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7 Lean-Body Exercises That Don't Require Gym Equipment

Ditch the gym for these lean-body exercises.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

"Having a lean body isn't a great feeling," said nobody ever. In order to achieve the lean body of your dreams, you must know a thing or two. One misconception many people have is that to get in shape, you must go to a gym. Hitting up the gym certainly does help, but you don't necessarily need a gym full of fancy equipment in order to get lean. So gear up, because we have just what you need to know, along with seven exercises for a lean body that don't require fancy gym equipment.

First off, you should include strength training in your workout routine when your end game is to get lean. The reason? Strength training burns more calories than cardio, elevates your metabolism, and helps you build lean muscle. You can get great results simply by using resistance bands, dumbbells, and your body weight at home or while traveling. Many of my clients have reached their fitness goals with just those tools.

If you're looking to achieve a slim physique and don't have gym equipment at your fingertips, here are seven exercises for a lean body that you can seamlessly incorporate into your routine. Cheer up, and get ready to lean up! Read on to learn your new favorite fitness routine, and next up, don't miss The 1-Month Weight Loss Challenge for a Slimmer You.

Dumbbell Front Squats

woman doing exercises for a lean body while holding dumbbells, near the ocean

Start your dumbbell front squats by holding a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders. Make sure your core stays tight as you hinge your hips back and squat to the floor until your quads are parallel to it. Then, drive through your heels and hips to rise back up, flexing both quads and glutes to finish. Perform three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Hand-Release Pushups

fitness woman doing pushups exercises for a lean body

Begin by getting into a pushup position to do your hand-release pushups. Your shoulders should line up with your wrists, your back should remain straight, your core should stay tight, and your glutes should be squeezed. Next, lower your body with control until you touch the floor. Once you've reached the bottom of the motion, take both hands off the floor, placing them back to push yourself up to the starting position. Once you rise up, flex your triceps and chest before performing another rep. Perform three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.

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Band Rows

woman resistance band rows

For band rows, get up by wrapping your resistance band around a sturdy surface, like a pole or a beam. Grip the band with both hands, and take a couple of steps back to gain some tension. Keep your core tight, drive your elbows back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Then, completely straighten both arms to get a full stretch before performing the next rep. Perform three to four sets of 15 reps.

Bulgarian Split Squats

woman doing couch Bulgarian split squats in her living room

The Bulgarian split squat starts with standing tall while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Position your back foot on a workout bench or couch, and step out with your other foot just about two to three feet away from the bench. Using control, lower your body into a split squat; your back knee should almost grace the floor. Next, push yourself back up to return to standing, flexing your glutes and quads as you rise. Perform three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each leg.

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Dumbbell Arnold Press

woman doing dumbbell arnold press outdoors

The Arnold press starts by holding dumbbells up at shoulder height with both palms facing your body. As you lift the dumbbells over your head, rotate your palms and elbows out and away from your body, and press the weights up in a smooth motion. Flex your shoulders at the top, then reverse the movement back to the starting position before doing another rep. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps.

Side Plank Leg Raise

side plank with raised leg

Now it's time to get into a side plank position with your shoulders in line with your wrists and your feet stacked. Lift your hips up and forward, bracing your core. Leading with your top leg, raise from the heel up as high as you can, flexing your glute at the end of the movement. Lower your leg under control back to starting position before performing another rep. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Band Mountain Climbers

resistance band mountain climber illustration

To perform your band mountain climbers, wrap a resistance band around a sturdy pole or beam. Form some tension on the band by pulling it out several feet, and place both of your feet inside of it. Assume a pushup position while maintaining a tight core. Start to bring one knee to your chest, and flex your lower abs before returning to the starting position. Switch back and forth until all reps are completed. Perform three to four sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim
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