Here's Exactly How to Start a Legit Workout Program Without Joining a Gym
So you decided you want to start working out. First things first: Relax-it does not need to be complicated, overwhelming, expensive as it sounds. I promise.
It can sometimes seem like to start a workout routine, you need to do things like join a gym and spend a ton of money on a membership, take pricey fitness classes, and invest in the newest workout apparel and gear. But honestly? Working out doesn't have to include any of those things. It totally can, and if that's what helps you get moving and stick with it, then that's great. For many people, though, everything from the price to the publicness of it all can be really discouraging.
The reality is that you can (and absolutely should) start working out by doing basic, effective things that require no equipment, no gym membership, and no (or very little) money. (There are a few exceptions—for example, if you want to run more than a mile or two, you should buy quality sneakers. Though, again, you don’t need the $160 pair that promises to shave seconds off your time.) But the stuff that will help you get stronger and fitter is actually pretty simple—and easy to do in the comfort of your own home.
So what do you need? Well, not much more than a small space, comfy clothes, and a list of basic moves. Here, we're going to tell you everything you need to know to get started working out, including which exercises to do and how to do them, how to make them harder and easier, where to find free workouts, what to wear, and affordable equipment worth investing in.
Start by mastering basic bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight exercises are incredibly effective. "Believe it or not, your body is all that you need," Jessica Matthews, M.S., ACE-certified personal trainer and health coach, tells SELF. By just doing bodyweight exercises, you can get a really efficient total-body workout, since many bodyweight moves are considered compound exercises, exercises, or exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once.
The best place to start is with the basics , Jess Sims, NASM-certified personal trainer, founding trainer at Performix House in New York City and instructor at Classpass Live and Fhitting Room, tells SELF. Squatting, lunging, pulling, pushing, pressing, and rotating (and sometimes planking depending on who you ask), are generally considered to be the primary movement patterns. "Every other movement is a variation of one of these basic movements," says Sims. For anyone just starting to work out, mastering the basics is a really important first step-it'll you have to build your own strength and form. time you are doing total body-body exercises like squats, lateral lunges, and push-ups, you're going to work your core, too. Your body has to work to stabilize itself throughout the movement, which means it will recruit the muscles in your body. Bodyweight exercises are also great for cardio, says Sims. Exercises like high knees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers, where you move at a quicker speed, will get your heart rate up and challenge your cardiovascular system.
Any time you are doing total-body bodyweight exercises like squats, lateral lunges, and push-ups, you’re going to work your core, too. Your body has to work to stabilize itself throughout the movement, which means it will recruit the muscles in your midsection that are responsible for keeping your body stable and balanced. Bodyweight exercises are also great for cardio, says Sims. Exercises like high knees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers, where you move at a quicker speed, will get your heart rate up and challenge your cardiovascular system.
Another perk? "There is such a wide variety of bodyweight exercises," Matthews says. This means that you have plenty of options, and you do not need to do the very things you really do not enjoy. She says she is experimenting with a slew of different things. Traditional bodyweight strength exercises are a good place to start, but if you're drawn to yoga and Pilates? Try those, too.
A few online resources can help you find moves to try: ACE Fitness Online Exercise Library, Bodybuilding.com Exercise Guides, and Yoga Journal yoga pose library. We also have some great bodyweight exercise ideas on SELF.com, including this list of 53 popular moves, and these 11 no -equipment arm exercises.
One thing to note: Pull exercises, which work your back, are the one movement pattern that is really hard to do without some sort of equipment. Sims suggests doing reverse flys with water bottles, since they're done with light weights anyway. You can also do bent-over rows with water bottles or soup cans, or, if you have a resistance band, wrap it around the lamp / 82
String exercises together in circuits to create full workouts.
Once you've found some basic moves you can and can do, you can group them together to create easy-to-follow workouts.
Then, do each move for a set amount of time and rest for a set amount of time in between, says Charlee Atkins, CSCS, instructor at Soul Annex in New York City and creator of Le Stretch class. A good general formula to follow: Pick five or six moves that focus on different patterns, and each one for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds in between moves. (And rest more if you need to, and work up to less rest as you get stronger.) Do the circuit three times total, for a 15-minute workout.
Here's an example circuit:
- Bodyweight squats - 45 seconds
- Alternating lateral lunges - 45 seconds
- Jumping jacks - 45 seconds
- Push-ups - 45 seconds
- Glute bridges - 45 seconds
- Do three times.
Here are a few more full-body bodyweight workouts to get started:
- A 20-Minute HIIT Workout You Can Do Anywhere
- 7 Equipment-Free Leg Workouts You Can Do Anywhere
- An Equipment-Free Workout You Can Do Anywhere, From Gigi Hadid's Trainer
- 20-Minute Abs Workout From Celebrity Trainer Astrid Swan
- A 12-Minute Outdoor HIIT Workout You Can Do Anywhere
- A Quick 4-Move Bodyweight Workout to Work Your Entire Body
- Any workout from our 30-day Ready Set Sweat Challenge
- Any workout from our 30-day 2018 New Year's Challenge
For cardio, Sims recommends adding a three-to-a-minute cardio finisher at the end of your workout-it's a good chance to get your heart rate up for a few minutes and really challenge yourself. Pick a cardio movement, like jump squats, mountain climbers, or high knees. Do one for 20 seconds of all-out intensity, and then rest for 60 seconds. Repeat three or four times; or, do 20 seconds each of three different exercises. Alternatively, you can also get in that cardio by adding 15 to 30 minutes of walking or running outside or on a treadmill to reach 30 to 45 minutes of activity.
And then do the workouts two or three times a week.
The most important thing is to set a goal for discouraged.
For many people, two to three days a week is a reasonable goal to start with, and will help you develop a consistent routine. Sims notes that with bodyweight moves, it makes more sense to do a few total-body days versus splitting your days up in upper and lower body. "Bodyweight movements are rarely just one dimensional," she says. "For example, a push-up is predominantly an arm-driven movement, but it also requires activation throughout the abs, glutes, and quads."
After a few weeks, reassess and make any adjustments based off what you found you liked and did not like.
And while it may seem like it is working out more is always better, it's not. Rest days are good and necessary, especially when you're just starting out and your body is getting used to the stress you're putting on it. "Rest days are crucial," says Atkins. "Listen to your body and take a break" you're really sore or so that you have not got much better for it-you'll have a much better workout the next day when you're feeling stronger and more energized.
As you start to get stronger and need more of a challenge, there are a ton of ways to make these movements more challenging.
Always start with the version of an exercise that feels most accessible to you, and work your way up to harder versions as you feel stronger and more comfortable. If you start feeling like you need more of a challenge beyond the exercise’s standard form, “there are different ways you can vary the challenge or intensity without having to add weight,” Matthews says. Here are a few things you can try:
Change your positioning against gravity. A great example is push-ups, she says. Putting your hands on an incline, like on a bench or couch, will make them easier; put your legs on the elevated surface and hands on the floor make it a decline push-up, which is harder./129
Manipulate your lever length. Your lever length levers are from your body during an exercise. For example, boat pose, a core-focused yoga pose, where you sit on your tailbone, lean your upper body, back, and extend your legs. , it shortens the lever and makes the move easier; if you extend your legs straight, you demand way more of your core and the move becomes much more challenging.
Decrease your base of support. “If you squat with your feet wider, it’s easier. If you do chair pose, with your feet together, it makes it more challenging,” says Matthews.
Reduce the number of contact points you have with a stable surface. A modified push-up on your knees, for example, both shortens the lever length and increases your contact points; when you progress to your toes, you’re both lengthening the lever and reducing contact points, which makes it much harder.
You can also increase the speed of your movements, reduce rest time in between exercises, increase the number of reps you do, and add another day or two to your routine, all to vary your workouts and challenge yourself further.
When you’re ready to add more weight to your workouts, there are some surprisingly low-cost ways to do it.
Many people may not even choose to move beyond bodyweight exercises, and that’s totally fine. “You can continue to challenge your body sufficiently for a long time if you know how to manipulate the right variables,” Matthews says. But if your ultimate goal is to continue to build strength and muscle size, there will come a time when you will need an external load to see those gains.
Adding weights will depend on each person's growth, but the rule of thumb is to have consistently overload the muscle to make a change, "Atkins says. What that means is that you get stronger, you need to also progressively put more stress on your muscles so that you're always challenging them-that's how they adapt and ultimately get stronger. If you've progressed your bodyweight exercises and are now ready for even more of a challenge, you may want to add weights or resistance bands. Do it.
Atkins is the first line of the game that you can get for less than $ 10 online-and then progressing to actual hand weights. You can find inexpensive dumbbells in a variety of sizes on Amazon, and Jet.com has a ton of options, too. You may want to buy a pair of lighter weights and for a pair of heavier ones, for lower-body moves like squats and lunges. A medicine ball or set of kettlebells works too, but for anyone who is just sticking with basic moves and looking for the simplest way to progress, bands and a set of dumbbells is your best bet. The Sims also suggests a jump rope-it's a great tool for getting in cardio work, and is really easy to travel with.
Wear whatever clothes are comfortable.
One of the beautiful things about working out at home. Sure, I'd be the first person to wax poetic about my favorite leggings and how feeling both comfortable and somewhat stylish helps me feel more confident in a big gym ... but when I ' m working out at home, I usually wear old sweatpants and a sports bra. There are certainly great benefits to performance fabrics that are lightweight and wick away sweat, but for a 30-minute at-home workout? A comfortable outfit that lets you move free is really all you need.
And let's talk shoes for a minute. Most body weight exercises are completely safe to do without shoes, but for anything that requires explosive or jumping movements, it's best to wear some sort of athletic shoe that can help absorb the impact, Matthews says.
Take advantage of free online resources and apps.
~One of the benefits of a healthy fitness market, "Atkins says. She recommends heading to YouTube to get at-home workout ideas from fitness brands and professionals. You can also turn to the video platform for demos of the specific moves.
There's also a seemingly endless amount of 169 workout apps available, and you can find a ton that are either free or cost only a few dollars. Atkins suggests Nike + Training Club. Another great way to find and try different apps? Browse the iTunes Store top free charts or Google Play's "Time to Work Out" collection for apps that seem intriguing and useful to you. I also highly recommend that anyone who works at home downloads a free timer app, like Interval Timer, to make timing your circuits seamless.
The goal here is to just take advantage of what's out of there. Using any resource-and there are TONS out of there-that make fitness less daunting and more exciting is a great way to get a true habit that fits with your life and is sustainable.