Building strength is one of the best things you can do for your health, but that doesn't mean you need to rush to the gym and start throwing heavy weights around. You can actually develop strength at home using bodyweight-only exercises.
Denise Chakoian, a certified personal trainer and founder of fitness studio Core, has put together this 10-move home workout routine for Fit&Well. It only takes 10 minutes to do, so you can give it a go first thing in the morning or do it during a lunch break.
To do the workout, set a timer for one minute then perform the exercises listed below in turn for one minute each. If you're a complete newcomer to workouts, you might want to add in a short rest between some of the moves, so you can hit each one with renewed energy.
- Downward dog into push-up into upward facing dog
- Single-leg glute bridge into 'can can'
- Bicycle crunches
- Squat jump
- Split squat
- Split squat jumps
- High plank shoulder taps
- Low plank saw
"For a beginner workout, just do this circuit one time," says Chakoian. "For a more advanced version of this routine, you can repeat this sequence three times for a 30 minute workout."
1. Downward dog into push-up
- Start in a high plank position (pictured above, left) with your hands planted directly beneath your shoulders.
- Keeping your legs straight (or lightly bent), push through your hands and press your hips towards the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your thighs) and lower spine.
- Slowly return to the starting position then perform a push-up. During the push-up, keep your elbows tucked into your side, brace your core and keep a straight line through your back and legs throughout.
2. Single-leg bridge into 'can can'
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and facing the ceiling, and your feet planted hip-width apart in front of you. Place your hands behind you, shoulder-distance apart with your fingers facing backwards. Press up into a bridge position, pictured above, left, trying to form a flat surface with your torso.
- Lift your left foot off the floor, lower your hips slightly and bring your left knee towards your chest. As you do this, bend your arms to engage your triceps (the muscles running down the back of your upper arms).
- Straighten your left leg towards the ceiling and at the same time straighten your arms.
- Slowly, return to the starting bridge position, then repeat on the other side of your body.
3. Bicycle crunch
- Lie face-up on the ground. Place your hands gently against your ears and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Keeping your legs straight, lift your legs off the floor.
- Bring your right knee towards your chest. As you do this, twist your torso to bring your left elbow towards your right knee.
- Extend your right leg, and at the same time bring your left knee towards your chest while rotating your torso to bring your right elbow towards it. Repeat.
- Stand with your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart.
- Hinge slightly at the hip, then bend your knees to lower towards the floor until your thighs are parallel with the ground.
- Drive through your feet to return to the starting position. Keep your chest proud and your spine neutral throughout.
5. Squat jump
- Repeat the steps above for the squat, but at the top of the movement drive explosively through your feet so they leave the ground.
- For a low-impact alternative, you can also perform a calf raise at the top of the movement, pushing on to your tiptoes before starting your next squat.
- Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step one foot forward and lower your back knee towards the ground until both knees form roughly a 90° angle.
- Drive through your front foot to return to the starting position, then repeat on the other leg.
7. Split squat
- Take up a staggered stance, with your feet hip-distance apart for balance. Your back foot can be on the ground (as pictured) or elevated on a weight bench, box, chair or couch for extra difficulty.
- Lower your back knee towards the ground, then drive through your front foot to return to the standing position.
- Continue this for 30 seconds, then switch the front and back leg for a further 30 seconds of work.
8. Split squat jumps or reverse lunges
- Repeat the steps for the split squat above, but at the top of the movement add an explosive jump. If you want a low-impact alternative, you can also try alternating reverse lunges.
9. High plank shoulder tap
- Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder distance apart (pictured above, left).
- Lift your left hand off the floor and use it to tap your right shoulder, then do the same on the other side with the right hand touching your left shoulder.
- To test your core stability, try to keep your hips square throughout this movement, rather than rocking from side to side.
10. Low plank saw
- Start in a low plank position (pictured above), resting on your feet and forearms with a straight line through the back of your head, spine and legs.
- Slowly rock forwards and backwards on your toes so your chest moves in front, then behind, your upper arms. Chakoian recommends shifting forwards for four seconds, then backwards for four seconds.
Need help picking a new workout mat? Our guide to the best yoga mats can help
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Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.
Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.
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