25 Effective Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Posted by , Updated on April 11, 2014

Finding a good gym is not easy. And even if you do find one its not like you can just take it with you when you travel. This shouldn’t mean you can’t break a sweat though. So no matter what your situation – whether your hotel doesn’t have a weight room, or you are in a journalist in hostile territory – we’re going to show you 25 effective exercises you can do anywhere. We’ve tried to include a couple for each part of the body but understand that this list is by no means exhaustive. If you want more tips, check out Steadystrength.com



Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, triceps, hamstrings, lower back

Although regular pushups have their merits, and they are certainly on this list, we start off with one of their more intense variations – divebombers. Often done in the military, this exercise requires you to start in a piked position (above far right). You then lower your nose to the ground while maintain your arched position (above middle). Right before your nose hits the floor flatten yourself out as if you are trying to slide under a bar and keeping your hips low to the ground drive your head upwards until you are looking straight ahead. Finally, do everything in reverse until you are back at the starting position. That was one divebomber pushup.


Bear Crawls


Muscles worked: all of them (almost)

While this may not be the best workout to do in your hotel room, that’s what hallways are for (at least until someone calls the police). The risk is worth it though, as this dynamic exercise works everything from your shoulders to your quads. And the best part? Its easy to explain – just get on all fours and start crawling as fast as you can. But remember, these aren’t baby crawls…they’re bear crawls, and bears don’t crawl with their knees on the ground (at least we’re pretty sure).


Table Rows

Table Rows

Muscles worked: back, biceps, abs

Okay, so this is the first of several exercises on this list that you can’t really do anywhere. Depending on your level of creativity though you can get pretty close. All you need is a table, a low bar, or something else you can slide under and hold onto. Now, just like in the image above, pull yourself upwards towards the tabletop. Rows are a very effective back exercise and this is probably the closest you’ll get to doing them on the road.




Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings

This is probably one of the best leg workouts you are going to get without a gym and luckily its pretty straightforward. All you have to do is take a large step with one foot and bend your knee to a 90 degree angle (as in the image above). Although you can walk forward with each lunge you don’t have to. You can stay in the same spot if you want and just keep switching legs. Heck, you could even do these in the shower.


1 Leg Wallsit

1 Leg Wallsit

Muscles worked: quads

If you are anywhere near a wall then you have all you need to destroy your quadriceps with this intense exercise. There isn’t much to explain, but if you can’t do one leg, do two.


Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jacks

Muscles worked: calves, hip abductors, hip adductors

While there is probably no need get into the “how” of jumping jacks, as we assume everyone is at least familiar with the mechanics, unfortunately familiarity breeds contempt and this workout is often overlooked due to its percieved simplicity. It can be an amazing warm up though, and if you are having trouble finding space to run/jog, a thousand jumping jacks make for an excellent cardio workout.


Pull Ups


Muscles worked: lats, traps, biceps, rhomboids, deltoids

Depending on your grip (overhand, underhand, spread) you are essentially working out your entire back. Like table rows, however, this exercise requires something for you to grab.


Calf Raises

Calf Raises

Muscles worked: calves

Not surprisingly this exercise targets one muscle – your calves. You don’t need much space to do it but if you can find a slight ledge, as in the image above, it will allow you to have a greater range of motion.


Shoulder Circles

Shoulder Circles

Muscles worked: deltoids

Although at first glance this exercise may seem trivial, beggars can’t be choosers. If you want to work out your shoulders without a gym you need to improvise. Besides, after the thousands shoulder circles we guarantee you that you’ll feel it. If you don’t though, put something in your hands.


Box Jumps

Box Jumps

Muscles worked: quads, calves, hamstrings

This is a dynamic exercise that only requires an elevated surface. Once you figure that part out you’re ready to break a serious sweat. Just jump up onto the box/park bench/bed/etc. and then jump down again. Repeat this until your lower body is destroyed.


Back Extensions

Back Extensions

Muscles worked: lower back

Starting in the prone position (above left) pull your head and upper back off the ground. Hold it for a second as you focus on contracting your back muscles and then lower yourself back down. Cycle through this several times and you should feel a pretty good workout, especially in your lower back.


Decline Pushups

Decline Pushup

Muscles worked: upper chest

As we promised, here is yet another pushup variation. All you have to do is find an elevated surface to rest your feet on and then proceed with pushups as normal. The advantage of these is that they specifically target your upper chest, and depending on the degree of incline, your shoulders as well.


Jump Squats

Jump Squat

Muscles worked: quads, calves, hamstrings

Here is yet another powerful lower body workout. If you failed to find that perfect elevated surface for your box jumps (#16) fear not, jump squats to the rescue. With your hands behind your head proceed with a regular squat and once you reach your lowest point explode upwards, jumping of the ground. Repeat.


Spiderman Pushups

Spiderman Pushup

Muscles worked: chest, triceps, abs

We promise – we’re at least half way through the pushup variations. The reason we include so many is because they are extremely effective and work numerous muscles groups. Spiderman pushups involve you emulating the superhero’s wall climbing movements as you are doing pushups on the ground. Basically, every time you lower yourself, one of your knees will come up and tap your elbow.


Chair Dips

Chair Dips

Muscles worked: triceps

This is the only exercise on our list that is designed to deliberately target the triceps. In order to maximize the effect, if you can find a surface to raise your legs off the ground, the intensity of the workout is compounded.


Leg Raises

Leg Raises

Muscles worked: abs

Your core is the most important part of your musculoskeletal system for obvious reasons (it’s right in the middle of your body) and leg raises are one of several exercises on this list designed to target this muscle group. You may find that they workout out your quads as a secondary muscles group too.




Muscles worked: abs, back, shoulders

No, this is not planking. In order to do this exercise you have to actually hold yourself up off the ground. You can also modify the exercise by turning to the side and holding yourself on one elbow. This is one of the best things you can do for your core.


Glute Bridges

Glute Bridge

Muscles worked: abs, glutes, hamstrings

If one foot is too hard, use two feet, but whatever you do, make sure that you include this exercise in your gymless workout. It is the only one on this list that specifically targets your glutes and hamstrings.



Bicycle Crunches

Muscles worked: abs

Here we have yet another group of exercises designed to target your abs. Although normal crunches are super effective by themselves, there are numerous variations that you can try in order to hit your oblique abdominals as well (bicycle crunches above).


Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers

Muscles worked: all of them (almost)

While this is primarily a cardiovascular workout, it works a number of muscles in the process. It can be a bit hard to describe, but in order to start this exercise you need to assume a pushup position (above left). Now your are going to alternate bringing your legs up towards you hands (above right). Keep doing this until you feel the burn.


1 Leg Squats

1 Leg Squat

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings

If doing a one legged squat seems intimidating, don’t worry, it’s not as crazy as it seems. Start off by using a chair and then gradually wean yourself off of it.




Muscles worked: heart, lower body

Finding a good spot to run while you are on the road is not easy. You don’t know the area and if you’re in a bad part of town then it may just be best to stay in your hotel room. Oh well, so much for cardio. No! Quit that defeatist attitude. It’s back to the hallway…we’re doing sprints.




Muscles worked: traps

Your traps (neck muscles) are one of the hardest parts of your body to target without having some sort of weight in your hands. In fact, unless you can find some parallel bars, hang from them upside down, and do “inverted pullups” you are going to need to improvise. Probably the easiest thing you can do is stuff your suitcase and use that as a stand-in dumbbell.


Handstand Pushups

Hand Stand Pushups

Muscles worked: shoulders, triceps, abs

This is one of those workouts that will probably leave most people thinking “yea, right”. It’s really not that bad though. If you can’t hold a handstand, find a door or a wall to support your legs. Also, put a pillow between your hands just in case you come down and find yourself unable to push back up. If you can’t go down at all though, that’s fine. Just try to hold a handstand.




Muscles worked: everything

If you don’t know what a burpee is then all your childhood coaches must have had very kind hearts. They are probably the bane of every athlete’s existence, but there is a reason for that – they are extremely effective. As in the image above, you start by squatting down. Next, shoot your feet out in to a pushup position and guess what? That’s right, do a pushup. Now bring your feet back under you and explode upwards reaching as high as you can. That’s one burpee…but don’t stop there.

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