The Only 12 Exercises You Need To Get In Shape

Learn these moves and you’ll never need to pay for a gym membership again.



You can work out pretty much anywhere using bodyweight exercise moves.

Stunts Amazing / Via

Stunts Amazing / Via

Bodyweight exercises are moves that use only your body’s weight as resistance, such as pushups and lunges — no equipment needed. They’re a staple in many high-intensity circuit training (HICT) workouts. HICT workouts are intense and quick — like crazy quick. Like, you do them in less than 30 minutes quick. That means you can get in great shape without going to the gym, spending hours working out, or using any workout equipment at all. (Seriously; it’s science.) You’ve just gotta know the right moves.

BuzzFeed Life reached out to personal trainer and exercise physiologist Albert Matheny, C.S.C.S., founder of SoHo Strength Lab, and asked him to come up with a list of 12 exercise moves that are essential for anyone who wants to be able to do a workout anywhere and anytime. He also came up with nine different workouts that are various combinations of these moves. But you can think of these 12 moves as the building blocks for tons of variations of quick, do-anywhere HICT workouts.

Some of these moves have instructions for how to make them easier and others don’t. For the moves that don’t have “make it easier” instructions, just perform the movements as well as you can. Know that it’s better to do just a few reps of each movement perfectly, rather than doing many reps of the movements wrong. Cool!

After you’ve mastered the below moves, learn how to combine them into full 20- or 30-minute workouts here.

1. Pushup



Place your hands directly under your shoulders.
Position your feet hip-width apart.
Maintain a plank position; your body should be in a straight line from from the back of your head to your hips.
Keep your neck neutral, keeping it in line with your shoulders.
As you lower, keep your elbows close to your body.


Let your butt sag or stick up.
Tilt your head up or tuck it in.
Allow your shoulders to come towards your ears.

Make it easier

Widen the distance between your feet for better stability.
Or perform the pushup as described above, but rather than starting in and returning to a plank position, do the pushup with your knees touching the ground. Just make sure to keep your back and thighs in a straight line.

2. Plank



Plant your hands under your shoulders, or slightly wider apart.
Squeeze your glutes. (That would be your butt.)
Keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head through your feet.
Tighten your core.
Tuck your chin.
Fix your gaze on the floor, either between or just beyond your hands.


Let your butt lift or sag.
Lift your head.
Hold the position if your form is suffering — the only good exercise move is one that you do right.

Make it easier

Hold the position for a shorter period of time.

3. Glute Bridge



Lie on your back.
Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, with your knees bent.
Contract your abs.
Push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor.


Stop contracting your abs.
Push your hips so high that the neutral position of your hips and back becomes compromised.

4. Spider Lunge



Start in the top of a pushup position.
Bring your right foot to the outside of your right hand.
Land with a flat foot.
Bring your foot back to the starting position.
Repeat on other side.
Maintain a strong plank position throughout.


Allow your shoulders to move away from directly over your hands.
Allow your hips to sag.

5. Plank Tap



Begin in a plank position.
Lightly tap your left shoulder with your right hand.
Return your hands to the plank position.
Alternate on the other side.
Maintain a strong plank position with a tight core and glutes throughout.


Allow your weight to shift as you tap your shoulders.

6. Squat


Position your feet somewhere between hip- and shoulder-width apart.
Turn your toes out as needed to accommodate flexibility through the movement.
Keep your chest tall.
Look ahead and slightly up.
Be sure your knees are tracking in line with your toes.
Squat as deep as your flexibility allows.


Let your knees travel forward past your toes.
Let your knees buckle inwards.
Lift your heels off the ground.
Shift your weight to your toes.

Make it easier

Keep the squat shallow if going deeper is difficult or pulling uncomfortably.

7. Side Lunge



Keep your chest up.
Shift your weight through your midfoot and heel.
Lunge as low as your flexibility allows.


Let your knees travel forward past your toes.

8. Squat Jump



Squat until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
Keep your chest up.
Hold your arms straight in front of you as you squat, pushing them behind your back as you jump.
Jump as high as you can.
Exhale as you jump.
Land softly.


Allow your knees to travel past your toes.
Shift your weight to your toes while squatting.

9. Jumping Lunge



Keep your front knee at 90 degrees.
Lunge as low as flexibility allows without the back knee touching the floor.
Maintain a vertical torso.
Keep your weight evenly distributed between your front and back foot.
Jump to switch your foot positioning — front foot goes back, back foot goes front.
Coordinate arm movement so that the front arm pumps forward while the opposite leg lunges back.
Land softly.


Allow your knee to touch the floor.

Make it easier

Don’t jump — just do regular lunges.

10. Single-Leg Deadlift



Maintain a flat back.
Keep your core tight.
Keep your weight evenly distributed in your planted leg.
Raise one leg straight behind you, keeping your toes pointed down, as you bend forward, hinging at the hips.
Bend only as low as your flexibility allows.
Pull yourself back to standing using the hamstring (the back) of your planted leg.
Keep your head neutral.


Reach for the floor by leading with your fingertips, which causes your back to round — instead, focus on keeping the back flat and hinging at the hips.
Try to touch the floor if your flexibility will not allow it.
Alternate legs between each rep — stick to one leg per set, and then switch to the other leg for the next set.

11. Reverse Lunge



Start in a straight standing position.
Step one foot backwards.
Keep your front knee at a 90-degree angle.
Keep your chest up.
Distribute your weight evenly between front and back foot.
Allow your back knee to lightly touch the floor.
Push through your front heel as you stand up.
Coordinate your arm movements so that your front arm pumps forward while the opposite leg lunges back.


Shift the weight in your front foot to your toes.
Allow your knee to travel beyond your toes.
Allow your front knee to cave inward.

12. Walkout



Keep your legs as straight as your flexibility allows.
Keep your back flat.
Bend at the waist and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
Maintain a tight core as you walk your hands forward until you’re in plank position and then backward to standing.
Push your hips as high as possible and press your heels into the ground as you walk your hands back in.


Walk your hands past the pushup position.
Allow your hips to sag below neutral.
Sway side to side from your hips.
Bring your shoulders up toward your ears.

Make it easier

Bend your knees slightly if you’re unable to reach the ground, with the goal of increasing your flexibility over time and working toward straight legs.

To turn these moves into a full workout, follow one of these guides.

Or you can learn how to mix and match the moves to make your own DIY bodyweight workout. Here’s how, with some examples below:

Choose exercises that won’t have you using the same muscle groups one after the other. For example, if you choose two movements that mostly tax the upper body (like a plank and pushups) and two that mostly challenge the lower body (say squat jumps and lunges), you’d want to alternate the upper- and lower-body moves: plank, squat jumps, pushups, lunges. Use one of these three formats created by Matheny (and see examples for each one below). Remember, each movement must be performed properly and with full range of motion.

Format A.

30 seconds on, 10 seconds off; you’ll need 3 exercise moves total.

Movement 1: 30 seconds
REST: 10 seconds
Movement 2: 30 seconds
REST: 10 seconds
Movement 3: 30 seconds

Complete the circuit 10 times.

Here’s an example of Format A:


Format B.

You’ll need 4 exercise moves total for this type, and you break them apart into 2 moves for PART A MINI-CIRCUIT and PART B MINI-CIRCUIT. Then you do 10 reps of each move in a mini-circuit, repeat the mini-circuit 8 times. Rest, and move on to the next mini-circuit. It looks like this:

Movement 1: 10 reps
Movement 2: 10 reps

Repeat PART A x 8

Rest 2 minutes

Movement 3: 10 reps
Movement 4: 10 reps

Repeat PART B x 8

Here’s an example of Format B:


Format C.

Do each round of moves starting on the minute for 4 minutes; you’ll need 4 exercise moves total.

Start the clock: do 10 reps of movement 1
When you’re done with your 10 reps, do jumping jacks until minute 1
Starting at minute 1: 10 reps of movement 2
When you’re done with your 10 reps, do jumping jacks until minute 2
Starting at minute 2: 10 reps of movement 3
When you’re done with your 10 reps, do jumping jacks until minute 3
Starting at minute 3: 10 reps of movement 4


Repeat x 5

Here’s an example of Format C:



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