Published:
May 24, 2021
Last Updated:
June 28, 2021

12 Home Workout Routines to Get in Top Shape

Ready to start making the most of your training at home? There are so many ways to start or spice up your routine by shifting your perspective and making full use of what you have at home. Creating an at-home workout regimen can help you create more room in your schedule to do other things, as opposed to spending more time commuting to/from a gym or fitness studio.

By committing yourself to engaging in regular physical activity, you are setting yourself up for overall improved physical and mental health. The benefits of this commitment last for the long-term, playing a role in preventing chronic disease, improving longevity, and helping you feel happier and more fulfilled. A consistent workout routine will also help you build strength, feel more energized, and increase your focus throughout your day.

Here are 12 different exercises to kick-start your fitness goals at home, with each workout targeting either your core, arms, legs, or glutes. We’ve also rated them on a scale of easy to hard in terms of difficulty, with easy being a great exercise for beginners, and hard being more advanced for those with more exercise experience.

Before beginning any exercise regimen, check in with your personal healthcare practitioner to make sure it is safe for you to do so. You can also work with a certified personal trainer to ensure you are exercising safely.

Core Workouts:

  • Plank 
  • Bicycle Crunches 
  • Dead Bugs 

Forearm Plank

From ClassPass 

Image via Shutterstock 

Health Benefits:

The plank exercise is great for strengthening abdominal and core muscles, as well as helping to strengthen the spine, shoulders, and triceps when done correctly. This is one of the best exercises if you are looking to strengthen your core muscles, along with helping improve your back strength and spine alignment, which will reduce the risk of strain injuries.

Planks can also improve your posture over time. Strengthening these muscles will help support great posture, which can reduce the risk of skeletal injuries, help put less strain on your bones and joints, as well as support your internal organs and their function.

Instructions:

  1. Lay with your stomach and palms flat on the floor with your elbows bent and legs extended straight behind you.
  2. When you are ready to begin, lift your body by pressing your forearms into the floor, tucking your toes, and engaging your core.
    • It is important to keep your body in a straight line, without dipping or raising your back in order to keep a neutral spine position.
  3. Hold this plank position for about 15 seconds, or your time of choice.
  4. When the time is up, lower your body back on the ground into starting position.

Time:

15 seconds

Difficulty:

Easy - Be careful not to arch your back or sag your hips while holding the position. If this is difficult for you, separating your feet wider than hips’ distance may make it easier.

Bicycle Crunches

From Coach Magazine

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

This exercise targets the upper abdominal muscles, along with the obliques, or side abdominal muscles. Aside from strengthening core muscles, bicycle crunches also help tone the thigh muscles due to the alternating movements throughout the exercise.

Instructions:

  1. Start by laying down flat on your back with hands behind your head and legs extended.
  2. When you are ready to begin, lift your shoulders off the mat keeping your hands behind your head and lift your legs up at a 90-degree angle. Do not tug at your neck or strain your neck.
  3. From there, engage your abs and begin to rotate your right elbow to the left knee, at the same time, extend your right leg straight out in the air.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side (left elbow touches right knee, with left leg extended straight). 

Time:

Three sets of 10 reps on each side with a 30 second break in between.

Difficulty:

Easy

Dead Bugs

From Coach Magazine

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

The dead bug exercise mainly targets and strengthens your core muscles. It also can  improve stability of your spine and mobility in the hip and shoulder joints. Studies have  found that exercise can possibly prevent or relieve lower back pain by improving  stabilization in the spine, back, and core over time.

Instructions:

  1. Lay flat on your back and lift your arms until your elbows are aligned above your shoulders.
  2. Next, bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground, forming a right angle with your thighs and torso.
    • During the course of this exercise, keep your lower back flat on the floor and avoid moving your hips and torso by focusing on engaging your core muscles.
  3. Engage your core and begin to slowly reach your left arm behind your head and extend your right leg straight out at the same time, without making contact with the floor.
    • Keep your right arm and left leg in the starting position off the ground, and be sure your lower back stays on the ground.
  4. Once the left arm and right leg are fully extended, reverse the motion to get back into the starting position, and then switch sides.

Time:

Two sets of 10 reps on each side.

Difficulty:

Medium - This exercise is a little more challenging than traditional ab exercises due to the focus needed to keep your spine flat on the ground without your limbs touching the floor.

Arm Workouts:

  • Push-Ups 
  • Bicep Curls 
  • Tricep Dips 

Push-Ups

From BarBend 

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

Push-ups are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your upper body, including the pectoral (chest) muscles, shoulders, and triceps. This exercise also works on your shoulder stability by forcing you to hold the high plank starting position between reps.

Instructions:

  1. To start, lay flat on your stomach with your legs fully extended and hands shoulder-width apart, with your palms flat on the ground directly underneath your shoulders.
  2. Begin the exercise by engaging your core and lifting your body into a high plank position, with your palms flat on the ground and arms fully extended supporting your body weight, while your legs are extended behind you.
  3. Inhale and slowly bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the ground until the lowest point possible.
  4. Exhale and lift your body back into a high plank position by pushing through the palms of your hands until your arms fully straightened. 

Time:

Two sets of 15 reps each.

Difficulty:

Medium - This is a relatively simple exercise routine but may be difficult at first if you are not familiar with push-ups or upper body workouts. For beginners that are unable to complete a traditional push-up, this exercise can be modified by doing knee push-ups.

Knee push-ups consist of the same movement, but with your knees on the ground instead of your legs extended behind you. Your knees won’t be directly under your hips, but instead, slightly extended, so that your weight is on the very bottom of your thigh above the knee. This protects your knees while doing the exercise as well as allows you to get the same range of motion in your upper body.

Alternating Bicep Curls

From Muscle & Fitness

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

This exercise targets the bicep muscles of the upper arm, while also helping to strengthen muscles of the lower arm through holding the weights and keeping your arms stabilized. Bicep curls can also benefit your abdominal muscles if you are performing the routine correctly and engaging your core.

Because the biceps originate above the shoulder joint, exercising your biceps can help strengthen the rotator cuff to improve shoulder stability, allowing you to have full range of motion.

Instructions:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms relaxed down at your sides, with one dumbbell, or weighted object of choice, in each hand with your palms facing forward.  
  2. To begin the exercise, relax your shoulders and engage your core, then slowly bend one elbow until the weight is lifted up by your shoulders.  
    • During this motion, your elbows should remain down by your ribs and not move.
  3. Once the weight has been lifted to shoulder height, slowly lower it back down to the starting position by your sides while keeping your core muscles engaged. Slowly lowering the weight back down will help prevent injury, as well as properly engage the muscles for maximum effectiveness. 

Time:

Two sets with 10 curls on each side, alternating sides in between.

Difficulty:

Easy – This becomes a more difficult exercise when you increase the weight in each hand.

Triceps Dips

From Anytime Fitness

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

These dips mainly target the triceps, which are located on the back of your upper arms, along with improving strength in your shoulders, core, and arm muscles. The movements involved in triceps dips require stability by engaging your core and keeping a strong grip, which helps your upper body and core strength over time.

Instructions:

  1. To start, sit on the edge of the chair or bench and grip the sides by your hips with your fingers pointed towards your feet.
    • Make sure you have a steady grip on the sides before you start the exercise.
  2. Extend your legs in front of you, with your heels planted into the ground. 
    • To make this easier to start, your legs can form a 90-degree angle (similar to the image above). To advance this exercise, you can extend your legs straight in front of you.
  3. Lift your body upwards by pushing your palms into the chair and move forward in order to avoid hitting your back against the edge.
  4. While keeping your legs extended in front of you, slowly lower your body towards the ground until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle, or the lowest point possible without letting your elbows go too far past your shoulders.
    • During these movements make sure to stabilize your body by engaging your core and controlling your breathing.
  5. Once you reach your lowest point, slowly lift yourself back up until you are in starting position by pushing your palms into the chair or bench.

Time:

Three sets of 10 reps each.

Difficulty:

Easy - Avoid locking your elbows, keeping your shoulders too high, leaning forward, or lowering your body down too far to prevent injury.

Glute Workouts

  • Squats
  • Glute Bridges
  • Fire Hydrants

Squats

From Runner’s World

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

Squats are a simple exercise, however, the health benefits they can lead to are expansive. For starters, squats mainly target and strengthen the glutes and quadricep, or thigh, muscles. This exercise also helps strengthen other muscles of the leg, particularly the calves and hamstrings, along with your core and hip muscles.

Squats can also reduce your risk of injury by increasing your lower body strength, leading to the surrounding tendons, ligaments, and bones of those muscles to strengthen as well. This leads to better overall alignment and posture, allowing your body to move with better mobility and balance.

Instructions:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width distance apart, with your shoulders back and chest open.
  2. To begin the first rep, engage your core and keep your hands in front of you to help with balancing.
    • While making the first movements, pay attention to keeping your chest lifted, putting all bodyweight in your heels, and making sure your knees don’t go beyond your toes.
  3. Slowly lower your body by bending your knees while moving your hips back.
    • This movement will be similar to sitting down on a chair behind you.  
  4. Continue to lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as far as your body allows.
  5. Pause at your lowest point, exhale, and push through your heels to return to the starting position.

Time:

Three to four sets of 12 reps each.

Difficulty:

Easy – This move can be advanced by holding one weight in both hands, or one weight in each hand.

Glute Bridges

From Coach Magazine

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

The glute bridge exercise targets and strengthens your glutes and hamstring muscles of the upper leg. Along with improving strength in your glutes and legs, the movements of this exercise force you to activate your core muscles in order to stabilize your body which will help strengthen this area as well.

Glute bridges can also improve knee and lower back pain by strengthening the glutes, which can help relieve stress on the spine, increase hip extension, and provide aid in movements like squatting by balancing the amount of weight placed on the knees.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and knees bent with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. To start the exercise, squeeze your glutes and core then push through your heels to lift your hips and lower back off the ground until your hips are fully extended.
  3.  Be careful not to let your knees fall to the side – keep your knees directly over your ankles.
  4. Hold this bridge position for about 10-20 seconds, then slowly lower your body back down to the floor into the starting position.

Time:

Two sets of 10 reps.

Difficulty:

Easy

Donkey Kicks

From OpenFit

Image via Shutterstock

Health Benefits:

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the pelvis and hip region, and is responsible for important hip movements, which include your hip extension, external rotation, and abduction. All three hip movements are necessary to carryout everyday activities, which is why having adequate strength in this muscle should be prioritized.

Instructions:

  1. To start this exercise, get on all fours with your hands placed under your shoulders, and knees placed under your hips.
  2. Look down and engage your core before starting the first movement, then lift one of your legs behind you, while keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • In order to keep your body stabilized during this movement, focus on tightening your core and pushing your palms into the ground. If you are doing the exercise correctly, only your hip and leg should be moving. Be careful not to arch your back, as you can create tension and potentially injury in your back.
  • Once you lift to the highest point, slowly lower your leg back down.
  • Time:

    Three sets of 10 reps on each side.

    Difficulty:

    Easy - The main difficulty during this exercise is keeping the correct form and stabilizing your core in order to fully isolate the hips and glute muscles.

    Leg Workouts:

    • Side Lunges
    • Wall Sit
    • Single-Leg Deadlift

    Side Lunges

    From Coach Magazine

    Image via Shutterstock

    Health Benefits:

    Side lunges can strengthen and tone your inner and outer thighs, as well as your glutes and improve your balance and stability. There are various types of lunges you can do in order to improve strength in your legs; however, side lunges are especially helpful to tone your outer thighs during the lateral (side to side) movements.

    Side lunges also improve strength in your glutes by forcing you to sit back into your glutes while lowering down on each leg. The side-to-side movements are also beneficial to your balance in the hip and knee joints, which can help avoid injuries and prolong your mobility as you age.

    Instructions:

    1. To start this exercise, stand up tall with your feet about hip-width apart from each other.
    2. Begin your first lunge by taking a wide step out to the left and bend your left knee while pushing your hips back to lower your body. Keep the weight in your heel and don’t go past 90-degrees or let your knee go beyond your toes.
    3. Once you reach your lowest point, push off your left leg in order to return to starting position.

    Time:

    Two sets of 10 on each side.

    Difficulty:

    Easy – This exercise is similar to a regular squat in that you want to pretend you’re going to sit in an imaginary chair, except this time, with just one leg/glute.

    Wall Sit

    From Coach Magazine

    Image via Shutterstock

    Health Benefits:

    This exercise mainly works your glutes, quads, and hamstring muscles in your legs, and your ab muscles if you engage your core correctly. Many lower body exercises only target a few muscles, whereas wall sits work almost all of the lower body due to the required muscle activation needed to hold the sitting position. In addition to strengthening the leg and glute muscles, this exercise can also improve strength in your back by keeping it straight against the wall.

    Wall sits are an exercise aimed to improve your muscular endurance and mobility, instead of building your muscle up. Improving your muscular endurance is equally beneficial to building up strength in order to meet your fitness goals.

    Lastly, the movements can improve your body’s functionality which will be beneficial for your mobility and range of motion, along with helping you master the correct form in other exercises, such as the squat exercise described above.

    Instructions:

    1. To start this exercise, find a flat wall in your home and stand with your back about two inches away from it, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    2. Engage your core and begin to slowly lower your back down the wall until you are in sitting position. If you are able to do so, lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
      • Make sure your knees and ankles are aligned and your back is flat against the wall behind you, with your weight falling on your heels instead of toes.

    Time:

    Three holds for 20 seconds at a time.

    Difficulty:

    Medium - The most difficult part of the routine is most likely lowering your body down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then holding this position. If you are unable to lower yourself down to the correct height, you can modify the exercise by bending down until your legs are at a 45-degree angle, instead of the normal 90-degrees.

    Single-Leg Deadlift

    From ClassPass

     

    Image via Shutterstock

    Health Benefits:

    The single-leg deadlift exercise can lead to many potential benefits such as improving strength and endurance in the glutes and hamstring muscles of the leg, balance, and mobility for your joints and overall movements.

    This workout targets and activates your hamstrings and glutes, leading to increased strength and a reduced risk of injuries due to lumbar extensions that occur during many pulling and hip hinging motions. Single-leg deadlifts can also strengthen your calves, ankles, and oblique muscles, which improve stability in your core and pelvic areas.

    The coordination needed to complete the deadlift will greatly improve your balance and stability in the lower body, particularly your ankle and knee stabilization and function in the hips. Although this exercise will challenge your body and lower body strength, with practice and dedication you will be able to perfect the form and reap the many potential benefits of the single-leg deadlifts.

    Instructions:

    1. To start, stand with your feet hip-width apart from each other and hold a weight of your choice in each hand.
      • If this is your first time trying this exercise, do the first set with bodyweight only to learn the correct form.
    2. To begin your first rep, slowly lean forward and shift your weight to one leg with a slight bend in the knee to help your balance.
    3. As you lean forward, your non-weight barring leg should extend slowly behind you simultaneously.
    4. Lean your body forward and lift your leg behind you until your body is in a “T” shape, while dropping your arms to hang straight down with the weights in each hand.
      • As you are going through these motions, it is important to keep a slight bend in your standing leg and to engage your core in order to help remain balanced. Try not to rotate your hips and keep your chest square to the ground (as much as possible).
    5. Once you are in the “T” shape, begin to slowly lower your extended leg and return to the starting position with both feet on the ground.
      • This exercise looks like a lever bobbing up and down, so try to envision that motion as you are doing the exercise.
    6. This will complete your first rep. Repeat the same actions on the other leg and continue alternating for the remainder of the set. 

    Time:

    Two sets of five reps each.

    Difficulty:

    Medium - Single-leg deadlifts are a simple exercise; however, they do require a certain level of balance and core strength to perform the movements correctly. As you are learning the form of a single-leg deadlift, make sure to keep your body in a straight line, without rounding your spine as you lower down and extend the back leg.

    The bottom line

    Before beginning any exercise regimen, check in with your personal healthcare practitioner to make sure it is safe for you to do so. You can also work with a certified personal trainer to ensure you are exercising safely.

    Today’s the perfect day to start your new workout routine in the comfort of your own home. Remember, just as there’s no one-size-fits-all workout program for everyone, the same goes for your diet. You are the expert in you, and moving your body to improve your physical and mental health is an incredible way to honor that knowledge.

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