Having access to a gym is by no means essential to being able to stay strong, fit, and healthy. In fact, there are numerous exercises that require little to no equipment. The key to success is consistency, so make sure that you set aside 20-30 minutes every single day - no matter what. As with any form of exercise, be sure to warm-up and stretch dynamically before you begin, and stretch again to finish the session.
1. Running In Place
This is a great way to start your session. Running in place gets your blood flowing and your muscles warm, loosening you up for the exercises to come. Perform this to perfection by standing tall and maintaining a straight back while you lift each knee alternately to around 90 degrees. Maintain a steady pace for 45 seconds and try to accelerate as you approach the final 10-15 seconds. Focus throughout on pumping your arms and keeping your knees high.
2. Push Ups
Arguably one of the most complete exercises on the list, the push up should be a go-to for anyone who doesn't have access to a gym. Highly accessible, the push up can be performed in a multitude of variations depending on your ability. Place your hands shoulder-width apart, tuck your elbows into your side (so that they're pointing directly behind you), and rest your lower body on your toes. Keeping your back straight, slowly lower your body until you almost touch the floor, then push back up powerfully until your arms are straight. To make it easier, you can modify the push up by resting your lower body on your knees.
The plank is one of the best exercises for building a strong core and, like the push up, has a number of variations to increase or decrease difficulty depending on your ability. Assume the push up position, but this time rest your elbows on the floor rather than your hands. It's now all about endurance, so maintain a straight back using your toes to support your lower body, and hold for 45 seconds. If this is too difficult then try resting your hands on the floor rather than your elbows. The beauty of the plank is that it rewards consistency - you'll notice huge improvements in your performance by doing it on a daily basis.
A fantastic compound exercise for developing upper leg and core muscles, the lunge will also help improve your overall balance. From a standing position, place your hands on your hips and move one leg forward, bending to around 90 degrees, then push back to your starting position with that same leg. Next, do the same movement but with the opposite leg. Try and fit an even amount of lunges inside 45 seconds then take a 15-second rest. If the 90-degree lunge is too difficult then start off at 45 degrees, gradually getting lower as you master the exercise.
5. Sit Ups
Sit ups are another jewel in the bodyweight exercise crown and when done properly will give your whole core the workout it needs. For comfort, perform your sit ups on a yoga mat or a suitable soft surface. Lie down on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Keeping your hands behind your ears and your feet firmly on the floor, use your abdominal muscles to 'sit up' until you touch your knees with your elbows. Not only is this a workout for your core, but it will also provide support for your back and help improve posture.
Time for the exercise that works the most amount of muscle. Squats target your entire lower body, as well as your lower back and core, so make sure they feature every time you do your daily workout. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips, slowly squat down to around 90 degrees and then back up again. Remember to keep your head and chest up and don't be afraid to use your arms for balance. If 90 degrees is too difficult then start off by aiming for 45 degrees, with a view to achieving a deeper squat as you progress. For variation, throw in a little hop at the end of the squat before you return to standing - these are known as 'jump squats.'
7. Jumping Jacks
A classic aerobic exercise, jumping jacks are an excellent way to wind down a session but they also have muscle-building benefits when done with intensity. Start off in a standing position with your feet together and arms by your side, then jump and straddle your feet while simultaneously bringing your arms over your head into a clapping position. Immediately reverse this maneuver, bringing your feet back together and your arms down by your side. Try to maintain a consistent tempo and remember to keep up the intensity in this final exercise of the session!