Best At-Home Exercises: Supercharge Your Workout Gains

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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As a personal trainer, I have frequently been approached by fitness enthusiasts inquiring about the adequacy of at-home workouts.

While gym workouts undoubtedly have advantages, developing an at-home workout routine can offer significant benefits.

Even with minimal equipment, relying solely on your body weight can be challenging and rewarding.

After several months of research, I’ve listed the best at-home exercises and included potential benefits that may help you know if at-home training aligns with your fitness aspirations.

Quick Summary

  • The best at-home exercises include single-leg bridges, plank to downward dog, standing shoulder presses, push-ups, upright rows, bent-over rows, renegade rows, three-point rows, mountain climbers, and plank shoulder taps.
  • The advantages of at-home exercises include increased strength and muscle mass, reduced back pain, improved physical performance, enhanced cardiovascular health, and convenience.
  • According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, supervised, controlled home exercises not only reduce low back pain but also maintain their positive effects for up to five years.
  • Personally, I view at-home workouts as a cornerstone of modern fitness, offering unparalleled versatility for people of all fitness levels.

Best At Home Workouts

A person doing the best home workouts

Below are some of my top recommendations for at-home exercises.

These are the workouts that I frequently suggest to my clients, as they stand out for their effectiveness in building strength, enhancing flexibility, and improving overall fitness.

1. Single-Leg Bridge

How to perform this exercise:

  1. Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Ensure that your heels are not positioned too close to your glutes but so that you can just touch them with your fingertips.
  2. Raise your glutes off the ground while engaging your core muscles.
  3. Raise your right leg while maintaining a bent knee, keeping your hips straight.
  4. Lower yourself back to the starting position.
  5. Push through your left heel and repeat until you have completed three sets of eight reps.
  6. Repeat the same on the right leg.

2. Plank to Downward Dog

How to perform this exercise:

  1. Get into a push-up position with your wrist placed directly under your shoulders.
  2. Hold for ten seconds, focusing on keeping your body straight and engaging your core muscles.
  3. Lift your hips while keeping your arms and legs straight. Aim to form an inverted V shape with your body.
  4. While in the downward dog position, ensure your chin is tucked into your chest, and hold this pose for ten seconds.
  5. Return to the plank position by lowering your hips and extending your legs.
  6. Alternate between the plank and downward dog positions, performing the sequence for three sets of eight repetitions.

3. Standing Shoulder Press

A person doing a standing shoulder press

How to do this exercise:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder level with your palms facing forward.
  3. Push the dumbbells up and over your head.
  4. Lower your arms back down to a 90-degree angle, with your elbows slightly below shoulder level.
  5. Repeat until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps while avoiding locking your arms and pressing the weights slowly and smoothly.

“For added stability, keep the shoulder blades down during the press and avoid shrugging them up toward your ears. Keep this position throughout the entire movement. You can try to imagine sliding your shoulder blades into your back pocket at the start of the movement if that helps.”

- Paul Rogers, Certified Personal Trainer

4. Push Ups

How to perform this exercise:

  1. Get in a plank position with your wrists under your shoulder. Keep your core and glutes engaged.
  2. Lower your body, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels. Avoid bringing your head forward or allowing your hips to sag, maintaining a full range of motion.
  3. Hold while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Push your body back to the starting position, fully extending your arms.
  5. Repeat until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps.

More Posts About Push Ups:

5. Upright Row

A person doing upright row workouts

How to do this exercise:

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place the dumbbells approximately three inches in front of you, with your palms facing your body.
  3. Lift the dumbbells towards your shoulder level while keeping your back straight and core engaged.
  4. Hold for three seconds, focusing on squeezing your shoulder muscles.
  5. Lower the weights back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the same movement until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps.

More Posts About Upright Rows:

6. Bent-Over Row

How to do this exercise:

  1. Assume a standing position, ensuring your feet are shoulder-width apart and knees are slightly bent.
  2. Sit back with your hips as much as possible while maintaining a straight back, engaged core, and lifted chest.
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other, allowing your arms to hang down in front of you.
  4. Raise the dumbbells towards your ribcage, keeping your wrists under your elbow.
  5. Lower the weights back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat the same movement until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps.

7. Renegade Row

A person doing renegade rows

How to do this upper body exercise:

  1. Grab a pair of kettlebells and get on all fours.
  2. Come into a high plank position, extending your legs and placing your hands on the kettlebell handles. Ensure that your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your feet are positioned wider as wide as the mat.
  3. Raise one kettlebell towards your chest while maintaining a stable core and avoiding excessive body rotation.
  4. Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat the same movement on the opposite side.
  5. Continue alternating between the left and right side until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps.

“If you can, check your form in a mirror—if your hips aren't directly aligned between your shoulders and knees, creating a slight downward diagonal line from your shoulders to your heels, lower your hips by a few inches and continue the exercise.”

- Laura Williams, Fitness Expert

The Renegade Row, along with other home exercises, benefits from recent innovations in home exercise equipment, such as adjustable kettlebells, enhancing the effectiveness and variety of workouts.

8. Three-Point Row

How to do this exercise:

  1. Grab one dumbbell and stand slightly wider than hip-width apart in front of a flat bench.
  2. Hinge back at the hips, maintaining a neutral spine, and place your empty hand on the bench.
  3. Pull the dumbbell towards your torso, keeping your back straight and core engaged.
  4. Lower the dumbbell back down without leaning too low or compromising your form.
  5. Continue until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps.
  6. Repeat the same on the other side.

9. Mountain Climber

A person doing mountain climbers at the gym

How to do this exercise:

  1. Get into a plank position with your body in a straight line.
  2. Pull your left knee to your right elbow as far as possible without twisting your body. During this movement, engage your core muscles and keep your back as straight as possible.
  3. Return your left leg to the starting position.
  4. Draw your right knee closer to your left elbow.
  5. Continue quickly switching between legs without letting your hips sink or raising them too high.

“If you're not used to this movement, it is easy to let your weight shift back so that your body ends up in a down-dog kind of movement. Keep the weight balanced and shoulders over your wrists.”

- Paige Waehner, Personal Trainer

Mountain Climbers are not only effective for cardiovascular health but also exemplify the global trend of incorporating high-intensity interval training into home workouts, popular in various regions worldwide.

10. Plank Shoulder Tap

How to perform this exercise:

  1. Get into a plank position with your feet together or shoulder width apart and wrists directly under your shoulders.
  2. Raise your right hand and tap on your left shoulder while maintaining your core and glutes engaged and keeping your body from swaying.
  3. Lower your arm back to the starting position.
  4. Raise your left hand and tap your right shoulder while not swaying too much.
  5. Keep alternating between sides until you complete three sets of eight to twelve reps.

What Are the Benefits of These Exercises?

A person doing home workouts

In my journey as a fitness trainer, I've had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the transformative impact that at-home exercises can have on my clients.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Increased strength and muscle hypertrophy - Enhancing strength and muscle hypertrophy can be achieved even without gym equipment through bodyweight exercises. Research published on Science Direct has demonstrated that push-ups are equally effective as low-load bench presses for increasing muscle thickness and strength, promoting muscle hypertrophy [1].
  • Reduced back pain - Research published by the National library of Medicine has shown that supervised, controlled home exercises may reduce low back pain. What's more, the positive effects of these exercises have been found to persist for up to five years [2].
  • Variety of exercises - A wide range of exercises is available for home workouts that do not require machines or any other fancy gym equipment.
  • Avoid plateaus - You may avoid plateaus by performing exercises at home, even if it’s just using your bodyweight. For example, you may increase the intensity of your bodyweight home workouts by increasing your reps, progressively overloading the time under tension, using more advanced movements, or speeding up the tempo of your exercises.
  • Improved physical performance - Embracing high-intensity interval training in home workouts can bring impressive results. Recent research published by the National Institutes of Health has revealed that high-intensity interval bodyweight training can be just as efficient as combined training, which includes both aerobic and resistance exercises, for women [3].

“Staying safe during home workouts is just as important as staying safe during gym workouts. This means prioritizing proper form, using necessary safety equipment as needed, and seeing a doctor for any lingering aches or pains.”

- Nicole M. LaMarco, Health Writer

  • Improved cardiovascular health - You may experience notable improvements in your overall endurance and stamina by engaging in at-home workouts. Research by the International Journal of Exercise Medicine has shown that bodyweight training can effectively enhance cardiovascular fitness levels, even with minimal time commitment and without requiring specialized equipment [4].
  • Solid foundation for strength training - Whether you're a beginner to strength training or currently lack access to weights, at-home exercises can serve as a solid starting point for future progress. Many exercises can be performed at home without needing weights, while still mimicking the movement patterns of weighted exercises.
  • Convenience - At-home workouts are a simple and accessible way to prioritize your fitness. Regardless of your location, whether it's your bedroom, garage, or even a hotel room while traveling, you have the flexibility to begin your workout anytime. At-home exercises eliminate the need for expensive gym memberships and even the necessity of having a quality exercise mat.
  • Psychological Benefits. Beyond the physical benefits, at-home exercises also have psychological benefits, such as stress reduction and mood enhancement, making them ideal for holistic home fitness routines.

Tips for Working Out At Home

A person working out at home

Optimize your at-home workout experience with these key tips:

  1. Select an ideal workout area - Identify a readily accessible space that provides ample room for exercise movements and storage of any necessary home gym equipment.
  2. Establish a consistent schedule - If you're working from home, strive to maintain a routine that incorporates regular physical activity at the same time each day.
  3. Set realistic fitness goals - Determine what is attainable for your body and schedule, committing to a manageable workout frequency each week. Begin with a three days a week workout split and gradually increase as you feel more comfortable.
  4. Vary your workout regimen - Incorporate a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), calisthenics exercises, and weight training exercises (if possible) to keep your workouts engaging and enjoyable.
  5. Allocate rest days - Include at least one day per week dedicated to rest and recovery. Utilize this time for foam rolling, massages, stretching, or any restorative practices that promote muscle relaxation.
  6. Prepare your exercise kit - While bodyweight exercises alone are effective for training your entire body and helping you lose weight, you may add free weights to maximize your results.
  7. Gradually increase intensity - Begin with shorter intervals of high-intensity exercises and gradually progress to longer durations as your fitness level improves to ensure a safe and challenging workout experience.
  8. Include compound and isolation movements - Incorporate exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats for the lower body. Additionally, include isolation exercises to address specific muscle imbalances and promote symmetry.
  9. Incorporate full-body workouts - Dedicate at least one weekly session to a comprehensive full-body workout. This approach ensures that all major muscle groups receive attention and stimulation.

FAQs

Is It Effective to Work Out at Home?

Yes, it is effective to work out at home. Any workout performed with the correct form and appropriate intensity can yield significant benefits even without gym equipment. The key lies in maintaining proper technique and challenging yourself during each exercise session.

Who Should Work Out at Home?

Those who work from home, have busy schedules, limited budgets, or lack convenient access to a nearby gym should work out at home.

What Are the Best Quiet Workouts That Burn Fat?

Planks, burpees, lunges, crunches, push-ups, mountain climbers, and squats are some of the best quiet workouts that burn fat.


References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1728869X17301028
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17849435/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29471132/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8136567/
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