You don’t need an expensive fitness club membership or fancy gym machines to have a great workout. In fact, sometimes home workouts produce better results than the gym. Try any of these highly effective home exercise routines below.
The reason home exercise routines can be so effective is that the human body adapts to movement patterns surprisingly quickly – and doing the same old gym machines week after week can sometimes lead to a complacent metabolism.
Doing exercises that use your own bodyweight for resistance will engage not only the primary muscle group on which you’re focused, but also the secondary, stabilizing muscles. This leads to a sweatier home exercise routine and a healthier physique.
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The following workouts I consider to be among the best for sculpting muscle and burning calories. They can be modified to match any fitness level or gender. Plus, they can be done anywhere! If you try them, let me know how it goes for you.
As always, if you feel any sharp pains or dizziness, stop immediately. I encourage you to consult with your own medical doctor before making any significant changes to your home exercise routines.
Short on Time? Try This Classic Abdominal Series
This fundamental series of abdominal exercises requires no equipment and has been done by Pilates enthusiasts for almost a century. It only takes a few minutes, yet – done correctly – it will toast your core muscles. A classic!
Do 20 repetitions (on each side), per exercise.
- Press the navel tightly to the ground. Hollow-out your abdomen.
- Remember to also press the rib cage down (especially those top two ribs).
- Flatten the lower abdominal plate (located above your pubic bone yet below your navel).
- Exhale each rep as you exert.
- Just because you’re crunching doesn’t mean your spine isn’t long. Keep some length in your spine and neck, even when contracting the muscle fibers of your abdomen – this will help you develop ab muscles that are taut and flat (instead of like a punching-bag).
No Equipment At All? Try This Leg Exercise Routine
Good old-fashioned leg calisthenics! For a while, these retro-classic thigh conditioning exercises fell out of style – and that’s a shame, because they work (no equipment required)! This pilates series improves joint mobility and helps to give you stronger, well-shaped legs and a firmer, rounder booty.
- Do 20 repetitions (on each side), per exercise.
- It’s all about form and breathing. Keep your body long, your belly button pulled in tightly, and your glues activated.
- When your legs are supposed to be straight, make sure they’re straight (but without hyperextending the knee caps).
- Don’t flop your legs around like wet noodles, keep them taut. Imagine laser beams of energy shooting out your toes – like your legs should be registered as lethal weapons!
Want Shredded Abs and Firm Buttocks? Try this Core-and-Booty Workout
In this exercise routine, some of the movements require no equipment whatsoever, while for other movements I use tools.
However, if you don’t have some of these toys in your closet or home gym area, be creative. Use substitutions (for example, instead of an ab roller, try doing a 1-minute plank).
In this workout, I use:
- ab roller
- long, thick resistance band
Most people today have core and glute muscles that are far too weak. These muscle groups are intended to be powerfully strong so that the pelvis centers correctly and the spine is aligned and protected.
Want to Train Your Whole Body Quickly? Try This Rooftop Workout
Experiment with these 9 exercises during your next workout at home. Can be done in your backyard, patio, living room, driveway, or rooftop! I use:
- short, looped resistance band
- weighted ball
- jump rope
- long resistance band (unlooped)
If you don’t have a kettlebell (or dumbbell, or something heavy to safely hang on to), no problem. You can do the exercises without – simply do more repetitions.
Make sure you don’t skip the bent-over fly exercise where you pull the band apart. It improves your posture by strengthening the posterior deltoids (a muscle group that is too weak in most people, causing the dreaded “texting hunch”). If you don’t have a band, use small dumbbells or even soup cans.
Want to Burn Maximum Calories? Try This Outdoor Workout
Consider this 11-exercise workout featuring higher intensity intervals, to strengthen and firm your entire body as you burn a higher number of calories than most other exercise routines.
You’ll see me using hurdles and a speed ladder in the video. But you don’t need them. The exercises can be done just as easily without. Same goes for the long, looped band I use (to do the overhead squat press and upright rows).
However, the short, looped band I use for deadlifts and single-arm rows does come in handy. If you don’t have any short, looped resistance bands, I encourage to purchase them online immediately. They are cheap, fun, and you can do a zillion different exercises with them.
Enjoy Circuit Training? Try This Full-Body Home Exercise Routine
Circuit training has the benefit of providing you with both strength-building and muscular endurance at the same time – because your heart rate stays elevated for a longer period than conventional weight-training.
Many people at the gym will do a set of an exercise, rest three minutes while they check their phone for texts and Instagram, then repeat the set – then rest, then repeat, then rest again and finally move on to a different machine. With so much rest, it makes it difficult to turn the workout into an aerobic session as well.
A home exercise circuit-training routine, on the other hand, is one completion of all prescribed exercises (done consecutively, without rest) for that particular circuit:
- After completing a station, instead of resting, you move quickly to the next exercise station in that circuit.
- For example, a typical circuit has 4 exercises done consecutively – with a two minute break in between, before repeating the circuit again. A workout can include 4 circuits, with 4 exercises within each – for a total of 16 exercises in under an hour.
With the following full-body circuit-training routine, you complete each exercise within the circuit without a break – then rest for 2 minutes. Repeat entire circuit. Rest another 2 minutes. Then finish final and third circuit. Again, please remember to modify the intensity to match your own fitness level and unique circumstances.
Try putting 3 to 4 exercises into each circuit.
By the way, those rotating push-up handles I use in a couple of the exercises are completely optional. You can do the movements just as effectively without them.
If you use a fitness chair, step, or bench to do any of the exercises, just make sure it’s secure. Use common sense (safety first)!
Don’t worry about having fancy dumbbells. If all you have is one pair of light dumbbells, that’s great – just do extra reps.
You’ll notice that the final circuit of shoulder openers are designed to keep your rotators cuffs and shoulder girdle mobile and healthy.
Want a Strong Upper Body? Try This Torso Exercise Routine
Here’s an exercise routine you can do at home to strengthen your upper body. All you need is something to lift – dumbbells, kettlebells, water jugs, whatever – as long as it adds resistance and is safe to move around. Also, if you happen to have a pull-up bar at home and some type of adjustable bench, that can be helpful, too.
If the weight feels too light, do more reps. Or, better yet, play with the tempo. Try holding a peak contraction for a few moments before slowly releasing to the return position – it’s as if you’re trying to lengthen the muscle at the same time it’s being contracted. This is called negative eccentric training and it produces serious results, even when the weight you’re using is very light.
Tight Hips? Try This Post-Workout Cool Down
This short mobility series helps you squat and move more freely.
It looks easy, but can be a bit uncomfortable at first – because our hips become stiff from so much sitting.
Remember, a healthy spine is stacked upon a centered pelvis, but a perfectly placed pelvis happens because the surrounding muscles are both strong and supple. They have to be both.
- When sitting up, sit as tall as you can – as if there’s a string coming out the top of your head that is pulling you to the ceiling.
- Be patient. Sometimes you think you’re relaxing your outer thighs, but then after a few moments, they relax still further.
- If any of the movements or stretches cause pain in a knee, then reposition yourself slightly until you find a place that is pain-free.
More Helpful Home Exercise Routines
But wait, there’s more! If you want additional options, try any of the following home exercise routines (just click-through):
- Don’t have any fitness equipment at all? Try this Complete Calisthenics workout.
- Got a foam roller at home? Try the Foam Roller Warm-Up.
- Have a stability ball? Try this Stability Ball Home exercise routine.
- Have some resistance bands at home? This banded home exercise routine will Sculpt Your Torso.
- Have some TRX straps? Try this Suspension-Training workout.
- Only have a kettlebell? This Full-Body Kettlebell workout.
- Have ankle weights? Try this Ankle Weights home exercise routine.
- Feeling stiff lately? Try these Mobility Maneuvers.
- Want to burn fat cells for energy? Try this Metabolism-Boosting workout.
- Want to stand taller? Try this short Posture-Improving exercise routine.
- Want to elevate your mood with endorphins? Try this Plyometrics workout.
- Got a driveway? Try this HIIT exercise routine.
- Going to the park, trail, or beach? Try some of these Sprint Drills.
Form and Focus is Everything When Doing Home Exercise Routines
Compared to a commercial gym, an at-home workout usually involves less weight being lifted – and that means you have an opportunity to make up for the lack of heavy weight by emphasizing your form and focus instead.
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I can watch somebody exercise and perceive quickly whether they have the mindset of an athlete or a standard civilian.
A civilian impersonates a movement from the outside-in, making shapes and using only momentum and music to get themselves going.
On the other hand, someone with the mindset of an athlete also can direct their awareness from the inside-out. They ask:
- Where do I feel this?
- Am I creating a deep enough contraction at the moment-of-truth?
- How’s my breathing?
- Are my abs pulled in and my glutes engaged?
- Are my knees slightly soft or tightly locked?
- How can I use tempo and negative contractions to make this more interesting and effective?
- Am I training my body symmetrically?
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