Training at home has become much more popular the last year, since the arrival of covid-19. Nowadays, learning to train at home is a must if you want to maintain your activity level.
We all know that exercising is essential to be healthy. But many times, our lifestyle or exceptional situations (such as confinement due to the coronavirus) boycott us and make training more difficult.
Luckily today, we know well how to create routines to train at home effectively.
This may surprise you if you are one of those who train in the gym or do not have a training habit. You probably consider the limited space and the lack of equipment as insurmountable obstacles.
Do not worry. This article will explain that training at home is possible without sports gear, achieving outstanding results.
In short, you will discover how to use your home as if it were a gym.
How to adapt the space to your training
The first thing you should when training at home is to find a space where a few elements can interrupt your exercise.
One of my favorite places is in the dining room because I have a folding table, and I can place one chair on top of another to stick them to the wall.
You should find a place where you can stretch on the floor to do exercises like the superman and the height necessary to jump, as in the burpee with star jump in your house.
My suggestion that you define your space is to lie on your back on the floor and stretching your legs and arms without touching anything. To estimate the height you need, take a short jump with your arms stretched out over your head.
This space will be enough for all the functional exercises of your training at home.
You should also find a place to store your training gear, including kettlebells or a mat to perform your exercises.
If you do not have any accessories, it is not a problem because you can use your body weight (or that of your sons or daughters) as a weight during your training at home session.
If you don’t have accessories and would like some, you can always use the objects you have at home, as you will see in this article’s next section.
What can I use at home?
In your house, you can find elements with which you can replace almost any gym equipment.
Weights to load
Among my favorites, I suggest these because they are easier to find, and if not, they do not have a high cost to get them in any store:
It is not the same as having dumbbells or kettlebells, but unintentionally they come in different weights. You have 500ml, 1.5l, and even 5l bottles. So you can choose the one that best suits your strength.
The women’s short-handled bag is handy because you can hold it like a kettlebell. And you can fill it with items that have weights to be able to do exercises in which the weight must hang like the deadlift. Be careful how much weight you put on it so you don’t damage your joints.
Filling buckets with water helps you have weight and, simultaneously, engage different muscles during training at home. The water movement forces the arms to find the stability to perform the exercise. Buckets of water are handy when we need to use heavier loads. Be careful with the amount of water you put in, so as not to flood your house by accident.
Books can be used in two ways. You can use a heavy book as if it were a dumbbell, holding them by the side where you turn the pages, or you can put them inside a backpack to have a load on your back. The latter is beneficial when you want to use ballast for pull-ups or squats. You can also use it as a base for deeper push-ups.
Pots with soil and flowers
If ever, to reorganize things, you have had to move medium-sized pots, you know what they weigh and how they can be handy if you need a load of good weight.
You can also use packets of legumes or rice, which are usually half a kilo. If you pile them on top of each other in a bucket, purse, or backpack, you can get to the exact weight you were looking to train with.
Μaterial used as surface or elevation.
Other gym elements that many of us do not have are the elevations, but these are easily replaceable with materials that we all have:
- Chairs or benches are suitable to support the hands to perform certain types of push-ups. They also serve as support for Bulgarian squats and triceps dips. This element that is found in every home will be very useful for training at home.
- Thick towel. Some exercises that involve your knees, elbows, or balls of your feet can be very uncomfortable to perform on a hard surface such as the floor. A towel can alleviate all those discomforts if you don’t have a mat. However, it is essential to note that depending on the type of floor you have. It is better not to perform specific exercises on the towel, such as burpees, jump squats, etc. If the towel moves, you can fall to the ground.
- Carpet. It fulfills the same function as the towel, with the difference that it is not easy to remove it later to wash it after sweating on it, but with the advantage that due to its weight, it will not move during exercises.
- Stairs. If you live in a duplex or a house and have stairs, you can use these as an elevation for some exercises like L-curls, rockets, and box jumps.
How to start training at home?
The truth is that it is not science.
There are two ways to start:
- Choose a series of exercises that you can do at home. You can choose our top 10 functional exercises to do in a small space, or you can create your training at home routine using this complete guide.
- The important thing is that whatever method you choose, you are constant and encouraged to do the first training from the beginning to the end with several repetitions and load that does not make you suffer.
As we saw in this article, the feeling of pleasantness is essential to generate adherence to an exercise plan.
Once you have defined which training method you will follow, you must structure it into three defined blocks:
- Cooldown or stretching
The warm-up is essential for your performance to remain high during training and prepare the muscles’ fibers for more intense activity and avoid injuries. This preparation also includes an increased heart rate to increase the blood supply to your muscles.
The second part is what we know as your training at home routine.
You can follow the steps below to create your plan:
- Choose the exercises you want to use. According to your level, plan the total number of repetitions to perform (from 100 to 500 repetitions).
- Distribute the repetitions among the chosen exercises.
- Divide the reps of each exercise into blocks you can get. This will determine the laps you will perform to the routine until you achieve the total number of repetitions.
- Choose the rest time and intensity in the execution.
Example of Exercise Plan
Exercises: Burpees, squats, plank, and lunge
Volume: 200 total reps
Total reps per exercise: 50 reps
Sets: 5 laps (10 reps per exercise)
Rest: 30 seconds between sets at 70%-80% intensity
Once this training is finished, I highly recommend taking a few minutes of rest and drinking water before starting the muscle stretching because this will reduce the risk of breakage from stretching a taut muscle.
What exercises to choose when training at home?
The exercises that you should choose are those that follow the guidelines of functional training, which, in summary, are these 3:
- Simulates an activity in everyday life.
- It mobilizes several muscle chains simultaneously.
- Works on all muscles: balance, coordination, flexibility, agility, strength, power, endurance, etc.
These exercises are the ones that stimulate and prepare you to face real day-to-day situations, improve your motor coordination, and reach all the global potential that your body can offer.
10 Basic Exercises
You can start with these ten basic exercises that will allow you to have a complete routine, and then you can add variants of these same exercises:
Ideal for working your cardiovascular system and your tolerance to lactate. Since you mobilize many muscle chains simultaneously, it is optimal for those days with little time, and you are interested in an express session.
This is how a burpee is performed correctly.
👉 Climber or Mountain climber
Great exercise. It will show you your weak points. If you need cardio-respiratory work, your heart rate will rise quickly. If you don’t stabilize well, you will suffer from a core, and if you don’t work your shoulders, they will be the ones that will make you falter.
This is how a climber performs correctly.
👉 Star jump
Jumping is an activity that we have all done in physical education exercises since childhood, and we have used it in the vast majority of games. Regain this essential human function and have fun while training hard.
This is how a star jump is performed correctly.
Functional exercises for legs
The greatest of the functional exercises for legs. With a lot of variation to the activities of daily life. Allow multiple variations.
This is how you squat correctly.
The strides work the lower extremities globally. The muscles that it works with can highlight the gluteus maximus, abductors, rectus abdominis, and the soleus.
If you are a runner with this exercise, you will quickly notice how you increase your pace in the climbs and feel light like a gazelle.
This is how the stride is performed correctly.
Functional exercises for core
👉 Iron or plank
Planking has become very popular for people who want to increase strength throughout the entire torso.
It groups the muscles of the abdominal area and also works arms and legs to a lesser extent.
Among the benefits you can find are having a toned and strong belly, reducing back pain, and generating flexibility in the posterior muscle groups.
This is how iron is done correctly.
Plank – Beginner version
If you want to do a variant of the plank to start training your abdominal area, try to follow the same instructions above but resting your knees on the ground until you feel confident and strong enough to do regular planking.
With this exercise, you will recover your back after loading days, and you will gain lumbar flexibility.
Learn how to do McKenzie exercise correctly.
This exercise is born out of manual therapy and has been recommended by physiotherapists and osteopaths for the last twenty years. Its success lies in its simplicity. This exercise helps to correct the posture of the back and to work the lumbar muscles. These muscles are usually atrophied in most people because we spend too many hours sitting.
👉 Beginner version
Since this exercise requires much more technique than energy and strength, there is no variation for beginners. Remember that this exercise is very beneficial for those who suffer from back problems, so you should not hesitate to do it frequently.
V-sit or V-sit up
The primary function of the abdominal muscles is to stabilize. This exercise seeks to decrease support and give long lever arms to offer your abs high functional demands.
Learn how to do V sit-ups here.
👉 V-sit up – Beginner version
This exercise requires some practice to perform with proper technique. In order not to stop working in the abdominal area, you can replace it with a semi-v:
Stretch on your back on the floor with your arms stretched out close to your body and with your hands at the height of your hips.
Raise your trunk and legs slightly without bending them, and stay flat on the floor with only your butt.
Bring your knees to your chest, bending your legs and trunk, with your hands resting on the floor.
Return to the starting position without your legs or sword touching the ground.
Functional exercises for upper body
The exercise primarily works the pectoralis major muscle. In turn, if the technique is adequate, the anterior deltoid, the brachial triceps, and all the stabilizing muscles of the trunk are worked synergistically. With this exercise, you will gain strength, figure, and agility to get up off the ground.
Learn how to do push-ups correctly here.
Push up – Beginner version.
If your arms still don’t have enough strength or endurance to support your weight in a continuous series of push-ups, you can place your knees on the floor to maintain the posture.
Remember that the important thing is the technique, and if you think that this way of doing push-ups will not demand you, you are very wrong!
Here you can see how to do a push-up with knees.
👉 Chin up or pull up
Physical activity was for a long time an indispensable tool of the human being to save his life. If a predator attacked them or they needed the tallest fruit on the tree, they should be able to plumb their bodies to climb. This is what you will train doing pull-ups.
You can learn all about this exercise with our pull-up guide.
Pull-ups – Beginner version.
This is one of the most challenging exercises when you are starting to train. We suggest you start with at least one pull-up on the first day and increase the intensity each day. We leave you a video that explains step by step how to start doing pull-ups.
Keys to designing your exercise routine at home
Stay motivated but also realistic.
It is essential to have the motivation and have a training plan that does not end in the first training at-home session. Therefore, you must be aware of the appropriate level of effort to continue with your training.
Possibly, the key is to finish the first five workouts, as we have explained in this article.
Reserve adequate time to train
Like all the activities we do daily usually have a fixed schedule; having a schedule for your training is crucial for maintaining training over time.
You will see how having this time reserved after some sessions will be when you wait to feel the pleasing sensations of physical activity, and it will be an escape from stress.
Model session for training at home: Paleo race
This session combines aerobic work and strength workouts so that you can get the most benefits from your training.
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- Squats: 40 (25 if you are a beginner)
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- Plank: 60 seconds (30 if you are a beginner)
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- Dragon steps: 20
- Mountain climbers: 30
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- Push-ups: 10 reps (10 reps with knees if you are a beginner)
- Burpees: 5 knee-elbow burpees (5 semi burpees if you can’t)
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- McKenzie: 10 reps
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- Frog jumps: 5
- Scissor jumps: 1 min
- Pivot Plank: 60sec (30sec if you are a beginner)