No-Equipment Workouts: Tips to Modify Your At-Home Workouts

Sport & Activity

Just because you don't have any workout equipment at home doesn't mean you have to skip your sweat sessions. Here's how to exercise at home with no equipment.

Last updated: 6 January 2022
5 min read
How to Exercise at Home With No Equipment

You carved out time, you have your workout plan, and you're ready to crush it. But then you realise you don't have the right equipment. You don't have a barbell for squats or a resistance band for standing chest flys. Maybe you have no equipment at all.

But any workout is better than no workout. If that means substituting equipment or making modifications, you're still showing up and putting in the work. In fact, home workouts or equipment-free workouts can be equally as effective. You just have to know what to do.

Whether you're using just your body weight or working with limited equipment, you'll be able to adjust to whatever your workout calls for, no matter what your setup is. Here's how to do it.

Tip: You can find loads of bodyweight workouts in the Nike Training Club App by filtering by "no equipment".

How to Exercise at Home Without Equipment

Despite what you may have heard, you can get a great workout without equipment. And progress doesn't always have to come from lifting weights.

It could come from doing at-home, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with mountain climbers, burpees and high knees. Or it could be using the resistance of your body weight to build muscle.

For beginners, bodyweight exercises generally provide enough resistance to challenge you. If it's your first time doing a squat, start with air squats. For more advanced exercisers, you'll likely need to add resistance in the form of plyometrics (jumping) or increase your time under tension by doing squat pulses.

Exercises to Do at Home Without Equipment

Your body is your gym as you work against gravity and the resistance of your weight. For example, in a push-up, you're pressing yourself against gravity, using the muscles in your upper body.

These are some other bodyweight exercises you can include in your home workouts:

  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Lateral lunge
  • Glute bridge
  • Push-up
  • Plank
  • Sit-up
  • Bicycle crunch

Try This No-Equipment Workout

Exercise #1

  • Bodyweight squat
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20

Exercise #2

  • Bodyweight pulse squat
  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 25

Exercise #3

  • Reverse lunge
  • Sets: 3
  • Sets: 15

Exercise #4

  • Walking lunge
  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 25

Exercise #5

  • Push-up
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

Exercise #6

  • Crunch
  • Sets: 3
  • Sets: 15

Exercise #7

  • Burpee
  • Sets: 3
  • Sets: 15

How to Make Bodyweight Exercises Harder

What if you can do 100 push-ups easily? Are bodyweight workouts enough to get results? Yes! With a few key modifications.

  • Increase time under tension: Pause at the hardest part of a movement (ex. bottom of a squat, push-up or lunge) for two seconds.

  • Adjust tempo: Count to five as you lower into a squat, push-up, lunge etc., hold for two and press up quickly for the count of one.

  • Add a pulse: Once you've reached the hardest part of the exercise, add in a pulse, lifting and lowering a few inches without coming all the way back to the start.

  • Do more reps: If you're used to doing 10 reps, do 15. If that's too easy, try as many reps as possible (AMRAP)—with good form, of course.

  • Decrease rest time: Cut your rest time from 45 seconds to 15 to keep your heart rate up.

  • Adjust your stance: Move your feet or hands either further apart or closer together.

Alternatives to Dumbbells

No dumbbells? No problem! Here are some ideas for what you could use instead.

Water or Detergent Bottles

If you have household items like a 4-litre bottle of water, milk or laundry detergent, you can swap them out for dumbbells, says Ryan Flaherty, Nike Senior Director of Performance.

"I was training one of my elite athletes who had just moved into his new house, and he hadn't unpacked anything yet", Flaherty says. "I took an empty laundry detergent bottle, filled it with water to use as a dumbbell and we were able to do a whole workout".

This method is also adjustable; fill the bottle halfway for a lighter weight or add more water for a greater challenge.

Other Household Items

Strength-training equipment like kettlebells and sandbags are nothing more than oddly-shaped weights. You can sub your conventional weights for a bag of dog food, compost or a sack of flour. Get creative—what do you have lying around the house?

The strange shape makes it difficult to hold, which will activate smaller stabilising muscles, similar to what a kettlebell or medicine ball does.

No-Equipment Cardio Exercises

You don't need a treadmill or stationary bike to get your heart pounding. In fact, most HIIT workouts can be done without any weights. Some of the best equipment-free cardio exercises include:

  • Star jumps
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • High knees
  • Squat jumps

Or you could simply run in place. Put in the same effort that you would on a treadmill—pump your arms, activate your core muscles and drive your knees.

No skipping rope? Pretend! Hold your arms at your sides with an imaginary rope in your hands and turn your wrists as you jump, just as you would if you were using the real thing.

No plyo box? Use stairs or a bench. For moves like step-ups or box jumps, stairs or a bench are a great substitute for a box. And if you don't have those, swap out for lunge jumps, squat jumps or broad jumps.

Try This No-Equipment Cardio Workout

Get ready for this bodyweight EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) workout. You'll need to set a timer for 12 to 20 minutes, then perform the first exercise for the given number of reps.

Once you're done, you can rest until the minute is up. Or if you don't finish all the reps, switch to the next exercise at the minute mark. Repeat the entire circuit three to five times.

  • 20 burpees
  • 50 star jumps
  • 12 tuck jumps
  • 25 mountain climbers

How to Exercise at Home With No Equipment

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Originally published: 3 December 2021

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