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The Bare Bones Workout

Your exercise routine doesn’t need to be glamorous or complicated to get great results. Sometimes simple and straightforward is the best way to go.

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Additional push exercises include a standing chest press (with a cable or tubing) or an overhead press with free weights. You can stick with the push-up, or you can choose one of these other push exercises for variation or convenience.

MORE: 10 Easy Ways to Recharge Your Workout

The only rule here is that you choose an exercise that requires you to support your own body weight rather than one in which your body weight is supported by the floor or a bench (such as a seated or lying chest press). Otherwise, you’re taking away the body’s requirement to use multiple muscles simultaneously to stabilize itself, and you’re burning fewer calories.

Pull Exercises

Courtesy of Tracy Hafen
Pull Exercises

The pull exercise conditions the back of the body, as well as the biceps in the arms.

The simplest pull exercises include the back row using either free weights or cables/tubing and the pull-up or chin-up using an elevated bar. (The Iron Gym is inexpensive and simple to use at home). 

If you have no equipment, you can use a doorway to do some simple pull exercises. Stand in the doorway and grab ahold of the doorjamb on either side of you (palms facing outward, or away from each other). Lean your upper body back until your arms are straight and are supporting the weight of your upper body. Use your arms to pull yourself back up while keeping your shoulder blades pulling together and downward. You’ll likely feel this exercise mainly in the shoulders and upper back.

MORE: Five Moves to Ease Back and Neck Pain

Courtesy of Tracy Hafen
Pull Exercises Side

Next, stand outside of the doorway, to the left or right side, with the front of your body and face almost against the wall next to it. Reach through the doorway and grip the doorjamb with one hand. Keeping your knees against the wall next to the doorway, lean back until your arm is straight. Use your arm to pull yourself back up to the wall. You’ll feel this mainly in the biceps and forearm. Make sure you have a good grip on the doorjamb and that your hand will not slip off.

Squat Exercises

The squat exercises condition and strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. They also require stabilization from the core and, in the case of the jump version, strengthen calves and help maintain or even improve bone density.

Choose any variation of a squat exercise according to your ability and fitness level. These are listed from the least to most demanding: partial squat (lowering your center of gravity just a few inches and gradually building to a deeper squat), basic squat (bending knees until legs form a 90-degree angle), basic squat with added resistance (wearing a weighted vest or holding dumbbells), jump squat (adding an explosive jump between each squat motion) and single-leg squat (lowering yourself down using one leg, holding the other leg slightly behind you or out in front of you).

To ensure you’re doing squats correctly, follow these technique basics:

1. Shift your hips back and down, so that your knees remain over your feet rather than in front of your feet.

2. As you squat, keep your knees in line with your toes. Don't allow them to migrate toward each other.

3. Keep your focus forward and your chest lifted, so that your back is not rounded forward.

MORE: Strength Train at Home—No Equipment Required

Lunge Exercises

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Lunge Exercises

Lunges strengthen the quads, hamstrings and glutes and require stabilization from the core muscles.

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