For any fitness or physique athlete, there is just nothing more welcoming than a well-equipped modern day gym. No matter what your need or goal, there are a multiple of equipment and weights suitable for any exercise or movement. There are times however, when you are not able to make it to the gym for a variety of reasons.
From "gym fanatics" to people just striving to stay in shape, we all run into some obstacle from time to time. Let's be honest: Sometimes we just don't feel like getting out of the house in crappy weather and drive twenty minutes to the gym and back, all for a forty minute workout. It should not be an excuse, but we have all been there. And its not due to lack of motivation or dedication.
The good news is that, with a little innovation and with the help of some furniture, you can give all the muscles in your body a good workout, with improvised exercises and using your body weight. And all of it from the comfort of your home. Just remember, this should be an occasional substitute for going to the gym, not the rule. (Obviously if you don't have access to a gym at all, this is the perfect alternative until you can find a better option.)
Moving on to the exercises, please take note that the same principles applied in my article on your "Starter Workout" (read the article here), applies to your home workout as well.
Use the table below to see what specific exercise can be used to target the appropriate muscle group.
Push Back Push-up
The table above shows the total number of exercises and sets that makes up one training session
Don't be fooled by the term "home exercise". When properly performed, these exercises give you body a proper workout, and can still be very strenuous for any person new to resistance training or anyone who haven't been training for more than 6 months. Therefor please heed the following warning:
Make sure to consult your physician before attempting any of the exercises described in this article.
As with the "gym version" (which you can read here) of the beginner program, the same steps and principles apply to the home workout.
In this section, I am explaining each exercise with the aid of a video clip of me performing the particular exercise.
Please note that I took great care to only make use of everyday furniture and objects you will find in any home. Some home exercise routines require a set of dumbbells and a bench. Off course this makes exercising a lot easier, as well as including a huge variety of additional exercises possible not otherwise available.
Most of us, however, don't want to waste money and don't have enough space to accommodate equipment we may only use a couple of times a year. For this purpose I am focusing on an "equipment free" home exercise plan.
Here are the exercises, as laid out in the table above:
As illustrated, performed with a straight back and elbows to the side and not at a wide angle to the body. Arms tucked in too closely to the body may put too much emphasis on the triceps, and too wide put a lot of stress on the shoulders and should be avoided.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
Performed with a bench or set of chairs. Rest your right arm and knee on the bench with your upper body parallel to the floor. Hold weight in left hand and start with a straight arm. Raise it all the way until the weight is your body height before lowering it. Do the same with your right side with left knee and arm on the bench.
Push Back Push-up
Very much the same as a push-up, with one big difference. As illustrated, after lowering to the floor, push back with your arms instead of up, while bending your knees to allow your body to be pushed back. Straighten your legs while in the "raised" position before repeating.
With feet slightly apart, keep your arms outstretched for balance. Start lowering yourself into a seating position until your upper legs are at least parallel to the floor. Keeping your arms out-stretched helps you keep your balance while lowering yourself. Don't bent forward!
Using a chair, bench (or footstool), place your feet together and elevated. Make sure your butt is positioned just in front of your seat before lowering yourself until your elbows are bent at about 90 degrees. Keep your elbows tucked in at all times.
Use the edge of a table or desk. Position yourself underneath it as illustrated. Place your hands about shoulder-width apart. While keeping your back straight, pull yourself up as high up as you can or until your head touches the table/desk.
While lying down on a aerobics/yoga mat (or soft carpet to protect your spine), bend your knees as illustrated. With your hands on the sides of your head, lift your upper body up towards your pelvis until your shoulders are completely off the floor. Do not keep your back straight, but imagine curling it up as you try and pull your shoulders towards your pelvis.
These exercises form the basis of a solid home starter workout program. It can be used by the beginner, but also the more advanced trainer. By adapting these exercises to make it more challenging or adding additional exercises that place even more strain on your muscles, you can turn any home exercise into a very challenging one, no matter what your level of experience or fitness.
Helpful Hints And Advice
It is important to highlight a few points to remember while performing this home workout. This section also shows you how to adapt your workout to make it easier if you are experiencing some difficulty in performing some of these exercises, as well as how to make it more challenging to help you advance past the beginner stage.
One of the evergreen exercises to effectively train your chest and biceps. Some people may still have difficulty performing one proper push-up, especially if you are not strong enough in your upper body yet. There is an easy solution. Rest your lower body on your knees (not your feet) while performing the push-up. This takes off almost half the weight off your muscles, and makes it much easier for you to perform the exercise.
Just don't get complacent and as soon as you can easily perform 10 repetitions on your knees with ease, start perform the exercise in its proper form using your feet and whole body weight. Remember to keep your back straight at all times, no matter which form of the exercise you perform.
b) Exercising Your Back
Two exercises that targets the back are illustrated in this program. The bent-over dumbbell row and the lying chin-ups both targets the back, directly or indirectly. If you have a very weak back or are nursing an injury, you can stick to just chin-ups to start out with. Although primary targeting the biceps in this variation of the exercise, it still stimulates enough muscle fibres in your back.
To create a"proper" full range chin-up that is both more challenging to perform and put more emphasis on the back muscles as well, you have to find a horizontal bar you can properly grip and is higher than you can reach with your arms outstretched while lying on the floor. Position yourself underneath the bar so that your lower chest is directly below the bar. Reach out and grip the bar with an overhand position. While keeping your back straight, raise yourself up until your chest touches the bar before lowering yourself until your arms are fully extended. Repeat. This exercise can be very challenging, so stick with the original exercise illustrated until you are comfortable.
c) Seated Dip
As your triceps are already worked out with the push-up, this exercise can be seen as an optional exercise, use in conjunction with push-ups, if you feel the push-up does not fatigue your triceps enough.
If you find the traditional seated dip too challenging, you can lessen the load by not keeping your feet elevated, but placing it on the floor while performing the exercise. This makes performing the exercise much easier and give your triceps the opportunity to strengthen until you are able to do a full set with your feet elevated.
d) Leg Exercises
As you would have already seen, the standing squat is used as a good starting exercise for your leg muscles. For a large majority of people who are already strong in their legs, this can be way too easy an exercise to perform. You can immediately make this exercise more difficult by lowering yourself past the parallel position until the back of your legs touches your calves. You get a much better stretch, a full range of movement and place a lot more strain on your leg muscles, working much harder to push your body up from that low position.
You can turn your home leg exercise into a really serious muscle building routine by adding exercises like lunges and wall squats to seriously enhance your leg workouts. By adding basic equipment like a simple pair of dumbbells, can be very effective and contribute to leg muscle growth, especially combined with lunges. More on these advanced exercises later on.
e) Make Your Workout More Challenging And Effective
A final word on how you can make home workouts more effective if don't find it challenging enough. First, the 40 second break between sets can be reduced to 30 seconds. This alone will place a lot more strain on your muscles and cause them to fatigue a lot quicker. A second very effective method, is to add a 3rd set to each exercise. As with the gym version, just that one extra set will have a huge impact on your routine.
And this takes care of the basic home exercise. I covered as much detail as I can think of, but know there are still a lot of unanswered questions and additional issues to be addressed. Feel free to leave me any comments or questions and I will answer as promptly as possible.
In the future, I may include a separate article dedicated to a more advanced home training program, and also include a section for exercises that can be done with the assistance of just a bench and set of dumbbells. Let me know in the comment section if you are interested, and I will make a point of including it sooner rather than later.
As always, feel free to leave me a comment or suggestion, and remember to join my mailing list to get informed whenever a new article is released, as well as helpful hints & tips and news on new developments.
Until next time, take care and let me know if there a specific new topic you would like me to discuss.