Health

9 Quick Total-Body Workouts, No Equipment Needed

Gym-optional, no-equipment-necessary workouts for all fitness levels. You can do this.

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Good news: Getting in shape doesn’t have to be complicated.

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According to science, short periods of intense exercise can be just as effective — sometimes more so — than longer workouts that you do with moderate effort.

High-intensity circuit training that you do using only your bodyweight challenges your cardiovascular fitness and gives you a killer, full-body workout if you do it right.

That’s why BuzzFeed Life asked NYC-based personal trainer Albert Matheny, C.S.C.S., founder of Soho Strength Lab, to design nine high-intensity bodyweight-only workouts that you can do anywhere. These workouts are made for the exerciser who wants to get fitter and healthier, and feel great. Each one focuses on one of three goals: cardiovascular fitness, power and strength, and endurance.

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6 quick things you should know before you get started:

1. These workouts are legit: They all follow the scientifically established protocols for the most effective bodyweight HICT. And they can also all be done in 20 minutes or less.

2. Each of these workouts will challenge your whole body, although some are designed to focus in particular on either the lower or upper body or the core.

3. You should do each move perfectly every time. These short workouts are meant to be intense, but that doesn’t mean going as hard as you possibly can each time you work out. “The idea is to be working hard but to always be able to do another rep or two,” Matheny says.

4. Be sure to warm up first. Matheny recommends performing a few reps of the movements in the workout, making sure to slowly perform the full range of motion to prepare your body. You should also do some high knees or jumping jacks to get your heart rate up.

5. And don’t forget to cool down. Matheny says “some small amount of stretching throughout the day” is preferable to a formal post-workout routine.

6. If you have health issues, like high blood pressure or injuries, you should talk to a doctor first about what moves you should avoid or modify.

For detailed visuals and instructions on how to perform the movements, check out our complete guide to these exercises here.

And now…the workouts:

TOTAL-BODY WORKOUTS

1. 20-Minute Full-Body Workout

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Start the clock, and immediately do 10 pushups in perfect form. When you’re done with the pushups, go straight into jumping jacks until the clock reads 1:00. Then move on to the next move, spider lunges (total, not per side). Do 10 of those with good form, and then jumping jacks until the minute is up. Then move on to the next move — 10 perfect reps of the jumping lunges, and then do jumping jacks until the end of the minute. And finish up with 10 perfect walkouts.

And yes, you are supposed to do that whole thing five times in a row. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise move correctly here. And feel free to add a 45-second rest period between rounds (though a one- or one-and-a-half-minute rest period is fine too. Adjust as needed!).

Make it easier: If you can’t do all the movements (50 pushups in 20 minutes, anyone?), start out with reps that are more manageable for you, for instance — like four or five pushups per round, instead of 10. And do regular lunges without jumps, if the jumping lunges are too hard.

2. Quick Total-Body Workout

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Think of this workout as broken into two parts: PART A is jumping lunges and spider lunges, and PART B is pushups and walkouts.

For PART A, you do 10 jumping lunges, 10 spider lunges… and then repeat that eight times. Then you rest two minutes, and move on to PART B: 10 pushups, 10 walkouts, and repeat that eight times. You can see detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.

Make it easier: This workout can be a beast (it calls for 80 pushups), so if that’s too much for you, do only four or five pushups per round (or whatever you can manage). For jumping lunges, make them easier by just doing regular lunges instead (so no jumping). And reduce number of reps for each movement if you have to.

STRONG CORE WORKOUTS

3. Your 20-Minute Hard/Core Workout

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Start the clock, and do as many spider lunges as you can — while maintaining perfect form — for 30 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds, and do as many side lunges as you can (again, with perfect form) for 30 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds again. Finish up with a 30-second plank. Rest for a minute or two, and then start all over again.

You should do the whole circuit 10 times. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.

Make it easier: Add more time to your rest periods (go up to 20 seconds, for instance).

4. Quick Workout for a Powerful Core

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Start the clock, and immediately do 10 plank taps in perfect form. When you’re done with the plank taps, go straight into jumping jacks until the clock reads 1:00. Then move on to the next move, walkouts, and do 10 perfect reps of those. Jumping jacks again until the clock reads 2:00. When you get to single-leg deadlifts, do 10 of those perfectly — stay on the same standing leg throughout — and finish out the minute with jumping jacks until it’s time for the next move at minute 3. Finish the circuit with 10 perfect jumping lunges.

Rest for a minute, and then repeat the whole thing five times. Every time you start the circuit over, switch your standing leg for the single-leg deadlifts. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise move correctly here.

Make it easier: Reduce the number of reps for each move per round (to four or five, or whatever you can manage). For jumping lunges, do regular lunges instead (so no jumping).

5. Strong Core Workout

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Think of this workout as broken into two parts: PART A is plank taps and jumping lunges, and PART B is spider lunges and reverse lunges.

For PART A, you do 10 plank taps, 10 jumping lunges… and then repeat that eight times. Then you rest two minutes, and move on to PART B: 10 spider lunges, 10 reverse lunges, and repeat that eight times. You can see detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.

Make it easier: Do regular lunges instead of jumping lunges (so no jumping). And reduce the number of reps per move if you need to (four or five per round, instead of 10).

UPPER-BODY WORKOUT

6. 20-Minute Upper-Body Burner

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed, Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Start the clock, and do as many pushups as you can — while maintaining perfect form — for 30 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds, and do as many plank taps as you can (again, with perfect form) for 30 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds again. Finish up with 30 seconds of walkouts. Rest for a minute or two, and then start all over again.

You should do the whole circuit 10 times. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.

Make it easier: Add time to the rest periods (20 seconds instead of 10).

LOWER-BODY WORKOUTS

7. Quick Workout for Lower-Body Power

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Think of this workout as broken into two parts: PART A is squat jumps and side lunges, and PART B is jumping lunges and glute bridges.

For PART A, you do 10 squat jumps, 10 side lunges… and then repeat that eight times. Then you rest two minutes, and move on to PART B: 10 jumping lunges, 10 glute bridges, and repeat that eight times. You can see detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.

Make it easier: Reduce the number of reps you have to do for each move per circuit (try four or five, or whatever you can manage). For the jumping lunges, do standard lunges instead (so no jumping).

8. High-Intensity Lower-Body Workout

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Start the clock, and do as many squats as you can — while maintaining perfect form — for 30 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds, and do as many single-leg deadlifts as you can (again, with perfect form) for 30 seconds. Stick to one leg with the deadlifts for the full 30 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds again. Finish up with 30 seconds of glute bridges. Rest for a minute or two, and then start all over again.

You should do the whole circuit 10 times. Note: Every time you start the circuit over again, switch the leg you stand on in the single-leg deadlift. So you’ll be using only one leg for any 30-second stretch, but you’ll be going back and forth between legs for every circuit. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.

Make it easier: Add more time to your rest period (try 20 seconds instead of 10).

9. Quick Lower-Body Workout

Photos by Lauren Zaser for BuzzFeed / Design by Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

Start the clock, and immediately do 10 reverse lunges in perfect form. When you’re done with the reverse lunges, go straight into jumping jacks until the clock reads 1:00 minute. Then move on to the next move. Do each move 10 times perfectly starting at the top of the minute, and finish out the minute with jumping jacks until it’s time for the next move. For the single-leg deadlift, do 10 on only one side (don’t change your standing leg during any set of 10 reps).

Yes, you are supposed to do that whole thing five times. Every time you start the circuit over, switch your standing leg for the single-leg deadlifts. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise move correctly here.

Make it easier: Reduce the number of reps you do for each move (try four or five instead of 10, for example).

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