So you’ve never worked out before (or it’s been a while), and now that you’re ready to try, you might have decided that it’s easier to start your fitness plan at home. Or perhaps you work remotely nowadays, and heading to the gym by the old office isn’t as convenient as it used to be.
Whatever your reason and wherever you are in your fitness journey: you’re ready to start working out at home, but you’re unsure where to start or how to get motivated.
And with life responsibilities (your job, kids, partners, laundry), it can be hard to make time to exercise. Sometimes, you just need a second to breathe.
Even so, the benefits of a regular workout routine speak loud and clear.
According to MayoClinic, regular exercise boosts your mood and energy, helps you get better sleep at night, and lowers your risk of physical and mental health conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Not to mention it’s a great way to warm your mind up at the beginning of the day or set the tone for your evening after work.
That said, you should discuss any new workout plan with your physician first, especially if you have a past injury. Once you’ve done that, here’s everything you need to know to start working out from home.
Do You Need Equipment to Workout At Home?
One of the first things people wonder when deciding to start exercising at home is whether or not they need a ton of home workout equipment. The good news is that you don’t.
Bodyweight exercises like push-ups, planks, and squats go a long way, especially for beginners. And as you advance, there are several ways to increase difficulty, including modified positions.
You also have the option of using at-home props. You’d be surprised how many people use cans of beans and water bottles for weights. A dining room chair can level up your tricep dips or function as leverage for various leg and butt exercises. The list goes on.
That’s why there’s only one piece of at-home workout equipment we recommend everyone get: a yoga mat.
A mat protects your floors and your joints as you work out (dual-purpose) and is a staple in common at-home workouts like Pilates and Yoga. Yoga mats come at all price points, but you can get one for as low as $10.
That said, if it’s in your budget, there’s nothing wrong with investing in more at-home equipment to add variety to your workouts. You may even find that owning equipment motivates you to get moving.
Affordable at-home equipment options for beginners include resistance bands, small weights, yoga blocks, and jump ropes.
Activewear Is Worth It
If you’re new to working out, it’s tempting to start in a t-shirt and pajama shorts—sometimes that’s all you have on day one. But you will want to invest in some activewear.
Workout clothing works better with your body and skin during a workout. It gives you freedom of movement to prevent injury (and torn clothes) and is more comfortable, and you’re much more likely to keep doing something when you’re comfortable. The act of getting dressed for a workout session also helps you get in the mindset to crush it.
And it’s worth saying: sweat-wicking fabric is a blessing when doing cardio.
You don’t need to get the latest fashion, buy from the most expensive brand, or completely fill your closet unless you want to. With a quick search, you can find plenty of affordable options online.
Pick Your Workout
Unsure what type of workout to do at home?
There have always been options, but after the COVID-19 lockdown spurred a rapid interest in at-home activities, it’s possible to do any kind of workout from home any time of the day.
Whether you’re interested in dancing for cardio, yoga for strength and flexibility, or you’re more of a pilates type, you can do it from home—and you’re not limited to those either.
If you’re a beginner with no clue where to begin, one of our home workout tips is to use YouTube to test out different workouts. Once you find something you love, there are an abundance of video services and apps that can help you dive deeper.
Popular YouTube channels to help you get started include:
- Blogilates for pilates and cardio
- Yoga With Adriene for yoga
- The Fitness Marshall for dance
- Walk at Home for walking fitness
- And a ton more a mere search away
If you plan to pay for an app or program, try out the type of workout with a free service first.
Discovering the types of home exercise you enjoy will make working out more fun and keep you coming back for more. And the best part?
You can mix it up as much as you want. Switching up your workouts will help you maximize your physical health by taking advantage of the benefits of each one.
Bonus Tip: Look for long-term challenges like a 30-day beginner challenge to help you stay motivated and get your body acclimated.
Designate a Workout Space
Sure, we’re talking about working out at home, but having a consistent space to work out matters. It’s much easier to get up and active each day when you know you have a place to go.
But don’t panic if you don’t have an extra bedroom to create the ultimate home gym. While having an entire room dedicated to your fitness goals sounds lovely, it’s not required. Your workout space can be as simple as a yoga mat rolled out on the living room or bedroom floor, and it’s okay if you have to move the coffee table aside to make extra room.
For beginners, a well-placed mirror can help you watch your form as you get used to new movements.
Make It a Part of Your Daily Routine
If you’re wondering how to get into working out at home, one of the best ways to start is to make it a part of your daily routine. Sticking to a consistent schedule will make it easier to come back the next day.
It’s okay to start small! A quick jog in the morning or a few push-ups before bed can get your body used to working out at these times.
If you don’t have much time or motivation, consider working out while doing other things at home or when a few minutes pop up throughout the day. You can do bodyweight workouts while rewatching your favorite TV show or put on a 10-minute cardio workout while dinner is in the oven (just set a timer, so you don’t forget).
Slowly add more time or sets to your workout as you get used to the routine and continue to learn your preferred ways to get in shape at home.
Invite a Workout Buddy
One of the great things about working out is that everyone is supposed to do it—including your friends and family.
Inviting someone you don’t mind working up a sweat around to work out with you can make it much more enjoyable. And when the couch tempts you, knowing that someone else is relying on you to show up can be all the motivation you need.
You can work out at your house or theirs, or you can even work out over Zoom. As long as you make plans in advance, you’ll have someone to face the challenge with.
Set Fitness Goals
You’ve probably been told to set goals in other areas of your life at some point in time.
Working out at home is no different: having something to work towards helps with long-term success. Having workout goals gives you a way to track your progress and a reason to come back each day, even when your workout buddy can’t make it.
There are two types of goals to set each week when you work out at home:
- Your goals for how often and how long to work out.
- Your goals for improvement (do 1 more set, run 3 minutes longer, or just try a new video).
Again it’s okay to go at your own pace and start small. You want your goals to be realistic and motivating for you.
A good rule of thumb is to be SMART:
- Specific: So you know exactly what you want
- Measurable: So you know when you’ve accomplished it
- Achievable: So you stay motivated
- Relevant: So you want to do it
- Time-Bound: So you stay on track
Write your goals on a calendar or in a journal to serve as a reminder, make them feel real, and give you the satisfaction of crossing them off when completed.
How Much Should You Workout?
If you want to get technical, exercise falls into two categories: aerobic and strength training.
Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and includes activities like brisk walking, running, dancing, cycling, swimming laps, jumping rope, playing sports, and even mowing the lawn.
Strength training is about your muscles and includes bodyweight exercises, Pilates, weight-lifting, resistance-band training, and some yoga. It’s essential to work out all muscle groups for well-rounded health.
The American Heart Association and the CDC recommend adults get the following amounts of each:
Aerobic exercise: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.
Strength training: Moderate- to high-intensity activity at least 2 days a week.
Now, don’t worry! We know 150 minutes sounds terrifying.
For starters, it’s not as bad of a number as it looks. Broken down, that’s 30-minutes 5 days a week.
And, when you start exercising at home, any time you can set aside or find in your day is better than nothing. It’s okay to fit a workout in where you can and work your way up. Many people have daily responsibilities that can make it challenging to squeeze in 150 minutes a week right away.
You can also divide these minutes up however works for you. If you want to do three 10-minute sessions a day, that’s okay. One of the benefits of working out at home is that exercising is more convenient.
Plan for Setbacks
We can’t write an article about how to workout at home without taking a second to talk about setbacks.
The truth is, they happen to everyone.
Sometimes there’s a crying child attached to your hip, a family event to attend, or you’re just way too tired. There’s no reason to feel guilty or beat yourself up about it.
But you can plan for setbacks to make the most of the situation and prevent it from turning into a month-long hiatus.
If you’re too tired to work out one day, turn it into an opportunity to focus on the other health needs in your life: eating well, getting a good night’s rest, or other forms of self-care. If you feel capable, know that it’s okay to trade your intense workout plans for something easier on occasion, like a brisk walk or short yoga video to wind down.
That day or the next, take a second to be mindful and ask yourself why you didn’t do what you planned. Is there something you can learn from it?
Then (and this is important), hit the ground running—or cycling, dancing, tennis-ing, or whatever workout you have planned. When you get off track, you don’t have to wait until next week to start over perfect. Start again as soon as you can, and you’ll feel better for it.
Working Out at Home Can Be Really Easy…or Really Hard
Some believe that working out at home is easier than working out at the gym, but this is far from true. Working out at home doesn’t mean you’re taking it easy.
Your home workout can be as hard as you want it to be. There are all kinds of high-intensity at-home workouts, and there is always a way to make your workout harder. That is to say, whatever intensity you’re looking for, you can achieve it at home.
It’s even possible to strength train and build muscle without gym equipment. It’s all about preference.
And if you prefer going to the gym, that’s okay too.
You can use several of these workout tips at home or at the gym. You can even work out at home and at the gym on different days to increase your workout variety.
What matters is that you’re motivated to get active and get healthy.