The beauty of the bodyweight workout is that it requires no equipment. And because it requires no equipment, you can do it just about anywhere. Whether you’re at home, on the go, or in the studio at your local gym, you can reliably knock out an efficient, challenging workout—no weights or machines required. Even better? Thanks to the internet, you don’t even have to dream up a workout of your own. You can simply flip on one of YouTube’s best bodyweight workout videos and complete a free, virtual fitness class from the comfort of your own home (or hotel room, or wherever else you find yourself).
It may seem like bodyweight exercises could only get you so far. Without loads of weights and expensive machines, how could you possibly expect to log a gym-caliber workout? But the truth is, bodyweight exercises are some of the most fundamental around. Push-ups, planks, crunches, squats, and lunges are foundational favorites for a reason: They work, and many of them challenge several major muscle groups at once. Plus, they’re easy to modify. So you can conveniently increase or decrease the intensity of your bodyweight workout, based on what your body needs that day.
Not to mention, bodyweight workouts abound. If you’re looking for a strength and flexibility builder, you can opt for something yoga- or pilates-centric. If you’d prefer to work up a sweat doing cardio, you can give a higher-intensity workout a try. And the options don’t stop there. If you’re looking to build strength in a given area—say, your legs, your arms, or your core—you can select a workout video tailored to that muscle group. And you can get even more specific than that: Searching for a 22-minute HIIT workout that won’t disturb your downstairs neighbors? YouTube workouts have your back. The website lists so many free, at-home video workouts that you’re bound to find one that meets your exact needs (even if those needs happen to be very specific).
No, you won’t be able to replicate the communal feeling you get from an in-person fitness class. But what you lose in sweaty camaraderie, you gain in freedom: You get to choose the kind of workout you want, you get to choose how long the workout is, and you get to decide when the workout fits into your schedule. And perhaps most importantly, you get to rest assured knowing you can reliably score a killer workout, no matter where you are in the world—so long as you have a WiFi connection and a device you can use to load YouTube.
Jaclyn Wood’s Full Bodyweight Workout (25 Minutes)
At 25 minutes, Jaclyn Wood’s Full Bodyweight Workout is long enough to be challenging—but still short enough to conveniently fit into your day. The full-body workout features a series of bodyweight exercises poised to challenge every major muscle group: arms, legs, core, chest, back—you name it.
What’s nice? Wood doesn’t repeat any exercises, so once you’ve completed a circuit, you’re done with it. She also offers a modification for every single exercise, making it easy for you to scale the intensity of your workout up or down as you see fit.
Heather Robertson’s Bodyweight HIIT Workout (33 Minutes)
Looking to work up a sweat? Heather Robertson’s Bodyweight HIIT Workout is bound to deliver. The 33-minute workout is full of brief cardio and strength circuits punctuated by even briefer breaks. During each breather, you get a glimpse of what’s to come—so you have a second (or 20 seconds, to be precise) to watch an expert complete the exercise you’re about to attempt. This preview is nice; instead of wasting a fraction of each intensity circuit trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re granted a moment to get your bearings before diving in.
Heather Robertson’s Bodyweight HIIT Workout is a pretty classic high-intensity routine—meaning there’s a fair amount of jumping involved. So if you have downstairs neighbors, be mindful of that before queuing this one up.
Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Kiss Total Body Flow (40 Minutes)
Yoga with Adriene’s channel is full of bodyweight workouts you can easily complete at home—some of which are more peaceful and restorative, and others of which are more intense and challenging. Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Kiss video offers a blend of these modes, alternately challenging viewers with core work and inviting them to rest in child’s pose.
Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Kiss Total Body Flow is generally beginner-friendly (though those feeling intimidated can opt for one of her shorter videos, instead). Still, even advanced yogis are sure to find something to love about this practice. It’s rare for a fitness instructor to ask you to smile while completing grueling ab exercises—and it’s even rarer for one to do so without coming across as profoundly annoying. But Yoga with Adriene is so charming and earnest that you actually feel compelled to try to smile when she prompts you. (Whether you actually manage to is a different matter entirely. But hey—at least you tried.)
8-Minute Abs’ Aerobic 8-Minute Abs Workout (9 Minutes)
Those who are short on time will surely appreciate this high-intensity ab workout, which promises to help you efficiently build core strength in just 8 minutes. (Those who hate working out may also find something to love about 8-Minute Ab’s Aerobic 8-Minute Abs Workout, as it’s over about as quickly as it’s begun.)
Classic bodyweight exercises—like crunches, toe touches, and push-throughs—dominate this vintage workout, which is made up of 8 60-second circuits. What’s nice? Each of the exercises in this workout is relatively easy to perform, so you can quickly master them and integrate them into your regular fitness routine—even when you’re not watching this video.
Natacha Oceane’s Home HIIT Workout (22 Minutes)
Looking for a HIIT workout that won’t disturb your downstairs neighbors? Natacha Oceane has your back. Her Home HIIT Workout is made up of several low-noise circuits that also promise to be relatively low-impact, so you can challenge yourself without getting hit-the-floor exhausted.
Each of Natacha Oceane’s circuits is 30 seconds long, and each circuit is punctuated by a 30-second breather. During the break, you get a glimpse of the exercise you’ll be doing next, so you have a moment to wrap your mind around it before giving it a try. Natasha Oceane’s Home HIIT exercises range from modified mountain climbers to squat shuffles, so you can expect a solid blend of classic strength exercises and lower-impact cardio moves.
Jordan Yeoh Fitness’s 10-Minute Bodyweight Workout (10 Minutes)
Jordan Yeoh Fitness’s 10-Minute Bodyweight Workout was crafted with beginners in mind—and it shows. The workout covers all the bodyweight basics: squats, push-ups, glute bridges, planks, and more. Jordan Yeoh Fitness is also careful to offer modifications, so it’s even easier for you to master the classics while maintaining proper form.
What’s nice? Jordan Yeoh Fitness’s Bodyweight Workout is only 10 minutes long, so it should be easy to integrate into your routine. 10 minutes is a great starting point for beginners and busy people, alike. (It’s also a great workout to have in your repertoire for days when you simply can’t bring yourself to exercise for more than 10 minutes.)
Fit Body by Ashley’s Fun Cardio Dance Party (30 Minutes)
If you want to work out without feeling like you’re working out, flip on any of Fit Body by Ashley’s videos. Her dance fitness routines range from 3 minutes long to 60 minutes long, and every single video is packed with genuinely fun dance cardio moves—as well as a handful of seriously great songs.
In her Fun Cardio Dance Party video, Fit Body by Ashley dances to classics like “Who Let the Dogs Out” and invites you to join her. The workout is primarily a series of jumps and steps, but bodyweight favorites—like modified squats—make their way into the routine frequently enough to leave you feeling at least a little bit challenged on the strength front. (On the cardio front, though, expect to feel simultaneously emotionally rejuvenated and physically exhausted.)
Juliette Wooten’s Total Body Pilates (29 Minutes)
In her Total Body Pilates routine, Juliette Wooten offers a full-body pilates workout fit for beginners and experts, alike. Juliette Wooten takes care to offer plenty of modifications and often, takes time to demonstrate them—making it particularly easy for first-timers to follow along.
Juliette Wooten’s Total Body Pilates video offers a pretty classic pilates workout: The entire routine takes place on the floor, and it’s primarily core-focused—though some stretching makes its way into the mix, too. Don’t let the workout’s floor-centric nature fool you, though. Pilates is no joke—and after 29 straight minutes of working your abs, you’ll undoubtedly understand why.
GymRa’s At-Home Bodyweight Workout (35 Minutes)
In her At-Home Bodyweight Workout, GymRa alternates between classic high-intensity circuits and strength-centric, yoga-esque exercises — a combination that is not just surprising, but surprisingly delightful. The higher-intensity circuits offer a blend of strength and cardio, so you can expect to feel thoroughly challenged while working up a sweat. And during the workout’s lower-impact moments, you can still expect a serious strength-centric challenge—with a little stretching thrown in.
GymRa’s At-Home Bodyweight Workout circuits are not for the faint of heart. The workout is filled with one-armed side planks, pulsing squats, jumping lunges, and many other moves sure to delight those looking for a major challenge. Modifications are not abundant, so if you’re just getting started, consider trying one of GymRa’s beginner-friendlier videos, instead.
A version of this story was published July 2020.
Before you go, check out our post-workout recovery essentials to soothe your tired bod: