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10 Workout Moves You Can Do With Just a Yoga Mat

While many people love working out at the gym or purchase costly equipment, if you're looking for a cheaper alternative with better results, a yoga mat might be perfect for you!

Nicole Taylor
10 Workout Moves You Can Do With Just a Yoga Mat
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Are you tired of spending hours in the gym and breaking the bank on fancy equipment only to see minimal results? Do you find yourself longing for a simple yet effective workout routine that you can do in your home?

Look no further than the humble yoga mat. With this versatile equipment, you can achieve a full-body workout that will leave you feeling strong, toned, and energized.

In this article, we'll explore ten workout moves you can do with just a yoga mat - no fancy equipment, no expensive gym memberships, and no hassle. So roll out your mat, put on your workout gear, and let's get started on the path to a stronger, healthier you.

10 Workout Moves to Do With a Yoga Mat

You can tone your body, build strength, and improve your overall fitness level with simple exercises. We'll introduce you to 10 workout moves that you can do with just a yoga mat. Whether a starter or a fitness enthusiast, these exercises will challenge and invigorate you.

1. Plank

1. Plank

Planks are considered one of the most influential and versatile mat exercises you can do to improve your core strength and overall fitness. Unlike crunches mainly target your abdominal muscles, planks engage multiple muscle groups, including your shoulders, arms, back, glutes, and legs.

This makes them an excellent exercise for building strength and improving your posture. You can also add Pre-Workout Supplements to intensify the strength and better results.

The difficulty level is based on your fitness level. For instance, you can try side planks, reverse planks, or plank variations such as knee-to-elbow or spiderman planks.

However, it's crucial to maintain the correct form while performing planks.

Improper technique can lead to injuries or cause you to miss out on the exercise's full benefits. Start adding Post Workout Supplements for faster recovery post workout. Therefore, it's essential to pay attention to your form, keep your body in a straight line, engage your core, and breathe deeply throughout the exercise.

To do it,

  • Get down on all fours and extend your legs backward.
  • Kick your body up on your toes. Now your body weight is shifted on your forearms and toes.
  • Make sure your elbows are placed directly under your shoulders.
  • You can interlace your fingers or keep your palms facing down on the ground.
  • Keep facing forward and hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

2. Leg Raises

2. Leg Raises

Leg raises are a great exercise to add to your repertoire of abdominal mat exercises, and they can be easily performed on a mat. However, ensuring that your movements are slow and controlled is essential, allowing you to effectively engage your core and hip flexors.

By performing lying leg raises, you can strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles and improve the strength and stability of your lower back, which can be particularly beneficial if you are experiencing pain or discomfort in this area.

With consistent practice, leg raises can enhance your overall fitness and mobility, allowing you to move more quickly and confidently in your daily life.

To Do It,

  • Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat, with your legs straight and your arms at your sides.
  • Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel in towards your spine.
  • Slowly raise your legs towards the ceiling, keeping them straight and your feet flexed.
  • Move your legs until they are at a 90-degree angle with your body or as high as you can comfortably go.
  • Pause at this position for a few seconds, then gradually lower your legs to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement several times, focusing on keeping your movements slow and controlled.
  • As you get more comfortable with the exercise, you can try variations such as lowering your legs to one side or lifting both legs simultaneously.

3. Bridges

3. Bridges

Bridges is a mat exercise that targets your core and lower body muscles, and as the name suggests, involves bending your back to create a bridge-like shape with your body. It's a simple yet effective exercise that can help you strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, lower back muscles, and abs.

Bridges can be a great addition to your abdominal mat exercises, as they help to engage your core muscles and build strength in your lower body. With consistent practice, you can gradually increase the number of repetitions and sets to challenge yourself and see improvements in your overall fitness and strength.

To Do it,

  • Lie flat on a yoga mat, your knees arched and your feet flat. Keep your arms at your sides, palms facing down.
  • Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel towards your spine.
  • Press your feet and palms into the mat and slowly lift your hips towards the ceiling. Your body should create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Pause the position for a few seconds, then gradually lower your hips to the mat.
  • Repeat the movement several times, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging your glutes and core muscles.
  • As you get more at ease with the exercise, you can increase the number of repetitions and sets.

4. Crunches

4. Crunches

Regarding practical mat exercises for burning belly fat, crunches are often included as a top choice. This movement is excellent for engaging your rectus abdominis (the muscles that make up the abs) and your back muscles.

Learning to do crunches can also help you improve your fitness. It is a foundation for more challenging exercises like bicycle crunches and tuck-ups.

To Do it,

  • Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent and hands below your head.
  • Engage your core, and remember not to strain your neck.
  • Exhale and contract your abs and bring your shoulder blades off the floor as if you are trying to touch your knees.
  • Stay in this position for a second.
  • Remember to breathe throughout the exercise.
  • Aim to do at least 10 to 20 reps.

5. Superman

5. Superman

If you're looking for an effective exercise to help alleviate lower back pain, the Superman hold is a great option. Also referred to as Superman, this exercise involves lying face down on a mat and lifting your arms and legs off the ground simultaneously while holding a static position.

With regular practice, the Superman exercise can effectively reduce back pain, improve your posture, and develop greater overall strength and stability. If you want to add a new stretching exercise to your routine, consider giving the Superman hold a trial.

To Do it,

  • To do the exercise, lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you.
  • Keep your legs fully stretched and straight.
  • Then, raise your upper body (arms and torso) and lower body (legs up to thighs) off the ground.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, and lower back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for a total of 10-15 repetitions.

6. Downward Dog

6. Downward Dog

The Downward Dog pose must be included in your practice regarding yoga mat exercises. Serving as a foundational pose for many other yoga postures and exercises, Downward Dog is a versatile and accessible pose that can benefit practitioners of all levels.

This pose involves placing your hands and feet on the ground and lifting your hips towards the ceiling, creating an inverted V-shape with your body. In addition to helping to stretch and lengthen the muscles in your arms, legs, and spine, Downward Dog can also help to improve your balance, flexibility, and overall body awareness.

Whether new to yoga or an experienced practitioner, incorporating Downward Dog into your regular practice can help you build strength, reduce tension, and cultivate a more profound connection between your mind and body.

To Do it,

  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Your fingers should be spread wide, and your palms press the mat.
  • Tuck your toes under and lift your hips toward the ceiling, straightening your arms and legs. Your body should form an inverted V-shape.
  • Press your heels toward the floor, but don't worry if they don't touch the mat.
  • Keep your head and neck relaxed and your gaze toward your knees or belly button.
  • Engage your core muscles and hold the pose for several breaths, then return to your starting position.

7. Cat-Cow

7. Cat-Cow

For those looking to incorporate gentle stretching exercises into their routine, the Cat-Cow pose can be an excellent option, especially for beginners. Also known as Chakravakasana, this yoga pose is relatively simple to perform and involves moving your spine from a rounded or flexed position to an arched or extended position.

This can help to alleviate tension and stiffness in the back and neck, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals who spend long hours sitting at a desk or in front of a computer. With regular practice, the Cat-Cow pose can help to improve your flexibility, mobility, and overall sense of well-being, making it a valuable addition to your daily routine.

To Do it,

  • Start in an all-fours position on a mat or firm surface (wrists under shoulders, knees under hips).
  • As you inhale, arch your spine towards the ceiling into an "upside down U" shape-a cow pose!
  • As you exhale, round your spine toward the floor into a "C" shape-this is a cat pose!
  • Be sure not to arch or round too intensely; these should be gentle movements.
  • Continue alternating between cow pose and cat pose for 30 seconds or more.

8. Mountain Climber

8. Mountain Climber

Mountain climbers are a highly effective exercise that can help to improve your stamina and develop your core muscles. The movement involved in this exercise closely simulates climbing a mountain, with the added challenge of performing it on a yoga mat.

It involves repeatedly bringing your knees up towards your chest while maintaining a plank position, resulting in a motion that looks similar to running in place on the ground.

As you become more comfortable with the basic mountain climber movement, you should explore some of the many available variations of this exercise, which can add additional challenge and variety to your workout routine.

To Do it,

  • Come to a high plank position. Distribute your weight evenly between your toes and hands.
  • Your hands should be shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders; your back should be flat, core engaged. Your neck should be in alignment. Avoid dropping your neck.
  • Start by pulling your right knee to the chest as fast as possible.
  • Switch legs by bringing the other knee in and moving the other to the original position.
  • Your hips should not be dropping.

9. Pilates 100s

9. Pilates 100s

Each list of mat exercises would be complete, including some Pilates mat exercises, and one of the classic moves often recommended for beginners is the Pilates 100s.

As the name suggests, this exercise involves performing 100 beats of your arm muscles while holding your legs extended and keeping your head and shoulders lifted off the mat. Not only does this exercise work the muscles in your arms and core, but it can also help to improve your lung capacity and overall cardiovascular health.

Additionally, the Pilates 100s can be used as a dynamic warm-up before performing other exercises targeting the abdomen and lungs. With practice, this exercise can help you to build strength, improve your posture, and increase your overall sense of physical and mental well-being.

To Do it,

  • Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat with your legs extended and feet together.
  • Raise your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat and engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine.
  • Raise both legs off the mat to a 45-degree angle, keeping them straight and pressed together.
  • Extend your arms straight out in front, parallel to the ground, with your palms facing down.
  • Start pumping your arms up and down while keeping them straight and reaching toward your toes. Your arms should be moving from your shoulders, not your elbows.
  • Inhale for five arm pumps, then exhale for five arm pumps. This is considered one set; you must complete ten sets of 10 pumps each to complete the exercise.
  • During the exercise, try to maintain the position of your legs, keeping them straight and off the mat and your core engaged.
  • Lower your head, neck, and shoulders back to the mat, followed by your legs, to end the exercise.

10. Seated Russian Twist

10. Seated Russian Twist

The seated Russian twist is popular among fitness enthusiasts due to its potential to help tone and strengthen the core and shoulder muscles. This workout involves twisting your torso from side to side while seated, which engages and challenges your abdominal muscles, obliques, and shoulders.

While it may seem like a simple exercise to add to your routine, performing it appropriately requires considerable strength and support. As such, while it may be suitable as one of the yoga mat exercises for beginners, it is essential to approach it with caution and ensure that you have developed the necessary foundational strength and stability before attempting it.

With proper technique and guidance, however, the seated Russian twist can be an excellent addition to your workout regimen, helping you to build stronger, more toned, and more resilient core and shoulder muscles over time.

To Do it,

  • Start by sitting on the floor, bending your knees and feet flat on the ground.
  • Lean back so that your upper torso is at an angle of 45 degrees with the floor.
  • Keep your back straight. Position your hands in front of your chest and engage your core.
  • If you are using a dumbbell or kettlebell, hold it at the center.
  • Lift your feet off the ground.
  • Rotate your arms to one side. Go all out and move as far as you can.
  • Do the same on the opposite side.

FAQs

1. What is a yoga mat exercise for abs?

One excellent yoga mat exercise for abs is the Boat Pose (Navasana). This pose targets your abs and core muscles, crucial for maintaining good posture and balance. By performing this pose, you can strengthen your abs and improve your digestion.

To do it,

  • Sit on your yoga mat with your legs extended out before you.
  • Place your hands on the mat next to your hips.
  • Lean back slightly, and raise your feet off the floor so your body makes a V-shape.
  • Raise your arms parallel to the ground and keep them straight.
  • Hold the pose for 10-15 seconds or longer.
  • Release the pose and repeat.

2. Name a mat exercise for beginners.

Push-ups are a classic exercise for building upper body strength, but they can be tricky for beginners. Modified push-ups offer a more accessible variation, allowing you to build your strength gradually.

To do it,

  • Start in a plank pose with your hands placed shoulder-width apart on the mat.
  • Lower your body towards the mat, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  • Once you have lowered as far as you can go, pause for a second, then push yourself back to the beginning pose.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps or as many as you can manage.
  • You can gradually add the number of reps or move your hands closer together or further apart to target different muscle groups.

3. What is a mat exercise at home?

One mat exercise that you can do at home is the side plank. This exercise strengthens the oblique muscles and improves overall core stability. It can also help improve balance and posture.

To perform a side plank,

  • Start by forming a plank position with your forearms on the mat and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
  • Shift your weight onto your right forearm and rotate your body to the right, stacking your left foot above your right foot.
  • Raise your left arm towards the ceiling and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or as long as you can maintain the correct technique.
  • Repeat on the other side.

4. What is a mat workout with weights?

Mat workout with weights combines the benefits of both resistance training and mat exercises. It is a great way to challenge your muscles and burn more calories. By adding weights, you increase the resistance and, therefore, the intensity of your workout, which ultimately helps to build strength, increase bone density and improve overall fitness.

To do a weighted bridge,

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the mat, and a lightweight on your hips.
  • Press your feet into the mat to lift your hips while squeezing your glutes and engaging your core.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips to the mat.
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps.

Conclusion

A yoga mat can be your one-stop solution for a full-body workout. Whether you are a beginner or a fitness enthusiast, the ten workout moves discussed in this article can help you achieve your fitness goals without fancy equipment or gym memberships.

Regularly incorporating exercises like planks, bridges, leg raises, crunches, superman, downward dog, cat-cow, mountain climber, and pilates 100s into your routine can improve your strength, flexibility, balance, and overall fitness.

So, take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle and roll out your mat today. You'll be amazed at the results you can achieve with consistency and dedication.

Article Sources

  • Lim, Eun-Ju, and Eun-Jung Hyun. 'The Impacts of Pilates and Yoga on Health-Promoting Behaviors and Subjective Health Status.' International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 7, Apr. 2021, p. 3802. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073802.

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Nicole Taylor

Nicole is a professional freelance writer specialized in sports nutrition and home based exercises. She publishes a website dedicated to home exercise and has contributed articles to magazines as well.

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