8 best free workouts on YouTube

If your New Year ambition is to get fit, but the cost of a gym membership is putting you off and you can’t really face getting out in the cold, then we may have just the solution.

Combining the ease of a workout DVD with absolutely zero cost (all you need is an internet connection!), video sharing site YouTube is bursting with expert exercise classes for you to try from the comfort of your own home.

Whether your goal is to burn fat or tone up, we’ve scoured the web to bring you five of the best free workouts on YouTube. What are you waiting for? Grab your laptop and get cracking.

‘Revolution – Day 1, Practice Ease’ by Yoga with Adriene

Best for: Yoga

Why do it? From de-stressing to improving your flexibility, the benefits of yoga are huge. If you’ve always wanted to give yoga a try but don’t fancy forking out for classes in case it’s not your thing, then Yoga with Adriene is for you.

Perfect for beginners, instructor Adriene has created an easy-to-follow ‘Revolution’ 31-day plan to get you hooked on the de-stressing activity in 2017. Ease yourself into it with the ‘Day 1’ video and, you may well be doing ‘Downward Dogs’ like a pro by the end of the month.

Sign up to the programme on Adrienne’s website and you’ll also receive a downloadable exercise planner and daily email for extra motivation.

‘Total Body Tone Up!’ by Tone It Up

Best for: Full-body toning

Why do it? If you’re looking to firm things up in one go, then this full-body toning workout from popular personal training duo Tone It Up could be just the ticket.

While we’ll admit the intro/soundtrack is a little bit cheesy, don’t let that put you off as these two really do know what they’re talking about, and have garnered a loyal following for good reason: their workouts work.

Lasting 14 minutes, and including a warm-up to help prevent injury, the girls offer clear instructions and plenty of encouragement to boot.

’32 Minute Home Cardio Workout with No Equipment’ by Fitness Blender

Best for: Cardio/Fat burning

Why do it? If you want to torch fat, then try working up a sweat in your living room with this half-hour cardio routine from specialist site FitnessBlender.com.

Designed to help you optimise your calorie burn, the workout requires absolutely no equipment, making it a doddle to do at home.

There’s even a handy link so you can print out the instructions and familiarise yourself with the moves before you start. No wonder it’s been watched over 9 million times!

‘5 Minute Flat Belly Ab Workout’ by PopSugar Fitness

Best for: Getting a flat stomach

Why do it? A flatter belly in just 5 minutes? Sign us up now! This targeted workout from specialist channel PopSugar Fitness can even be done with a heavy book, rather than dumbbells, so we defy anyone to find a decent excuse not to try it!

Forget endless crunches, this standing routine will help target your core like nothing else, helping to tone up your mid-section. The best bit? The trainer offers tips on how to take things down a notch if you’re a bit of a beginner.

’30 Day Fat Burn: Legs and Butt Shaper Workout’ by BeFit

Best for: Toning your legs and bum

Why do it? If you’d like to concentrate on your lower body, including your thighs and bum, then this 10-minute routine from popular fitness channel BeFit could work wonders.

As well as helping you tone those hard-to-tackle areas, the workout is designed to burn fat, incorporating a blend of cardio moves and strength training. Best of all, all you will need is a towel and a bottle of water, while the routine can be adapted to suit your level.

‘Total Arm Workout’ by XHIT Daily

Best for: Toning your arms

Why do it? Toning your arms can be tricky to say the least, which is we were thrilled to discover this 10-minute routine from popular exercise channel XHIT Daily.

You can use cans of food if you don’t have weights to hand, and the pace isn’t too intense, meaning this is an easy one to follow no matter your level. With clear instructions and a focus on correct technique, we’re not surprised it’s been viewed over 4 million times.

‘Get Fit 4 Free – The SB 30 Day Sweat Hiitgirl Workout’ by Sweaty Betty

Best for: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Why do it? HIIT has been big news in fitness circles for a while now – and for good reason, too. This type of workout allows you to burn fat in the most efficient way by alternating between intense periods of activity and rest.

While it’s probably not the best workout to try if you haven’t exercised in a while, this 30-minute routine from activewear label Sweaty Betty offers three different levels, to suit everyone from total newbies to experienced HIIT fans.

‘POP Pilates for Beginners – Total Body Workout’ by Blogilates

Best for: Pilates

Why do it? Pilates is usually associated with expensive equipment, but you can try the moves at home, even if you’re a complete beginner, thanks to this total body workout from Blogilates, fitness instructor Cassey Ho’s popular channel.

With a focus on breathing and proper posture, this half-hour workout is the perfect introduction to Pilates for beginners after a full-body workout.

Your 3-step plan to do 20 pullups without stopping

Pull your weight with these essential bodyweight workout tips.

PULLUPS ARE FLAT-OUT hard as hell.

Here’s how to really pull your weight:

1) Elastic bands

Use elastic assistance bands for a boost. That’ll help get you to knock out a few more reps than you otherwise would.

2) Negative Pullups

Focus on the lowering portion rather than the lift. Find a low bar and jump up so your chest in near bar level, then slowly lower yourself.

3) Forced Reps

When your muscles are on fire, have a training partner give you a boost to crank out two to three more reps.

Do This Mobility Drill For a Better Squat


Ankle immobility is a major reason some lifters have trouble reaching adequate depth, staying balanced, and remaining stable during a squat. Specifically, the inability to move the ankle into enough dorsiflexion causes these problems.


Above, we see what happens if the ankle doesn’t dorsiflex enough during a squat. It causes the heel to peel off the ground. (Imagine tipping the letter “L” to the right.) In this case, the forefoot is the only part able to apply force into the ground. The weight shifts forward, the knees receive excess stress, and posterior musculature is under-stimulated.


A squatter demonstrating good dorsiflexion resembles the above diagram. We see that the shin still moves forward, but now the feet stay flat on the ground. Dorsiflexion of the ankle is what allows this to take place, and now the lifter can apply force throughout the entire foot, making the squat safe and effective.

How to Mobilize Your Ankles

To exaggerate the dorsiflexion you need, put two weight plates on the ground (the same distance apart as your squat stance) in front of a power rack. The thickness of the plates will depend on your current ankle mobility. Five or 10-pound plates should provide enough thickness, and you can even experiment with a mat or thin board to get the same effect.

Step onto the plates so that the plates elevate your toes and keep your heels on the ground. Holding on to the rack, pull yourself into a deep squat.

From here, experiment with hitting different positions: Sit at the bottom. Lean front to back and side to side. Bounce around. Even squat up and down. Doing these movements while your ankle is in extreme dorsiflexion will help mobilize the ankle.

Stay on the plates for 15-30 seconds at a time. When you step off the plates and back onto the flat ground, your ankle dorsiflexion will be super-compensated to the point where you’ll be able to glide to the bottom of a squat with ease.

Key Points

Make sure to keep your heels in contact with the ground while you’re on the plates. If you let them come off the ground at all, you defeat the purpose.

Force the shins forward to exaggerate closing the ankle joint angle. If you sit too far back onto your heels and allow your shins to angle back (as will be most comfortable), you won’t be forcing dorsiflexion.

Start with a thin plate or object to stand on, and work to a thicker one as mobility improves.

This drill will be especially helpful to anyone who squats in weightlifting shoes. Weightlifting shoes elevate the heel, and therefore don’t require the ankle to move through as much range of motion as a flat-soled shoe does. This drill creates the opposite effect of wearing weightlifting shoes by pitching the forefoot up rather than the heel.

Use this drill on days you squat, in between your first few warm-up/work-up sets. Amplify the effects of this drill by also including things such as tip toe walking, ankle rolling, and static calf stretching.


The Workout That Turned Me From A Couch Potato Into A Fitness Believer


Over the summer, when we decided NYLON’s (not generally super-athletic) digital staff members would test out high-octane cult workout classes for a series called Boot Camp, I didn’t intend to participate in my chosen activity for more than a month. I’ve never been able to incorporate exercise into my busy adult life. I barely have time to sleep enough. But I had recently found myself a few inches squishier than usual thanks to a happy new relationship and the revelation that the impending end of my 20s means cheeseburgers have tangible consequences. As such, I figured a month-long commitment to movement might do me some good. I arbitrarily chose to test out Barre3, knowing literally nothing about it.

Six months later and I’m still going three to five times a week. But let me start from the beginning.


Barre3, as it turns out, is a combination of yoga, pilates, and ballet, none of which I’ve ever really done, because why would I do any of those hard, horrible things when I could just… not? Attitude aside, I entered the Barre3 studio in the West Village of Manhattan nervous but with an open mind. I was greeted warmly at the front desk, and after revealing that I was a first-timer, an enthusiastic instructor explained the idea of modifications: Through the class, she’d be offering different ways to do the moves, so that if something felt bad, I could figure out how to make it work for my body.


The small studio itself is mostly windows and mirrors, full of late-afternoon light and gazelle-like attendees in Lululemon. I grabbed one pound weights (I’m not crazy!), a ball, and a stretchy band, and went to the furthest corner where I’d hoped to be invisible. (Actually, it’s hard to hide in a room full of mirrors, but.) The hour-long class, I’d eventually learn, is different every time, as the founder of Barre3, Sadie Lincoln, works with physical therapists, a chiropractor, dancers, and yogis to improve it. It begins with some deep breathing and then moves into a warm-up. My first class, the warm-up was “toe taps,” which involves squatting, standing, leaning to the side and then extending one leg out, tapping your toe, coming back through center and squatting, and then alternating legs, all to a beat. This—supposedly the easiest part of the class, during which you’re just trying to get your heart pumping—was my first challenge. I don’t even know what I did.


After a warm-up combination of toe taps, sumo squats, and arm movements, the structure of a Barre3 class takes you through each major part of your body—legs, arms, butt, and core. The idea is to isolate each muscle group through very small motions, followed by large-range motions. The movements themselves aren’t too complicated, though through modifications you can layer up to get as complex as you feel up for. Those small motions are where the Barre3 “magic” happens: Squatting while on your toes, arms up in the air, you pulse up and down forever while your whole body shakes and an instructor rhythmically urges, “Down an inch, up an inch. Down an inch, up an inch. Smaller! Tinier! Smaller!” It is incredibly difficult, and very painful, but doesn’t last very long, and before you know it, you’re doing long-range motions which feel weirdly relieving, and suddenly you’re on to the next body part. The ballet barre is there for balance; very few of the moves require it, but it’s definitely helpful when you’re on your toes, getting low to the ground, throwing your weight in a direction it’s never gone before.


It took me about two weeks before I could even get deep enough into the positions to start to work out effectively. But then, a weird thing started to happen: I’d have to focus so hard on what I was doing, in order to do it correctly (and also not fall over—a lot of Barre3 happens while balancing), that 20, 30 minutes would go by and I hadn’t looked at the clock, or thought about work, or ruminated about something I said five years before. As an anxious and creative person, I’m used to my mind spiraling in every different direction at once. But as the weeks went by and I got more and more into the workout, it became the only hour of my day during which my thoughts quieted. An ongoing to-do list was replaced by “Down an inch, up an inch.” As my muscles shook and burned, I found the first true calm I’d felt in years.


Mind aside, the results on my body were astounding, pretty quickly. An interesting thing about Barre3 is that even when you get the hang of it, it never gets easier: In fact, the stronger I felt, the more I shook. The more confident I felt during class, the more my legs felt like Jell-o as I tried to walk down the single flight of stairs to leave the studio. After a couple of months, if I didn’t feel super sore the day after a class, I’d feel guilty, like I didn’t give it my all. And while planks stayed hard as hell, I switched my thinking to “I can’t fucking do this” to “there’s only a minute left,” and suddenly was able to get through each set without giving up. Meanwhile, my pants started to fit again. I eventually graduated to two- and then three-pound weights. Arm muscles appeared, the shadow of abs started to form, the backs of my thighs smoothed out, and parts of my body that I hadn’t even noticed had thickened—my lower back, for example—turned lean. My butt morphed into a, how do you say, booty. I also became more aware of how what I ate and how much I slept was impacting my body and my mind: There’s nothing like trying to do an hour of tiny squats after a night of drinking.


Several months in and I was totally hooked. I tried a few other kinds of ballet barre classes so that I could have something to compare it to, but nothing was as good: No other studio I tried encouraged me to listen to my body or spent as much time on each muscle group.


Eager to get to the bottom of why Barre3 is just so effective, I got Lincoln on the phone. “I think we’ve been trained to be pain junkies,” she says, of the no pain, no gain culture of other cult workout classes. “We’ve been brainwashed to think pain equals success. What we found is that pain actually sabotages results. When you work your body to that much strain, stress happens, and it’s not good. It doesn’t help you metabolize fat well, and it prevents you from using your body in an optimal way.” Barre3, she explains, is the opposite: Founded because of her own disenchantment with fitness, she and her husband sought to design a workout that was all about balance, not pain.

And, apparently, my initial experience of not even being able to get deep enough into the positions to complete the moves is not unique. “A lot of times people come to Barre3 and won’t ever come back because they thought it was easy,” Lincoln says. By the third class, if they stick with it, she says, they usually figure it out. And as for the fact that it’s never gotten easier, even though I’m getting stronger? Yeah, that’s a thing, too: “I think with Barre3, what we’ve built into this, is truly a practice, similar to yoga, where there are thousands of opportunities to go deep into the body. So much of it is about the mental part of it and being focused. The more focused you become and the more open you become in your body, the more challenged you become.”

Lincoln doesn’t claim that Barre3 is a be-all, end-all workout. In fact, she refreshingly expresses skepticism that any fitness routine can be. She says, “Exercise is a catalyst, it’s a place to practice and learn about yourself, so you do everything else better.” And she’s right. Things I’ve done better since becoming addicted to Barre3 include but aren’t limited to: sleeping, eating, thinking, relaxing, feeling good about my body, running up and down subway stairs, standing up straight, and—most importantly—feeling like there’s an actual connection between my mind and my body that I want to control, nurture, and improve every day. It’s a little woo-woo for the results of something that was supposed to be akin to “boot camp,” but hey: If just moving up and down an inch for an hour a few times a week is enough to change my entire outlook on life, consider this former fitness skeptic converted.


A 10-Minute Legs Workout That Will Leave You Sore And Satisfied

Up for the challenge?
Lumina / Stocksy

If your go-to legs workout just isn’t making you feel the burn like it used to, this 10-minute challenge will bring new life to leg day. Developed for SELF by certified personal trainer Lisa Tanker, it hits all of the major muscle groups in your lower body for a well-rounded but tough-as-hell routine.

“This workout is made up of simple but very effective moves,” says Tanker. “Squat and lunge variations are great for strengthening the legs and glutes, which are muscles you need for every day activities from walking to standing.” By keeping major muscle groups like your quads, hamstrings, and glutes strong, you’ll be less prone to falls and injuries, she explains.

Plus, working your lower body not only has strength-building benefits, but it also plays a big role in how many calories your body burns at rest. “The leg and glute muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body, so working these muscles is great for boosting your metabolism and burning calories,” says Tanker. The more muscle mass you have, the more energy your body uses at rest, which translates to more calories burned when you’re doing nada. Since the muscle groups in your lower body are large, they’re big contributors.

The best part? You can work toward these benefits in just 10 minutes, using minimal equipment. Here’s your game plan.

Here’s How To Do This Workout:

Workout summary:

  • Step Up With Knee Lift — 10 reps each side
  • Reverse Lunge — 10 reps each side
  • Plié Squat — 20 reps
  • Curtsy Lunge With Side Kick — 10 reps each side
  • Glute Bridge — 20 reps
  • Rest for 45 seconds, then repeat this circuit one more time.

If you want to incorporate more cardio into this legs workout, do five burpees between each exercise (here’s what proper form looks like). You can also hold a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand during the first three moves to give your muscles an extra challenge.

Equipment needed: A small step or box (optional: set of 5- to 10-pound dumbbells)

Here are some helpful GIFs to get you started.

1. Step Up With Knee Lift

Whitney Thielman

  • Stand in front of a box or step, about one foot away.
  • Step up with your left foot and drive your right knee up towards your chest. “Make sure to bring the opposite knee to 90 degrees and really squeeze the glute of the standing leg at the top of the step,” says Berry.
  • With control, step your right foot back to the starting position and follow with your left foot.
  • That’s 1 rep; do 10, then repeat with the other leg.

2. Reverse Lunge

Whitney Thielman

  • Start in a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale as you step backwards with your left foot. Land on the ball of your left foot and keep your heel off the ground.
  • Now bend your knees creating two 90-degree angles with your legs. Aim to have your back knee hovering about three to six inches off the ground. Keep your shoulders directly above your hips and your chest upright.
  • Now push through the heel of your right foot to return to standing.
  • That’s 1 rep; do 10, then repeat with the other leg.


3. Plié Squat

Whitney Thielman

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing outward.
  • Bend your knees to drop into a squat, so your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Drive through your heels to return to standing.
  • That’s 1 rep, do 20.

4. Curtsy Lunge With Side Kick

Whitney Thielman

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Step your left leg diagonally behind your right leg and bend your knees to lower into a lunge.
  • Push through your right heel to stand, and sweep left leg out to side.
  • That’s 1 rep; do 10, then repeat with the other leg.

5. Glute Bridge


Whitney Thielman

  • Start on your back with your knees bent and arms in low V by your hips. Your feet should be about hip-distance apart with your heels a few inches away from your butt.
  • Push through your heels to lift your hips up while squeezing your glutes. Try to create one diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Pause for 1-2 seconds, then lower back down.
  • That’s 1 rep, do 20.
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