We get it: when it comes to weight loss, it feels tough to even get started if you don’t have access to a gym, home workout equipment, or even a set of dumbbells. Of course, as you probably know by this point, weight loss has a lot to do with your life outside of exercise, too; aspects like sleep and nutrition play key roles in getting after this goal. No matter how hard you work out, it’s important to eat nutritious foods, like vegetables and protein-rich items, to see results. Exercise is only part of the equation.
If you’re looking to lose weight without equipment, full-body and compound exercises are a great choice, said ACE-certified trainer Jennifer Nagel. “They use multiple muscle groups at once. With more muscle engagement comes more calorie burn,” she explained, because you use more energy when you’re working more muscles. “Also, the more lean muscle you build, the more calories you burn at rest.”
I know what you’re thinking: I’m here to lose weight, not build muscle! Actually, the two go hand in hand. When you gain muscle, you increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories your body needs at rest to perform basic functions (think: breathing) that keep you alive. Increasing your RMR means you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. And while lifting weights is typically the recommendation for building muscle, you can also increase your muscle and therefore improve your RMR through bodyweight exercises like the ones ahead.
For bodyweight work specifically, aim to work out three to five days a week. Within each workout, try to complete high reps and sets of each exercise; three to five sets of 15 to 20 reps per exercise is a good goal, Sten Stray-Gunderson, MS, an exercise physiologist and trainer at Reach Outcome, said in a previous interview with POPSUGAR. (Note that the exercises we have coming up aren’t a full workout, but rather a selection of moves you can plug into your routine.)
Ahead, check out eight bodyweight exercises that, when done consistently and paired with a healthy diet, can help you reach your weight loss goals. Some moves work just about every muscle in your body (like burpees) while others target two or three key muscle groups at once; both will typically help you burn more calories than isolated moves like bicep curls and sit-ups.
This is important because, generally speaking, you have to burn more calories than you take in in order to lose weight. “This can be done by burning extra calories through exercise or reducing your intake of calories, but the best way is to use a combination of both methods,” said Jim White, RDN, ACSM-certified trainer and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, in a previous interview with POPSUGAR — hence the importance of combining your exercise routine with a nutritious diet.
You’ll also notice both strength training and cardio moves, because you’ll ideally do both if you’re aiming to lose weight. While the strength moves will help you build muscle, like we talked about above, the cardio will up your calorie burn and is good for your heart as well. With all of that said, let’s get to it! Here are the best no-equipment moves that trainers recommend for weight loss.