Coming up with new and interesting home workout ideas can be tricky sometimes, no matter whether you’re an avid fitness enthusiast or you simply want to keep yourself healthy. However, with gym prices often being prohibitively high, home workouts can be a great alternative option. That extra $50 every month that you save from going to the gym could even be put towards some home gym equipment.
All you need to work out at home is a little bit of time and space. Your own body can provide the same results as a top-class gym, you just need to activate the muscles correctly.
We sat down with some fitness experts who shared some of their favorite home workout ideas, as well as providing us with some insightful knowledge around the benefits of their selected workouts. We also put together a buying guide for the best treadmills, if you're thinking of trying running at home, and the best rowing machines for anyone looking to vary their exercises more.
Home workout ideas: DIY home gym
The most cost–effective and creative way to workout at home is if you bring the gym to you. While investing in proper weights and machines can give great results, items within the home can aid you just as well. Try slotting your feet under the sofa to help you with sit ups and use a chair as an alternative to a gym bench. Meanwhile, tins and bottles can act as dumbbells and towels can become resistance bands to give your arms a killer workout. Plus, with countless workout tutorials available online for free, there’s plenty of home workout ideas to experiment with.
Sports scientist and advisor Andy Bedford told Live Science that "equipment doesn’t make or break a workout. Even during a body weight workout, we have to resist against gravity by slowing down the tempo." When our bodies resist against gravity, it engages the muscles, and the more we resist, the stronger we become. For example, when performing a plank you’ll feel your core muscles straining and tightening as you resist against the Earth’s natural pull.
Andy has formulated an effective abdominal HIIT circuit workout that requires no equipment, and can be done in under 30 minutes. He recommends 3 rounds (once again, depending on your fitness level), which will each include 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest between each exercise.
• Ninja Jumps
• Mountain Climbers
• Lateral Leg Lowers
• Plyo Push Ups
• Half Burpees
• Toe Touches
• Reverse Lunge
• High Knees
• Tall Plank & Shoulder Taps
If you're keen to incorporate weights into this circuit, you can use canned goods or bottles of soda to really make those reverse lunges burn!
Home workout ideas: Yoga
Yoga is an excellent home workout because not only does it improve your physical health, its holistic nature means it can drastically improve your mental health too, as shown in a study in the Brain Plasticity journal.
The benefits of yoga focus mainly on how to improve your flexibility of the joints, meditation and mindfulness, and through this practice, National Health Service experts in the UK believe that there's some evidence to show that regular yoga practice helps people with ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lower back pain, depression and stress. Plus, yoga can build muscle too.
All you need to practice the different types of yoga is a mat and a peaceful environment to work in, making it an ideal home workout. There are many yoga videos online to follow along with if you are unsure. However, yoga teacher and fitness trainer Sarah Pretty has developed a beginner’s session for Live Science. “Here are some of the key poses that I think collectively are great for those that are new to yoga. I include these asanas in almost all of my classes as they are at the core of what yoga aims to achieve physically. With these essential postures, a practitioner can increase strength, enhance flexibility, and improve balance.”
• Spinal Twist - this is a gentle reclined posture and a good way to start a practice. The pose helps improve spinal mobility and the twisting aids digestion. This is a restorative stretch and can ease tension.
• Boat Pose - a classic core strengthener with many optional levels to make it more accessible or more challenging depending on what you wish to get out of your practice.
• Child’s Pose - Physically, this is a hip opening stretch, it lengthens the spine, and opens the shoulders. However, it’s also a moment of stillness and an opportunity to travel inwards and reflect in a safe space.
• Downward Dog - probably the most recognizable pose and the most essential all-rounder. This posture works on lengthening the spine, improving shoulder mobility, and strengthening the core. This is an energetic stretch and lies at the heart of almost all my flows.
• Tree Pose - the best starting place for testing your balance. Tree pose has several options making it engaging for everyone and anyone. It can be gentle or advanced and it encourages your yoga practice to be playful.
- Related: Best yoga mats
Home workout ideas: Cycle circuit
Andy Bedford believes that investing in an exercise bike could be a great home workout idea. Not only does bike riding build your glutes, but it's also a great way to do a cardio workout. “They are a challenging workout due to being lower body concentrated, therefore utilizing the largest muscles in the body.” This leads to a high calorie expenditure when used correctly and can also increase lower body strength.
As using an exercise bike is a low impact activity, it is a brilliant tool for those with joint issues, making it a great way to exercise without hurting your knees. Plus, with these specialized bikes being stationary, this means that they’re incredibly accessible, so there’s no excuse not to jump on your bike if it’s raining outside!
Andy also told Live Science that "the more advanced bikes include a variety of programs that can be used to make a cycling workout even more effective and fun as they incorporate interval training and HIIT." Andy frequently uses an exercise bike to warm up and cool down, and he even incorporates it into his current favorite HIIT workout that’s perfect for beginners.
He recommends beginning with three or four rounds (depending on your fitness level), doing 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for each exercise.
• Walking Lunges
• High Knee Sprints
• Plank Hold
• Glute Bridges
If you don’t have access to an exercise bike, this circuit can still work – just swap a cycle for some squats or leg raises! Depending on your ability and stamina you can alter the work/rest times, and even break up the exercises with further cycling. If you want a real challenge, replace all your rests with a cycle!
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Rachael is a UK-based freelance writer and screenwriter. She has a background in film, music, health and fitness which enables her to dive deep into a broad range of topics. When she isn’t creating content or writing films, she enjoys watching films, reading about films and talking about… films.