By Brian Baxter
No expensive exercise equipment at home? No time to work out at the gym? No sweat! You can get buff at home quickly and easily. And it doesn’t have to cost a penny! Try these 8 great at-home workout moves for your best exercise routine ever.
IMPORTANT: Make sure your doctor has approved these or any new workout moves you attempt. Always work out according to your current fitness level. These moves should take effort, but if anything hurts, STOP and call your doctor.
Push-ups target: Your biceps, triceps, and core.
- Use a mat for extra knee protection or do these on a non-abrasive carpet.
- Get on the floor on your hands and knees.
- For the BEGINNER version, stay on your knees; support yourself with your hands. For the ADVANCED version, straighten your knees so they’re up off the floor.
- Bend your arms and lower your face slowly toward the floor, keeping your back straight.
- Straighten your arms to lift yourself up to the starting position.
- For the BEGINNER version, repeat 5-8 times. For the ADVANCED version, repeat 10 times, working your way up to 20.
Jackknife crunches target: Your thighs and core.
- Use a mat for extra comfort.
- Lie on your back, arms straight up from your head (backs of hands on the floor) and your legs straight out, like a jackknife.
- For the BEGINNER version, bring your arms forward in front of you, parallel to the floor (somewhat like a doll), while simultaneously bending your knees and bringing them toward your chest. Hold for two seconds. For the ADVANCED version, when bringing your legs up, keep them straight.
- Return to the starting position.
- For the BEGINNER version, repeat the entire move 15 times. For the ADVANCED version, repeat the entire move 20 times, then work up to 30 reps (repetitions).
Standing Side Crunches
Standing side crunches target: Your obliques (the muscles at the sides of your waist that wrap around to your lower abdomen), biceps, outer thighs, and calves. They also provide limited amounts of cardio if done at a faster pace.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands bent at the elbows, touching the sides of your head.
- Bending your right leg, lift your right knee while lowering your right elbow toward it.
- Straighten back up, bringing your arm and leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 above on the left side, leaning slightly to your right this time for balance.
- For the BEGINNER version, repeat steps 1-4 above 20 times (10 crunches per side). For the ADVANCED version, repeat steps 1-4 above 30 times (15 crunches per side).
Lunges target: Your thigh muscles (front and back) and glutes. They also increase balance and flexibility.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold your hands out for balance if you’d like (this is not critical; you may also put your hands on your hips or hold them in front of you).
- Step one leg out, knee bent, as far as you can comfortably go. You’ll lower toward the ground. How low you get depends upon your flexibility and strength. Try just two feet out to begin with; increase as you get better at these.
- Hold this position, with the extended leg bent at the knee and knee in line with your ankle, for 2-5 seconds.
- Stand up and return your feet to hip-width apart. Repeat the move with the other leg.
- For the BEGINNER version, repeat BOTH legs a total of 7 times. For the ADVANCED version, repeat BOTH legs a total of 10 times. Work your way up to 15-20 reps with each leg.
The Superman targets: Your shoulders, lower back, core and calves.
- Use a mat, or do these on a non-abrasive carpet.
- Lie down on your stomach with your arms forward, palms touching the mat/floor, and your legs straight out with toes touching the floor. Legs should be together.
- Lift your legs about 6” off the ground and keep them there throughout the exercise. For the BEGINNER version, your legs will not move; they’ll remain slightly above the floor, straight out.
- Lift your arms to about the same level off the floor as your feet. Bring your arms out to the sides, bending your elbows, until your elbows nearly touch your waist. You should look like you’re swimming in a swimming pool. For the ADVANCED version, keep your legs straight but lift them alternately up and down (again, the visual is that you’re swimming).
- Do the full “swim” movement with your arms and/or legs (see step 4 above) for 20 repetitions.
Pelvic tilts target: Lower abs and glutes. They are also fantastic if you have muscular back pain. (Remember: if you have chronic back pain, see your doctor.)
- Use a mat or lie on a non-abrasive carpet.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, soles of your feet on the floor. Place your arms straight down at your sides, touching the floor with palms down.
- For the BEGINNER version, keep your buttocks on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. For the ADVANCED version, lift your buttocks into the air, keeping your back in a straight line all the way to your hips. Keep your hands down on the floor or place them on your lower abdomen.
- Tuck your buttocks in. You will feel your pelvis tilt upward and you will feel a slight stretch in your lower back.
- Hold for 10 seconds. Release.
- For the BEGINNER version, repeat pelvic tilts 8 times. For the ADVANCED version, repeat pelvic tilts times, working your way up to 20, and hold each tilt for up to 10 seconds depending upon your fitness level.
Wall sits target: Your core, lower back, the fronts and backs of your thighs and your calves.
- Stand with your back to a wall. Your buttocks should touch the wall. Your feet should be 12-18” out from the wall for balance.
- Keeping your neck straight (don’t slouch your head down or tilt it upward), bend your knees and slowly lower your buttocks, still touching the wall. For the BEGINNER version, your knees will stay at an angle. For the ADVANCED version, lower your buttocks all the way until your thighs are parallel to the floor, knees bent.
- For the BEGINNER version, hold this position for 10 seconds. For the ADVANCED version, hold up to 30 seconds.
- Return to your starting position, keeping your buttocks against the wall.
- Repeat 10 times.
Side lunges target: Your inner and outer thighs, glutes and core.
- Stand with your feet a natural width apart.
- Put your hands together in front of you or, for better balance, put your arms straight out at shoulder level.
- Step your right leg out as far as you comfortably can. Your right knee should be bent. Each foot should point straight forward.
- Come back up to the starting position.
- Repeat the lunge on the left side.
- For the BEGINNER version, repeat the entire sequence (both legs) 10 times. For the ADVANCED version, place your lunging foot out farther and dip lower.
When You’re Ready to Amp Things Up
It’s so easy to do these effective moves in the comfort of your own home (Bonus: no Spandex is required!). Go through all 8 cool moves twice and you have a 15-20 minute routine that works every muscle group. (Sweet!)
Looking for an even more advanced version of any of the above moves? For standing moves, hold light weights, anywhere from 1-7 pounds for a beginner workout, in your hands. For supine (lying-down) moves, perform each movement as slowly as you possibly can.
Either adding resistance or slowing your movements will increase the difficulty for each move. You’re going to love the results!
As an athlete, coach, parent, and sport psychology consultant with over 20 years experience in youth sports, I created BaxterSports camps to continue my work and provide a great environment for athletes to learn and grow in all aspects of life.