Strength Training Without Weights: Simple Exercises

There are tons of situations where you may want to do a strength training work out without weights.  You may be out of town, with no exercise facility nearby.  Or, you might want to save money and build strength at home, without that overpriced gym membership, or without having to shell out big bucks for expensive weights.  Or, you may simply want a change from the same, hackneyed weight routine.  Whatever the reason, it’s always useful to know a few strength training exercises you’ll be able to do anytime, anywhere.

These exercises will be listed by muscle group(s) (many of them work several different muscle groups), so you can be sure to work as many different muscles as possible. 


For the ab exercises listed here, start out by shooting for 8-10 reps.  Then, as you do the exercises on a regular basis, add one extra rep each time.  Work your way up to 20 reps.  After you reach 20 reps, it’s time to add a new exercise into your routine.

1. twisting crunches

Lie on your back.  Cross your fingers, and let the back of your head rest on your hands, as if you were relaxing.  With a twisting motion, bring in your oppossite knee to opposite elbow (ie, touch your right elbow to your left knee) and vice versa.  That counts as one repetition. 

2. leg raises

Lie on your back.  There are two ways to do this exercise.  You can either keep your legs glued together and raise them together, or you can alternating, raising each leg separately (raising separately is harder).  Regardless of the way you choose to do this, your legs must be kept as straight as possible.  Don’t bend those knees!!

Primary Muscle: Chest — Secondary muscles: Triceps, Biceps, Abs, Shoulders

1. Pushups

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “obviously!”  But there are all kinds of varieties, some more/less challenging than others.  I’ve listed them in order of difficulty.  Start with the easiest.  Do as many reps as you can with proper form.  Each time you work out, do one additional rep.  When you can do 20 of these push ups, move on to a more difficult type.

1a. Knee Push-ups

Place your palms flat on the ground, spaced evenly, shoulder width apart.  Bend your legs, and rest on your knees.  Go all the way down until your chin touches the ground.  That’s one rep.

1b. Traditional Push-ups

Same as knee push ups, except you want to straighten your legs and balance on the balls of your feet and toes.  Try to stay as straight and stiff as a board.

1c. Decline Push-ups

The more you elevate your feet, the greater the difficulty.  Start our by assuming the Traditional Push-up position, only this time, rest your feet on something slightly higher than the ground, like a dictionary or two piled up or perhaps a small stool.  As you get better at these, you can elevate your feet even further, resting them on a chair while your hands are still on the ground.

Muscles: Quads, Butt, Hamstrings

Start out by doing 8-10 reps.  Work up to 20.  When you can do 20 with ease, you can make the exercises tougher by holding dumbells or just about any kind of weight in your hands.  Almost anything you can comfortably hold will work: a dictionary, a large rock…etc.

1. Lunges

Take a huge step forward with one foot.  When your foot lands, immediately begin to both knees until your back knee is touching the ground (or very close to the ground).  Next, straighten your legs and step with the other foot.  That’s one rep.  Make sure you keep your torso straight the entire time.  You can do this while walking in a line, or if you don’t have a lot of room, you can stay in place.  This one is harder than it seems. After the first couple reps you may think it’s a piece of cake, but by the end you should definitely be feeling the burn. 

2. Squats

This is an excellent exercise as long as you maintain proper form.  Place your feet slightly farther than shoulder length apart.  Slowly bend your knees and lower yourself down as far as you can go.  Ideally, your butt will be inches off the ground.  Keep your hands dangling in front of you.  It helps to visualize yourself sitting on a stool.  Make sure you keep your back straight at all times.  Also, angle your neck slightly up and gaze above you.  This will help keep your back straight and your butt out.  If it’s too difficult for you to do at least 5 reps with proper form, you can make this exercise easier by actually squatting down on a chair or stool.  Work out regularly like this, progressively making your seat lower and lower until you can do a set of at least 5 reps without this aid.


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