Throughout the world right now, lots of people are working out at home due to a lack of gym access. With such an extreme increase in at-home workouts, it’s been hard to find equipment like dumbbells and resistance bands (or, if they are available, they’re being sold at sky-high prices that a lot of at-home exercisers can’t afford).
You might not have access to gym equipment right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy great workouts. Listed below are eight at-home no equipment workout tips you can try today to continue working toward your fitness goals.
1. Focus on Bodyweight Exercises
It’s easy to assume that you need to have weights or resistance bands on hand if you want to get stronger and build muscle. That doesn’t have to be the case, though.
Don’t forget that you can get a lot done using only your bodyweight. In fact, if you’re used to weight training and haven’t done bodyweight exercises in a long time, you might find that they’re more challenging than some of the exercises you gravitate toward in the gym.
There’s an effective bodyweight exercise (or several exercises, in some cases) for pretty much every muscle group. Here are some of the best ones to start incorporating into your at-home workouts:
- Lunge variations (walking lunges, static lunges, lateral lunges, reverse lunges, etc.)
- Glute bridges
- Single-leg toe touches
- Calf raises
- Plank variations (forearm plank, side plank,
- Sit-ups and crunches
- Reverse crunches
- Tricep dips
2. Increase Exercise Intensity
Some people, especially advanced or experienced gym-goers, might be wary of the idea that they can get in good workouts using only their bodyweight. If you fall into this camp, though, you should remember that there are lots of ways to increase exercise intensity and make movements more challenging.
Adding weight isn’t the only way to progressively overload your muscles. Here are some other options that you can try to make your workouts more intense:
Changing the tempo of an exercise can make it a lot harder even if the weight is the same (or if you’re not using any weight at all). When you slow down the eccentric portion of a movement (also known as the lowering or lengthening portion), you create a new challenge for your muscles and have an opportunity to build a lot more strength.
The next time you do a bodyweight squat, for example, try slowing it down and taking four or five seconds to lower from a standing position into a deep squat. Then, rise up explosively. Your legs will be on fire after just one rep!
Add a Pause
In addition to slowing down your exercises, you can also add a pause (or isometric hold). Isometric holds are another way to add intensity and challenge your muscles in a new way.
Try holding the bottom position of a squat or push-up for a couple of seconds before rising back up. You’ll feel your muscles start shaking almost immediately.
Try 1.5 Reps
Consider giving 1.5 reps a try, too. This involves adding a pulse or half-rep to an exercise before returning to the starting position.
For example, if you were doing a lunge, you could lower down into a full lunge position, rise up halfway, then lower back down before rising all the way up and straightening your legs. This creates more time under tension and causes your muscles to work harder without adding weight.
3. Consider Reducing Rest Times
When you’re working out at home without equipment, you might not need to rest as long as you do when you’re training in the gym. Instead of resting for two or three minutes between sets like you do during your gym workouts, try resting for 30-60 seconds to keep your heart rate up and make sure you’re challenging yourself appropriately.
That being said, remember that rest is still necessary even when you’re not working out with weights or other pieces of equipment. You still need to give your muscles a break so you can perform exercises with good form and reduce your injury risk.
4. Add Resistance with Everyday Objects
Maybe you don’t have any weights or bands. That doesn’t mean you don’t have objects that you can use to add resistance to your exercises, though.
For upper body exercises, for example, you could do biceps curls with soup cans, water bottles, or containers of laundry detergent. Laundry detergent containers also work well for bent-over rows, and you can even use them as makeshift kettlebells.
Try filling a backpack with books or other objects and wearing it on your back while squatting or doing lunges, too. You can place it across your hips while doing hip thrusts, as well, like you would a barbell.
If you’re having a hard time targeting your back muscles while working out at home without a pull-up bar, grab an old bed sheet and use it for inverted rows. Tie a knot in the sheet and close it in a door so the knot sits between the top of the door and the door frame. Then, hold one end of the sheet in each hand, walk backward to create tension, and then bend your elbows and use your upper back strength to pull yourself up.
5. Use the Stairs
If you have stairs in your house or in your apartment complex, don’t be afraid to use them to shake up your workouts. Walking or running up and down the stairs is a good way to warm-up or fit in some cardio.
You can also do exercises like step-ups and incline or decline push-ups on the stairs. If you’re going to be using a set of outdoor stairs, though, you might want to consider wearing gloves or setting a towel down before putting your hands on them. That way, you can keep your hands clean and avoid picking up any germs that people have tracked onto the stairs.
6. Grab a Chair or Bench
If you have a sturdy chair or bench in your house, you can also incorporate that into your workouts. You can use a chair or bench for box squats or step-ups, incline or decline push-ups, or reverse crunches.
Here’s an example of an effective workout for the abs and legs, created by one of our ProSupps athletes, that you can do at home with just a bench or chair:
- 1,2,3 crunch variation
- Jump squat/side twist variation
- Elbow plank/push-up variation
- Pulsated jump squats
- Jump overs
- Curtsy lunge/squat variation
Perform each exercise for one minute and then move on to the next exercise. Complete 3-5 total circuits. Rest for a couple of minutes in between each round to bring your heart rate back down.
7. Get Outside
If you don’t have access to the gym or gym equipment, now is the perfect time to get out, explore, and work on other aspects of your fitness that you might have been neglecting. Hiking, walking, and running outside are all great ways to fit in more cardio and improve your endurance.
You might want to consider taking your bodyweight workouts out into your yard, too. That way, you can exercise while also soaking up the sun and getting some vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system and can help to boost your mood, too.
8. Make Mobility a Priority
Be honest. When you were working out in the gym and lifting heavy weights, were you spending a lot of time addressing your mobility and joint health?
If you haven’t made mobility a priority in the past, now is a good time to do so. The more mobile you are, the easier it’ll be for you to move through a full range of motion when performing various exercises. Moving through a full range of motion can help you see better results (specifically, increased muscle growth) from your workouts.
Remember that working on mobility also helps to minimize your injury risk. If you have any nagging joint pain or pain when performing certain exercises, why not take advantage of this time away from the gym to address it? If you do this now, when you do go back and start lifting again, you’ll be able to do so pain-free.
Start Conquering Your No-Equipment Workouts Today
It’s totally understandable if you’ve been frustrated because you’re working out at home and don’t have access to gym equipment. As you can see, though, there are lots of ways that you can continue exercising without spending a ton of money on weights, bands, or other tools.
You don’t have to let a lack of gym gear hold you back from staying in shape. Keep these at-home no-equipment workout tips in mind and you’ll have no trouble continuing to work toward your fitness goals.
If you’re looking for more at-home workout inspiration, check out some of the other resources on our blog today. This post on upper body workout ideas is a great one to read next.