Walk into any full-size gym and there are more free weights and machines than most people know what to do with. There are kettlebells and resistance bands, battle ropes, and Bosu balls—and that's just the tip of the fitness equipment iceberg. While all this gear can certainly challenge your body and strength in new ways, you don't have to overcomplicate your routine to get in a smart, effective workout. In fact, there's really only one piece of "equipment" you need: your body.
Bodyweight exercises are the foundation of any workout. This is exactly why Bob Harper, trainer, TV fitness personality, and author of the new book The Super Carb Diet, chose four simple bodyweight moves as his go-to exercises for a total-body workout that focuses particularly on blasting your core and raising your heart rate. (Related: The 30-Day Cardio HIIT Challenge That's Guaranteed to Boost Your Heart Rate)
"This workout can be done anytime, anywhere, with no equipment, so it's easy to fit into your day no matter how busy you are," says Harper. Why these exercises, specifically? "They effectively target all key muscle groups and provide a great cardio workout," he says. What's more, you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that each of these bodyweight exercises zeros in on the core muscles from a different angle, so you can chisel those abs and increase your endurance at the same time.
"The combination of upper- and lower-body exercises, along with functional movements, make this a tough but fast and effective way to train," says Harper.
Need to modify? Harper shares how each exercise can be altered so you can safely complete the circuit. If you want to make these bodyweight exercises harder, level up by adding weights: Hold a dumbbell during squats or use ankle weights when performing mountain climbers. You can also increase the difficulty of traditional sit-ups by putting your hands behind your head instead of crossed in front of your chest.
Bob Harper’s No-Equipment Core Blaster Workout
How it works: The circuit follows an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) design. Complete each of the following exercises, moving as quickly as possible to complete the assigned reps. Move directly from one exercise to the next without stopping, then rest as needed (be mindful not to let your heart rate drop too low) before beginning the circuit again. The goal is to complete as many rounds of the circuit as possible in 20 or 30 minutes (depending on how long you want the workout to be).
10 repsModification: on your knees
20 repsModification: slow down; elevate hands on a chair or stepper
10 repsModification: alternating lunges
20 repsModification: smaller range of motion
Looking for ideas on how to fuel up and recover from your workouts? Check out EatingWell.com for two recipes from Harper's new book—a Greek yogurt parfait for pre-workout energy and an almond-flavored protein drink to give your muscles the recovery they need post-workout.