Everybody wants to work out, but it is difficult to make time to get to the gym or pay for memberships. Though some gyms and exercise professionals make it seem like you need a membership to get fit, we are here to tell you that you can get an excellent workout from the comfort of your home.
Whether you own a pair of dumbbells, or other at-home fitness equipment, or are just using the power of your own body, we can show you the 11 best strength and conditioning exercises with or without equipment.
A lunge is one of the most basic exercises, but it is still effective at working your hamstrings and glutes. Cyclists swear by this exercise, and if you are hoping to tackle a bike race like the Tour De France, you will need to include some lunges into your routine.
Even if you do not want to tackle a daunting task like a marathon bike race, the lunge is still critical for working your lower body. The U.S. Department of Health recommends lunges for older adults, though anyone can benefit from doing this exercise.
How to Complete Lunges
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and take a step backward with one leg until your knee is pointed at 90 degrees.
- Next, move your back knee down to the ground slowly while maintaining balance.
- Then, squeeze your butt and keep your hips aligned.
- To finish, you will push up and return to a standing position.
Push-ups are a classic for a reason: they work muscle groups around the body. A Harvard study says they are gaining popularity for being one of the best all-around exercises you can do, and you can do them from home with no equipment.
There are ways to make push-ups more or less challenging, depending on your fitness and skill level. If you are just starting, you can do the push-ups while your knees are on the floor. You will still work out the upper body and build strength to do standard push-ups down the road.
For those who find a regular push-up too easy, you can try three-count push-ups. Slowly lower as you count to three, remain just off the floor for a count of three, and then push yourself back to the high plank position over three seconds. This exercise will challenge you as it has never before.
- Begin the exercise in a high plank position with your arms shoulder distance apart.
- Next, inhale, bend your arms down, and try to bring your chest as close to the floor as you can without touching it.
- Finally, exhale and push your body back up to the starting position.
3. Air Swimming
Air swimming looks easy if you just see a picture or GIF of the exercise, but trust us, it will strengthen your core and back in no time. Aside from targeting your core, this exercise also improves balance, making it a dual threat.
Air Swimming Guide
- You will begin by lying down on your stomach. Stretch your arms ahead of your body.
- Lift your chest, legs, and arms off the floor so that the only part of your body touching the ground is your stomach.
- Move your arms and legs up and down without them touching the floor.
4. Squat to Overhead Raise
If you have a pair of dumbbells handy and want a workout that works for several muscle groups, try squat to overhead raises. You will work your core, back, shoulders, legs, glutes, and triceps with this simple exercise.
Begin with light dumbbells or no dumbbells at first to get the form down. Once you have built strength up and have perfect form, you can continue to add heavier dumbbells to increase resistance.
How to Do This Exercise
- Begin with your feet placed slightly wider than your shoulders and with your arms at your side.
- Lower yourself into a squat position, and then press up to a standing position.
- As you rise, move your arms over your head. Return to the standing position to finish.
Few exercises make you feel the burn as quickly as doing a set of planks. Before a minute is up, you will feel your core and back on fire. The University of Harvard published an article extolling the virtues of planks, and we can confirm they are some of the simplest and most effective exercises one can do at home.
If you are just starting, you may only be able to hold the plank position for 15 or 20 seconds. Over time you will strengthen your body and should be able to do it for over a minute. And if you want to challenge yourself, you can try lifting one of your legs while planking.
- Lay on the floor and let your body rest on just your forearms and toes. Your body should be in a straight line.
- Maintain this position for as long as possible.
6. Bulgarian Split Squat
To do a Bulgarian split squat, you will need a chair or stool to rest your leg on. A coffee table or couch can also suffice for this exercise. You could even do this on the go at an airport with one of their chairs. Aside from that requirement, this exercise is equipment-free. Regardless of how you do it, you will feel this exercise work your entire lower body.
How to Do a Bulgarian Split Squat
- Stand facing away from the bench you will use. Place your right foot on the bench with the top of your foot facing down.
- Interlock your hands behind your head and then lower your knee to a squat position. Make sure your left knee is at a 90-degree angle.
- Finally, you should return to a standing position and repeat as necessary.
7. Glute Bridge
If you want to hold back the hands of time when it comes to your glutes, a set of bridges daily is just what the doctor ordered. We typically do far too much sitting in our daily lives, and doing exercises like a glute bridge is the perfect way to counteract this problem.
If you travel substantially for work or sit in an office all day, it can lead to your glutes not activating the way they should when working out. And the best part about this exercise is that you don’t need any equipment to start.
How to Do a Glute Bridge
- Begin by lying down on your back while you place your arms at your sides. Your feet should be flat on the floor and about hip distance apart and your knees bent.
- Push through your lower body to raise your glutes off the ground, they should be a few inches off the ground. You should be able to draw a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Maintain this position for a few seconds, then return to the floor and repeat as necessary.
8. Barbell Back Squats
While you can do barbell back squats with just a barbell and weight, we recommend attempting this exercise with a power rack, one of the premiere pieces of at-home fitness equipment. The power rack will give you some safety when conducting the routine without a spotter, and having one handy provides numerous benefits for other exercises.
Barbell back squats provide a full-body workout and work your glutes, hips, and abs. George Mason University has an entire course about proper form and the benefits of doing this exercise.
Barbell Back Squat Procedure
- Begin by placing yourself in the middle of the power rack. Place a barbell on your shoulders.
- Slowly lower yourself to a squat position with your knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Slowly raise yourself back up, being careful to push from your legs and not your back.
- Return to your starting position and repeat as desired.
9. Dead Bugs
Dead bugs focus more on the conditioning side of the spectrum, but it will substantially improve your coordination and balance. The exercise seeks to get you to move your shoulders and hips without moving your spine.
The dead bug is a tricky exercise, but incorporating them into your daily routine will provide substantial benefits.
How to Do Dead Bugs
- Lie flat on your back and hold your arms straight toward the ceiling. You should try to push your belly button down to the floor.
- With your spine flat against the floor, lower your right leg and left arm to be slightly above the floor.
- Return the arm and leg to the beginning position and repeat with the other set.
10. Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
If you have a pair of dumbbells handy, a dumbbell tricep kickback is an outstanding upper-body exercise. You will feel a workout in your shoulders and triceps upon completing a set of these.
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback Procedure
- Hold dumbbells in each hand and bend forward to approximately a 45-degree angle.
- Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Then, straighten your arms out and ensure you are engaging your triceps.
- You can do one arm at a time, or if you are feeling more confident, do both arms simultaneously. Repeat this exercise as desired.
11. Hip Extension
Getting a solid workout on your hips is critical for stabilizing your entire body while doing other exercises. For this exercise, you will need to have a light or medium resistance band available to you. Resistance bands are useful products, and we recommend investing in a few if you want an inexpensive piece of at-home fitness equipment.
If you are beginning this activity, we recommend using the wall or a chair to help you maintain your balance. Once you have practiced and your posture improves, you can ditch the chair and do this exercise unaided.
Hip Extension Tutorial
- You will begin by placing the resistance band around both of your ankles. Ensure that your body remains straight for the entire exercise.
- Next, begin to slowly move your right leg backward. Keep moving it back as far as you can, and keep your leg straight throughout.
- When you cannot take your right leg back any farther, return to the starting position and repeat the process with your left leg. Alternatively, you can do an entire set with one leg before switching to the other.
Conclusion: The 11 Best Strength and Conditioning Exercises With or Without Equipment
Whether you have a fitness center at home or are just considering picking up some at-home fitness equipment, we hope you found some exercises on this list that will interest you. Working one or several of these exercises into your daily life will give you long-term benefits.
To avoid getting discouraged, keep your goals and expectations small at the onset. Do not try to do more reps than you feel comfortable with, and opt for simpler versions of the exercises until you have built up strength. However you work out, we hope you will try some of these strength and conditioning exercises at home.