From Bodyweight to Barbells: Best Workouts You Can Do at Home


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Are you stuck inside because of the coronavirus? Tempted to binge watch Tiger King and Ozark? The gyms might be closed, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your fitness goals. Regardless of whether you only have your bodyweight or if you have a fully stocked weight room, there are literally dozens of workouts that you can do to maintain and even improve your physique.

Here are the best workouts you can do at home based on the equipment available to you. We’ll review everything from the best bodyweight exercises to a full home gym. Every workout will feature a beginner and intermediate option for the exercises.

Regardless of whether you only have your bodyweight or if you have a fully stocked weight room, there are literally dozens of workouts that you can do to maintain and even improve your physique.

Benefits of a Home Gym

Once you realize how many workouts you can do at home, you might want to cancel your gym membership altogether. Aside from always having a place to exercise, here are some of the benefits of a home gym.

Home Gyms are More Economic than a Gym Membership

Building and owning a home gym is easily the best long-term fitness investment you can make if you’re serious about your health and physique goals.

A survey was published in the Statistic Brain Research Institute on the average cost of gym memberships. Researchers found that the average price is around $58 per month. Over the course of a year, that’s about $700.

Depending on a few factors such as the brands you buy and how much space you have in your home, you can take that $700, purchase everything you need, and still save money. [1]

Home Gyms are (Way) Cleaner than a Gym

When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, one of the first types of businesses to shut down was fitness facilities. From gyms to yoga studios, everything closed up shop because of the high risk of infection.

Think back to the last time you were at the gym. How confident were you that the person on the treadmill before you actually wiped it down? Gyms are hotbeds for germs. When flu season comes around, gyms are where it’s easily spread from person to person.

Regardless if you’re worried about the coronavirus, seasonal flu, or a stomach bug, why take the chance at a commercial gym? Exercising in your home gym eliminates the need to worry about catching something nasty. It’s only you and maybe a few family members using it. What’s more, you can ensure every piece of equipment gets wiped down and disinfected.

It Doesn’t Get More Convenient than a Home Gym

We’ve all had those days when the gym was the last place we wanted to be. You finish at the office and you’re tempted to drive home but then you remind yourself that you made a promise to hit the weights. You’re on your way to the gym and then it happens: stuck in rush hour traffic. Does it get more frustrating than that?

Right now, you have no choice: You must exercise at home because everything is closed. But what about when the gyms open again? Do you really want to deal with traffic, new hours based on social distancing, and lines to use dumbbells?

When you build your own home gym, everything is available to you in the comfort of your place. You set the hours and you can work out whenever you want. You’re not waiting to use the equipment, and best of all, there’s no traffic.

Fitness Gear to Consider

Before we review the home workouts you can perform with different fitness equipment, let’s review a few pieces of fitness gear that might help.

Workout Gloves: These are a fitness classic. Workout gloves protect your hands from the rough edges of barbells, dumbbells, and other fitness equipment. If you want to avoid building up calluses on your hands, these are a must.

Compression Socks: There have been several landmark studies on the benefits of compression socks for athletic performance. Compression socks have been shown to increase blood flow, which can improve performance and recovery. [2]

Learn more about the benefits of compression socks for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

When you build your own home gym, everything is available to you in the comfort of your place. You set the hours and you can work out whenever you want. You’re not waiting to use the equipment, and best of all, there’s no traffic.


Workout Supplements: Once a luxury item, workout supplements are now commonplace in kitchens across the country. There are three types to consider:

  • Pre-workout: Useful if you need an extra boost to get through your workout, pre-workout supplements contain usually contain stimulants and ingredients shown to improve performance. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, be sure to opt for a non-stimulant pre-workout.
  • Intra-Workout: As the name implies, an intra-workout supplement is designed to keep you going during intense exercise. They usually contain branched-chain amino acids and simple carbohydrates.
  • Post-Workout: Regardless of your fitness goal, it can’t hurt to give your body an extra hand with recovery. Post-workout supplements tend to be focused on whey protein and a few other key amino acids like glutamine. The goal is to boost protein synthesis to kickstart muscle repair.

Workouts You Can Do at Home

It’s time to get you started with a workout that matches the exercise equipment you have at home. Don’t have any equipment? That’s okay! We literally have a workout for everyone, regardless of what you own. We’ll start with a bodyweight workout and progress until we get to those people who are lucky enough to have a fully stocked gym at home.

For each workout, we’ll discuss the workout methodology or format as well as specific benefits. If you’re not sure how to perform an exercise, you can also click on the exercise name to watch a video demonstration.

IMPORTANT: Before you begin any exercise program, please consult your physician. All information in this article is intended as informational only. See the full disclaimer at the end of this article.

No Equipment: Bodyweight Exercises Only

This is a full-body workout that is based on the best bodyweight exercises to ensure activation of the greatest number of muscle groups. This will help you to build lean muscle mass while burning fat. We’re huge fans of calisthenics or bodyweight exercises because they have been used for thousands of years.

Bodyweight workouts help to build a solid foundation with the most fundamental exercises in fitness. No matter what your fitness level is, bodyweight exercises are still one of the best options out there. We’ve included two exercises for each muscle group: a beginner-friendly option and a more challenging version. Choose which is best for you.

  1. Air Squat: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
    More challenging: Jump Squat
  2. YT: 3 x 15 – 20
    More challenging: YTWL
  3. Side Lunges: 3 x 8 – 12
    More challenging: Three-Way Lunge
  4. Push-Up: 3 x 8 – 12
    More challenging: Decline Push-Ups
  5. Superman Touches (Up and Down): 2 x 12 – 15
    More challenging: Superman Hold: 2 x 30 to 60 seconds
  6. Mountain Climbers: 2 x 30
    More challenging: V-Ups: 2 x 10

Resistance Band Workout

The next best option for a minimalist workout is using resistance bands. These space-saving pieces of rubber are sturdy and durable. For this resistance band workout, we’ll focus on extended time under tension or how quickly you’ll move during the movement.

For each repetition, count five seconds as you go up and five seconds as you move down. In other words, each repetition should take you ten seconds to complete. We hope you’re ready to feel the burn with this workout.

  1. Push-Up: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  2. Romanian Deadlift: 2 x 8 – 12
  3. Lat Pulldown: 2 x 10
  4. Overhead Squat: 2 x 8 – 12
  5. Lateral Raises: 2 x 10
  6. Bicep Curls: 1 x 12
  7. Triceps Extensions: 1 x 12
  8. Woodchopper: 3 x 8 – 10

Pull-Up Bar Workout

The fitness test that we all dreaded in gym class is one of the best pieces of fitness equipment to have in your home gym. With a pull-up bar, you can dramatically increase your grip strength, muscle endurance, and lean tissue growth.

The following pull-up bar workout will incorporate bodyweight exercises for the lower body. We’ll also include substitute exercises if you’re not able to do a pull-up yet. What’s more, you’ll follow a high-intensity interval format, which means you’ll complete all of the prescribed repetitions and immediately go on to the next exercise. No breaks until the end of the list. Once you finish, rest for three minutes and then repeat the sequence two more times.

  1. Pull-Up: 5 reps
    Substitute Exercise: Chair-Assisted Pull-Ups
  2. Jump Squat: 5 reps
  3. Push-Up: 5 reps
  4. Walking Lunges: 5 reps on each leg
  5. Chin-Up: 5 reps
    Substitute Exercise: Chair-Assisted Chin-Ups
  6. Knee Raise: 5 reps

Kettlebell Workout

Thanks to CrossFit, kettlebells have become a fitness equipment staple. Their unique design makes them ideal for power and speed-based movements such as the kettlebell swing and the clean and press. Kettlebells are an excellent fitness tool to increase strength and build muscle while improving your movement patterns in the transverse or rotational plane of motion, which is often neglected.

  1. Kettlebell Swings: 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  2. Side-to-Side Kettlebell Push-Up: 3 x 6
  3. Overhead Kettlebell Step-Up: 3 x 8 – 12
  4. Kettlebell Row: 3 x 8 – 12
  5. Rear Delt Raises: 2 x 10 – 12
  6. Bicep Curls: 2 x 8 – 12
  7. Triceps Kickbacks: 2 x 8 – 12
  8. Russian Twists: 3 x 15 – 20

Dumbbells (and a three-angle bench) are a solid fitness investment. One of the benefits of dumbbells over a barbell is the isolation of each side of the body. In this way, you’ll be able to quickly correct strength imbalances.

Dumbbell Workout

Dumbbells (and a three-angle bench) are a solid fitness investment. One of the benefits of dumbbells over a barbell is the isolation of each side of the body. In this way, you’ll be able to quickly correct strength imbalances. For example, if you’re using a barbell during a bench press, your right side might be stronger, and it can compensate for the weaker left side. With dumbbells, there is no compensation.

  1. Dumbbell Bench or Floor Press: 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  2. Sumo Squat: 3 x 10 – 15
  3. Dumbbell Row: 3 x 8 – 12
  4. Romanian Deadlift: 3 x 10 – 15
  5. Arnold Press: 3 x 8 – 12
  6. Hammer Curls: 2 x 10 – 15
  7. Triceps Overhead Extension: 2 x 10 – 15
  8. Dumbbell Sit-Ups: 3 x 20

Barbell and Weight Plates Workout

Dumbbells might offer better range of motion and isolation opportunities, but when you want to build serious strength and muscle mass, barbells are tough to beat. Barbells ensure that you can overload your system, reach your one-repetition maximum (1RM), and achieve the muscle tissue tears needed for hypertrophy. Barbells are also great for beginners who are developing those essential neuromuscular connections.

  1. Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  2. Barbell Bench Press: 3 x 8 – 12
  3. Deadlift: 3 x 8 – 12
  4. Barbell Row: 3 x 8 – 12
  5. Upright Rows: 3 x 10 -15
  6. Reverse Curls: 2 x 8 – 12
  7. Skull Crusher: 2 x 8 – 12
  8. Barbell Ab Rollout: 3 x 10 – 15

Cable Station Workout

A cable station can literally replace an entire weight room, making it one of the most versatile and efficient fitness purchases you can make. The nature of the cable machine lends itself to a variety of rotational movements, ensuring you’re able to get stronger in one of the most neglected patterns of movement: the transverse plane. This workout focuses on just that.

  1. Cable Crossovers: 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  2. Cable Row: 3 x 8 – 12
  3. Cable Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 – 15
  4. Cable Leg Curl: 3 x 10 – 15
  5. Reverse Fly: 3 x 8 – 12
  6. Cable Curl: 2 x 8 – 12
  7. Rope Pushdown: 2 x 8 – 12
  8. Woodchopper: 3 x 15 – 20

Full Gym Workout

If you have access to all of the equipment above, then you are in a fitness paradise. Not only will you have constant variety and endless ideas for progressing your workout, but you don’t have to worry about losing out on any hard-earned gains.

The following workout makes use of all the equipment that you’d find in a standard commercial gym. You don’t have to worry about any type of fancy equipment. If it’s in your local gym, it’s in this workout.

  1. Deadlift: 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions
  2. Incline Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 10 – 15
  3. Barbell Front Squat: 3 x 10 – 15
  4. Kettlebell Swings: 3 x 15 – 20
  5. Bicep Curls: 2 x 15 – 20
  6. Rope Pushdown: 2 x 8 – 12
  7. Woodchopper: 3 x 15 – 20
  8. Burpees: 3 x 5

  

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References

1. Statistic Brain. “Gym Membership Market Analysis.” Statistic Brain, 31 July 2018, www.statisticbrain.com/gym-membership-statistics/.
2. Mann, Stefan & Ultsch, Dominique & Dietl, Melanie & Jansen, Petra. (2016). The Effects of Compression Socks on Arterial Blood Flow and Arterial Reserves in Amateur Sportsmen. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311328404_The_Effects_of_Compression_Socks_on_Arterial_Blood_Flow_and_Arterial_Reserves_in_Amateur_Sportsmen. Journal of sports science. 1. 1-9.

Disclaimer

You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting any fitness program to determine if it is safe for you. This is particularly important if you (or your family) have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease, or if you have ever experienced chest pain when exercising or have experienced chest pain in the past month when not engaged in physical activity, smoke, have high cholesterol, are obese, or have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in physical activity. Do not start any fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain, or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately and seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

The foregoing article offers health and fitness information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read in this article. The use of any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your health care professional, or 911, immediately.

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