Technology has afforded us many conveniences.
At the same time, an unintended consequence of these technological advancements is that we’re spending more time indoors being rather sedentary.
Additionally, many of us are also working longer hours and/or embarking on longer commutes. Both of which, again, contribute to our sedentary nature.
This confluence of events has resulted in many individuals feeling strapped for time and searching for a way to maintain or improve their fitness without having to drive to the gym, spend 60-90 minutes training, and then driving back home.
Some don’t enjoy the idea of having to wait for equipment or sit in a pool of someone else’s DNA at the gym.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go to a gym to get a great workout.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 exercises that you can do at home (or in the office) with everyday objects.
These exercises are quick, easy, and require no gym membership at all.
They allow you to get in a fantastic total body workout anywhere, anytime!
Let’s get started!
Top 10 Exercises That You Can Do At-Home (Or at Work)
No surprise here.
The push-up has been and continues to be, a staple exercise for any individual looking to build upper body muscle and strength.
When performed correctly, the push is a whole-body exercise, working the chest, shoulders, triceps, core, glutes, and more.
The pus- up can be progressed and regressed to accommodate your particular fitness level.
If you’re not strong enough to perform push-ups on the ground, you can try elevating your hands on a surface, such as a counter or a desk.
This change in leverage (body angle) reduces the amount of resistance your pushing muscles are working against, matching the degree of difficulty to your current strength levels.
As you gain strength and become more proficient in the coming weeks, you can start to use elevated surfaces that are closer to the ground.
If standard push-ups are already accessible for you, you can try experimenting with more advanced push-up variations, such as the archer push up, dive bomber push up, or ring (suspension trainer) push up.
Yet another excellent no equipment workout for your upper body is the dip.
Typically, these are performed using a set of dip (parallel) bars or the edge of a chair or adjustable bench.
If we’re honest, the chair dip provides a little challenge to already fit individuals who possess a minimum amount of muscle and strength.
Furthermore, how most individuals perform the triceps dip on a bench or chair is a shoulder injury waiting to happen. You see, most people perform the tricep dip such that their shoulders are internally rotated, which places undue stress on the shoulder joint.
If you are going to perform the triceps dip, we suggest orienting your hands such that they are in a more neutral grip, which places your shoulders into external rotation and reduces stress on the shoulder joint.
Now, if knocking out multiple sets of 20+ reps of triceps dips is a breeze, or if you’re looking for another bodyweight exercise to blast your chest, shoulders, and triceps, you can try the chest dip.
Typically, these are performed using a set of dip bars or parallel bars. However, dips can also be performed using the counters in your kitchen. Now, you could perform dips on a straight counter, but if you can find a corner of your kitchen counter to do dips, all the better.
Chin-Up / Pull-Up
Chin-ups are a classic upper body exercise that (similar to the push up) works just about everything from head to toe.
The ability to master (and lift) one’s own body weight is one of the best tests of relative strength around.
And, there’s no better exercise for testing your relative upper body strength than the chin-up/pull up.
Furthermore, becoming proficient at chin-ups and pull-ups also helps build bigger stronger biceps!
Chin-ups/pull-ups can be performed just about anywhere you have a fixed surface — door, tree branch, chin-up bar, etc.
If you are already able to knock out multiple sets of chin-ups or pull-ups, you can increase the challenge by using a weighted belt or attempting to perform more advanced pull-up variations, such as corn cob or typewriter pull-ups.
Many individuals struggle to perform a significant number of unassisted chin-ups or pull-ups. Still, others are looking for other options to work their back and biceps from different angles.
Enter the inverted row or “Australian pull-up.”
Inverted rows help you get better at vertical pulling movements (pull-ups and chin-ups) since then involve the same set of musculature (lats, rhomboids, rear delts, etc.), and they also help you learn how to move your body through space.
Inverted rows can be performed using a set of dip bars (if you have those), or they can also be performed by grabbing onto the edge of a sturdy table or putting a broomstick across two chairs.
To make the exercise easier, bend your knees (which reduces the amount of resistance). Conversely, to make the exercise more challenging, you can straighten your legs or elevate them on a bench, box, or ottoman.
The pike push-up is an advanced progression of the standard push up that emphasizes the shoulders, but also works the chest and triceps.
This push-up variation is also a great way to work your way towards a handstand push since most gym rats don’t have the balance, coordination, or core strength to achieve a full handstand, and then maintain the upside-down, yet upright, posture needed to perform handstand push-ups.
Now, if the pike push-up is too easy for you, and/or the unassisted handstand push up is too difficult, you can try experimenting with elevating your feet on a higher platform or placing your feet on the wall and performing the wall-assisted handstand push up.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Let’s be honest, as was the case for triceps dips, unless you’re a rank beginner, the bodyweight squat offers little for you outside of cardio.
That’s where the Bulgarian (or rear foot-elevated) split squat comes in.
The Bulgarian split squat essentially has you performing a one-legged squat while also working the flexibility and mobility on the balance leg.
The Bulgarian split squat is also a tremendous muscle-building exercise for those who have a history of low back or knee-related issues when performing conventional barbell back squats.
One of the reasons for this is that the Bulgarian split squat allows you to keep your torso more vertical, which reduces forward lean and stress on the low back and knees.
Plus, there’s also less stress on the hips, since the unique set up of the rear foot elevated split squat allows for better rotation at the hip joint.
The lunge is a dynamic bodyweight exercise that helps build muscle, strength, stability, and overall athleticism.
Like all of the other bodyweight exercises on this list, the lunge can be performed anytime, anywhere.
You can lunge to the kitchen, to the driveway, to the laundry room, or the water cooler at work.
Similar to many of the other bodyweight exercises on this list, there are a great many lunge variations to accommodate your present strength and skill levels.
For beginners who struggle with balance and stability, the stationary lunge (split squat) is an ideal starting point.
For more advanced individuals looking to burn out the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, the lunge can be progressed to try any of the following lunging patterns:
- Alternating Forward Lunge
- Walking Lunge
- Reverse Lunge
- Alternating Reverse Lunge
- Zombie Lunge
- Reverse-to-Forward Lunge
- Forward-to-Reverse Lunge
- Reverse Lunge from a Deficit
- Paused Lunges
- 5 Rep Lunges
- Side Lunges
- Hockey Lunges
External weight can be added to these, but one of our favorite ways to incorporate the lunge into a workout is to use a 5-minute “burnout,” where you perform as many quality reps of walking lunges as you can in 5 minutes.
Sliding Leg Curls
Leg curls are a staple exercise for any individual looking to train the hamstrings.
Unfortunately, not many individuals have a leg curl machine at their house.
Enter the sliding leg curl.
Not only do these torch the hamstrings while being easy on the lower back and knees, but they also train the hamstrings through both of their primary functions — hip extension and knee flexion.
Plus, sliding leg curls can also be performed more frequently, which helps build both size and strength.
Now, you might think you need a pair of fancy furniture or exercise sliders to perform the sliding leg curl. Still, you can just as easily put a towel under your feet (if exercising on a hard floor) or a paper plate (if exercising on carpet).
As with any bodyweight exercise, at some point, the “regular” option will become too easy. Fortunately, you can begin performing single-leg sliding leg curls, resistance-band leg curls, or eccentric leg curls.
Burpees are regarded as one of the most hated, diabolical bodyweight exercises around.
The donkey kick is the bigger, badder, older brother of the burpee.
You begin in a bear crawl or plank position and then shift your weight onto your hands, at which point you kick your feet into the air. After your legs are fully extended, bring them back to the starting position.
At this point, you can do a push-up, kick your feet in and explode up into the air (a la burpee), or begin again into your next donkey kick.Regardless of your fitness level, these are sure to leave you sucking wind.
Break-dancer is another core-focused total body exercise that begins with you starting in a plank or bear crawl position.
Essentially, the break-dancer involves performing a cross-body sidekick while maintaining a bear crawl position.
Assume a bear crawl position with your hips and knees bent at 90-degrees. Rotate your body to the left while keeping your right hand on the floor. The left-hand lifts off the ground as your right leg swings underneath your body and kicks through, fully extending to your left side.
Reverse the movement to assume the starting bear crawl position, and then repeat on the other side.
Can I Build Muscle and Strength with At-Home Workouts?
Of course, you can!
Your muscles don’t know whether you are lifting a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or resistance band.
They only understand tension.
So long as you are placing enough tension on your muscles to induce fatigue, you can gain muscle and strength. The issue is that many individuals fail to progress basic bodyweight exercises once they become proficient at the movements.
Instead of knocking out endless reps of standard push-ups, try moving onto more advanced variations, such as decline push-ups (feet elevated push-ups, dips, Hindu push-ups, etc.), or applying one of the many other ways to induce progressive overload (external weight, paused reps, extended range of motion, 1.5 reps, etc.).
You can (and will) build muscle and gain strength working out at home (or the office), you just need to be willing to expand your thinking of “progressive overload” beyond adding weight to the bar.
You can also add external loading at home even if you don’t have access to barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells, by tossing some books into a backpack or a suitcase and holding it while you train. We offer a wide variety of training tools to further assist you with your at-home workouts. You can find them all here.
Now, let’s give an example of a full-body workout that you can perform from the comfort of your very own home.
At-Home Workouts to Build Muscle and Gain Strength
At-Home Upper Body Workout
Upper Body Workout
Handstand Push-Ups (Use wall-assist if needed)
TRX Bicep Curls
Bodyweight Triceps Extension
At-Home Lower Body Workout
Lower Body Workout
Sliding Leg Curls
Bulgarian Split Squats
10-15 / leg
Reverse Lunge (one leg at a time)
10-15 / leg
Single-Leg Shoulders-Elevated Hip Thrust (3-second eccentric)
8-12 / leg
Single-leg calf raise
At-Home Full Body Workout
Full Body Workout
Dips (1.5 reps)
10-15 / leg
Bulgarian Split Squats
10-15 / leg
Sliding Leg Curls
*Note: Set a time for 2 minutes and perform as many quality repetitions of donkey kicks as possible. Record the number and try to beat that in each subsequent training session.
**Disclaimer: You should consult your physician or other healthcare professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. This is particularly true 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 this 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.
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