Gym memberships and subscriptions to fitness studios are worth spending money on. But when pennies need pinching – like during the current cost-of-living-crisis – they’re often some of the first expenses people cut back on. To keep your fitness goals on track, we asked a series of fitness experts for exercises you can do at home – no equipment needed.

Sydney Pilates studio Scout Pilates, found in the inner-west Sydney suburbs of Marrickville and St Peters, has bright and beautiful studios offering reformer and mat Pilates, as well as yoga classes, and a cafe and corner store at its Marrickville studio. All you need for the below whole-body workout is a mat or towel to lie on.


Four-point kneel press-ups
Come onto your hands and knees on the mat. Check your hands are under your shoulders and your knees under your hip joints. Focus on maintaining a flat back, with lift through the front body. Rotate the elbows so the elbows are pointing backwards and keep hands spread. Bend the arms, lowering the forearms to touch the mat. Shoulders will be roughly over the hands, then slowly push back to straight arms. Repeat exercise for several reps to fatigue.

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To advance this movement, come into a kneeling plank position: shoulders over wrists, knees on the floor, with a long line from shoulders to knees. Rather than lowering forearms to the floor, instead bend the arms to lower the chest towards the floor; body weight will come forward of the hands. Focus on bringing elbows by your side body, then push back to start position. This exercise works the arms, shoulders and core.

Reverse tabletop tricep dip
Start seated on the floor with feet hip-width apart, and hands on the mat behind you, fingers pointing back towards you. Bend and extend at the arms slowly. To advance this movement, lift the hips off the floor. Maintaining a lifted body position, bend the arms to lower your body halfway, then straighten the arms up again to lift the hips. This exercise works the shoulders, triceps and core.


Lunge with hip hinge
Step your right foot forward so that the leg is bent roughly at 90 degrees while the back leg remains long. Keep your front knee stacked directly over your ankle, and square your hips to the front. Lift the back heel as high as possible to ensure the exercise targets the right glute. Bring your hands to your hips and focus on keeping your legs still. Thinking about maintaining a light engagement through your abdominals and a long spine, hinge forward from the hips so that your gaze is to the floor in front of your right foot. Come back tall then repeat for 15-plus reps. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. To find more challenge, when hinging forward extend the arms overhead, so that your sleeves are either side of your ears, engaging your shoulders, then return the hands to your hips before returning to the starting position. This exercise targets the legs, in particular the glutes, as well as core strength.

Tippy bird
Start standing on your right leg, with your left leg hovering off the mat, arms active by your side. Keeping a long spine and soft bend in your right leg, begin to lower your torso to parallel with the mat, your hands reaching forward, while the left leg extends behind you, the leg actively reaching away behind you. Keep the left hip and knee pointing down to the floor, and with your exhale, return to the starting position. Repeat for as many reps as you can, before repeating on the other side. To increase your challenge, hold the tippy bird position through the torso, focusing on core engagement, and lower and lift the long back leg to the floor and into the air for eight reps. This exercise targets the legs and helps build core stability and balance.


Abdominal crunch
Start by laying on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows wide and feet resting hip distance apart on the floor. With your exhale, draw ribs to hips, focusing on lifting your shoulder blades off the mat. Keep your head heavy into your hands, and your chin about 1–2 inches off your chest, with your gaze over your knees. Repeat for as many reps as you find you can achieve with good form. To find more challenge, lift your legs to tabletop position (knees over hip joints, shins parallel to the ceiling) or try it with hands reaching past your hips, hovering a few inches off the mat as you curl up. This exercise targets your abdominals and diaphragm.

The criss-cross builds on the technique of the abdominal crunch. Start by laying flat with hands behind your head, legs in tabletop position. Curl up as in the abdominal crunch. Keeping both shoulders and elbows off the floor throughout this movement, rotate through the diaphragm to your left, so that your right elbow reaches towards your opposite knee. You have the option to extend the right leg out long, hovering above the mat at this time. Be mindful of keeping your lower back connected with the mat. Lay back down, returning to the starting position, and then switch sides. To advance this movement, do not rest between rotations. This exercise targets the abdominals and obliques.


Shoulder bridge
Start lying on your back with legs bent, feet hip distance apart on the floor, arms by your sides. With your exhale, tip your pelvis towards you, feeling the imprint of your waistband into the floor. Keep slowly rolling up through your spine, trying to lift one vertebra away from the floor. Stop at the point that you have a long line from knees to shoulders – avoid squeezing the shoulders towards each other for extra height. Take a breath, and as you exhale roll down try to drop one vertebra at a time, using the downward pressure of your feet on the floor to assist. Repeat the exercise, focusing on slow control and articulation for at least eight reps. To find more challenge, try lifting the heels off the floor and/or lifting the arms up to the ceiling, and slowing your spinal articulation down. This exercise works the back muscles, glutes, hamstrings and core.

Prone press
Lay face down on the mat. Bring your hands by the side of your chest, with your elbows angled up towards the sky. Thinking about sliding your shoulder blades into your back pockets, press hands down into the floor and lift the chest to a height that is challenging without straining the lower back. Focus on keeping the shoulders away from the ears. Keep your legs and hips to the floor. Lower slowly back to the mat. Repeat several times to find muscle fatigue in the back – being mindful to modify the height, or stopping if you feel pain in your back. To increase the challenge, hover the hands off the mat and lift without the assistance of your arms, being mindful not to lead the lift with your chin. This exercise targets postural muscles.


Single leg circle
Start by laying on your back, with your arms out long by your side, palms down to the floor. Raise your right leg to the ceiling, pointing your toes. Keeping the back of your shoulders glued to the floor, take your right leg across your body to the left side, allowing the right hip to lift. Sweep your right leg back towards the end of the mat, then circle it out to the right side, keeping your left hip heavy to the mat. Exhale to complete the leg lift back up to the starting position pointing at the ceiling. Repeat five times, then reverse direction. Repeat on the other side. Increase repetitions or range as you become stronger. This exercise targets hip flexors, abdominals, and spinal rotation.

Laying on your left side with your hips stacked, bend your legs to a 45-degree angle. Feet should roughly be in line with your hips, or slightly forward. Glue heels together, and lift the top knee, making sure not to rock your top hip backwards to get more height. Repeat lift and lower until you feel a sustained burning sensation in the side of your glute. Repeat on your right side. Find additional challenge by keeping the bottom knee down and lifting the feet away from the floor while clamming. This exercise targets the hips and glutes.

Also in this series: at-home strength training, yoga flow and low-impact full-body workout.