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The best ways to workout at home

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A gym membership can be a worthwhile investment. A membership to a workout facility gives you access to exercise equipment, a personal trainer, and fitness classes. Plus, there’s the added incentive of: “since you paid for it, you may as well use it.” 

However, working out at a gym isn’t convenient for everyone. It might be intimidating to work out with strangers, especially when you’re just beginning an exercise plan or a weight loss program.

Luckily, there are plenty of free workouts that anyone can do at home with little or no gym equipment. In this blog, we’ll describe our top at-home workout tips and routines, including aerobic, strength, and flexibility options. 

Strength, cardio, and flexibility

Before discussing specific workouts, let’s establish some basic exercise principles to help you navigate the best at-home workout for your needs. First, you must remember that your body is a kinetic chain of interconnected parts. If you don’t build up every part of that chain, you’ll increase your risk of injury and won’t be able to maintain your exercise routine.

It might be tempting to focus only on workouts that burn the most calories when you’re trying to lose weight, but that approach won’t help you achieve long-term health and weight loss success.

Instead, you’ll need to incorporate strength, cardiovascular (or aerobic), and flexibility work into your workout plan for maximum results.

Cardio work

First, let’s look at a cardio workout. You probably know that you’ll get the biggest calorie-burning boost from cardio exercise. Are there benefits of cardiovascular exercise? The good news is that all cardio, from moderate to high intensity, has health and weight loss benefits. The basic recommendation for adults is between 150 to 300 minutes per week. For moderate-intensity cardio, your heart rate should be elevated, and you should be able to talk while exercising but not sing. Let’s look at some specific cardio workouts you can do at home to meet all of your fitness needs.

Burn calories and improve overall health

Aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular health and reduces your risk for many diseases. And, it’s easy to do without fancy machines or other equipment. For each of these workouts, you’ll need comfortable athletic shoes and clothing. We’ve listed other necessary and optional equipment for each below. Our five favorite workouts are:

  • Walking – The easiest way to get started is to take the first step—literally. Walking is an excellent way to burn calories, get outside, and build cardiovascular health. The National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM) recommends beginning with an easy 15 to 20-minute walking session, adding time and intensity as you get stronger.

  • Equipment needed: Watch for pace and timing, treadmill (optional) 

  • Jump rope – If you like a little more intensity in your cardio, try jumping rope. Start with slow, easy jumps for 5 to 10 minutes. Add in several 30 to 60-second intervals of faster jumping as you get more fit. 

  • Equipment needed: Jump rope.

  • Dancing – Turn up your favorite music and have a dance party in your living room. You can challenge yourself to dance for a certain number of songs or a specific amount of time. 

  • Equipment needed: Device to play music.

  • Free online classes – There are countless options for free online cardio workouts. You can do a quick search and will be instantly rewarded with a wide range of options for beginners and beyond. If you're new, choose an online class with an exercise video to serve as a guide. This is the perfect way to mix up your workout routine when you’re in a rut.

  • Equipment needed: Exercise mat.

  • Biking – A flat paved path is ideal for beginning bike riders. You can start with 20 to 30 minutes of easy riding. As you gain fitness, you can find hillier routes and increase your cycling speed and distance for a more challenging workout.

  • Equipment needed: Bicycle or stationary bike.

Time

How much exercise do you need a day? In the case of cardio workouts, they should be between 30 to 60 minutes. You can also break them into shorter chunks. For example, try two 15 minute sessions instead of one 30 minute workout.

Ramp up with HIIT

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. As the name implies, these workouts are vigorous. They’re meant to burn a lot of calories quickly and maximize cardiovascular benefits. However, you’ll want to take a cautious approach to add HIIT sessions to your fitness plan, or you’ll risk injury. 

One of our favorite HIIT workouts for beginners is:

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes with easy walking or jogging

  • Run at high speed for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds

  • Repeat the 30:30 five times

  • Walk for 10 minutes to cool down

Even short, 30-second bursts of intense activity have big benefits for your body.

Workout variation

If you’d prefer, you can do a similar HIIT workout on a bicycle or stationary bike instead of walking and running.

Equipment

You don’t need much equipment for this workout, just:

  • Stopwatch or timer

  • Treadmill if indoors

Time

This version takes 25 minutes. You can add intervals as you get fitter to extend the length of your exercise session.

Strength training 

Strength training is also critical to overall good health and weight loss. In fact, building up muscular strength will help you continue to burn more calories long after your workouts end. The CDC recommends adults include at least two strength-training sessions per week into their routine. Examples of strength training exercises include:

  • Bodyweight exercise

  • Lifting weights

  • Resistance band moves

All of these are easy to incorporate into a home workout plan.

Bodyweight exercises for strength

You don’t have to have heavy weights to build muscle. You can get a total body strength workout without any equipment at all. Try this muscle boosting body weight routine:

  • Squats

  • Lunges 

  • Calf raises

  • Push-ups

  • Planks

  • Bridges

  • Dips

Do two sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise. For planks, hold the pose for 30 seconds and repeat.

Equipment

The only equipment you’ll need is a mat and a sturdy chair for dips.

Time

This should take approximately 20 to 25 minutes to complete.

Lifting and resistance

If you wish to invest a little more in your home workout facility, you can add weights or resistance bands to your repertoire. As with all workouts, start slowly and patiently build to more challenging moves. 

A complete strengthening routine involving dumbbells or resistance bands will target all of your major muscle groups, including:

  • Legs

  • Hips

  • Back

  • Core

  • Chest

  • Shoulders

  • Arms

The NASM lists many exercises that can target these groups. Some of the best for beginners are:

  • Squats while holding a dumbbell

  • Lunges with dumbbells in each hand

  • Bicep curls

  • Tricep extensions

  • Shoulder presses

  • Weighted hip raises

  • Seated rows

  • Planks for core strength

Ideally, you should begin with two sets of eight to twelve repetitions for these exercises. Hold planks for 30 seconds.

Equipment

You’ll need dumbbells or resistance bands to perform these moves. The weight of the dumbbells needed will depend on your ability. A good rule of thumb is to use a weight that becomes difficult as you reach the end of your set.

Time

This strengthening routine will take about 25 to 30 minutes to complete.

Flexibility

Strong muscles won’t function well if you don’t also maintain flexibility, especially as you age. Routines that increase flexibility such as stretching and yoga benefit you by:

  • Decreasing your risk of injury

  • Correcting and preventing muscle imbalances

  • Improving posture

  • Maintaining range of motion and joint health

As you can see, skipping flexibility sessions will impair your ability to perform other at-home workouts.

Prevent injuries with yoga

Yoga is one of the best at-home workouts you can do for strength, injury prevention, flexibility, and balance. Some typical poses you’ll find in beginning yoga classes found online include:

  • Downward facing dog

  • Mountain pose

  • Cat cow

  • Warrior

  • Triangle

  • Plank

  • Chaturanga

  • Upward facing dog

  • Tree

  • Child’s pose

The length of time you’ll hold each pose will vary. As you become more adept at yoga, you’ll find your flexibility improving, and you’ll be able to add more complex movements to your yoga practice.

Equipment

There are a few recommended pieces of equipment for a home yoga workout, including:

  • Yoga mat

  • Towel

  • Yoga blocks 

  • A device to stream at-home yoga tutorials

You’ll also need a space where you can move freely through your yoga poses.

Time

You can find yoga routines that last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. We suggest beginning with a 30-minute yoga practice and adding time and intensity as your fitness improves.

Find weight loss harmony with Found

Once you’ve figured out how to create a workout plan, your body will only perform at its best when you’re eating right, sleeping well, and exercising frequently. The top workouts that you can do at home incorporate all of the essential components of fitness and require little to no equipment. You just need to find the motivation and get moving.

Sometimes that motivation eludes you. Or, perhaps you think you’re doing everything correctly, but your weight just won’t budge. That’s where Found can help. We’ve developed our program around science, motivation, and support. 

If you want a little extra help, take our quiz today. 

Sources: 

Mayo Clinic. Fitness Training: Elements of a Well-Rounded Routine. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness-training/art-20044792

PubMed. Skeletal Muscle Metabolism Is a Major Determinant of Resting Energy Expenditure. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2243122/

CDC. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

National Association of Sports Medicine. Flexibility Training: Why Stretching and Flexibility Is Important. https://blog.nasm.org/certified-personal-trainer/training-relevance-of-flexibility

Health.gov. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=59

NASM. 5 Week Workout Plan for Beginners—Getting Your Feet Wet With Fitness. https://blog.nasm.org/workout-plan-for-beginners

PubMed. Evidence-Based Effects of High Intensity Interval Training on Exercise Capacity and Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294064/

NASM. Hiit Workouts: Programming, Exercises, and Benefits. https://blog.nasm.org/hiit-workout-plan

CDC. Muscle Strengthening Activities – What Counts? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

NASM. Weight Lifting for Weight Loss: Which Exercises and Workouts Are Best? https://blog.nasm.org/weight-lifting-for-weight-loss

Yoga Journal. The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga. https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/beginners/yoga-for-beginners/

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