Don’t belong to a gym? Stuck at home because of bad weather? Missing your session because of sick kids? Not ready to workout in public yet? Just want a little extra movement in your day? Doing a quick and simple routine at home is a great way to either get started, stay on track, or just feel good for the day.
I’m going to give you a few of my favorite exercises to do at home. They are simple, require very minimal equipment, and don’t take up too much time. They are perfect for a variety of fitness levels so almost everyone should be able to incorporate them into their routine.
The top 5 exercises that I LOVE to have clients do at home are:
1) Bodyweight Squats
3) Hip Bridges
All of these are a base level exercise, with ways to progress and regress depending on your fitness level, and capability. Some people will find these moves easy, difficult, or a combination of both. Below I’ll explain how to adjust each movement to your specific needs.
1 – Bodyweight Squats – These are a movement that everyone knows and can be super easy, or pretty difficult.
If this is a tough one for you due to knee pain, balance issues, or anything else, you can regress to a ‘box’ squat. This can be done in your home by squatting onto a chair, bench, couch, or step stool. This way you will not fall, can have a little something to push off of if you need a boost, and will have an external cue of movement.
If a general bodyweight squat is easy, there’s a bunch of ways to make it more challenging. You could add a pause at the bottom, jump at the top, make yourself move really slowly, hold a weight, raise your arms above your head, or change your foot positioning. Having a wider stance vs a narrow stance will change which muscles are the primary movers.
2 – Pushups – Are a wonderful exercise and can be done in so many different ways. They involve almost every muscle group with the majority focus on chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Simple ways to make a pushup easier would be to either do them from your knees or raise your hands up on something. Like the edge of a counter, dresser, couch, (just make sure they are stable) or on top of a workout bench. The different body angle will make your pushup easier or harder, but you could also change your hand positioning to a narrow or wider grip. Wider puts more emphasis on your pecs (chest) while narrow puts more emphasis on your triceps.
3 – Hip Bridges – These are a great movement to target your posterior chain. Hamstrings, glutes, calves and lower back all play a part in the hip bridge with minimal strain on your joints. This is perfect for healthy individuals as well as someone who may have an injury or limitation.
Similar to the squat, different foot positions will change the emphasis on certain muscles, but these can also be done on one leg, with your feet elevated, or with both your shoulders and feet elevated for more challenge.
4 – Deadbugs – Typically considered a core exercise, Deadbugs are actually great for all sorts of reasons. I like them for the core, but also for coordination and cross body control. You can start off in the deadbug position, and just move either your arm or your leg, and then add in the other. There’s also an option that you can hold a physioball with the opposite arm and leg and get some more activation.
5 – Lunges – Squats are great and have a huge benefit, but single leg work gets highly overlooked and is extremely underrated. Walking, reaching, getting in and out of the car, going up and down stairs, opening a door, most ADLs (activities of daily living) occur on one leg, or with a staggered stance. This is why I find lunges of all kinds extremely important.
For beginners, I have them start in a staggered stance, and usually holding onto something for help with balance, and we just simply work on moving up and down within their comfort level. Lunges can be stationary or mobile, with or without support, and then eventually you can travel with lunges, change planes (direction) of your lunge, and even elevate either or both legs for increased range of motion. All of these variations can be done without, and eventually with additional weight.
Doing these 5 simple exercises at home will give you a full body workout while keeping it as easy as possible to complete. Feel free to change up reps, sets, circuits, and time durations as you perform them. This same workout can be made totally different just by adjusting a few things. Have fun with it, and keep in mind that SOMETHING is better than NOTHING. Keep moving, and feel good!