Many athletes, pro and casual, maintain their fitness routine with the workout equipment in a modern gym, but you don’t need a fancy facility to keep yourself fit. There are many circumstances that can keep you away from your usual gym, classes, and equipment. Whether you’re away from home, auditing your household memberships, or getting fit with a home workout plan, we’re here to help you work out at home with a little floorspace and minimal equipment.
Types of Home Workouts
Casual fitness is the type of home workout that anyone can do. If you’re at home but want to keep your muscles strong and active, engage in casual fitness activities. Do calf-lifts when you’re waiting for the sink water to heat or the microwave to cook. When music is on, allow yourself to dance. If you must hold still, perform isometric exercises by tensing and un-tensing targeted muscles. Casual fitness practices, made a part of your everyday routine, are a great way to stay fit between days you can make it to the gym.
Calisthenics are also known as body-weight exercises. They are common for sports training, workplace fitness, and military routine alike. But most importantly, calisthenics can be done with little to no equipment and floor space. Even if you live in a small apartment, most people are able to clear out enough space for planks, jumping jacks, squats, pull-ups, crunches, etc.
Cardio is defined as working yourself up into an accelerated heart rate. This usually involves a good bit of sweat and heavy breathing along the way. When you need cardio, there are many ways to achieve it. Running in place, jumping jacks, and squat-thrusts are a good place to start. Any exercise that helps your body reach the cardio state provides the health and fitness benefits of cardio. Exercise bikes and treadmills at home are another great way to do cardio.
If you enjoy running, take a loop around the block or around the neighborhood to get your blood pumping. Running and walking are also great for your digestion.
Many people have some weight lifting equipment at home. You might have a bench, a few freeweights, or even a dedicated workout machine for the purpose. Weight lifting is one of the ideal ways to exercise at home because it takes very little space and you benefit from the home entertainment systems already in place.
Resistance training is done with bands, often worked into a complete pilates routine. If you usually attend classes at the local gym for pilates or resistance training, you can recreate that experience at home with video-classes and a few feet of open floor space.
And for the non-professional workout, there’s always jazzercise. Remember that if your goal is simply to stay fit, few workouts beat the exhaustive nature of a good rock-out. Put on your favorite energetic music, clear the floor, and let your body take over.
Choose a Workout Space
Most exercises require a certain amount of space to perform. The smallest space you can exercise in is about six feet by three feet. Six feet by six feet is a better spread for a diversity of movement and margin for error. Consider an area of 36 square feet as an ideal workout space.
Most exercise equipment is between 10 square feet and 50 square feet each. To create a home gym with equipment, measure the space required for each and calculate for two to five feet between each piece of equipment.
Without equipment, your workout space is more versatile and you can even use it for furniture and other activities when exercise is not your goal.
Flooring and Mats
The floor beneath your workout space can matter as well. Wood floorboards make the best base for a home gym because they are springy and provide a softer impact for falls and jumps. While most home flooring is acceptable for a home gym, most home athletes put down mats or rugs. This is for two reasons. The first is traction and comfort. The second is to protect the floor.
Versatile Home Workout Equipment
You can workout at home using only your own body and the environment around you. A wall, a doorway, and the lower edge of a counter are all you need for a full house-assisted workout. But most home athletes have a personal collection of equipment as well.
The best choices are versatile; equipment you can use in a variety of exercises and can be tidied to take up minimal space when you’re not working out. For those of you becoming home-athletes for, here’s a quick run-down of your best options:
Free weights include dumbells and barbells, kettlebells, strap-on weigts, and sandbags. Most home weight collections include a small variety of dumbells. If you are new to free weights, start with five to ten pound weights.
Resistance bands are good for enhancing calisthenics and body-weight exercises as well as working muscles that are difficult to work with your body alone. Resistance bands also come in grades.
An exercise ball is one of the most universally fun pieces of workout equipment you can have at home. Properly inflated, an exercise ball helps you build a number of core and peripheral muscles and will serve as an infinite invitation (or temptation) for children and pets.
A weight bench can be quite compact and fit into even a small exercise space. Weight benches are not just for weight lifters. By doing lower weight with longer sets, men and women can build lean, toned muscles. A weight bench can also be shared among multiple members of the family, each choosing weight workouts that suit their fitness goals.
Elliptical bikes are also ideal for a small workout space. They’re a great way to do cardio without leaving the house or sprawling into the room. Ellipticals make it easy to read, listen, or watch television while exercising. You can also replace a spinning class with an elliptical at home and a tablet or smart TV to connect to any show or remote class you find motivating.
Treadmills are larger than most ellipticals but require no space outside the footprint. You can enjoy an at-home workout running miles in front of the television, with a good book, or chatting with less athletic friends. Three things you can’t do outdoors.
Then there is the wide variety of specialty exercise machines you can choose to bring into the home. From bowflexes to leg-presses to rowing machines, if you have one or two favorite pieces of equipment form the gym, you can make an investment to have them in your home as well.
Building Your Home Workout Routine
Exercising at home instead of the gym can be a very different experience. One of the best things you can do to keep yourself on-point and motivated is to build a new routine. Instead of missing your old routine and trying to get close to it, build a whole new set of exercises and environmental motivations to shape your home workout time.
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.