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7 Strength-Building Exercises That Don’t Require Weights


Working out at the gym can be daunting sometimes. There are so many different machines that trying to use them can be confusing. Since we understand that sometimes you don’t want to leave your dorm room or embarrass yourself in the gym while trying to figure out how to set up the machine, we’ve compiled a list of strength-building exercises that require nothing but your own body to do. Whether it’s the freezing cold or the complexity of the machines that's been keeping you from the gym, now you can get a workout in the comfort of your room—no excuses!

1. Jump Squats

Jump squats are a great way to mix it up when you want to challenge yourself. These squats will not only work your glutes, legs and abs, but they’ll help to build muscle in your entire body.

  1. Start by lowering your hips into a squat so that your glutes are parallel to the ground.
  2. Once you’re squatted in position, jump up and land back into the deep squatting position that you started in.
  3. Complete three sets of 10 reps.

Amy Morton, CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and owner of Amy's Personal Training, suggests that “when you land, make sure you immediately [go] down into a deep squat. When doing this exercise you want to emphasize the squat versus the height of the jump. Of course you want to try to jump up high, but landing into a deep squat and exploding up out of a deep squat is what makes this exercise a good one.”

Morton also suggests that you “focus on taking your arms back when you land and driving your arms forward as you explode out of the squats.”

2. Tricep Dips

For women, the arms can be one of the most difficult areas to tone. Tricep dips can help tone and strengthen your triceps, which are the muscles at the back of your upper arms. Doing these dips can also work to strengthen your abs and core.

  1. First, find a place that can support your weight, such as a chair or even the edge of a bathtub.
  2. After you find a good support, place your hands on the edge and let your body weight fall into your arms while keeping them locked. Extend your feet so they are straight in front of you with your heels on the floor and toes facing up.
  3. Lower yourself towards the floor until you create a 90-degree angle at your elbow, then push back up. “Focus on going down to 90 degrees at the elbow; no more, no less,” Morton says.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Leg Lifts

  1. Leg lifts can be challenging, but that’s because you’re working so many muscles. By doing these, you’re working to tone your abs, legs, glutes and core.
  2. Begin by lying on the floor on your back and placing your hands by your side, keeping your legs straight out in front of you.
  3. Now, keeping your hands straight out by your side, lift both legs off of the ground (without bending your knees) to at least a 90-degree angle.
  4. Then, lower your legs as close to the floor as possible without actually touching it, hold for a moment and lift back up. Morton says to “make sure you take your leg up as high as you can and then all the way back down and don’t go too fast. Keep it slow and steady.” 
  5. Complete three sets of 12 reps.

4. Reverse Leg Lifts

This exercise focuses primarily on your glutes and lower back. It works to lift your butt so you can get just a little closer to being Beyoncé.

  1. To do this, kneel down on all fours, supporting your upper body with your forearms.
  2. Keeping one knee on the ground, raise the other behind you so that your foot is parallel to the ceiling.
  3. Bring that leg back down, keeping it bent, and lift it back up. Try working to keep a steady rhythm and not letting your leg rest back on the floor between reps.
  4. Repeat this with both legs.
  5. Complete three sets of 15 reps for each leg.

5. Reverse Crunches

Reverse crunches are a fun and more challenging version of your standard crunch. This crunch essentially works all of the abdominal muscles, but largely the rectus abdominis, which is the muscle that gives you the six-pack look. By doing this exercise, you can finally get those abs you’ve always wanted.

  1. Start by lying on your back with your arms straight by your side.
  2. Lift your legs and bend your knees so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your calves are parallel to the floor.
  3. Lift your legs toward your stomach, pushing your body off of the floor. At the height of the exercise, your legs will be over your chest.
  4. Come back down to the starting position and repeat. “Don't go too fast,” Morton says. “You will get better results doing these slowly with good form rather than flying through them with incorrect form.”
  5. Complete three sets of 12 reps.

6. Reverse Elbow Plank With Leg Lifts

This exercise is a challenging twist on the classic plank. You will have to be strong through this one—you’ll feel the burn! This exercise will tone your arms and legs while challenging your core.  

  1. Begin lying on your back with legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Press into your heels and lift your body off of the ground, trying to keep it in one diagonal line. Keep your arms straight behind you with your palms facing your feet.  
  3. Alternate lifting one leg off the ground at a time. Try to do this slow and steady in order to fully get the benefits.
  4. Complete three sets of 15 reps for each leg.

7. Calf Raises

Calf muscles tend to be ignored in most workouts, but toned calves make for great legs! This exercise is so simple, it won’t even seem like a workout, but your calves will definitely thank you for doing this one.

  1. Start by standing with your toes on the edge of a step.
  2. Lower your heels, then rise up on your toes. That is one rep.
  3. Continue doing this at a steady pace.
  4. Complete three sets of 15 reps.


You can do these simple strength-building exercises anywhere, so not wanting to go to the gym is no longer an excuse—sorry (but really, you’re welcome)! Mix some cardio with these exercises and you’re bound to be Victoria’s-Secret-Model status by spring break!

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