More and more people are learning how to get fit at home as they realize they can get in just as good a workout there as they can at most gyms.
The key is making sure to exercise smarter instead of just trying to exercise more.
Focus on whole body exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at the same time that will give you the most return on the time spent doing them.
Then break those exercises up into circuits in order to gain maximum cardiovascular benefit from them.
Below I’m going to go into detail about the best exercises you can do at home as well as the most efficient way to go about doing them to gain the most benefit from them.
But first I want to give a brief overview of the benefits of getting fit at home to try and give you some motivation to try these techniques yourself.
The Benefits of Exercising at Home
The first major benefit is that it saves you a huge amount of time!
When I first started experimenting with exercising at home it was because I didn’t have as much time as I used to and going to the gym just wasn’t possible anymore.
When I entered my mid-thirties my life became much busier and my priorities began to shift.
I now have a beautiful baby daughter at home and when I get off work I want to spend time with her and my wife; not an hour and a half at the local gym (not to mention the commute).
I also have other projects that I’m working on and so I had to learn to adapt my fitness regimen or I would end up losing it.
When I first started learning how to workout at home I was worried that I would lose all of the conditioning and strength I’d developed from all the time I’d spent at the gym but it turned out that the opposite was true!
I’m actually much fitter now that I workout at home using bodyweight training and kettlebells in a circuit fashion than I ever was doing boring bodybuilding exercises followed by grinding steady state cardio.
Don’t get me wrong; if you like to exercise that way its fine but you can honestly get the same benefits from home in half the time if you simply cut out a lot of the fluff and focus on the fundamentals.
Working out at home also saves you a lot of money as you don’t have to pay any gym fees.
Not to mention not having to wait in line for that one piece of equipment that you came all the way to the gym to use along with half of the other people there who are all queuing up to use it the same time when you get off work.
By working out at home you’ll find that you will also have more time for your family and can it can even work out together in order to help your children learn the benefits of fitness from a young age.
How To Get Fit At Home
1) Do Bodyweight Exercises
Bodyweight exercises are great because you can do them anywhere and they require no equipment at all (except for the pull up which does require somewhere you can safely hang from).
This makes them perfect for working out at home as you can quickly do them outside, in your garage, or even your living room if you have space.
They’re also all compound exercises which will give you a whole body workout and save you time as well.
You can also fit them easily into circuits to gain maximum benefit from them.
Here are four of my favorite below:
Pull Ups or Chin Ups
Pull Ups and chin ups are both fantastic pulling exercises which target your biceps and back.
They’re also both compound exercises which target multiple muscle groups at the same time.
I prefer these exercises to doing traditional free weights to work my biceps as they work far more muscles and teach your body to work together to complete a full movement; much better for your overall health.
Pull ups will focus more on your back while chin ups will target your biceps more.
Also, not having a pull up bar doesn’t mean you can’t do these exercises. Just take a look at this article I wrote earlier on how to use different places around your house to do pull ups without a bar.
If you’re nervous about trying pull ups you can also start slowly by doing inverted rows using a table or doorway around your home.
Pushups are the bodyweight version of the benchpress.
They both work your chest, triceps, and the front of your shoulders like no other exercise can.
However, like the benchpress, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do pushups.
You want to make sure that you’re keeping good form while doing this exercise to maximize the benefit which you’ll receive from it.
Make sure your body is straight throughout the whole movement and that you keep your abs and glutes tight to increase the amount of power you can put into it.
Don’t cheat by letting your hips sag down.
If this is too difficult just start slowly by keeping your knees on the floor when you start until you’re strong enough to do them on your feet.
Also, make sure to keep your elbows close to your body to maximize the amount of power being generated from the core of your body and keep the stress off of your elbows.
Dips are actually very similar to pushups in the muscles that are worked.
They both focus on the triceps and pectoral muscles except that dips are a more difficult exercise as you are forced to completely support your own bodyweight with your arms as opposed to the pushup where your feet are also carrying some of the weight along with your arms.
This makes dips a great exercise to move onto when you feel that pushups have become too easy.
I’m also not talking about the dips where you place your hands on a chair and your feet on the floor in front of you as this exercise can put too much strain on your shoulders.
I’m talking about completely suspending yourself between two objects and then lowering yourself down and pushing yourself back up again.
In order to do this exercise at home simply take two sturdy chairs and stand between them.
Then grip the backs of them to begin doing your dips.
If you don’t have any chairs around that you can trust to hold your weight you can move a table next to your kitchen counter and place a few books on it to make it the same height.
This provides an even firmer and safer base to workout on.
Squats are not called the king of exercises for no reason.
Performing a full squat works more muscles at one time than any other exercise.
It also targets the largest muscle groups in your body, your legs, in order to give you a serious workout.
On top of that the squat is a very functional movement.
It’s something that we have do all of the time anyway in our daily lives so becoming stronger in this movement and learning how to do it properly has many benefits.
Many guys tend to focus too much on their arms and upper body while neglecting their legs which is a big mistake since much of the power and strength involved in our most basic movements, whether athletic or just part of our daily lives, comes from our legs.
Doing squats at home, whether with weights or without, ensures that we are truly strong and balanced.
2) Get a Kettlebell
A kettlebell gives a whole lot more utility in one piece of equipment than any traditional weight or dumbbell ever could.
With a ketllebell you can still do any of the static lifting exercises that you could do with dumbbells along with the unique swinging exercises that a kettllebell offers.
The kettlebell swing is one of the greatest exercises you can do as it torches calories faster than running while also giving you a serious full body workout.
Similar to the deadlift it works all of the muscles in your posterior chain, from your neck down to your feet.
It’s also been shown to have tremendous health benefits for reducing lower back pain and improving posture.
I definitely haven’t had a sore back since I started working them into the end of my workouts a couple times a week.
The other great aspect of a kettlebell is that the weight hangs freely from your hand and moves as you move.
That means that even while performing traditional lifting exercises with it, such as the shoulder press, your body and mind are forced to adapt and maintain good balance throughout the exercise.
This in turn activates all of the supporting muscles, especially around your joints, which ensures that your body stays strong and injury free.
One exercise that is a great example of this is the Turkish getup.
In this exercise you go from lying on the floor to standing up all while holding a kettlebell balanced above your head. Then you have to sit back down again with the weight still balanced above you.
During this exercise the rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder are literally active the entire time in order to balance the weight with your arm out straight.
This makes your shoulders bullet-proof against many of the common injuries that many people experience from muscle imbalances in their shoulders.
The Turkish getup is an extremely technical exercise but Andrew Read has a great explanation of how to perform it correctly here.
3) Circuit Training
One of the first questions that pops into your head when you want to switch to working out at home is how to get in some good cardiovascular exercise.
I was used to going to the gym and doing my weight lifting sets for about 45 minutes and then following that up with about 30 minutes of running on the treadmill or spinning on a bike.
I knew I could do resistance training at home but I didn’t really fancy the idea of jogging around the streets of Bangkok, where my family and I currently live, during rush hour.
Luckily, after a little research, I ran across circuit training and restructured my resistance training around it.
Circuit training mixes up the sets you’re doing so that you can have almost zero wait time between them.
For example, let’s say that you want to do three sets of pull ups, three sets of pushups, and three sets of squats.
Instead of doing one set of pull ups and then waiting a minute or two before doing another set of pull ups and finally waiting another minute or two to do the third set before repeating the whole process over again with the other two exercises you are going to mix the three exercises together and wait no longer than 15 seconds between each set.
Therefore the nine total sets will look something like this:
1) Pull ups; pushups; squats
– wait 30 seconds to a minute
2) Pull ups; pushups; squats
– wait 30 seconds to a minute
3) Pull ups; pushups, squats
– wait 30 seconds to a minute
This keeps your heart rate elevated and gives a solid cardiovascular workout that is almost similar to sprinting drills and qualifies for being a form of high intensity interval training.
In many ways this type of training is superior to traditional cardio as it not only gives your heart a strong workout but also saves you a lot of time.
If you give the ideas listed above a try I’m sure you’ll find that you can get in a just as effective or even more effective workout than you could at the gym.
Just perform your exercises in a circuit to both build strength and cardiovascular fitness at the same time without needing any expensive cardio machines or space.
If you don’t feeling like buying a whole set of weights you can just go ahead and use bodyweight exercises which are amazingly effective and build good balance.
Then, if you’re ready for more of a challenge, you can pick up a kettlebell to both add more resistance and introduce knew movements and exercises to your routine.
If you have any questions or something you’d like to add just leave a comment in the space below.
Until next time; stay healthy, happy, and strong!