Who needs dumbbells? The best equipment-free strength exercises

If you’re trying to start or stick to an exercise regimen, there’s something to be said for convenience. Luckily, strength training without weights is effective and you’re less likely to injure yourself.

Here are a few suggestions for some gravity-defying exercises to get you started.

Weights don’t mean squat
The key to strength training without weights is intensity. If you’re already in good physical shape, but want to add muscle mass, you’re going to need to push yourself, and some of the exercises will need to be explosive. Body weight squats will keep you fit, but they’re not as effective at building muscle as getting airborne. Studies have shown jumping helps improve bone density. Start with routine squats to strengthen the glutes, hamstrings and quads before moving into jump-squats to increase your heart rate. Finish this stage of your workout with a set of isometric squats to bring you back down to earth.

Lunge is in the air
Lunges are great for building strength in glutes and calves, especially the muscles around the knees, and if you’re doing them correctly you shouldn’t experience any knee pain. Once you have the standard alternating lunge down, you can move to the more explosive version: the split squat jump. If you’re nervous about losing your footing, add a squat jump between the alternating jumping split squats to re-centre yourself. As with the squats, finish with a set of isometric lunge holds to burn out the muscles.

Push up, up and away
Push-ups are another efficient way to strengthen the upper body without weights. Warm up with a set of standard push-ups then boost the energy level with plyometric push-ups, getting enough force from your arms to completely lift both hands off the floor. Once you’re used to using this power to get airborne you can proceed to clap push-ups, where you clap your hands together with each rep. If you haven’t done push-ups in a while, make sure your mechanics are solid before trying the plyometric or clap varieties.

Why crunch when you can plank
Crunches are an effective way to strengthen your core, but planks might be even more effective. The most important thing is to keep your back straight. The most basic plank is a surprisingly good workout and it’s a versatile exercise, as you can add leg lifts or alternate with side planks and ‘Spiderman’ planks, where you alternate bringing up each knee in classic webcrawler fashion.

Safety first
If you’re new to any of these exercises, take it slow and work on getting perfect form before you attempt any of the more explosive variations.