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Top 10 Home Workouts (Complete Guide)

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Whether you have or haven't got access to a gym, you can do these exercises. Most of these exercises are bodyweight workouts, however the last four may require resistance of some type.


Below is a list of the best home workouts you can do.


  1. Bodyweight Squat

  2. Push Ups

  3. Crunches

  4. Plank

  5. Leg Raise

  6. Jump Squat

  7. Bicep Curl *

  8. Bent Over Rows *

  9. Side Raises *

  10. Tricep Kick Backs *


* These may require resistance of some type (dumbbells, resistance bands, filled water jugs etc).


Add the following exercises to your home workout and make it a full body workout. If you want to see more ideas for your workouts then click here.


1) Bodyweight Squat

The bodyweight squat is a great exercise for the whole body, but especially the legs.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do a Bodyweight Squat

  1. Stand with your hands either; on the back of your head or in front of you, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your feet turned slightly outwards to help flexibility and open up your hip joint.

  2. Begin to lower your body via bending at the knees and hips, go down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.

  3. Pause once your at the bottom of the rep, then slowly return (1-3 seconds) to the starting position.

  4. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.


Adding the bodyweight squat to your home workout will target almost the whole leg musculature, especially the quadriceps and glutes. (1)


Make It Harder

There are a couple of ways to make the bodyweight squat harder.


  • Do more reps or use heavier or harder resistance (resistance bands, dumbbells, filled water jugs etc).

  • Do the squat more slowly.


Make It Easier

There are also a couple of ways to make a bodyweight squat easier.


  • Do less reps or use less weight/resistance.

  • Don't go as far down on the squat - for example; only go down until your thighs are at a 45 degree angle.



2) Push Ups

Push ups are another great exercise for the whole body, but primarily targets the chest and triceps.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do Push Ups

  1. To start, get down on all fours, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulder width.

  2. Then straighten out your arms and legs - keep your body from your heels to your head locked in a straight line.

  3. Slowly lower your body until your chest is nearly touching the floor.

  4. Pause at the bottom of the rep, then slowly (1-3 seconds) push yourself back up.

  5. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.


If you can't do push ups just yet, no worries, click here to learn how to do push's if you can't yet.


Including the push up in your home workouts will target most of the upper body, especially the chest, triceps and some of the deltoid. (2)


There are also many other ways to train your chest, as shown in our top 10 best chest exercises list.


Make It Easier

There are quite a few ways to make the push up harder, such as the following.


  • Doing more reps or slowing down your repetitions.

  • Using a narrow hand placement - by putting your hands closer in together will increase resistance, making the push up harder. (3)

  • Doing decline push ups will make the push up harder by increasing the weight over your arms. You can do these by making sure your feet are higher up than your hand-level (e.g. using a couch or chair). (4)

  • Doing push ups on an unstable surface is a great way to make it harder and more effective, do this by putting a medicine ball under your palms. (5)


Make It Harder

There are a few ways of making the push up easier.


  • Do less reps.

  • Keeping a higher incline on the push up will make it easier - to do an incline push up, keep your hands above your foot-level (e.g. using the stairs or a chair). (6)

  • Not going all the way down will make the push up easier.


3) Crunches

Crunches are another great exercise to add to your home workouts, crunches primarily target the abs and midsection musculature.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do Crunches

  1. To begin, lie down on your back and put your feet on the floor, around hip-width apart. Bend your knees and place your arms across your chest or on your head.

  2. Then lift up your upper body towards your knees, try to keep your head and neck relaxed.

  3. Return to your starting position and repeat for as many repetitions as you want.


Adding crunches into your home workouts will activate most of your midsection and abdominal muscles. (7)


Make It Harder

You can make crunches harder in a few ways, such as the following.


  • Doing more reps or slowing down your repetitions.

  • Adding resistance by holding a weight such as a medicine ball, dumbbell, filled water jug etc.

  • Doing decline crunches. (8)


How to Make Crunches Easier

There are a couple of ways to make the crunch easier.


  • Do less repetitions.

  • Simply getting someone to assist you up, they can do this by pushing gently on your upper back and on the way back down go slowly.



4) The Plank

The plank is another multi-muscle conditioning exercise, it strengthens the abs, back and shoulders. It is an isometric (static contraction) exercise and is great to add to a home workout program.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do the Plank

  1. To start, get into a push-up position but bend your arms at your elbows so your weight rests on your forearms and forearms.

  2. Squeeze your abs and glutes and keep your body locked in a straight from head to heels.

  3. Hold this position for as long as you can.


A version of the plank called the long-lever plank is an enhanced version and activates many more muscles and supporting muscles. (9)


However, the longer-lever plank is harder - this plank variation is where your elbows are moved more forwards, further out in front of you.


Make It Harder

You can make the plank more difficult in a few ways, such as listed below.


  • Holding for longer.

  • Adding resistance by getting someone to gently place a weight on your upper back (this could be a weighted plate, weighted backpack etc).

  • Doing the longer-lever plank.


Make It Easier

There are a few ways to make the plank easier.


  • Hold the plank for less time.

  • Doing the plank on your knees will make it easier.

  • Doing the plank with others will boost motivation and strength - see who can hold it the longest!


5) Leg Raise

The leg raise is another multi-muscle conditioning exercise, it strengthens the abs and also the upper legs. It is a good exercise to add to your home workouts. (10)


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do the Leg Raise

  1. To begin, lie on your back on a foam mat or something soft, with your legs straight out and together.

  2. Then, keeping your legs straight, lift them up until your feet are pointing to the ceiling, hold this for a few seconds.

  3. Slowly lower your legs back down until they're just above the floor. Hold this for a few seconds too.

  4. Repeat this for your desired number of repetitions.


You can also do a variation of the leg raise, raising your legs, hips and lower back up as well.


Make It Harder

You can make the leg raise harder by doing the following.


  • Holding for longer or doing more reps.

  • Adding resistance by getting someone to gently push against your legs as they come up, or by adding ankle weights if you have them.


Make It Easier

There are a few ways to make the plank easier.


  • Holding the reps for less time.

  • Not going all the way down on each rep will make it easier.



6) Jump Squat

The jump squat is a variation of the bodyweight squat - it is a great power building exercise and will improve strength and balance in the whole body. (11)


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do the Jump Squat

  1. To start, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.

  2. Then, start doing the usual bodyweight squat - making sure to go down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.

  3. As you begin to come back up, build power and jump as high as you can.

  4. Allow your knees to bend and absorb the impact when you land, immediately come back down into a squat, and repeat the process for as many repetitions as you want.


Caution: Be careful with this exercise, if you have any joint problems (knee, hip, ankle, back etc) then don't do this one.

This exercise activates primarily the legs, however, it also activates stabilising muscles throughout the body.


The jump squat could help improve balance and stability, as well as maximum power output, jump speed and sprint speed. (12)


Adding this exercise to your home workout will bring a multitude of benefits.


Make It Harder

You can make the jump squat harder by doing the following.


  • Holding at the bottom for longer or doing more reps.

  • Trying to jump higher each session.

  • Adding resistance by wearing a weighted backpack (be careful not to add too much weight).


Make It Easier

There are a few ways to make the squat jump easier.


  • Holding the reps for less time or doing less reps.

  • Not going all the way down on each rep will make it easier.


7) Bicep Curl

The bicep curl is one of the most popular exercises. It is a great exercise for building strength and size.


You can make the bicep curl even more effective by doing a variation called the incline bicep curl - around a 75° angle can improve the effectiveness of the curl. (13)


This exercise may require resistance of some type, this could be dumbbells, resistance bands or even a weighted backpack or filled water jug.


The incline bicep curl requires a bench, if you don't have one at home do the standing bicep curl instead.


See the video tutorials below or scroll down for instructions.


Incline Bicep Curls (needs a bench)


How to Do the Incline Bicep Curl

  1. Set a bench at around a 75° angle, grab a pair of dumbbells (or alternative weight) of your desired weight and sit down.

  2. Bring the dumbbells down to your sides with your palms facing outwards and in front you.

  3. Slowly bring the dumbbell's up, either one at a time or both together, and hold for 1-3 seconds at the middle of the rep (when your forearm is parallel with the floor), continue to the top and come slowly back down again.

  4. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.


Standing Bicep Curls


How to Do the Standing Bicep Curl

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells (or alternative weight) of your desired weight and stand in an unobstructed area.

  2. Bring the dumbbells down and to your sides with your palms facing outwards and in front you.

  3. Slowly bring the dumbbell's up, either one at a time or both together, and hold for 1-3 seconds at the middle of the rep (when your forearm is parallel with the floor), continue to the top and come slowly back down again.

  4. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.


Make the Bicep Curl Harder

You can make the bicep curl harder by doing the following.


  • Holding in the middle of the rep for longer or doing extra reps.

  • Adding a resistance band into the rep (put a resistance band under the bench or under your feet and hold it with the dumbbell).


Make the Bicep Curl Easier

There are a few ways to make the bicep curl easier.


  • Holding in the middle of the rep for less time or doing less reps.

  • Use less weight.



8) Bent Over Rows

Bent over rows are a great overall back exercise and target the lats, traps, erector spinae and hamstrings. (14)


For the bent over row you may require resistance of some type, whether that's a barbell, dumbbell, resistance band or even a filled up water jug or weighted backpack.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do the Bent Over Row (Barbell)

  1. To start, grab the bar with your palms inwards, with a just wider than shoulder-width apart grip.

  2. Stand up with the barbell and let it hang with your arms straight down.

  3. Bend over at around a 45° angle, keep your back straight and don't let it arch.

  4. Squeeze your core and pull your elbows and shoulders up and back to row the weight up until it touches your sternum, then slowly lower it back down again.

  5. Repeat this for your desired number of repetitions.


The row is a great exercise to add to your home workouts.


bent over row

Make It Harder

You can make the bent over row harder using the following tips.


  • Holding at the top for longer or by doing extra reps.

  • Adding a resistance band into the exercise by attaching it to the barbell or by holding the band with your alternative weight (dumbbell, water jug etc) and standing on the band.

  • Adding resistance by adding weight (be careful not to add too much weight).


Make It Easier

There are a couple of ways to make the row easier.


  • Holding at the top for less time or doing less reps.

  • Not going all the way up on each rep will make it easier.


> You can see some more of the best traps and back exercises here.


9) Side Raises

Side raises, also known as shoulder raises or lateral raises, are the best single shoulder exercise for activating the three parts of the deltoid (shoulder) muscle. (15)


For this exercise you may need a form of resistance, such as resistance bands, dumbbells, filled water jug, food cans etc.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do the Side Raise (Dumbbell)

  1. To begin, grab a dumbbell (or alternative weight) and stand up straight in an open area.

  2. Keeping your palms facing inwards, raise both of your arms a of couple inches out to each side and pause for a few seconds.

  3. Lift the dumbbells up and out to each side, keeping your arms mostly straight with a very slight bend at the elbow, stopping when your elbows reach just below or at shoulder-height and your body is taking the shape of "T".

  4. Repeat this for your desired number of repetitions.


The side lateral raise is another useful exercise to add to your home workouts.


side raises

Make It Harder

You can make the lateral side raise harder in a few ways.


  • Holding at the top for longer or by doing extra reps.

  • Adding a resistance band into the exercise by holding the band with your dumbbell or alternative weight (water jug etc) and standing on the middle of the band.

  • Adding more resistance by adding extra weight (be careful not to add too much weight).


Make It Easier

There are a couple of ways to make side raises easier, such as below.


  • Holding at the top for less time or doing less reps.

  • Not going all the way up on each rep will also make it easier.


> You can see more shoulder exercises by clicking here.



10) Tricep Kick Backs

Tricep kick backs target the triceps muscle on the back of the arm, it also will activate the rear deltoid muscle as a supporting muscle.


This is an effective exercise for activating the triceps. (16)


Tricep kick backs may need a form of resistance, whether that be a resistance band, dumbbell or an alternative weight found at home such as a food can or water jug.


See the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions.



How to Do the Tricep Kick Back (Dumbbell)

  1. To start, grab a dumbbell and stand in an open area.

  2. Then, squeeze your midsection and keep your head, neck and back locked straight. Place one hand on your upper leg for balance.

  3. Bend over to a 45° angle, make sure your upper arm and elbow is parallel with the floor and engage your triceps as you extend your arm behind you as far as you can, keeping your arm in by your side.

  4. Pause, then return your arm to it's starting position.

  5. Repeat for your desired number of reps.


Adding the triceps kick back to your home workout will be very useful.


triceps kick back
You can also do the kick back on a bench.

Make It Harder

You can make the triceps kick back harder by doing the following.


  • Holding at the top for longer or by doing extra reps.

  • Adding more resistance by adding extra weight (be careful not to add too much weight).


Make It Easier

There are a couple of ways to make side raises easier, such as those below.


  • Holding at the top for less time or doing less reps.

  • Not going all the way up on each rep will also make it easier.



Summary

This list of our top ten workouts that can be done at home target most of the muscles in your body, including the following.


  • Chest

  • Shoulders

  • Back

  • Glutes

  • Hamstrings

  • Quads

  • Biceps

  • Triceps

  • and many more supporting muscles.


Remember to spread your workouts and exercises out over a period of time, such as 4-5 times a week and give each muscle group a decent time to rest - around 2-3 days.


Also, make sure you get a great home workout by keeping your workouts around 45 minutes to an hour (60 minutes) and doing a maximum of around 12-16 sets per workout should be sufficient.


> You can read more about training frequency by clicking here.


home workouts
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the most common questions.


Q: Is it effective to workout at home?

A: Yes, working out at home can be just as beneficial as working out at a gym, as long as you put in the time and effort. For more experienced learners, though, it may not be enough to keep them moving forward.

Q: Is working out 10 minutes a day enough?

A: Working out 10 minutes a day is better than none at all, however the sweet spot is usually between 30-60 minutes of exercise.


Q: What is the best exercise to do at home?

A: The exercises listed in this article are the best ones to do at home; the bodyweight squat, push ups, crunches, plank, leg raise, jump squat, bicep curl, bent over rows, side raises and tricep kick backs.

 

Written by Billy White

billy white

Billy White is a qualified Kinesiologist and Personal Trainer. He is an aspiring bodybuilder, fitness enthusiast, and health and fitness researcher.


He has multiple years of experience within the fitness, bodybuilding and health space. He is committed to providing the highest-quality information.



 

References

This section contains links to research, studies, and sources of information for this article, as well as authors, contributors, etc. All sources, along with the article and facts, are subjected to a series of quality, reliability, and relevance checks.

Real Muscle primarily uses high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed publications, to back up the information in our articles. To understand more about how we fact-check and keep our information accurate, dependable, and trustworthy, read more about us.

This evidence based analysis of the best home workout exercises features 16 references, listed below.


1. Nishiwaki GA, Urabe Y, Tanaka K. EMG Analysis of Lower Extremity Muscles in Three Different Squat Exercises. J Jpn Phys Ther Assoc. (2006) ✔

2. Sandhu JS, Mahajan S, Shenoy S. An electromyographic analysis of shoulder muscle activation during push-up variations on stable and labile surfaces. Int J Shoulder Surg. (2008, Apr)

3. Marcolin G, Petrone N, Moro T, Battaglia G, Bianco A, Paoli A. Selective Activation of Shoulder, Trunk, and Arm Muscles: A Comparative Analysis of Different Push-Up Variants. J Athl Train. (2015, Nov)

4. Kirsten Nunez. The Decline Pushup. (2019, May 24) ✔

5. Borreani S, Calatayud J, Colado JC, Moya-Nájera D, Triplett NT, Martin F. Muscle activation during push-ups performed under stable and unstable conditions. J Exerc Sci Fit. (2015, Dec)

6. Kirsteen Cherney. Incline Pushups. (2019, May 28)

7. Moraes AC, Pinto RS, Valamatos MJ, Valamatos MJ, Pezarat-Correia PL, Okano AH, Santos PM, Cabri JM. EMG activation of abdominal muscles in the crunch exercise performed with different external loads. Phys Ther Sport. (2009, May)

8. Bodybuilding.com. Decline Crunch.

9. Schoenfeld BJ, Contreras B, Tiryaki-Sonmez G, Willardson JM, Fontana F. An electromyographic comparison of a modified version of the plank with a long lever and posterior tilt versus the traditional plank exercise. Sport Biomech. (2014, Sep) (Randomised Controlled Trial)

10. Piering AW, Janowski AP, Wehrenberg WB, Moore MT, Snyder AC. Electromyographic analysis of four popular abdominal exercises. J Athl Train. (1993, Summer)

11. Marián V, Katarína L, Dávid O, Matúš K, Simon W. Improved Maximum Strength, Vertical Jump and Sprint Performance after 8 Weeks of Jump Squat Training with Individualized Loads. J Sports Sci Med. (2016, Aug 5)✔

12. Petrigna L, Karsten B, Marcolin G, Paoli A, D'Antona G, Palma A, Bianco A. A Review of Countermovement and Squat Jump Testing Methods in the Context of Public Health Examination in Adolescence: Reliability and Feasibility of Current Testing Procedures. Front Physiol. (2019, Nov 7) (Review)

13. Oliveira LF, Matta TT, Alves DS, Garcia MA, Vieira TM. Effect of the shoulder position on the biceps brachii emg in different dumbbell curls. J Sports Sci Med. (2009, Mar 1)

14. Fenwick CM, Brown SH, McGill SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res. (2009, Mar) (Comparative Study)

15. Sweeney, Samantha P. Electromyographic analysis pf the deltoid muscle during various shoulder exercises. (2014, May)

16. Brittany Boehler, John P. Porcari, Dennis Kline, C. Russell Hendrix, and Carl Foster, Mark Anders. ACE Study Identifies Best Triceps Exercises.

Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.

 

The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.



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