How to Exercise without Expensive Gym Equipment

Just because you may not own or have access to any top-notch fitness equipment doesn’t mean you can’t get an effective workout. Gym memberships can cost upwards of $100 or more per month while buying your own treadmill, elliptical trainer or multigym machine can easily run $1,000+ for a quality product. The best solution when on a tight budget is to use alternative ways to exercise, many of which require no special gym equipment at all.

The CDC recommends that children exercise for at least 60 minutes per day, which can include playing sports, jogging, playing outdoor games or doing other physical activities. The recommendation for adults is a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately-intense aerobic exercise, plus two resistance training workouts per week. Keep in mind that this is just a minimum recommendation; you’re better off shooting for 300 or more minutes of exercise per week. Exercise for 60 minutes-a-day, five days per week to hit this weekly exercise goal.

You can complete both aerobic and resistance training workouts without the need for weightlifting equipment or expensive cardio machines. No longer can you use the excuse, “I can’t afford it!”.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is ideal for cardiovascular health and weight loss. You can burn a significant number of calories during a moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic workout. Here are some effective aerobic exercises you can do at home:

Step Aerobics

Good old-fashioned step aerobics…You know, like the VCR tape workouts your mom did when you were a kid. These old-school favorites are still one of the least expensive ways to get fit. According to the fitness experts at NutriStrategy, a 180-lb. person burns 695 calories per hour doing step aerobics. Done five times per week, that’s the equivalent of burning 1 lb. of body fat per week. The only equipment you need for this workout is an inexpensive step designed for aerobic use and a fitness DVD to keep you motivated. You can also find free step aerobic workouts online.

Running In-Place and Jumping Jacks

Simply jogging or running in place is nearly as effective as running on a treadmill or outside. Likewise, jumping jacks are suitable for people of just about any fitness level, and it is a great aerobic workout. Have you ever tried doing five minutes of jumping jacks?…It’s not easy! Light calisthenics are tried-and-true methods for improving your cardiovascular health. Additionally, these types of exercises promote strong and healthy bones.



You can burn upwards of 500 calories per hour dancing at a moderate-to-vigorous pace. It’s fun, gets the blood flowing and works up a great sweat…What’s not to like?



Walking at a brisk pace burns 400 or more calories per hour depending upon your bodyweight and the terrain. Choose a route that has hills to maximize the number of calories burned. Walk with a friend, pet or family member to make it a more enjoyable experience. Walking is suitable for people of just about any fitness level, even if you suffer from minor arthritis or joint pain. It can actually help improve these conditions. Just make sure you have a relatively new, comfortable pair of walking shoes before you get started.

Resistance Training Exercises

If you think resistance training exercise is reserved for bodybuilders and muscle-heads, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s important for children and adults to perform load-bearing exercise at least a couple of times per week. It helps build and maintain lean muscle mass and improves bone health. Resistance exercise also helps your body burn more calories due to the increase in muscle mass, so you can burn more fat in the long run. Try some of these inexpensive resistance training workouts:

Simple Resistance Exercises

Frank C. Mueller

Get back to the basics. Push-ups, crunches, tricep dips, bicep curls and squats give you a full-body workout without the need for expensive gym equipment. You can use two 1-gallon milk jugs filled with an equal amount of water or sand to perform bicep curls and squats. Focus on proper form and technique to maximize results. Spend about 30 to 45 minutes per day, three to five days per week, doing simple resistance exercises. Give your body ample time to recover following each workout — usually a day off between workouts is adequate.

Pool Workouts

If you have access to a pool, the opportunity to get a low-impact resistance training workout is right at your fingertips. Water provides natural resistance as you move through it, and it’s ideal for the elderly or those with severe arthritis. A 2009 study published in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology” found water resistance training exercises helped elderly participants improve their balance, walking ability, posture, tension/anxiety and muscle tone. Simply walking through the water provides a full-body resistance workout. You can also try water weights, treading water or water aerobics.

Resistance Band Training

You can pickup a set of resistance bands for under $15. Virtually any resistance training exercise you can do at the gym, you can do with resistance bands. Resistance bands offer the advantage of providing smooth resistance compared to that of free weights. Resistance bands may not be able to provide bodybuilding type of results, however, you can improve your muscle tone and reduce the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis by using resistance band training.


If you’re a more advanced athlete already in pretty good shape but want to take it to the next level, plyometrics may be the answer. Plyometric exercises are designed to increase your power and strength. These exercises can help increase your vertical jump, punching power, speed/explosiveness and fast-twitch muscle response. Examples of effective plyometric exercises include squat-thrusts, jump rope, modified push-ups (lifting your body off the ground with each push) and step jumps (jumping up and down from a step) or running stairs. According to Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Christian Finn, plyometric exercises provide results fast and with a relatively low volume of work. Finn says doing “plyo’s” one-to-three times per week for a period of six weeks will usually yield increases in power and strength. Each workout can consist of as little as two-to-four sets of 10 repetitions.

So, hopefully you’ve found at least one exercise suitable for you to try at home. As you can see, you don’t need a gym membership to get in shape. It just takes a little motivation and dedication on your part.

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