With the government’s banning of gyms looking set to continue for a while yet, we thought that it would be a good idea to showcase ten strength training exercises that you can do anywhere. That way you can still increase strength and build muscle, even while training at home or outdoors.
Now, just because you can do these exercises anywhere, it does not mean that you won’t need some equipment. Particularly for upper body exercises. So, you will want at least one kettlebell, and a pair of medium weights.
We will also mention using a bench, but this could actually mean any form of ledge that is around waist height. You can use a chair, a desk, an outdoor bench, anything that is stable and won’t collapse when you place any weight on it!
Exercise #1 Push Up
Yes, we are starting with a classic strength training exercise. The push up is one of the best bodyweight exercises out there and can be performed anywhere. There are also hundreds of variations (well at least 20), and they can be made easier or more difficult depending on your current capabilities.
Place your hands flat on the ground, about shoulder-width apart. Put your body into a straight line, with your feet together and your weight on your toes. Now raise your hips so that there is a straight line going from your shoulders all the way down to your ankles.
This is your classic push up starting position. What you want to do now is to lower your chest all the way down until it is just a couple of inches from the ground. Pause, and then use your arms and chest to push yourself back up to the starting position.
Keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle away from your body. You don’t want them to be too close to your sides (this is known as a close-grip push up and targets the triceps more). But nor do you want your elbows to be further than 45 degrees. This puts too much strain on your shoulders and can cause injury.
To make the exercise easier, you can drop your knees to the ground and raise your feet up. This halves the amount of bodyweight that you need to push up with each repetition. You can make it easier still by placing your knees and feet on the ground (known as a box push up).
To make the exercise more difficult you can try one of the many variations out there: plyometric push ups, single-arm push ups, incline push ups, decline push ups, weighted push ups (use a weighted vest), close-grip push ups. Seriously, the list goes on and on.
Exercise #2 Squats
The squat is one of the best exercises you can perform for the lower body, and it is another one that can be performed anywhere (provided you are not performing barbell squats). This exercise can be performed with a kettlebell or dumbbell held to the chest (known as a goblet squat), or with a dumbbell in each hand. The following description is for a bodyweight squat.
Stand upright with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and toes pointing out slightly. Push your chest out and pull your shoulder blades together, take a deep breath and then start to lower your glutes towards the ground.
Keep your heels flat on the ground throughout the movement. This is vitally important, as the moment your heels rise off the ground your squat technique will fall apart. Imagine you are sitting on a small invisible stool, pause when your thighs are around parallel or even a little lower, and then rise back to the starting position.
Exercise #3 Kettlebell Deadlift
For this exercise you will need either a kettlebell (unsurprisingly) or you can use a single dumbbell propped on its side. But for the rest of this description we will continue as if you have a kettlebell.
Place the kettlebell directly between your two feet, which should be shoulder width apart with toes turned out slightly. Grab the handle with both hands. At this point you are probably hunched over, which is a terrible position to deadlift, so let’s fix that.
What you want to do is push your chest out and pull your shoulder blades together, this will help to straighten your back. Your shoulders should be directly over the kettlebell, with back straight and heels flat on the ground.
Take a deep breath and then stand up, as you do so push your hips forward so that when you are fully upright your hips are pushed up against the kettlebell. Pause at the top, and then push your hips back as you return to the starting position.
Exercise #4 Romanian Deadlift
This version of a Romanian deadlift is performed with a set of dumbbells.
Stand upright with feet close together (but not touching) and toes pointing straight out in front of you. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and have them resting on the tops of your thighs. Bend your knees very slightly. Push your chest out and pull your shoulders back. This is your starting position.
Now, you want to slowly lower the dumbbells down your legs, brushing your thighs slightly as you go down. Keep your legs stiff and bow forward. Make sure that your chest is pushed out and shoulders back throughout, this will ensure that your spine remains in a “neutral” position.
Keep bringing the dumbbells down until you really feel the strain in your hamstrings (back of your thighs). Do not try and push it further than that, you want to feel the stretch, but you don’t want your technique to fall apart.
Pause, and then slowly return back to the starting position.
Exercise #5 Single Arm Dumbbell Row
For this exercise you are going to want some form of bench, anywhere from knee height to mid-thigh. Most chairs, windowsills, or park benches will meet this criterion (or you can use a workout bench if you are lucky enough to have a home gym).
Stand next to the bench with your feet facing it. Place the dumbbell in one hand and have your other hand resting on the bench. Your feet should be far enough back so that when you place your hand on the bench there is a straight line from your shoulder to your hips.
Push your chest out and pull your shoulder blades back, this will create a flat back. The dumbbell should be held in one hand, resting on the floor. Keeping your back still, pull the dumbbell up towards your armpit. Keep your elbow close to your body throughout.
Pause when the dumbbell is almost touching your chest, and then lower the dumbbell back until it is almost touching the ground, then pull it back up for another rep. Once you have finished the allotted reps, swap hands. One on the dumbbell, one on the bench helping you to maintain the correct position.
Exercise #6 Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are an amazing exercise to perform if you have got the space. If you have not got much space (because you are inside your house or something) then just perform static lunges instead.
Stand upright with feet together, chest pushed out, and hands by your sides. You can hold a dumbbell in each hand if you want, but most people find bodyweight walking lunges tough enough!
Take a large step forward with your right leg, as you do so, your left heel should rise off the floor. Keeping your chest pushed out drop your left knee until it almost touches the floor (but not quite). Your right thigh should be parallel with the ground.
Pause, and then take your left foot and use it to take another huge step forward. Drop your right knee so that your left thigh is now parallel with the ground. Keep going for as many reps as you need to.
Exercise #7 Dumbbell Push Press
This exercise is an excellent choice for building bigger, stronger shoulders. It is often performed with a barbell but can also be done with dumbbells. Push presses are different to military presses as they involve bending the knees to create momentum, so you can use a heavier weight.
Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, resting at shoulder height with your elbows pushed out in front of you. Bend you knees slightly then push upwards so that your legs straighten, do this explosively. As you rise, push the dumbbells straight up in the air so that they finish directly over your body with arms almost fully extended.
Bring the dumbbells back down to the starting position, then prepare to bend your knees again and restart the process for a second rep. This exercise can also be performed with one dumbbell at a time.
Exercise #8 Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your back straight as possible and try to ensure that it is just your arms doing the work, not your shoulders or back.
Keep your elbows tucked into your side, your arms should be fully extended with the dumbbells resting around your upper thigh.
Slowly curl one dumbbell up, squeezing your bicep as when the dumbbell has curled all the way to your shoulder. Pause, and then slowly return the dumbbell back to the starting position. Once the dumbbell has returned to the starting position you can perform the same movement with your alternate arm.
Try to ensure that only one arm is moving at a time, otherwise your momentum will start to influence the exercise, making it too easy.
Exercise #9 Glute Bridges
This exercise is awesome when performed in a gym with a barbell, but the bodyweight exercise, when performed correctly is very underrated.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Have your hands on the floor beside you.
Take a deep breath, squeeze your abs and your glutes, and then drive your hips up until there is a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold this position momentarily (everything squeezed) and then lower your hips back down until your glutes are back on the ground.
Exercise #10 Plank
This final exercise is performed a little differently to the regular plank. It is still the same technique but instead of holding it for as long as you can, you are going to perform it for short sharp bursts.
Start off in the push up position we described earlier. Then, lower your arms so that your forearms are resting on the ground rather than your hands. This will bring you a lot lower than a push up position, but other than that everything is the same.
This is the plank position. Now, you want to squeeze all your muscles, particularly your abs and your glutes. Squeeze as hard as you can for 30 seconds and then relax and rest. Rest for 30 seconds then get into position again for another 30 second plank.
Repeat this 5 times, making each plank as intense as possible. Once you get better, you can increase the reps to ten.