Training

How to Exercise at Home for Beginners | 17 Home Exercises With & Without Equipment

So, you’re sat at home thinking you haven’t quite reached those fitness goals you’d set out to achieve. But when it comes down to it, you just don’t know where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Using just your bodyweight or the furniture at home, there’s something for everyone.

Bodyweight Exercises | Training Without Equipment

No equipment, no problem. Using just bodyweight is a great way to start achieving your goals. Always make sure you give those well worked and very tired muscles a great stretch afterwards to minimise the dreaded muscle soreness you experience the next day.

 

1. Bear Crawl

Sets: 4 | Reps: 5 – 10 (4 steps forward and back equates to 1 rep)

This is one of my all-time favourite bodyweight exercises. It will leave no muscle untrained with special focus on your shoulders and abs. 

  1. Start with your hands under your shoulders and your knees roughly 3 inches off the floor, directly under your hips
  2. Move your left hand and right foot forward together just a short distance and then repeat for the opposite side
  3. With every step forward or backwards you should focus on fully engaging your abs to prevent your hips from twisting
  4. Remember to keep breathing throughout this movement

Regression – If you start to struggle, come down to your knees for a moment before you start your next rep.

 

2. Squat Jump

Sets: 4 | Reps: 15 – 20

An old favourite to condition those legs and elevate your heart rate. You’ll hit your quads and glutes with this but be sure to keep your heels down when you squat to stop your calves having all the fun.

  1. Start with your feet hip-width or slightly wider (whichever feels more comfortable)
  2. Squat so that your thighs are parallel with the floor or until you can’t squat any lower without bending at your lower back
  3. From the bottom of the squat stand with the greatest force you can, and drive your feet off the floor
  4. Lift your chest and keep your eyes pointing forwards
  5. On landing, bend your knees to absorb the impact and begin your next rep straight away

Regression – Remove the jump and just perform a bodyweight squat.

 

3. Press Up

Sets: 4 | Reps: Maximum (with good technique)

Sometimes, there’s just no need to reinvent the wheel. This is a staple of beginner- and advanced home workouts alike. Primarily working the chest and triceps, with a little bite in those shoulders as you get further through your reps.

  1. Hands just outside your shoulders with your abs engaged (make sure you are not arching your lower back and dropping your hips)
  2. Lower your chest so your shoulders are in line with your elbows or slightly lower (remember it’s how low your chest goes, not your nose) 
  3. Return to the starting position by pushing through the heel of your hand and actively thinking about squeezing your chest

Regression – Drop to your knees to make this easier and reduce your range of movement to match your strength.

 

4. Jump Lunges

Sets: 4 | Reps: 10 – 20

Bring your A-game with this one. It has potential to leave you folding at the hip and bouncing your chest off your thigh. When done correctly, you will lift that heart rate once more and really get your glutes working.

  1. Take a long stride and bend your rear knee until your front thigh is parallel with the floor
  2. Push your feet into the floor with force and drive your feet from the ground
  3. Keep your chest lifted and your eyes pointing forward
  4. Switch your stance in the air with speed and accuracy and bend your knees on the landing
  5. Engage your abs and prevent your chest from lowering towards your thigh
  6. Follow steps 2 to 5 for each leg continuously until you complete all your reps

Regression – Remove the jump and just perform a forward- or backward stepping lunge instead (see the dumbbell version of this in the Home Dumbbell exercises section below)

 

5. Burpees

Sets: 4 | Reps: 5 – 10

How can I possibly include this exercise in a beginner workout, I hear you ask. Simply put, it’s one of the most effective, calorific and easily-modified exercises you could do in your own home.

  1. Bend your knees (not your back) and place your hands on the floor
  2. Jump or walk your feet back into a full plank position
  3. Drop your chest to the floor
  4. Press back to full plank position and jump your feet inwards
  5. Drive into the floor hard and jump as high as you can
  6. Bend your knees on landing and begin the next rep immediately

Regression – Step your feet out and in and keep your knees down during the press. If the jumps have got you reaching for the sick bucket just take point number 5 away and work to your own limits.

 

How to Exercise using your Surroundings | Training with Furniture

Do you ever find yourself, nothing to do, looking around at your sofa, dining room chairs and stairs and wondering how to use these to reach your goals? Each of these items can have a second purpose, it’s called your home gym! We’ve used a dining room bench for the below exercises, but it’s all transferable to other furniture.

 

6. Step-Ups

Sets: 3 each leg | Reps: 10 – 15 each leg

You will be glad you started doing this exercise come summertime when you start filling out your swimwear with some well-sculpted curves. You will feel this predominantly in your glutes with some back up from your quads. Important note, don’t let your calves take over by bouncing off your back foot too much.

  1. Step one foot flat onto your chair/bench
  2. Keep your hands in front at chest level to prevent you swinging your arms and generating momentum
  3. Shift your body weight onto your front leg and stand up, tall lifting your chest and keeping your eyes facing forward
  4. Control your weight back down and keep your foot on the chair
  5. Pause for a second before completing the next rep to prevent yourself from bouncing on your back foot
  6. Complete all reps on 1 leg before changing

Regression – Lower the height of you step up by using the first or second step of your stairs or by using your sofa. Remove the sofa cushions to lower the height further.

 

7. Bench Dips

Sets: 4 | Reps: 10 – 15

For most, doing press-ups properly may leave you face planting the carpet, rather than looking like those athletes who can somehow levitate in between reps while clapping their hands behind their back. The bench dip is a great alternative to start building strength in your triceps, chest and shoulders.

  1. Place your hands just outside your hips on the bench/chair
  2. Feet out in front with your knees bent (the greater the bend the easier it will be)
  3. Lower your hips until your upper arm is parallel with the floor (or as far as you can comfortably go)
  4. Keep your hips close to the bench
  5. Push through the heel of your hand and extend your arms
  6. At the top think about holding for a second while you really squeeze your triceps

Regression – By reducing your range of movement and bending your knees more you will make this exercise more manageable.

 

8. Toe Taps

Sets: 4 | Reps: 20 – 30

How can you add more precision and poise to simply running on the spot? I give you, toe taps. Forcing you to lift your foot higher than if just running on the spot, this will certainly get your heart rate up. Working just about every muscle in your lower body with a little engagement from your abs, this is a great addition to your home workout.

  1. Rest the toes of one foot on your bench and keep your body weight in the leg on the floor
  2. A slight bounce off the back foot just enough to lift off the ground
  3. With speed and accuracy, switch your feet
  4. You are aiming to take no rest in between each rep just as you would if running on the spot
  5. Keep your chest lifted and remember to keep breathing

Regression – While you are trying to move your feet at the same time at speed you may need to slow down a touch if you are new to this.

 

9. Back Leg Raised Split Squat (1 ½ Reps)

Sets: 3 each leg | Reps: 8 – 12 each leg

There is no doubt in my mind that this will challenge your leg strength, there is simply no way of cheating. This will work glutes, hamstrings and quads, where you feel it more will very much depend on your stance and body position.

  1. With your back to the bench, take a medium step forward and raise your back foot onto the bench
  2. You feel comfortable standing upright without too much curving of your lower back. If you feel this happening straighten your back and lean forward slightly
  3. Bend your front leg and lower your back knee. Focus on pushing into the heel of your front foot when pushing upwards
  4. You should perform a half rep in between every full rep so 1 full and 1 half rep counts as 1 complete rep
  5. Complete all reps on 1 leg before changing

Regression – If this feels awkward or too challenging try this first with both feet on the floor.

 

Home Dumbbell Exercises | Training with Weights

One of the staples of the home kit, that random pair of dumbbells tucked away in your cupboard that haven’t seen daylight since the day after you bought them. Well, it’s time to dust them off and put them to use. Here are some simple and very effective exercises for you to try.

 

10. Goblet Squat

Sets: 4 | Reps: 10 – 15

We all know squats are supposedly great for us but do we know why? Firstly, it’s a fundamental movement we all should be able to perform. Secondly, it’s great for sculpting our legs and strengthening our core.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width or slightly wider and holding the dumbbell under your chin
  2. Bend your knees and sit your hips back until your thigh is parallel to the floor or as low as you can go without bending at your lower back
  3. Keep your back straight, lifting your chest and looking forward will help this
  4. Push through the heels of your feet as you stand with your knees aligned above your big toe

Regression – Lose the dumbbell and just go with bodyweight squats if the extra weight is too much.

 

11. Renegade Row

Sets: 4 | Reps: 16 – 20

If I was pushed for time and had to pick just a couple of exercises this would be one of them. Working the majority of major muscles with a weight that isn’t too heavy, it will make a great addition to HIIT and conditioning workouts alike.

  1. Position yourself in a full plank with your hands on the dumbbells directly under your shoulders and your legs out straight with feet slightly wider than your hips
  2. Brace your abs hard and pull one dumbbell to your ribcage with minimal twisting of the hips and shoulders
  3. Don’t rush your reps, it is far more beneficial to take your time if it means you can better engage your abs

Regression – To lower the intensity either drop to your knees or go without dumbbells and just try bodyweight. 

 

12. Reverse Alternating Lunge

Sets: 3 | Reps: 16 – 20

Get your legs fired up with this great variation of a traditional lunge. Reverse lunges allow for better control and more often than not greater work into your glutes. 

  1. From standing, take a long step backwards whilst keeping slightly more of your weight over your front leg
  2. Keep your chest lifted to encourage a straight back
  3. You heel of your front foot should remain firmly planted throughout the movement
  4. Important to not swings your arms to build momentum as this will drastically reduce the effectiveness of this exercise

Regression – To make this exercise more manageable try just your bodyweight until you feel strong enough to hold light dumbbells.

 

13. Shoulder Press

Sets: 4 | Reps: 8 – 12

Performed either standing or seated this is vital exercise to improve shoulder strength. Primarily working the middle and fronts of your shoulders, your triceps will also play a supporting role towards the top of the press.

  1. Seated or standing, start with the dumbbells just above the shoulders with elbows directly under
  2. Press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended or close as your flexibility will allow
  3. Return the dumbbells with control and without letting them rest on your shoulders
  4. Allows keep your back straight and resist the temptation to lean back

Regression – If possible choose a lighter weight. If your weight selection is limited and this isn’t an option focus your efforts on bent over rows and press-ups to build a more substantial base level of strength.

 

14. Dumbbell Swing

Sets: 4 | Reps: 15 – 20

Traditionally done with a kettlebell but easily performed with a dumbbell if access to equipment is limited. A great way to get hamstrings and glutes firing on all cylinders with the added benefit of elevating heart rate and increasing calorie burn.

  1. Start with your feet wider than hip-width (wide enough for you to comfortably sing a dumbbell)
  2. Start with a couple of smaller reps to build up a rhythm
  3. When the dumbbell swings back between your legs keep your back straight and hinge at the hip with only a small bend in the knee
  4. The movement comes from your hips rather than your back so keep your back straight throughout
  5. Your glutes will be the driving force of the swing so squeeze your glutes at the bottom of the swing and drive the dumbbell to shoulder height
  6. Swings should be continuous and each rep should flow after the previous rep

 

Home Resistance Exercises | Training with Resistance Bands

Training with bands has grown in popularity significantly over the last few years and they are a great addition to most workouts. They are small, compact and easy to carry around so banded workouts are great at home, hotel rooms or the par. Here I will show you a few good exercises to get started with.

 

15. Banded Suitcase Squat

Sets: 4 | Reps: 8 – 15

Although you won’t be picking up your suitcase and nipping off on a quick holiday this exercise intensity is easily adjusted by changing your grip so picking up a heavy suitcase will be easier next time around. Suitcase Squats will work the big hip extensors, quads and glutes, but will also require a lot of stabilising from the back, abs and shoulders.

  1. Stand on the band with your feet under your hips
  2. Hold the band at a point that will offer a suitable resistance at the top (hold further up to make it easier and further down to make it harder)
  3. Squeeze your shoulders together and lock your back in straight
  4. Push into your heels and stand upright
  5. On each rep bend your knees similar to a squat movement until your thighs are parallel to the floor or slightly higher
  6. You will notice the resistance increase the closer you get to standing upright

Regression – Hold the band higher up to reduce the stretch in the band and therefore reduce the resistance.

 

16. Banded Bent-Over Row

Sets: 4 | Reps: 8 – 15

Many people are chest dominant and without the equipment, it can be challenging to work your back. This exercise will help strengthen major back muscles not to mention the rear of the shoulder with a little bicep action happening as well.

  1. Holding the band in a similar position to the Suitcase Squat hinge at the hip keeping you back straight
  2. Whilst holding the band, pull your hand towards the lower rib cage squeezing the shoulder blades together
  3. Release your arms with control until fully extended
  4. In between reps ensure you maintain tension in the upper back

Regression – Hold the band higher up to reduce the stretch in the band and therefore reduce the resistance.

 

17. Banded Single Arm Shoulder Press

Sets: 4 | Reps: 8 – 15

A cheeky little variation to a traditional shoulder press for strength and sculpting those shoulders. I always like using single-arm and single-leg exercises to ensure we work our non-dominant side equally. You will find more tension at the top of this than with just a dumbbell due to the nature of the band increasing in tension as it’s stretched.

  1. Start by kneeling one knee on the band and the other foot out in front
  2. Hold the band on the same side as the knee holding the band down
  3. Press your arms overhead with the band on the outside until your arm is fully extended
  4. When returning to the starting position try not to lose all tension in the band
  5. Important to engage your abs so your hips and shoulders stay pointing forward

Take Home Message

Starting your fitness journey doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems in your head.

Begin with these simple exercises before building up your confidence to practice with different variations and creating your own mini workouts.



Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths

Writer and expert


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