a count of two, touching your shoulder blades to the floor before rolling your torso back up again for a count of two. Perform as many as you can with perfect form before proceeding to the next exercise.
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Vertical jumps are another great way to develop explosive strength and power. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent. Swing your arms behind you as you lower yourself deeper into a squat to “load the spring,” before jumping straight up into the air as high as you can, swinging your arms over your head. Land softly on the balls of your feet with your hips and knees slightly bent. Immediately reset and continue for 30 to 60 seconds.