Dr. Erin Nitschke by Dr. Erin Nitschke

It’s a common misconception that an effective or high-quality workout can only happen in a gym or studio setting where you have access to large and/or fancy equipment. Others believe making progress toward fitness goals must cost a fortune in both money and time. Here’s some good news: You can get in a quality workout at home by using your own body weight as resistance.

The recent pandemic made clear how crucial at-home workouts are for individuals who work from home, don’t have access (or time to go) to a gym, and/or busy parents who simply don’t have enough space in their day (mentally or physically) to take more than an hour to exercise.

At-home workouts that require no equipment and limited space can be quick, simple and effective. Here’s your guide to getting started with an at-home workout routine.

Getting Started

This workout takes about 38 minutes to complete, but you can make the circuit longer or shorter by adjusting the duration of each exercise. You will also need:

  • Room to move from side to side and back and forth. Six to 10 feet is adequate, but you can also do these exercises while standing in place. Clear the space of clutter.
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Comfortable workout attire and footwear for support
  • A timer set for 30 seconds (adjust up or down)
  • Mat (optional)

The Workout

Take five to 10 minutes to warm up by marching or jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, lunging side to side and moving the arms in wide circles both forward and backward. The point is to get your muscles warm and prepare yourself for the workout ahead.

This workout is designed to include movements that support muscular fitness, cardiorespiratory endurance and core stability, and includes body-weight exercises for all major muscle groups. A core exercise rounds out each group. These exercises were selected to target the muscle groups we use in everyday activities such as going up and down stairs, picking up kids, carrying groceries, getting out of the car, etc.

The workout consists of six groups of four exercises totaling 24 different exercises (each group of exercises is performed twice before moving on to the next group). Each exercise lasts 20 to 45 seconds. Perform this circuit once at 30 seconds per exercise and see how you feel— if you need to take the intensity down a notch, drop the time of each exercise to 20 seconds.

Group 1 – Two sets (4 minutes total)

  1. Body-weight squats (go as deep as feels comfortable)
  2. Push-ups (this can be done on the knees or elevated using a sturdy surface)
  3. Squat jumps
  4. Front plank

Group 2 – Two sets (4 minutes total)

  1. Superwoman with arm extension and pull-down
  2. Lateral lunge
  3. Modified burpee (squat down, step out, jump in, raise up on the tips of the toes).
  4. Glute bridge

Group 3 – Two sets (4 minutes total)

  1. Alternating forward and reverse lunges
  2. Downward-facing dog to push-up (the push-up can be done on the knees)
  3. Jump lunges (if you need assistance, place your fingertips on a steady surface such as a countertop or the top of a sturdy chair).
  4. Side plank (modify by keeping the knees on the floor)

Group 4 – Two sets (4 minutes total)

  1. Lateral plank walk (to make this exercise more challenging, assume a bear pose with knees bent and under the hips)
  2. Split squat
  3. Mountain climbers
  4. Superwoman or swimmers (alternating opposite arm/leg).

Group 5 – Two sets (4 minutes total)

  1. Alternating single-arm Romanian deadlift (left arm reaches forward and down to the right mid-shin as the left leg comes off the floor)
  2. Triceps dip
  3. Squat to calf raise
  4. Russian twist

Group 6 – Two sets (4 minutes total)

  1. Sumo squat
  2. Plank tap (assume the plank position and tap the opposite hand to the opposite shoulder)
  3. Skater jumps
  4. Bicycle

Once you’ve completed two rounds of each group of exercises, take at least five minutes to cool down and bring your heart and breathing rates back to pre-exercise levels. Be sure to stretch the quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, shoulders, chest, back and arms.

Complete this circuit three times per week (on non-consecutive days). On other days, consider going for a brisk walk or practicing an at-home yoga routine to enhance flexibility and further support balance and strength.

If you have any preexisting conditions or health concerns, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your exercise routine.

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