Is it possible to get in shape at home without equipment?

Two familiar obstacles for individuals who want to exercise and get in shape are the need for more time and money for fitness.

Who has the time to consistently head over to the gym, buy pricey equipment or take long bike rides?

Working out at home

If the abovementioned factors are holding you back, you’re in luck.

It takes no equipment to get a proper training session to get in shape – and with one or a couple pieces of simple equipment, you can transform that great workout into a fantastic one.

With little or no equipment needed for a superb workout, it can be done at home or wherever you are – even if you’re isolating yourself for any reason. It’s difficult not to find time for this type of workout, and you can do it while streaming your favourite series.

It’s a misconception that you must have a gym membership or spend a ton of money on equipment to get a good workout. Yes, it is possible to exercise in the comfort of your own home, with little to no equipment at all. 

Working out at home

Many people will agree that it’s better to train at home because finding time to go to the gym can be challenging. Even getting to the gym can be tricky and downright stressful.

The issues can begin as soon as you search for class times that meet your schedule, get through unpredictable traffic and then, hopefully, find a parking spot. Home workouts eliminate all the stress, and once you grasp what you need to do and how easy it can be, you’ll be free to get fit whenever and wherever you want [1]. 

Get in shape at home with bodyweight exercises

Using just your body weight, you can do many challenging exercises. If you add just one or a few pieces of equipment like a a jump rope, dumbbell, a kettlebell, a medicine ball, or a chin-up bar, you can increase the difficulty level even more.

Not to disregard lifting weights, but using heavy weights when you can is fine, but there are enormous benefits from bodyweight exercises as well, like

  • Workout anywhere, anytime.
  • No gym fees or needing to buy costly equipment.
  • Most exercises include many muscles working in coordination, resulting in significant overall fitness and strength.
  • For individuals who are just beginning with strength training, bodyweight is usually more than enough to start with. It gives you a basic foundation of strength that you can build on afterwards.
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Bodyweight exercises aren’t the only thing you should do for working out, yet, for several reasons:

  • After a while, or maybe a couple of months, they won’t feel all that challenging. You’ll need to resume building your strength by including weights. You can do that with some basic equipment.
  • If you don’t own at least one or two pieces of equipment, a chin-up bar or a resistance band, some muscles may get worked out less than others. That’s not an issue over the short term, but long term, you’ll want to make sure you aim for balance.

It’s recommended to ease your way into fitness with bodyweight exercises and slowly transition to a mix of bodyweight and weight training to get a good balance. Even though you’re accomplishing a full weight training program, you can always use bodyweight exercises at any time it’s convenient.

Basic bodyweight exercises

There are numerous variations of bodyweight exercises, but some of the more common ones are [2]:

  • Bear crawl
  • Burpees
  • Chair dips 
  • Crunches
  • Isometrics
  • Lateral barrier jump
  • Lunges (jumping lunges, side lunges)
  • Planks
  • Plyometrics
  • Push-ups (there are numerous variations: Hindu push-ups, dive bombers, diamond push-ups and others
  • Squats (jump squats, Hindu squats)

Exercises requiring minimal equipment

You don’t have to purchase all of this equipment, but if you have any, that’s great. One or two pieces can add an extra challenge to your workout:

  • Pullup bar: chin-ups, pullups, hanging knee raises
  • Resistance band
  • Medicine ball
  • Kettlebell
  • Dumbbells
  • Tractor tires (used in many exercises where you flip tires and jump through them)

Cardio exercises

Some cardio to try at home:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Side shuffles
  • Touchdowns
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Sample workout to get in shape at home

Here’s a sample exercise using a chin-up bar:

Doing a warmup like just jogging in place, jumping jacks or using a jump rope for a few minutes will increase your heart rate. Then process to do the exercises for 30 seconds to around two minutes (relying on what current shape you’re in), with as little rest in between as possible. 

If you’re new to exercise, feel free to rest fully between exercises, but if you’re in decent shape, doing them one after another is a great workout

  • Pullups with palms facing away from you (chin-up bar required)
  • Push-ups: as many as you can. Do modified push-ups with your knees on the floor if you can’t do full ones. If those are still too difficult, you can opt for wall push-ups while leaning against the wall or a chair.
  • Jump squats: squat down up until your thighs are parallel to the floor, jump up as high as you can, then repeat.
  • Bicycle crunches: these use a good combination of core muscles.
  • Jumping lunges
  • Burpees
  • Hanging knee raises (chin-up bar required)
  • Hindu push-ups
  • Russian twists
  • Diamond push-ups
  • Chin-ups with palms facing toward you (chin-up bar required)

Design your workout to get in shape at home

The workout above is just an example, and you can make your own by picking whatever appeals to you and your fitness level. Choose five to twelve exercises and do them all – either with or without resting. Once that becomes easier, do a second circuit.

Remember, pick diverse exercises that can work out all body parts. Only do some variations of push-ups, for example. It would help if you were doing some lower-body exercises, like lunges and squats, pulling exercises (like pull-ups) and others that work out your body, like burpees.

One way to up the difficulty is to mix cardio with strength exercises. If you have some of the equipment mentioned, definitely use them or get one or two pieces of equipment – although there’s no need to scramble out and get a whole bunch of things. You can have a great workout without equipment, at least for a while.

If you’re starting, take it easy and gradually build up. Please don’t feel discouraged, and try not to overdo it.

As you get stronger, slowly add weights: dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls are good ways to do that. It’ll take a few months of bodyweight exercises before you move to weights.

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Photoshop: Prostock studio/Shutterstock
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.