Exercising at home has become increasingly popular over the past few years, with people keen to incorporate a good training routine without the need for attending a gym. There was a significant spike in working out at home during covid lockdowns due to gym closures and a number of surveys suggest that those who began working out at home, plan on continuing.
There are a number of reasons why people would choose to train at home rather than attend their local gym. These range from convenience, more privacy and it potentially saves them money by forgoing a gym membership.
ARE HOME WORKOUTS EFFECTIVE?
Working out at home can absolutely be effective. Whether you are looking to set up a home gym with a number of pieces of equipment or simply plan on undertaking some bodyweight exercises for strength training and flexibility, home workouts should not be overlooked and can be hugely beneficial to some people.
EXERCISING AT HOME WITHOUT EQUIPMENT
There is a misconception that training at home would not be as effective as working out in a gym where you would have access to gym equipment. Whilst this is certainly true of gym members who want to build significant muscle mass, bodybuilders for example, if your aim is to improve your cardiovascular strength whilst building a small amount of lean muscle this can certainly be achieved with bodyweight home workouts.
In this article we’re going to cover the most effective exercises virtually anyone can do in the comfort of their own home. We’ll target each muscle group individually to ensure that an all over body workout can be achieved. Whilst you won’t need to use gym machines for these exercises, accessory items such as dumbbells or kettlebells could be beneficial.
CALF WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Standing Calf Raise
HOW TO EXECUTE: This one can be done pretty much anywhere in the home and is a great way to isolate your calf muscles. A pair of dumbbells would be required to make this exercise more challenging and to properly engage the muscles.
- Simply stand with your feet hip width apart with a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your toes pointing forwards.
- Rise up on your feet until you are on tiptoes.
- Hold at the top for a couple of seconds then lower back down before repeating.
If you want to make this exercise a little more difficult, then stand with your toes on the edge of a step, a staircase would be ideal for this. After rising up on to the balls of your feet you then need to lower back down until your heels are below your toes. This also offers a good stretch to the calf muscles.
EXERCISE: Dumbbell Jump Squat
HOW TO EXECUTE: This is more of a compound movement that will also target the hamstrings, glutes and quads whilst helping to burn quite a few calories.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, keep your feet around shoulder width apart and arms down by your sides.
- Keep your head upright and chest up, lower yourself down into a squat position. Try and get to a parallel position to the floor if you can.
- Pushing your weight through your feet, power up in an explosive movement jumping as high as you can.
- Be sure to land on the balls of your feet then your heels before lowering yourself back down to the squat position.
QUAD WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Bodyweight Squats
HOW TO EXECUTE: A compound movement that is great for working the quad muscles as well as the glutes and hamstrings and you won’t need any equipment.
- Standing with your feet around shoulder width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards, place your hands on your hips.
- Bending at the hips begin to squat down making sure to keep your head upright and chest up. This will help to prevent rounding of your back which could result in injury. Also, make sure that your knees don’t fold inwards as you will lose the correct form for safe squatting.
- Lower yourself down to around parallel before pushing your weight through your heels to power back up to a standing position.
If you want to make this movement a little more challenging, you could incorporate a kettlebell. To do this, hold the kettlebell with both hands at around chest height keeping the kettlebell close to your chest at all times.
EXERCISE: Standing lunge
HOW TO EXECUTE: Another compound movement that will hit your poster chain and is excellent for stretching out the hip flexors. As you need to maintain your balance during this exercise, it also activates your core muscles.
- Standing upright, keep your feet shoulder width apart with toes pointing forwards and hands on hips.
- Stepping forwards, start to bend the knee of your back leg until your knee is almost touching the ground.
- Make sure the knee of your front leg does not go over your toes.
- Push back up to the starting position using the foot of your front leg.
- Repeat as many reps as you like before switching legs.
You can make this movement a little more difficult by holding a dumbbell in each hand.
GLUTE WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Single leg glute bridge
HOW TO EXECUTE: This is a fantastic exercise to target the glutes and also strengthen the lower back.
- Lie on the floor, on your back with your knees bent, preferably on an exercise mat. Keep your arms down beside you with your palms facing down.
- Raise one leg up in front of your so that your toes are pointing towards the ceiling.
- Slowly raise your pelvis up off the ground until your body forms a straight line and squeeze your glutes. Be sure to keep the raised leg pointing upwards at all times.
- Lower back down to the starting position. Repeat the desired number of reps before switching legs.
EXERCISE: Donkey Kicks
HOW TO EXECUTE: A good one to target the glutes, there are a number of different variations of the donkey kick exercise but this is an ideal one for beginners.
- Rest on all fours, ideally on an exercise mat. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and head up throughout the exercise.
- Raise one leg off the ground whilst keeping your knee bent at all times.
- Hinge at the hips and bring your leg up until your foot is pointing at the ceiling.
- Whilst doing this, squeeze the glutes and hold for a couple of seconds before returning to the starting position.
If you want to add some resistance to this movement you can incorporate exercise bands. Hook the band under your hands and around the foot of the leg you will raise to the ceiling. Complete the exercise as above.
HAMSTRING WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Romanian Deadlifts
HOW TO EXECUTE: Perfect to isolate the hamstrings whilst also strengthening your lower back, you’ll want a couple of dumbbells for this one.
- Standing with feet hip width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand and keep your arms down but in front of you, not to your sides.
- Keep your chest and head up with your core engaged and slowly bend at the waist. Make sure you keep your back straight at all times and be sure not to bend your knees.
- Bend forwards until the dumbbells reach the mid shin point. Hold here for a couple of seconds and you should really feel your hamstring muscles working.
- Slowly raise yourself back to the starting position again, keeping your back straight. Squeeze the hamstrings and glutes whilst you do this.
- Once you have locked out at the hips, you can repeat the movement.
EXERCISE: Good Mornings
HOW TO EXECUTE: This is more of a posterior chain exercise so you’ll be working the lower back and glutes as well as the hamstrings.
- Standing up straight with knees slightly bent, keep your feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on the back of your head.
- This is another hip hinge movement so you’ll want to bend forwards whilst keeping your back straight and without bending the knees.
- Do this until you are almost parallel to the floor. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds before returning to the upright position.
Good mornings can be made more challenging by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Hold the dumbbells so that they are positioned and resting on the shoulders.
BACK WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Single Arm Dumbbell Row
HOW TO EXECUTE: This is a great movement to build a strong back with the emphasis being on the latissimus dorsi, more commonly known as the lats. You’ll need a dumbbell for this exercise.
- Assume a standing position with a dumbbell in one hand.
- Bend forwards at the hips until you are almost parallel to the floor. Rest your free hand on something like a table.
- Bend the elbow of the arm holding the dumbbell, essentially you are pulling the dumbbell towards you until it reaches the hips.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell back towards the ground before repeating the required number of reps, then switch arms to work the other side of your back.
EXERCISE: Floor Dumbbell Pullover
HOW TO EXECUTE: Grab a dumbbell for this one and preferably, an exercise mat.
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent.
- Taking a dumbbell, hold this with both hands in front of you.
- Straighten up your arms so they point towards the ceiling.
- Keeping your arms straight and driving through your heels, slowly lower the dumbbell down and behind your head.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the movement as this will provide stability.
- You’ll feel a good stretch in the lats, bring your arms back up towards the ceiling then repeat.
If you’re new to this movement, we would suggest going in with a lighter dumbbell to prevent injury.
CHEST WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: The Push Up or Press Up
HOW TO EXECUTE: This is a super effective exercise to target the chest muscles with plenty of variations and can easily by done by anyone at home.
- Lie on the floor face down and resume the same position as if you were to do the plank. Keep your feet around hip width apart together with weight on your toes. If you need more stability, place your feet a little wider.
- Place your hands flat on the floor at just past shoulder width.
- Keep your body straight and head slightly facing forward.
- Push up until your arms are straight, be sure to keep your whole body straight during the movement.
This exercise can be a little tricky for beginners so to make it easier, instead of keeping your weight on your toes, undertake the movement on your knees.
CORE WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: The Plank
HOW TO EXECUTE: The plank is an excellent exercise to target the core muscles and properly work the abdominals.
- Begin by lying on the floor face down. Rest your weight on your toes and forearms. Some people prefer to hold their hands together and interlocking their fingers with others preferring to place their palms flat on the floor.
- Keeping your elbows directly under your shoulders push your chest up. Keep your entire body straight and head facing down.
- Hold your core muscles strong to provide stability and make sure to breathe normally.
- To properly engage the abdominals it’s important to keep your whole body straight with no bending.
- Hold this position for around 20 to 30 seconds if you’re a beginner. Over time, you’ll be able to increase this time and you should be aiming for around 60 seconds.
EXERCISE: Bicycle Crunch
HOW TO EXECUTE: The bicycle crunch exercise is prefect for working both the abdominals and obliques.
- Lie on your back on the floor, ideally on a mat.
- Place your hands behind your head keeping your elbows out wide.
- Pushing your lower back into the floor, bend your knees and bring them up. Your shins should remain parallel to the ground.
- Slowly lift your shoulders off of the floor.
- Straighten one leg out and at the same time bring the opposite knee towards you.
- Whilst doing this, twist your upper body so that the opposite elbow touches the knee.
- Twist back the other way and at the same time switch legs.
During this exercise it’s important not to pull on your neck to prevent injury. Another common mistake is doing this one too fast. Slow down, doing deliberate repetitions is much better for activating the core.
ARM WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Dumbbell Skullcrusher
HOW TO EXECUTE: The skullcrusher is an exercise which completely isolates the triceps. To do a floor based skullcrucher you will need to have a pair of dumbbells to hand.
- Lie on the floor with knees bent.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, raise your arms up in front of you so your hands point towards the ceiling. Your palms should be facing one another.
- Begin to lower down the weights by bending at the elbows.
- You should feel a strong stretch on your triceps.
- Return back to the starting position and lock out at the elbows.
EXERCISE: Bicep Curls
HOW TO EXECUTE: A biceps curl is an isolation exercise that targets the biceps brachii muscles.
- Standing up straight, have a dumbbell in each hand and hold them in front of you with palms facing forwards.
- Bend your elbow and bring the dumbbells up and towards you.
- Make sure you keep your elbows tucked in so that the resistance stays on your biceps throughout the exercise.
- Hold at the top and return to the starting position.
SHOULDER WORKOUT AT HOME
EXERCISE: Dumbbell Lateral Raise
HOW TO EXECUTE: The dumbbell lateral raise is a good exercise to increase the size of your delts and improve your range of motion.
- Standing up, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your hands down by your sides with palms facing towards you.
- With your elbows only slightly bent, raise your arms up until they are level to your shoulders.
- Hold at the top before returning your arms back down to your sides.
It’s important not to go to heavy on the dumbbells with this one. Doing so, could result in you having to swing the dumbbells up as opposed to raising them slowly. Not only does this not properly work the delts, it could result in injury.
EXERCISE: Military Press
HOW TO EXECUTE: The military press is primarily a biceps exercise but to a lesser extent will target the triceps and back muscles too. You can do this one either sitting or standing. A standing military press will make for a more challenging movement and good core activation.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand raise them to around shoulder height.
- Keep your elbows bent and forearms perpendicular to the ground, this will be your starting position.
- Press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling until your arms are fully extended.
- Hold for a couple of seconds before returning back to the starting position.
During the military press, you need to be sure that you keep your core engaged. Some people have a tendency to slightly lean back when the dumbbells are raised resulting in poor form. Another point worth remember, is not to keep your elbows wide. Instead, keep them slightly in front of your shoulder as this will remove any stress to your rotator cuff.
Whilst the above exercises cover a whole body workout, there are many others for each muscle group that could be incorporated into a home workout.
You could either choose to undertake a whole body workout using a program similar to the above or split your training down into muscle groups. For example, upper body and lower body.
It’s also worthwhile looking at various fitness apps. Some are subscription based with some being free. These can offer a wealth of information including different exercises and training methods that could better suit your environment and circumstances.
One thing is for certain, as the fitness industry continues to grow and evolve so do the opportunities for effective home training.