9 equipment-free exercises you can do at home

If you want to start exercising at home, try these simple exercises that will help you get fitter.

Getting fit doesn’t need to be complicated, nor does it need to cost the earth. All you need is a bit of space at home, some water and a towel and you’re good to go. The benefits of strength training as we age are numerous, helping to protect our joints and bones, as well as increasing mobility and flexibility. If you’ve not done it before, the nine exercises listed below are all suitable for trying out at home and need no equipment.  

If you find you like them, the next step would be to add some dumbbells to the routine – I’ll show you how throughout. From there, if you’re bitten by the strength training bug, you might like to think about a gym membership. Many gyms offer discounted over-50s or off-peak prices, and you’ll have access to a wide range of equipment and classes.  

Man doing squats at homeCredit: Shutterstock / antoniodiaz

Home workouts are great for many reasons. First, you can do them whenever you please. Second, no one else is watching you (unless you choose to exercise with a partner or friend, of course). You can make as many mistakes as you want, try as many times as you like, and no one is any the wiser. You can also wear what you want – I’ve been known to exercise in my pyjamas!  

The exercises I’ve listed can be tried individually or put together for a full-body workout that will last around 15 minutes. You can also mix and match as you choose, so if you don’t like a certain exercise or it’s not suitable, just take it out or repeat another exercise in its place. For the best results, pair these strength training exercises with some cardio exercise throughout the week. 


If you have any pre-existing injuries or medical issues, please consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regime. Be sure to warm up before you begin – walk around the house to get the blood flowing to your muscles, or follow our warmup exercises.  

Lower body

If possible, do these exercises on a hard floor. If that’s not an option, I would strongly suggest going barefoot so you can grip the floor better. Keep a chair on hand if balance is an issue, or hold on to the mantelpiece, like I do.

1. Squat

Squat no weightCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet firmly planted, just wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Either hold your hands in front of your chest, or out in front of you.
  3. Bending the knees, squat down as if sitting in a chair.
  4. Once your hips are parallel with your knees (or below), rise up to standing position again.
  5. Aim for three or four rounds of 10-12 squats, resting for 45 seconds between rounds. 

Make this easier: Squat down to sit on the edge of a (hard) chair or hold on to the back of a chair with one hand as you squat.  

Make this harder: Point your hands towards the floor, between your knees, and try to touch your fingers to the floor, or hold a weight while you squat.  

2. Lunge

Reverse lunge no weightCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step back on one leg, bending the back knee towards the floor. 
  3. The front leg should bend at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Push the front foot hard into the floor and come back up to standing.
  5. Aim for eight lunges on one leg, then the other, for three rounds, resting for 45 seconds between rounds.

Top tip: Don’t take too large a step back, as it becomes hard to balance.

Make this easier: Hold on to the back of a chair with one hand, or don’t lunge too deep (your knee doesn’t need to touch the floor).

Make this harder: As you stand, lift the knee up above the waist, then lunge back down again. Alternatively, hold a pair of dumbbells at your side.  

3. Side lunge

Bodyweight side lungeCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Take a large step to the side with one leg, bending that knee but keeping the other one straight.
  3. Let your torso travel with you, so it’s over the bent knee.
  4. Push into the foot of the straight leg, come back up to standing and repeat.
  5. Aim for eight repetitions (reps) on one leg, and eight on the other, for three rounds. Rest for 45 seconds between rounds.

Top tip: Always keep your feet flat on the floor. If your heels come up, reduce the size of your sidestep.

Make this easier: Reduce the size of your sidestep and don’t bend the knee as much.  

Make this harder: Hold either one dumbbell centrally at chest height, or hold two and bring them across to frame the bent knee on every rep. 

4. Single leg lift (Aeroplane)

Woman doing a single leg deadliftCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the hips and slowly bring one leg up behind you.
  3. The aim of this exercise is to move slowly and work on balance, so don’t rush!
  4. Keep your hips square to the floor – don’t let one side drift up.
  5. Keep a soft bend in the knee of the static leg – don’t lock the joint out.
  6. Aim for three reps one side, three the other, for five rounds. Rest 20-30 seconds between rounds.  

Make this easier: It’s a good idea to hold on to something with one hand, especially when you’re getting used to it.  

Make this harder: Aim to get the leg completely straight in line with your hip each time. You can also hold one dumbbell in the hand on the side of the working leg (the one that’s moving).  

Upper body

You might want to put a mat or towel on the floor for these exercises to protect your hands or knees. These are quite challenging, so feel free to make them easier to start with, and work towards mastering them. 

1. Push up

Woman doing a pushupCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Start in a strong plank position with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  2. Make sure the hands are directly in line – if we took a side view, they shouldn’t be in front of the shoulders. 
  3. Your body needs to be in one straight line from head to toe – make sure your bottom isn’t high in the air and that your back doesn’t sag.
  4. From the starting position, take a breath in and brace.
  5. Lower your body in one straight line, letting the elbows bend at a 45-degree angle to the body – don’t let them flare out.
  6. Lower yourself until your whole body is about three inches (7.6cm) from the floor – don’t leave your bum in the air!
  7. Come back up to the starting position.
  8. Aim for five to eight repetitions, for three rounds. Rest for 90 seconds between rounds.  

Make this easier: Follow our guide on how to do a push up, which includes details on how to do wall push ups, incline push ups and knee down push ups.  

Make this harder: Add a three-second hold at the bottom of each push up or add more repetitions.  

2. Triceps dip

Woman doing a tricep dipCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Start by sitting on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Position your arms just behind your bum, fingers pointing towards your toes.
  3. From there, lift your body off the floor (you should look like the letter M from side on).
  4. Bending your elbows, lower yourself towards the floor, then raise back up.
  5. Aim for six to 10 repetitions for three rounds, resting for 60 seconds between sets.  

Make this easier: You can place your hands on the edge of a chair instead and do your dips from there. Reduce the range of motion to make it easier.  

Make this harder: Again, using the chair, concentrate on dipping as low as you can. For an extra challenge, place your feet on another chair.  


When trainers talk about “core”, we aren’t just referring to stomach muscles. The core muscles include all the muscles in the stomach, lower back and glutes (bum). Think of it like a ring around the lower part of your torso. It’s just as important to work the muscles in your back as your stomach.  

You might want to lie on a mat or towel for these exercises.  

1. Superman

Superman lift exerciseCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your stomach, legs together, and place your hands under your forehead.
  2. Squeezing your bum muscles to help you, lift your head, neck and shoulders off the ground, keeping your hands pressed to your forehead.
  3. At the same time, try to lift your legs from the hips.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back into place.
  5. Aim for 10-12 repetitions, for three rounds. Rest for 60 seconds between each round.  

Make this easier: Just lift the top half of your body, leaving the legs in place. You might also find it easier to start with your arms extended out in front of you.  

Make this harder: At the top of the movement, hold it and extend the arms out in front, then back to the starting position before lowering back down.  

2. Heel reach

Heel reach exerciseCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms by your side.
  2. Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor.
  3. Lean to one side, as if you were trying to touch your fingers to your heel, or little toe if flexible enough.
  4. Come back to the middle, then repeat on the other side.
  5. Aim for 10-12 reps per side, for two rounds. Rest for 45 seconds between rounds.  

Make this easier: Pop a cushion or rolled-up towel under your head if lifting it for a prolonged period is an issue. Reach towards the calves if mobility is a problem.  

Make this harder: Do all reps on one side, then the other.  

3. Plank

PlankCredit: Saga Exceptional

How to do it:

  1. Start lying face down, feet shoulder-width apart, elbows under shoulders with forearms on the ground.
  2. Push up using your toes and elbows so you’re in a flat, plank position, forearms resting on the ground. Focus on keeping your hips level, pulling your belly button in, and squeeze your bum as tight as you can to protect your back.
  3. Start trying to hold the plank for three sets of 20 seconds. As you become more confident, increase the time by 10 seconds every week. 

Make this easier: Hold the same plank position, but with your knees on the floor. Alternatively, try a wall sit for a good core exercise that doesn’t involve going to the floor.  

Make this harder: Hold the plank for longer – or for a real challenge, hold the plank on your hands (high plank), and tap your hands to the opposite shoulder for 10 repetitions each round.  

Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her


Becky Fuller is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky is passionate about Kettlebell training, and runs a regular kettlebell club in the local community. Prior to this, she worked as a Fitness manager in a local gym. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain.

Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

Away from work, Becky unsurprisingly enjoys exercise, with a focus on lifting weights, kettlebells, and Olympic rings. She loves watching theatre, swimming, and reading a good book. She has three teenage children and enjoys spending time with them, preferably on a Cornish beach.

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