Updated: Oct 3, 2020
In this article you'll discover twelve exercises that are not only highly engaging but require little to no equipment. Thus you can keep fit in the comfort of your own home!
The common misconception is that, to burn fat, keep fit and retain a respectable level of physicality, you need a fancy gym full of high-tech kit and state of the art training contraptions. This is pure poppycock.
As this article will show, you can obtain, maintain or advance fitness with minimal equipment and without even having to step foot in a gym.
It may come as a surprise to some but there are in fact loads – literally loads and loads – of exercises and activities that you can do in the home (or local environment). With minimal equipment, a postage stamp sized patch of space and perhaps your local park, you have ample resources to remain physically active.
The aim of this article, then, is to provide you with 12 exercises that you can do at home and/or at your local park. Yes the majority of the exercises are simple. But this shouldn’t be regarded as a limitation or weakness.
Quite often it’s the simplest exercises that tend to deliver the best fitness results (which accounts for why they are ubiquitous throughout military training). Also, simpler exercises are usually more accessible to a wider audience, meaning they are perfect for the beginner, which of course makes them more inclusive, and they stimulate the whole body – not just target a specific muscle.
This is an important attribute that we should look for in an exercise; especially so when we are pursuing general fitness, improved mobility and augmented health. An exercise such as the burpee, though pitifully simple (I think it boasts an IQ of 1), stimulates the whole body including the heart and lungs (cardio-respiratory system).
There are few exercises that you could do in a gym that offer the same range of physical stimulation; and those that do (such as, say, a barbell thruster) probably require considerable equipment.
Thus, by incorporating into your training regime the 12 exercises to follow, you will have all the tools you need to shape a lean, defined body that performs as well as it looks.
The 12 exercises that form this article have been selected because:
They can be performed at home or at your local park
Require little to no equipment
Stimulate multiple muscle groups
Are modifiable and can be adapted
And those 12 exercise are:
Hand-stand wall walks
Russian sit up
Let's get cracking then!
Awesome Exercise #1 – The Sumo Squat
Muscles worked: the primary muscles worked when practising the sumo squat are the quadriceps (anterior thigh muscles). As well as the quads the sumo squat also engages the hamstrings, gluteus maximus (bum) and your calves (specifically the soleus muscle of your calf).
The sumo squat is primarily a leg-based exercise. However, you can use weights – either a barbell or dumbbells (or tins of beans!) – which will make this a whole-body exercise. You can also modify the exercise and during the upwards phase of the squat bolt on a lateral raise – thus engaging the deltoids and trapezius muscles.
The sumo squat is a great exercise if you are looking to improve the muscular strength and endurance of your legs. Additional physical benefits include: improved balance, stability, and your range of squatting flexibility (augmented mobility at the knee).
Stand with your feet 1.5 shoulder widths apart. Your toes point outwards at roughly 45-degrees. This will create stable platform from which to execute the squat.
Slightly bend your knees, and push your hips back whilst keeping your chest up and your knees pointing outwards.
Keep lowering your hips until you can see that your hamstrings are parallel (or slightly below parallel) to the ground.
On reaching the half-way position your shins should be almost vertical, your back is straight and shoulder pulled back.
To complete the movement fire though the quads and glutes and stand up nice and erect – there should still be a slight bend in the knee.
Methods of Modification
You can advance this exercise by using weights – such as those mentioned above or, better still, by holding a kettlebell. Also, you can include a plyometric element and jump at the top position of each repetition. This will transform the sumo squat into a power-strength movement whilst also stimulating the cardiovascular system.
Maintain the wide stance throughout the exercise
Keep your chest pointing forwards and knees pointing out
Keep your back straight so as to avoid injury
Once you develop sumo squatting confidence you can begin to include weights – don’t use weights if you are not yet comfortable with the exercise!
Don’t dispense with technical discipline during the movement and make sure that you maintain strict posture throughout.
Don’t get carried away by doing too many repetitions until you get the hang of the exercise as this may not only increase your chances of sustaining an injury but it will almost certainly induce severe DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness)
Awesome Exercise #2 – Running
Muscles worked: the muscle groups targeted when running are the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, hip flexors, calves, thoracic diaphragm, tensor fascia latae, flexor hallucis brevis or longus, tibialis anterior, peroneals, core muscles, and upper body muscles (chest and back). And, of course, the cardiac muscle (aka the heart).
There are many physical and mental benefits to running. For example, running can improve your overall mental health due to the fact that the brain, during cardiovascular exercise, releases dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin; collectively called the feel good chemicals (or the ‘runner’s high’).
Don’t run off, there’s more!
Running also strengthens your heart and diaphragm whilst improving the efficiency of your cardio-respiratory system. In addition, a runner can expect to enjoy increased bone density, weight loss and a plethora of other positive outcomes.
Establish a distance you would like to run. A beginner should look to run for no further than 2 miles – and running should be interspersed with walking. When you develop your physicality you can, of course, increase the distance.
Always warm-up prior to running (prior to any and all exercise!). A warm-up may consist of walking, light jogging and mobility exercises.
When you begin running, remember to keep a relaxed posture so that you do not develop tension in the body. Remain relaxed and avoid hunching over.
Breathe steadily and deeply so that you replenish the working muscles with the oxygen they need.
Wear clothes you feel comfortable to run in – either Lycra or, if you’re a bit self-conscious, loose fitting cotton wear.
Ensure that your trainers are suitable running trains and not fashionable pumps or ‘boating’ shoes.
Always warm-up before setting off on your run. This will reduce injury and at the same time improve performance.
Don’t force yourself to go faster than what you are capable of as this will increase your chances of sustaining an injury.
Don’t attempt long distances if you have not built up sufficient stamina in the legs. Start off with shorter distances of 2 to 3 miles and, over time, build up to 5 to 6 miles.
Don’t run too often, and don’t run more than what your body is capable of. Over training could result in injury, decreased performance and loss of motivation.
Awesome Exercise #3: Lunges
Muscles worked: the muscles targeted whilst performing lunges are mainly those of the legs and the surrounding areas. Some of them include the gastrocnemius, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximums and hip flexors. Other muscles worked are the transverse abdominus and, depending on how the exercise is modified, the deltoids and upper back.
Lunges enjoy popularity amongst fitness enthusiasts because they improve muscular endurance whilst developing agility and coordination. Furthermore, lunges are often used in sports conditioning because they work several components of fitness simultaneously making them a very effective exercise.
Start by standing up tall, feet shoulder width apart, hands resting by your sides.
Lead off with a leg of your choice – either the left or the right – by stepping out about 2 to 3 foot to your front.
When the foot is firmly planted bend the knee until your hamstring roughly makes 90-degree angle with the calf. In this position the rear leg should be extended with a slight bend of kink at the knee.
To conclude the movement fire through the quadriceps of the lead leg and return back to the start position.
Either repeat 10 to 12 reps on one leg, or alternate as you progress through the set.
Methods of Modification
Of course there is always the option of holding weights when lunging. This increases the resistance thus increasing the intensity. But you can also perform dumbbell or kettlebell presses whilst executing the lunge making this a true whole-body exercise. And finally, as with the sumo squat, you can incorporate a plyometric element by explosively powering out of the lunge.
The knee of the leading leg should be aligned with the ankle and when in the lung position you should be able to sight your toes
The heel of the rear leg lifts off the floor
Back must remain straight and chin is parallel to the floor – no looking down
Shoulders and hips are even
Maintain abdominal contraction throughout the exercise
Do not slouch forward or back – like a line dancer your torso should remain in an upright position whilst performing the movement
Do not step short as this will result in extreme bending of the knee – no more than 90-degrees
And do not tap the knee cap of the rear leg on the floor as you lunge forward; this is a common mistake and one to be avoided (this mistake is even made in the CrossFit tutorial video)
Awesome Exercise #4: Handstand Wall Walks
Muscles worked: when wall walking the muscles stimulated include the deltoids, triceps, rhomboids, abdominals and erector spinae.
By performing this exercise you will develop multiple components of fitness such as muscular strength, muscular endurance, balance and coordination.
Handstand wall walking is a great way to improve upper-body physicality. This exercise is a quintessential functional strength builder but it also helps to forge rock-solid musculature whilst carving a lean defined physique. Truly, wall walking is one way to get the body of a gymnast.
Start in the ‘up push-up’ position with your feet against a wall. Probably the best way to get into the correct position is by walking the feet up the wall from a semi push-up. If all else fails ask a mate to help manoeuvre you into a handstand.
Once in position simply start to walk your hands from one side of the wall and back again. Make sure that you cover the same distance from left to right.
Keep your core tight and back straight.
To finish, either walk your hands away from the wall whilst stepping your feet down the wall until you are back in the push-up position. Alternatively, slide your legs to one side bending at the knees as you do so.
Methods of Modification
The simplest method of modifying or advancing the wall walk is by periodically completing a handstand push-up.
Keep you back ironing board-straight when walking
Keep your core engaged throughout the movement