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Home » OSL Blog » Best Home Workouts & Exercises

Best Home Workouts & Exercises

July 17, 2019

Key Takeaways

  1. More than 60% of those who sign up for a gym membership never use it
  2. With a home gym, you could save as much as $30,000 per year
  3. At-home workouts are a cost-effective way to build mass and strength, lose fat, and maintain your conditioning
  4. Training at home won’t turn you into the incredible Hulk — especially if you’re an experienced lifter, but it can make it easier to keep fit when you’re short on time
  5. Use a mix of bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, HIIT, and full-body circuits to maximize your gains

Want to keep fit but you’re short on time? Believe it or not, you don’t need a gym membership to torch fat and build mass. From pull-ups and push-ups to cardio bodyweight exercises, there are lots of great home workouts that require little or no equipment. 

Gym Membership a Waste?

One in five American adults has a gym membership. Yet, more than 60% never use it. According to a recent survey, over 80% of people hit the gym less than one time per week. Approximately 22% stop going within six months of signing up. 

Gym Prices

The average monthly price of a gym membership is $58. That’s nearly $696 per year. It may not seem much, but if you barely make it to the gym, you’re throwing money away. Some gym chains charge as much as $30,000 per year, which is simply insane. 

Workout at home
At home workouts are a great way to save money & contribute to your health.

We’re not saying that it’s not worth going to the gym. On the contrary, it’s an investment in yourself. But there’s no point in paying a hefty monthly fee and getting nothing in return (since you’re not using your membership anyway). 

Setting Up Your Own Gym

Another option is to set up your own home gym. You can start with a set of dumbbells and buy new stuff along the way. Imagine being able to work out in the comfort of your home anytime, including on holidays. 

Still not convinced? When done right, at-home exercises can be just as effective as traditional gym workouts. If you have adequate equipment, that’s even better. If not, you can always improvise. 

Training at Home vs. Training in the Gym

Contrary to popular belief, skipping your gym workouts doesn’t spell disaster. If you enjoy the privacy of training at home, you’re more likely to stick to your workouts, eat right, and make gains. On top of that, you’ll save time and money. 

The truth is that training at home has many advantages over gym training. 

You can play whatever music you want, work out late at night, and wear your comfiest tank tops and oversized pants. Not to mention that you’ll significantly lower your risk of skin infections, athlete’s foot, common cold, and other health issues caused by viruses and bacteria. 

1. Beware of Germs 

According to a study by FitRated, the free weights in most gyms carry 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. A typical exercise bike has 39 times more germs than a plastic reusable cafeteria tray. The treadmill isn’t safer either — it actually carries 74 more bacteria than a water faucet. 

Gym equipment like dumbbells harbor millions of germs! Make sure to disinfect when done.

These pieces of gym equipment boast more than one million germs per square inch. Some of these microbes are resistant to antibiotics and may cause serious infections. 

The only way to avoid them is to wash your hands and disinfect the machines before and after use. Let’s face it — no one has time for that. 

2. No Gym, No Problem

Sure, working out at a gym has its perks. You can choose from dozens of machines, ask other gym-goers to spot you, and enjoy conveniences like sauna, massage, steam rooms, and protein shakes. The ambiance is uplifting and can boost your motivation. 

The downside is that there are a lot more distractions compared to a home gym. Plus, you might not be able to use your favorite machines at peak hours when the gym is crowded. 

gym training
Gym workouts are surely motivating, but the crowding can be inconvenient.

If you’re in a rush, there’s no way you’ll wait in line to use the treadmill or the squat rack. Not to mention that gym closings for holidays can disrupt your routine. 

When you work out at home, gym hours are 24/7 year round. There are fewer distractions, more freedom, and no membership fees. 

A potential drawback is the equipment price, which can be quite high. If you’re planning to set up a nice home gym, be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars at the least. 

However, you can start small and purchase new stuff as you progress. It’s an investment that will pay off in the long run. 

Are Home Workouts Really Effective?

At-home workouts can be a welcome addition to your gym routine or even replace it altogether. It all comes down to your goals and fitness level. 

If you’re a novice gym-goer, you’ll definitely get results by training at home. The key is to have a solid workout plan and stick to it. Also, it’s important to use correct lifting form, which can be a challenge for most beginners. 

bodybuilder training
for bodybuilder goals, it is more efficient to train at the gym.

A pro bodybuilder, on the other hand, is unlikely to benefit from at-home workouts. Sure, this approach can help you maintain your conditioning, but don’t expect to make gains. However, you can train at home when you’re short on time — it’s still better than not training at all. 

1. The Push-Up – A Staple of Home Workouts 

As mentioned earlier, home workouts can be effective. Let’s take the push-up, for example. After all, it’s a classic exercise that requires nothing but your own bodyweight. 

According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, this basic movement may be a good predictor of heart health

push up
Push ups support cardiovascular health & building muscle mass.

Researchers have found that men who were able to do at least 40 push-ups in 30 seconds had a 96 percent lower risk of cardiovascular problems over the next decade compared to those who only did 10 or fewer reps. 

If you’re trying to build mass, look no further. A 2017 study featured in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness suggests that push-ups and low-load bench press induce similar gains in muscle size and strength over an eight-week period. Check out these studies for more proof. 

2. Build Lower Body Strength with Bulgarian Split Squats

Other exercises you can do at home include the Bulgarian split squat and the single leg squat. These are some of the best movements for developing your posterior chain, hip flexors, and quads and correcting muscle imbalances. 

The only difference between the two is that Bulgarian split squats are performed with your rear leg raised

Bulgarian squat
Bulgarian split squats activate the posterior chain, hip flexors, & quads.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation showed that single-leg squats may cause greater hamstring activation compared to the back squat. The latter, though, produced more quad activation. 

Another study that compared these two movements has found that Bulgarian split squats were more effective at engaging the biceps femoris and external obliques. As the researchers point out, these exercises complement each other. 

single leg squat
Single leg squats complement Bulgarian squats by supporting greater hamstring activation.

Both the Bulgarian split squat and the single-leg squat are ideal for those struggling with back pain. Compared to the barbell back squat, they’re easier to learn, put less strain on the back, and carry a lower risk of injury. Plus, you can use dumbbells or kettlebells instead of a barbell, making them perfect for at-home workouts. 

Best At-Home Workouts of All Time

The push-up and the above squat variations are just a few of the many exercises you can do at home. You can experiment with dozens of push-up variations, pull-ups, rows, curls, and everything in between. It all comes down to how much space and equipment you have available. 

Let’s say that you’re just getting started and you have no equipment whatsoever. For the best at-home workouts, try the following exercises:

1. Mass & Strength

Use different variations of the following exercises to target specific muscles. Wide-grip push-ups and T push-ups, for example, engage the back muscles as well as the core and arms. Diamond push-ups, on the other hand, work your triceps. 

  • Bodyweight squats, pistol squats, single-leg squats, Bulgarian-split squats
  • Stationary lunges, walking lunges, side lunges
  • Calf raises
  • Standard push-ups, diamond push-ups, handstand push-ups, etc.
  • Triceps dips
  • Air bicycle
  • Russian twists
  • Standard planks, side planks, plank jacks
  • V-ups
  • Standard crunches, reverse crunches, lying side crunches
  • Donkey kicks
  • Glute bridge, single-leg bridge, shoulder bridge
  • Superman
  • Pull-ups 

Ready to give it a try? Let’s see a few examples:

Build Massive Triceps with Diamond Push-Ups 

Diamond push-ups, or close grip push-ups, engage the triceps. Your pecs, delts, biceps, and core muscles will get an intense workout too. 

diamond push ups
The diamond push up variation is much more intense. You’ll feel your triceps burning!

The main difference between this exercise and standard push-ups lies in the placement of your hands. 

Position your hands under your shoulders or narrower. Your thumbs and index fingers should form a diamond or triangle. Trust us, it’s more difficult than it seems. If you do it right, you’ll feel your triceps burning. 

You can make this movement easier by placing your hands on an elevated surface, such as the edge of a couch or a wooden box. Or you can perform this exercise with your knees bent on the floor. For a more challenging workout, place your feet on a box or any elevated surface. 

Shape Your Butt with Glute Bridges 

If you had to choose just one exercise to isolate your glutes, it should be the bridge

Glute Bridges
Glute bridges are excellent for isolating glutes and conditioning the muscles.

As the Strength and Conditioning Journal points out, this movement is a variation of the barbell hip thrust. It works the gluteal muscles, hip extensors, and hamstrings while building core strength. 

There is more than one way to perform this exercise. You can do it with one leg or both legs. According to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, flexing the knee of the bridge leg (for single-leg bridges) to 135 degrees instead of 90 degrees elicits greater activation of the gluteus maximus and medius but reduces hamstring activation. 

So if you want to target the glutes, flex your knee to 135 degrees. Maintain 90 degrees of knee flexion for more quad involvement. 

Do Stationary Lunges for Strong Quads and Glutes

Your home workout can and should include the stationary lunge and other variations of the standard lunge. Use your own bodyweight or perform this movement with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or an exercise ball. The primary muscles worked are the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. 

Stationary lunges are another great exercise for glutes, quads, & hamstrings.

Stationary lunges do a lot more than just build mass and strength. This compound movement improves your balance and stability, increases core strength, and enhances functional fitness. Since it’s a unilateral exercise, it activates more stabilizer muscles than the squat. It’s ideal for preventing correcting muscle imbalances. 

Depending on how much space you have available, you can experiment with different lunge variations to keep your muscles guessing. Forward lunges, side lunges, curtsy lunges, lateral lunges, reverse lunges, and switch lunges are just a few examples. The latter are ideal for HIIT workouts.

What if your goal is to burn fat? Depending on your current weight and fitness goals, strength training might not be enough to help you lean out. In this case, cardio bodyweight exercises will do the trick. 

2. Cardio Bodyweight Exercises 

When it comes to bodyweight cardio training, you have a lot more options. Some of the following exercises are even better than treadmill running or cycling on a stationary bike. 

You either love or hate burpees, but they are one of the best body-weight exercises.
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • Squat thrusts
  • High knees
  • Step-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jump squats
  • Tuck jumps
  • Box jumps
  • Lateral jumps
  • Uppercut
  • Fast feet shuffle
  • Skaters
  • Corkscrew
  • Jump rope 
  • Plyometric push-ups
  • Jumping lunges

Here’s a trick you can use to burn more calories and fat: build your HIIT routine around these exercises

Basically, you’ll alternate between short, intense bursts of exercise and periods of rest. Each interval lasts 30 seconds. Another great choice is Tabata, which involves 20 seconds of high-intensity training followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes. 

3. HIIT — The Best Home Workout for Maximum Fat Burn

We’ve mentioned HIIT a couple of times — and for good reason. It’s one of the best home workouts to shed stubborn fat and boost your endurance while preserving lean mass. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, not only burns massive calories but also increases your oxygen consumption, leading to a faster metabolism. 

Unlike steady state cardio, this training method torches fat without breaking down muscle tissue. It’s particularly effective against abdominal and visceral fat, as reported in a recent study featured in Sports Medicine

Variations of squat sets & reps serve as great HIIT exercises.

Visceral fat wraps around your kidneys, liver, and other vital organs, increasing the risk of insulin resistance, heart disease, metabolic disorders, and diabetes. This type of adipose tissue is metabolically active and releases inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to get rid of it ASAP. 

HIIT Advantages

Another advantage of HIIT over steady-state cardio is its short duration. A typical workout only lasts 10 to 30 minutes. 

Just three HIIT sessions per week are enough to increase exercise tolerance and improve overall fitness, according to a review published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. On top of that, you can use both strength training and aerobic exercises for HIIT. 

Beware, though, that high-intensity interval training is taxing on the body and central nervous system. Three to four weekly sessions are more than enough to keep you in fat-burning mode. 

For best results, add a thermogenic formula to the mix. Vintage Burn™, for example, improves your body’s ability to use stored fat for energy. It’s formulated with all natural ingredients that are proven to work. 

Raspberry ketone, one of the primary compounds in Vintage Burn™, has been shown to decrease visceral fat and liver fat while improving lipid metabolism. This natural compound stimulates fat breakdown and may help prevent weight gain. 

Our formula also contains caffeine, green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, and other potent ingredients for maximum fat burning and increased energy.

Set Up Your Own Home Gym

Want to take your home workouts to the next level? Don’t settle for bodyweight exercises. 

Depending on your budget, you can set up a decent home gym where you’ll be able to do pretty much everything you’d do in a regular gym. Sure, you won’t have access to as many machines as in a commercial gym, but you’ll still get a challenging workout. 

home gym
Up your home workout game by building your own decent gym at home.

At the very least, get a set of adjustable dumbbells, a jumping rope, a bench, and resistance bands. A barbell and kettlebells are a great investment too. 

Another option is to purchase a home gym machine. Trust our word — this is one of the pieces of equipment you can get. 

Choose a model with low, mid, and high pulleys, pec fly station, leg developer, and multi-function weight bench. Some machines even have built-in Olympic free-weight racks. 

If you’re on a budget, get a suspension training system like TRX. It’s cheaper than a gym membership and can be used for dozens of cardio and strength exercises. Use it for full-body workouts, circuit training, core work, HIIT, and more. 

Get the Most Out of Your Home Workouts 

As you can see, there are plenty of home workouts and exercises that can help you get leaner, maintain your figure, or build mass. Experiment with plyometrics, full-body circuits, suspension training, calisthenics, and bodyweight exercises to keep your routine varied. 

Looking for inspiration? Check out these crazy workouts of the Golden Era

Supersets, drop sets, staggered sets, and double-split routines were hugely popular back in the ‘70s. If you have your own home gym, nothing stops you from trying these lifting methods yourself. 

Are there any home workouts you’d recommend? What does your home gym look like? Go ahead and share your best tips for a mind-blowing home workout!

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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