26th October 2018
If you’re reading this then the chances are that you want to lose weight or build muscle. You are also probably quite new to fitness. You might also be a bit unsure of where to start and are now looking for ways to workout without having to go to a gym.
The first thing to say is that there is no substitute for a good gym – they have all of the equipment you could ever need (usually). But gyms aren’t always an option. This may be due to financial, time, or geographical constraints. Or maybe you just don’t feel confident enough or have any desire to be in a gym. Luckily, there are things you can do instead.
In fact, you don’t even need to leave your house to get a decent workout in, and you can do it all without any specialised equipment. It just might take a little longer to get the results you want than it would if you had access to heavy weights.
So, assuming that you are already taking care of your diet and are doing whatever cardio you need to do, here are some of the best exercises for various muscle groups, so you can get a full-body workout in your living room.
To build a big, powerful chest you need look no further than press-ups. Considering that you are only using your bodyweight, there is a surprising amount of versatility in press-ups. Not only does it work your chest, it also brings your arms, core, and legs into the mix. Plus, the variations are almost endless. By mixing up speed, hand position, body elevation, and explosiveness you can ensure that your chest is attacked in countless ways.
To hit your triceps at the same time as your chest you can perform press-ups with your hands in a diamond shape under the middle of your chest. But you can isolate your triceps a little more by performing sets of dips. Once again you have numerous options at your disposal. You can position your hands on two objects (e.g. chairs) and dip down between them. You can push forwards from the edge of your sofa and dip towards the floor. You can even dip on the floor with your arms slightly behind you and your legs outstretched – although this isn’t as effective as when your upper body is elevated up on an object.
Your back is a large area, so naturally you’ll need to make sure you don’t leave one area behind in comparison to another. A common mistake is forgetting to work the lower back, leaving it weak compared to the upper back.
For your upper back, you will need to find something you can hang from, like a sturdy doorframe, tree branch, or a climbing frame (so you might need to go out into your garden for this one). Alternatively you can buy a pull-up bar that fits into your doorframe. Naturally, you will be doing pull-ups on your object of choice. Use an overhand grip (palms facing away from you) and go through the full range of motion (bring your chest up to the bar and lower to a dead hang).
To target your lower back, try hyperextensions. These are typically performed on a hyperextension bench, but you can achieve a similar effect by getting somebody to hold down the back of your legs or by hooking them underneath a solid object. Lying down on the floor with something weighing down the back of your legs, lift your torso off of the floor and lower again (with arms either crossed over your chest, or straight out in front of you).
There are a couple of options for building your biceps at home. First of all you can use whatever apparatus you found to perform pull-ups on, but this time do chin-ups. This requires an underhand grip (palms facing towards you), and a closer grip than the pull-ups (where your hands are widely spaced).
Alternatively you can find an everyday, household object to bicep curl. A tin of paint transforms into a makeshift kettlebell or dumbbell brilliantly; as long as it’s unopened and doesn’t spill everywhere. Large, 5-litre bottles of water also work (if they have a handle), or you can fill 2-litre bottles with sand or something similarly weighty.
Contrary to what you might have heard from others, just because you do cardio does not mean that you don’t need to work your leg. As there are several muscle groups in your legs, you will need to perform a few different exercises to make sure you hit them all.
First off, squats. These are a great full body exercise. However, squats are especially effective for your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. In a gym you would usually squat with a barbell, but you can improvise at home by holding heavy objects under your arms (like the full water bottles from your bicep curls). Even bodyweight squats can do the trick, although adding weight is naturally going to more demanding.
Next, work your thighs, hips, knees and glutes (again) by lunging. As with the squats, incorporating weights into the movement makes it more challenging, although bodyweight lunges will suffice. Alternate between sets of forward lunges and backward lunges from workout to workout.
Finally, finish your leg routine with some simple calf raises. The most basic version is just to rise up on your tip toes and lower back down again in a normal standing position. You can make them more difficult by half standing on a step or a thick book with your heels hanging off the back, or by holding heavy objects in your hands.
If you get through a full-body workout correctly you don’t necessarily need to do any ab-work at the end, as your core should have been sufficiently worked from the other exercises. But if you do really want to engage your abs further, don’t rely on sit-ups. Try variations of plyometric holds like planks. Then, for crunch type moves, throw in some twists, or change the degree of incline so you aren’t flat on the floor.
If you still have any energy left at the end of all of these exercises, perform a couple of sets of burpees. Start in a squat position but with your hands on the floor in front you. Then kick your legs out behind you so you are in press up position. Quickly jump your legs back in to squat position, then leap into the air as high as you can. That’s one burpee. Do as many as you can, and if you’re up for it do a press-up when you are in position for it halfway through the move.
This is a very basic way of working out, but it is much better than doing nothing at all. You will know better than anybody else what your body can handle when you are starting out, so try and build your own routine based around these exercises. Three sets of each move with 30-60 seconds rest between them is a good place to start; the amount of reps in each set will depend on your ability. Once you feel confident enough to upgrade your workout you could try merging some of the movements into supersets, so that your rest time is utilising a different muscle group.
Keep checking out the blog for more workouts and fitness tips. If you are a beginner and you have any questions, or want to know about any specific type of workout or exercise, let us know and we will do our best to help.