I am writing this now because gyms are closing all over the country and around the world due to COVID-19, but I have been thinking about an article about home exercises for a long time. I must say right away that we will only talk about how to train, and not how to equip a home gym.
If you have space and funds to buy a bar, racks, and a bunch of disks, that’s great. However, there are already a lot of articles on the Internet on the topic “ideal gym at home” (we have one as well – How to Build Garage Gym Fast – Guide), and I am writing for those who cannot allocate a separate room or garage for sports. Of course, I would advise you to buy something so that you have more exercise options, but nothing particularly expensive.
Well, to the point! To begin with, let’s clarify this: it is quite easy to work out the top and “core” outside the gym, but with the bottom you will have to strain.
For a complete detailed analysis of the exercises and listing of all the possible options (a total of 130 exercises and their variations!) – scroll down to the second part of the article.
Tips for every training area
There are a million push-up options available to you with absolutely no purchase. If the usual ones are too simple, then you can:
- place your hands on stacks of books or chairs to increase the range of motion;
- put your feet on a platform to increase the load;
- try a one-arm push-up.
And to balance the development of the musculature, add pull-ups with the table:
With a strong enough grip, try pull-ups on the doorframe. If the grip is not very good, but there are trees in the yard, pull yourself up on a branch. Of course, without equipment, it is easier to work out the “pushing” muscles (chest, triceps, front delts), but for the “traction” ones (lats, rhomboid, biceps) you can also think of something.
Triceps, biceps, deltoid home exercises
You can perform reverse push-ups on a sofa or a sufficiently wide chair:
If you have two big water bottles you can do side-raises with them, most people will have enough delt load when doing enough reps:
You can also do curls for biceps and extensions for triceps with them. If the load is not enough, take a sturdy bag (backpack, briefcase, etc.) and put something weighty in it – books, canned food, cereals, etc. In general, you can always figure out something to work out the delts, biceps and triceps.
Look at the nearest store for canisters of 20 liters, with them there will be more variety. If you are strong enough, you can do handstand push-ups (against a wall for added stability).
Core muscles: abs and others
For the “core”, obviously, twisting and lifting of the body. Leg lifts and bicycle:
Read also: Is it Necessary to Do Ab Exercises?
All kinds of planks are fantastically effective; most people won’t be able to do the super-long plank while keeping the pelvis neutral – make that goal for yourself while you’re at home.
If you have a sturdy ball (for example, a basketball or football), you can “walk” on it with your hands, using it instead of an abs roller.
For the very cool guys – the dragon flag:
Legs at-home exercises
With leg training, of course, everything is more complicated. It is difficult to repeat axial load exercises at home (squat, deadlift) without a heavy barbell. On the other hand, most gym-goers are surprised at how difficult unweighted multi-rep squats can be if you sit deep and don’t fully extend your legs at the top of the range. They are quite enough to gain muscle for beginners and maintain gains for a lot of experienced athletes, but, of course, it will not be possible to develop strength.
Add lunges, scissor squats, and stepping onto a solid chair. And, of course, learn to squat on one leg (pistol squats). If you are not overpowering yet, hold onto something with your hands and sit on a chair, bed, etc.
If someone from your relatives can hold your ankles (or you can slip them under a closet, sofa, etc.), Scandinavian leg curls (also called Russian Curl – Editor’s note) is an excellent exercise for hip flexors:
- For the glutes, the bridge on two legs provides enough load for beginners, and on one leg – for quite experienced ones.
- The toe lift will work out the calves (preferably on a step platform to increase range of motion).
- The Romanian deadlift on one leg and without weights will add loads to the back of the legs when doing multi-rep sets. Try to do your full range using your heel and provide good stimulus to your leg flexors and gluteus medius.
Home exercises with equipment
If you are ready to splurge on some equipment, then first of all I advise a pull-up bar installed in the doorway and a set of training harnesses. On the horizontal bar, you can do various options for the upper back rods, and with harness you can perform many home exercises that were previously only available with machines in the gym.
Add a band to a regular push-up – and be amazed at how much more difficult it becomes. With a tight elastic band, push-ups will be difficult enough for the most experienced “basic” bench aficionados.
For rear delts and rhomboids, stretch the harness in front of you. Also, standing on the expander, you can perform arm curls for biceps, extension for triceps, side raises for lateral deltoid beams.
Moving to the bottom: squatting with a band on your shoulders will make you sweat, and not everyone can do a lunge or squat on one leg. Attach the expander to the leg of the bed or try variations from the pic below. If the load is not enough, perform the movement on one leg.
Of course, training harnesses have their drawbacks: resistance varies according to the range of motion, and it is not as convenient to increase the load as with the good old barbell. You will have to practice the exercise on one expander for a long time before moving on to a tighter one. But for home workouts, it’s still the best choice. You can repeat almost the entire gym program with the harness set.
Further, I advise you to purchase collapsible dumbbells and gymnastics rings (or TRX loops), a kettlebell or a sandbag if you want to get even more variety. But you already have a bunch of home exercises for the whole body available, although, again, the bottom is more difficult to work out. The crossbeams and harnesses are enough. With their help, you can maintain the existing mass and even gain something. Any exercise that gets you close to failure within 5-30 reps promotes hypertrophy.
Problems of weightlifters
The only problem arises with the extensors of the back, these muscles still need a heavy barbell and deadlift (or tilt with a barbell on the back); The harnesses do not particularly stimulate them, but should at least support the existing strength indicators. You can work out almost all other muscle groups with a minimum of equipment.
When it comes to strength training, beginner athletes can get stronger with the exercises suggested in this article. The more experienced ones should be able to maintain or increase “baseline strength” (as a function of building or maintaining muscle mass). In other words, if you haven’t been training in the gym for a couple of months, your PRs on “big” exercises will drop slightly when you get back under the bar.
However, this decline is mainly due to the fact that you are not working out the same movement pattern; If you devote this time to maintaining or building muscle mass, then the strength should return to the previous level (and exceed it) quite quickly – within 2-4 weeks for most people.
To change the “indoor” home workout program, you just need to choose exercises that train the same muscle groups and determine how you will progress. For example, if you want to develop in the bench press and choose push-ups, do more reps with each workout instead of increasing the barbell weight. If, instead of overhead presses, you do a handstand push-up, try to increase your range of motion, and then add reps.
If using harness, you can progress by adding more resistance bands (for home exercises such as push-ups, squats, etc.), or push muscles to failure, such as curls for biceps or side raises for delts.
130 Best Home Exercises
When things are unclear, check out YouTube, there are a lot of tutorial videos showing you how to do these moves.
“Push” Exercises (chest, triceps, front and side delts)
Chest-focused push-up variations
- Incline push-ups
- Push-ups from knees
- Decline push-ups
- Uneven push-ups
- If you bend over to your raised arm, you can stretch your ribcage perfectly; the elevation need not be (and need not be) particularly large for it to be beneficial.
- Band-resisted push-ups
- Incline one-arm push-ups
- Regular one-arm push-ups
- Push-ups on gymnastics rings or suspension trainer
- You can progress in this exercise by moving the rings closer and closer to the floor over time.
- Dumbbell press (with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs)
Triceps-focused push-up variations
- Narrow grip incline push-ups
- Narrow-grip push-ups from knees
- Narrow-grip push-ups
- In all of these exercises, the more you flex your elbows, the more triceps focused the exercise should be. Try to imagine your elbows rubbing against your chest.
- Decline narrow-grip push-ups
- Band-resisted narrow-grip push-ups
- Bench dips
- Bench dips with feet elevated
- Bench dips with feet elevated and some sort of weight across your lap
- Parallel dips (between tables or counters of similar heights)
- Band-resisted parallel dips
- You can also do these with the band anchored near the floor and looped around your neck; moreover you can put the band under your knees to provide assistance rather than resistance, like this.
- Backpack-weighted parallel dips
- “Straight bar” dips (using the edge of a table. A counter probably wouldn’t work)
- Dips on gymnastics rings or suspension trainer
- Pike Press
- You can do these on the floor, with your feet elevated on a chair, or with hands and feet elevated on chairs
- Partial ROM handstand push-ups
- Handstand push-ups
- Extended ROM handstand push-ups (hands elevated)
- Bilateral band OHP
- Unilateral band OHP
- DB OHP with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
- You can obviously do these standing or seated
Other triceps exercises
- Incline bodyweight triceps extensions
- Bodyweight triceps extensions
- Decline bodyweight triceps extensions
- Band-resisted bodyweight triceps extensions
- Any sort of dumbbell triceps extension (with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs)
- Virtually any triceps extension you can do with dumbbells can also be done with bands
- Band push-downs
- Gymnastics rings/suspension trainer bodyweight triceps extension
- You can make these more challenging by bringing the rings closer to the floor
Other pec exercises
- Flyes with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
- Bodyweight flyes with gymnastics rings or suspension trainer
- You can make these more challenging by bringing the rings closer to the floor
- You can also do these with towels or a slick floor, or furniture sliders on a carpeted floor.
Other delt exercises
- Band side lateral raises
- Band front delt raises
- You can also perform these unilaterally
- Side lateral raises with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
- Front delt raises with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
- Pseudo planche push-up
- Bodyweight side delt raises
“Pull” Exercises (lats, biceps, rear delts, traps)
- Table rows
- Backpack-weighted table rows
- Band rows
- Single-arm table rows
- Single-arm band rows
- Bodyweight rows with gymnastics rings or suspension trainer
- You can make these more challenging by bringing the rings closer to the floor or adding weight via a backpack
- Motorcycle row with band
- Regular grip pull-ups
- Wide grip pull-ups
- Neutral-grip pull-ups
- Band-assisted pull-ups
- The band can either go under your foot or under your knees
- Pull-ups on a door frame
- Pull-ups on a tree branch
- Band-resisted pull-ups
- Backpack-weighted pull-ups
- Band upright rows
- Upright rows with adjustable dumbbells, water jugs, or a backpack
Other lat exercises
- Band pull-overs
- Pull-overs with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
Other biceps exercises
- Band curls
- You can also do these unilaterally by choking up on the band
- Curls with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
Other rear delt exercises
- Band pull-aparts
- Band rear delt raises
- Rear delt raises with adjustable dumbbells or water jugs
- Rear delt flyes with gymnastics rings or suspension trainer
Other trap exercises
- Handstand shrugs
- Shrugs with dumbbells, bands, or a loaded backpack
Quad-dominant lower body exercises
- Bodyweight squats
- Reverse lunges
- Walking lunges
- Split squats
- Rear-leg elevated split squats
- Rear and front-leg elevated split squats
- Skater squat
- This video also shows regressions you can use to build toward full skater squats
- Pistol squat
- Pistol squat to a chair or couch
- Pistol squat with assistance
- Sissy squats
- You don’t necessarily need to have something under your heels; these aren’t recommended for people with janky knees
- Kneeling bodyweight knee extensions are similar
- Single leg hack squats
- You need a slick enough wall for this to work, but they’re humbling
For any of the above exercises, you can use bands or adjustable dumbbells for added resistance. For squats, resistance to a heavy band is recommended. You can do them in the front squat style like this, or pull the bands on the traps to use them in the back squat style.
- Lying hip abduction
- Donkey kicks
- Frog pumps
- Step-ups (the stricter the better)
- Double leg hip thrust or glute bridge
- Single leg hip thrust or glute bridge
- Hip thrust or glute bridges with band around knees and/or added weight across the lap
- Single-leg RDL
- Could use adjustable dumbbells or bands to increase the challenge
- Hamstrings walkouts
- Could use adjustable dumbbells to increase the challenge
- Hanging/Gliding leg curls
- Can elevate legs or leave them on the floor
- Gymnastics rings/suspension trainer leg curl
- Could add weight across the lap to increase the challenge
- Band deadlifts or RDLs
- Nordic curl
- Band-assisted Nordic curl
- Band-resisted good morning
- You can stand on the band or anchor it near the floor in front of you; you can also situate it around the back of your neck or across your shoulders.
- Sliding hamstrings curl
- You can buy specialized sliders for these, but cheap furniture sliders work just as well. In a pinch, paper plates actually get the job done too.
- Straight legged bridge
- If you’re fairly strong, you may want to do these unilaterally. You can add weight in a backpack across your lap.
- Reverse hyperextensions
- How you perform these and whether you add resistance (bands, in all likelihood) will influence whether they primarily target your hamstrings, glutes, or lumbar extensors. If you add resistance or you’re reasonably heavy, make sure you have a counterbalance on the opposite end of the table.
Abdominal home exercises
- Reverse crunch
- Ab rollout with ball
- Jackknife sit-up
- Hanging leg raise
- Gymnastics rings/suspension trainer fall-out
- Hanging pike
- Lying leg raise
- Seated leg tucks
- Oblique crunches
- Knee-hip raise
- Otis up
- Side plank
- Cross crunches
- Dead bugs
- Scissor kicks
- Russian twist
- Twisting crunches
- Human flags
- Dragon flags
Home exercises for calves
- Single-leg calf raises on a stair
- You don’t need multiple exercises if one is already perfect
- Wrist curls with dumbbells, water jugs, or a loaded backpack
- Holding a stretched band
- Simply anchor the band(s), walk far enough back and they’re providing a lot of resistance, and try to not let them slip.
- Pull-up hangs
- To make them more challenging, you can do fingertip hangs, one-arm hangs, or towel hangs.
- Rice digs
- You just submerge your hands in rice and open and close your hands forcefully. For more of a challenge, you can use sand.
More about this topic:
- Strength Training at Home Is as Effective as in the Gym
- The Best Home Exercises Machine: Buying Guide
- Top 3 home exercises for glutes according to science
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