So You Want to Start… Working Out at Home

Kevin Gray
by Kevin Gray
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So You Want to Start… Working Out at Home

Maybe your favorite gym is closed. Maybe you just started working from home and don’t want to venture back out after your day’s over. Or maybe you just want to save yourself some time between all of life’s other obligations. Whatever your reason, working out at home is a popular alternative to traditional gyms and studios — and with a few pro tips, you can make the most of your at-home workout and build habits you can follow for the long term.

Because while your couch may be inviting, nothing can jumpstart your day or infuse your afternoon with some energy like a good workout.



If you’re fortunate enough to have an empty room to put some weights and cardio equipment, great. But many people aren’t so lucky. If you’ve got a small apartment, your dedicated workout space can simply be a mat on the ground or the floorspace that results from moving your coffee table. “Your exercise space doesn’t have to be fancy or large,” says Matthew Martin, a certified personal trainer. “But it helps to have a specific spot you keep going back to. This signals your body and brain that it’s time to work out.”



The most common barriers to exercise are a lack of time and motivation. An added barrier to working out at home is not having someone to hold you accountable, like a trainer or other hard-working gym-goers. So to set yourself up for success, find a program you know you will enjoy — that way you’re more likely to stick to it. If you love HIIT, find some virtual classes online or on a workout app. If you like strength training, focus on bodyweight moves and simple weight-training exercises. If you prefer cardio and have equipment at home, like a treadmill or bike, use them. When you’re working out at home, it’s less important what you do and more important you get up and move regularly.



If you go to the gym, you’re presented with countless options for working out. If you’re at home, you’re presented with a computer, TV, bed, couch, fridge and other distractions. That’s why it can be helpful to build your workout into your day, rather than struggling to exercise after your day is over.

Try starting small with a goal to perform 20 pushups and 20 squats before you shower in the morning. If that goes well, try expanding your workout to 20 minutes of bodyweight exercises. Not a morning person? No problem, dedicate time at lunch to a quick workout or reward yourself with your favorite exercise video after your daily afternoon conference call. It doesn’t take a lot of time to perform a quality workout, especially if you utilize the free time that naturally pops up throughout the day.



“You don’t technically need anything except your own body to get in a good workout,” says Martin. “Bodyweight work like pushups, planks, squats, lunges and some cardio will help get you in shape.” But he does recommend a few pieces of equipment for those who’d like to take their training up a notch. First up: Get a mat. It gives you a padded surface to work out on and it also protects your floors. From there, Martin likes resistance bands and either kettlebells or dumbbells.

Resistance bands are awesome. They’re safe and effective and can be used anywhere,” he says. A mid-weight kettlebell is great for total-body moves like swings, but it can also replace dumbbells for upper- and lower-body exercises, including curls, presses, squats, lunges, core work and more.

If you want to take things a step further, try a step. They’re great for cardio and can also be incorporated into bodyweight work. A large exercise ball, a weighted medicine ball and a jump rope are also smart choices if you have the space to house and use them.



It’s easy to be dependent on trainers, group fitness classes or your friends to keep you accountable and working hard. So if you’re exercising solo at home, it’s common for motivation to wane. That’s where goals come into play.

“Set a goal to do at least four at-home workouts each week, and mark your progress on a visible calendar,” says Martin, who suggests putting said calendar on your fridge or beside your desk. “It will keep you accountable and give you something to strive for.” He likes to fit smaller goals into at-home workouts, too. For example, doing 25 pushups at the end of each cardio session, and then adding one more pushup each day until you eventually hit 50. Setting challenging (but reasonable) goals can keep you engaged, especially as you begin to notice improvements and progress.



If you’ve got a friend or partner who can join your workout, great. But even if someone can’t be there physically, you can still enlist friends and family in a digital capacity. “I encourage my clients to text me when they exercise on their own, so I can give them positive feedback,” says Martin. You can do the same thing. Set up a text chain with friends who support your workout efforts, and ask them to hold you accountable if you skip an exercise day. Do the same for them, and you’ll create a healthy, inspiring buddy system that exists outside the physical confines of the gym.

About the Author

Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray

Kevin is a Dallas-based writer who spends the majority of his weekends on a bike. His less healthy pursuits can be found at Bevvy and Cocktail Enthusiast.


27 responses to “So You Want to Start… Working Out at Home”

  1. Avatar Coach T says:

    loving the coffee cue..that’s brilliant

  2. Avatar Sunsqueak says:

    Thanks Coach Stevo! I never thought of it this way … but things like dog food work! I’m going to try walking around with a half gallon (okay, maybe a gallon) of water for a bit. Good thoughts for small starts 🙂

  3. Avatar Rose says:

    I love the idea, but am just not getting the heavy thing part. Carry a kettlebell around my apartment? That would take about a minute. I carry my 12 lb baby constantly – does that count? Or should I be carrying a second heavy object? Probably a second one, right?

    • Avatar Coach Stevo says:

      If you carry your 12lb baby around your apartment all day then your kettlebell will probably not feel very heavy. I suggest finding something heavier than your baby. Something that makes you think, “that’s heavy” when you pick it up, but not, “that’s too heavy.” Then walk around your apartment with it until you think, “I’m done.”

  4. Avatar Patricia Powers-Williamson says:

    This is cool! I have several gallons of water in my kitchen, I will lift two gallons while waiting for my coffee! LOVE IT !

  5. Avatar FabulousJasper says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m going to find a heavy thing today and start carrying it round.

    • Avatar S. W. says:

      I agrre!! If I had to go to a gym, I’d never do it. Starting my walk at my front porch guantees it’ll be done.
      Get the kids on the school bus and off I go. I don’t even go back into the house so the dishes or laundry don’t call to me!!
      Best feeling in the world, speedwalking with the sun shining on my face. I think I’ll add some dumbells to the act. Never felt better!!

  6. Avatar Beth says:

    Have a look at ‘fitness blender’ on You Tube. They are fabulous with over 500 workouts you can do at home and they are completely free.

  7. Avatar Jennifer Gavronsky Newton says:

    Does my 12 pound newborn count? 😛 He’s getting heavier all the time.

  8. Avatar Mamamalia says:

    This is a great idea, esp. the coffee maker as a reminder, but since I carry my almost 45 lb. kid fairly often, perhaps I will lay down and do crunches or planks or something. And at the market I can carry baskets instead of a shopping cart.

  9. Avatar Matt G says:

    This article is downright silly. Ah well, I guess something is better than nothing right? For you to say at home workouts are equally or more beneficial than being at a gym is just ignorant. Instantly lost all your merit.

    • Avatar Ella N says:

      Boo! Totally disagree – I’ve lost 25 lbs working out at home. One thing I’ve learned after wasting money on gym memberships, Pilates studios, etc is the I’m more likely to work out if I don’t have to GO anywhere!

    • Avatar Bill S says:

      I disagree with your comment about working out at home. I use the elliptical every day then bands and dumbbells. I used to belong to a gym so I can compare the two, I would rather work out at home any day. The workouts are more focused and I get into the zone much easier.

      I do agree the idea of carrying around something heavy as a workout is a little off, there is no way this would substitute a regular workout.

      • Avatar Phyllis Towns says:

        Everybody has to begin somewhere! For those who already work out, you obviously don’t need the ‘pick up something heavy’ routine. For those NOT currently working out, this is a great, non intimadating starting point.

    • Avatar lwright311 says:

      I lost 65 lbs and have become very fit (40% muscle and 18% fat female) and stayed that way for over 2 years by working out at home with DVD based programs. For me, working out at home is really my only option because the closest gym is a 45 minute drive. It is ignorant to think that your method is the only valid one.

    • Avatar Zach says:

      How so? I agree, picking something up and walking around your apartment/house for a few minutes hardly seems like an exercise program. However, I think home exercise is a great idea. I have dumbbells, I do a wide variety of body weight strength exercises, and I go outside for cardio (I would do cardio inside but I can’t really be jumping around in a second floor apartment). Staying at home to exercise is infinitely more convenient and way less expensive. Plus, you don’t have to worry about exercising in front of others. Guns are pretty much unnecessary unless you are an athlete or you need that type of environment.

  10. Avatar Mallory says:

    Nike Training Club is a free app with hundreds of workouts that don’t require any equipment. I have loved being able to do these workouts at home or while traveling for work. They are 15, 30 or 45 minutes each and you can focus on lean, endurance or strength training. Best at home fitness routine I’ve found!

  11. Avatar JSNSR says:

    I am a senior and like the home exercise routine I have been using. I use ordinary household items and for weights I have dumb bells. Fast walking for cardio. No problem.

  12. Avatar Lin Sp says:

    Hmmm…I’m kind of doing your workout without ever having heard about it before. We’re packing and moving boxes, many of which definitely count as heavy. I guess I’ll have to think of something else once we’re done packing. 😉

  13. Avatar Wheelie grandma says:

    Please could you advise workout at home tips for a wheelchair user who does not work from the waist down

  14. Avatar omgstfualready says:

    Why not Sunday?

  15. Avatar Luciano Vizza says:

    Love it! I’ve learned it’s always good to start with something small and work your way up when trying to start a new healthy habit. Excuse me, I’m going to go pick up something heavy.

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