Best Free, Bodyweight Workouts on YouTube

I hate working out. It’s SO. DAMN. BORING. and fraught with social interactions I’d rather avoid.

I tried running. I really did. I got the phone apps. I got fitted for the shoes. I joined training programs. It was multiple-exclamation-points-terrible.

Running around outside makes me feel like an idiot. I’m dripping sweat in a ratty T-shirt and shorts that are probably too short as I pass office workers heading into the city with makeup and expensive suits. Or, running at night, I end up as fodder for the scourge of mosquitos that follow me around in a cloud as soon as I step outside.

Jogging on the treadmill at our apartment’s gym is almost as bad. Thank god for climate control and the absence of insects, but dear lord, it’s just so monotonous, and there’s only so much a workout music playlist can do before it becomes completely useless.

So that leaves an actual brick-and-mortar gym. And, for a long while, I was a gym rat. I went every day for at least an hour. But, the problem with going to a gym that frequently is that you start to make friends.

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It happens even if you try really hard—and I tried really, really hard. I’d get to classes just before they started and leave immediately afterward. I never made eye contact with the person working out next to me. I asked for help with equipment maybe twice and only because the stupid wifi wasn’t working so I couldn’t Google it. But, alas, my solo act was not to last.

It always begins so innocently. They want to talk about the weather. Then it’s weekend plans. Then you’re sharing recipes for THE BEST kale salad, and it’s downhill from there. You find yourself sweating heavily near people you actually know. The anonymous faces are gone. You find yourself smelling other people sweating heavily near you. The beautiful and stark lack of camaraderie is gone. You find yourself caring about how much sweat is intermingling in this group activity. The gym is ruined.

So I don’t run, and I quit my gym membership.

But, you know, health. A gal’s gotta get her workout in somehow. So I’ve compiled seven YouTube playlists with the best, free bodyweight workouts for those of us who want to follow a hardcore exercise routine at home. You can do all of these workouts without any gear, and there are usually modifications so you can go all-out or take it easy, depending on how you feel. There will be sweat, but it’s the sweet sweat of solitude!

*Click on the links in the headers to redirect to the workouts.

Cardio Workouts

These cardio workouts are of medium-to-high intensity. These’ll get your heart rate up and the sweat flowing, and they’re way more fun than running on a treadmill.

“Day off” Workouts

I work out every day. That’s right—every day. I find that it helps keep my stress levels at a manageable level and gives me a needed jolt of energy at the start of the day. Sometimes, though, I don’t feel like going all-out. That’s where “day off” workouts come in handy. They’re low intensity—enough to get in some exercise but not so much that you’re breathing hard.

Combo Workouts

I usually like to work one body section at a time, but sometimes it’s nice to combine. Go kill two birds with one stone, and check out these workouts!

Arm & Back Workouts

I thought these workouts were easy—until I woke up the next morning in legit pain (the good kind!).

Ab & Hip Workouts

Love, love, love these ab and hip workouts! I bunch them together and do four or five videos per workout to really feel the burn.

Thigh, Calve & Glute Workouts

Thigh, inner thigh, calves, saddle bags, glutes, butt, side butt, upper butt (SO MUCH BUTT)—it’s all here. This is probably my longest list of workouts, and it’s great for all-around lower body toning.

Flexibility Stretches

When I decided I wanted to learn how to contort my body into various poses, I went through a lot of YouTube yoga videos. These are the best. Because of these instructors, I’ve mastered the front splits, and I’m well on my way to learning the middles splits! The key is consistency—make sure to do at least one flexibility video a day. Even if you’re not in it to win it, the stretches make your muscles feel amazing, and I’m always in a better mood afterward!

Photo Credit: Ayo Ogunseinde

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