A gym membership can be expensive, especially if you’ve just decided to get fit or are jumping back on the wagon. A great alternative is exercising at home. Exercising at home is a fantastic way to save money and start taking action no matter what your motivations are!
There are tons of home workout videos and programs on the market but for now we’ll start with the basics. With so many options available we decided to take the hassle out of YOU having to trawl through hundreds of articles giving conflicting advice and did it for you.
The great thing about these exercises (apart from the health benefits) is they’re free, low impact & each work a variety of muscles, which makes them very effective.
Here are the top 3 exercises to do at home.
Number 1 on our list of best exercises to do at home are Pushups. Really…. I hate doing pushups I hear you say. Yes Pushups are number 1. They’re great for working out your upper body & core and if you do them properly they keep your heart rate high, which has great cardio benefits- fat burning being one of them. With many variations you’ll be able to knock out a set whatever fitness level you’re at. The best thing about the good old pushup is you can pretty much do it anywhere!
Muscles groups: Upper Body – Arms (Biceps, Triceps), Chest, Shoulders, Core, Lower Back Muscles
Technique: Start by placing your hands on the floor just outside shoulder width. Place your feet in a comfortable position – some people prefer them together and others further apart. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re comfortable. Then hold yourself up, squeezing your bum and core, making sure to keep your back & bum horizontal to the floor.
Then you know the rest, down and up, making sure not to rush them & keeping your form the entire time! This is key to get the best results from your pushup and helps when measuring improved performance later on.
Variations: There are many variations to the standard pushup which is one of the reasons they’re so good. Here’s a few to get you started…
- Knees on the floor (Easier) – This helps if a standard pushup is beyond your reach at the start. Simply keep your knees on the floor making sure to keep your back straight though and keep that core tight
- Elevated Pushups (Easier) – Again these are great if the standard pushup is proving difficult. Find a solid surface (that won’t move) that’s higher than floor level. Use this to elevate your body, placing your hands in normal width position making sure to keep your back straight at all times.
- Diamond Pushup – This is a great variation to work the arms. Start with your hands just inside shoulder width, with yours hands facing inwards at around 45 degrees. Then go. Those triceps will be burning in no time.
- Wide Arm Pushups – As the name says start with your hands wide apart for this one. These are great for working the chest. Form is very important with this variation to make sure you get the most out of it.
- Decline Pushups – These put more emphasis on the chest and add more weight. All you do is find somewhere to put your feet in a raised position (maybe not the new leather lounges). Alternatively, if this is proving difficult you can do them by lifting one leg off the ground making sure to keep it straight so not to look like a scorpion and save your back.
Number 2 in our list of best exercises to do at home are Squats. Squats are another great body weight exercise that can be done virtually anywhere and are also a great form of cardio. Although it may look a bit odd to bystanders if you drop down for a set waiting to cross the road…. Squats work your entire lower body which is what makes them so effective.
Muscle Groups: Lower Body – Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves), Glutes, Lower Back Muscles, Core
Technique: Start with your feet shoulder width apart, facing your tows slightly outwards. If you feel more comfortable with your feet parallel that’s also ok. Start squatting down, bending through the knees and reaching back with your bum, making sure to keep your back in a strong position (not bent). Make sure to keep your knees aligned and your feet fully on the ground.
Eyes to the front with your head in a neutral position. As you come down bring your arms together out in front to balance the body. Drop down to just below horizontal so your bum is just below the knees. Then push back up through the heel, remembering to keep them planted on the floor. And repeat!
- Sumo Squat – This variation is good for targeting your glutes. Start with your legs straight & wide apart – feet pointing outwards. Hold your hands together in front of your chest. Start the movement by lowering your hips down until they are horizontal to the floor. Push back up through the heel, squeezing your glutes until your legs are straight again.
- Goblet Squats – These are similar to your standard squats, but with a slight variation they will work your thighs and hips more and give you a deeper squat. Start with your feet wider than your shoulder width (between standard & sumo), again, toes slightly facing out. Hands together or slightly apart in front of your chest. Push your hips back, lowering down with a strong back until your elbows touch your knees and your legs are just below horizontal. Push up through the heels until in the start/finish position.
- Jumping Squats – These are a little more advanced but are my personal favourite as they not only build strength but build power as well. They also get the arms involved which means a nice full body movement. Start like a standard squat but this time keep your arms down on each side of your body. Lower down until your legs are just below horizontal then swing the arms up, pushing through the heels and jump off the ground- arms will be straight above your head. Then landing back in the starting position. It’s very important to keep your form and not to rush these. Start slow, then once you get the hang of it you can increase the pace.
Number 3 in our list of best exercises to do at home is the Plank. Unless you’ve tried it yourself, it seems hard to believe that an exercise that looks pretty much like a variation of laying down can be so effective… But once you give it a go you’ll quickly realise what a great workout it is. Plank is an awesome core & lower back workout but at the same time will work lots of other muscles which is why it makes the list.
Muscle Groups: Core, Glutes, Lower Back Muscles, Arms, Shoulders
Technique: Start in a push up position then lower yourself down, bending your elbows and resting on your forearms (not your hands). Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders, with your forearms in a comfortable position (facing slightly inwards) and your hands clenched into a fist.
Squeeze your core and glutes, keeping a straight body at all times, making sure not to lift your bum – this can be tough at first as it takes some of the weight off. If you find yourself doing it, make sure that every time you repeat the exercise you try for improvement. Then simply hold this position. It’s a good idea to time yourself so you can measure improvement over time.
Variations: There are lots of great plank variations, some static, some dynamic and some with aids, which we’ll outline in a future article, but for now here’s 3 static variations to get you started.
- High Plank (Easier) – These are great if you’re struggling to hold a good standard plank. All you do is set up for a standard push-up and hold. Making sure the back is in a neutral (straight) position.
- Side Plank – A more advanced variation that works the entire core. This one also helps strengthen up the lower back. This is done by lying on your side (left or right, then swap) and propping your body up on your elbow, which will be positioned below the shoulder. Your feet will be together, one on top of the other. Contract your core and straighten your midsection so the legs and back are in line. Your head should also stay in line with your body. Place your free hand on your hip, or raise it straight above your body to balance. Then hold this position, making sure to keep breathing steadily.
- Three Point Plank – This is achieved simply by setting up for a standard plank, then lifting either an arm or a leg off the ground. Make sure the arm or leg are straight and in line with the rest of the body. This intensifies the workout and will test out your balance at the same time, which engages more muscles.
So that finishes of our list of the 3 best exercises to do at home. We’d love to hear what other exercises you enjoy doing in the comfort of your own home. Feel free to let us know by leaving a comment below.