Everyone can benefit from improving your current fitness routine, but not everyone has time for the gym. With a home exercise program, you can work out when it fits your schedule, with the convenience of not needing to leave the house. Many people think you need fancy equipment for a proper workout, but that's not true.
In fact, many fitness experts recommend using free weights over machines. With a machine, the weights move on a fixed path, meaning the machines helps to stabilize. With free weight training, you provide the stabilization. This means you don't just work out the main muscle, but also the other muscles around it.
The Importance of Keeping a Workout Routine
The best workout for you is one that you'll keep doing week after week. Even if you feel like you're not doing as well as you should during a workout, you have to remember that every workout is better for your health than sitting around not training. With a home exercise program, you gain the value of convenience without sacrificing any effectiveness.
Taking part in a regular training program reduces your risk of long-term health problems. Improving your personal health also makes your day-to-day life better. With regular exercise, people often find that their energy throughout the day goes up. Exercise can also be an excellent source of stress relief as you allow the day's strains to come out as you work out. Simply put, beginning a new home exercise program is one of the best decisions anyone can make.
Preparing for a Home Exercise Program
The biggest difference between working out at the gym and at home is the selection of equipment. Fortunately, you don't have to break the bank in order to build an effective workout regiment. Body weight exercises may not seem like much, but they are very effective. You can build an entire home exercise program out of nothing but body weight exercises and some free weights. You don't even need to buy an entire set of dumbbells, either. There are several options for completing your home workout set, so choose one which suits you best.
Dumbbells are the most common solution and a highly versatile option. With just a couple pairs you open the door to a wide range of possible exercises. Adjustable dumbbells even provide a full range of options in one pair, with knobs or pins to adjust their weight.
The darling of cross fitters and combat sports athletes alike, kettlebells add dynamism to your lifts.
If you're nervous about cost when just starting, resistance bands offer a more affordable option. Bands also provide unique resistance as they get harder to move the further into your rep you go. To substitute in bands, simply stand or lay on the bands when lifting to anchor them.
If you are really unsure, start out with things you have lying around the house. If it can be comfortably held, has enough weight that you feel resistance during the exercise and can be safely lifted over your head, you're in business.
How to Adjust Your Home Exercise Program to Fit Your Goals
Not everybody has the same goals when working out. While one person is looking to add muscle mass, their friend is looking to trim down. It's a misconception that some exercises are for building and others for shedding. It's much more effective to control your goals through weight and rep selection. Using heavier weights for more reps will lead to more growth. For toning, it's preferable to use lower weights for more reps.
In the routine below, all weighted exercises will be given in reps of 12, for a balanced workout. If you would prefer to focus on bulking, lower the reps to eight. For a workout focused on shedding and toning, increase your reps up to 16.
In all three cases, your goal should be selecting a weight where the reps are not easy, but also not so difficult that you are forced to "cheat" with too much supportive movement from other parts of your body. If you're doing bicep curls and require a lot of hip movement to get the last few reps up, for example, that is a sign you are using too much weight. If the last rep in your home exercise program is still as easy as can be, on the other hand, consider increasing the load next time.
Weekly Home Exercise Program
This home exercise program utilizes training three days a week, with a different focus on each day. With just three days of training, it's easier to fit into even a busy schedule. You also focus on all the key muscle groups once, to maintain a balanced program. Many new workout participants make the mistake of focusing on the "glory muscles" which look good and neglect the rest of their body. A balanced workout is essential for getting the best results.
With this home exercise program, most of the exercises are standard sets. Complete every listed set of a given exercise before moving on to the next exercise, with one minute rests in between. They each end with a superset, however, which works differently. In a superset, you complete one round of each exercise consecutively before resting.
Monday: back and chest
Back and chest day is often referred to as "push/pull" day, as the muscles comprise much of your strength for moving and carrying objects. Along with your core, your back and chest muscles are essential for improving your practical strength. It will be your first day in this home exercise program.
Back exercise 1: one arm rows (4 sets of 12 reps)
Stand with your left knee bent and rest your left forearm across it for stability. Be sure to keep your back straight as you lean forward. Hold a weight in your right hand, then lift the weight straight up to your shoulder. Your elbow should flair straight back, not out to the side. Repeat the lift with your left hand, resting your right arm across your right leg this time.
Chest exercise 1: dumbbell presses (4 sets of 12 reps)
Lie flat on your back on a bench, with one weight held in each hand. Begin with the weights lowered on either side of your chest, then extend your hands up until they are straight, then lower the weight back down to chest height. If you do not have a bench, you can perform all bench exercises on a flat surface with only a minimal range of motion loss.
Back exercise 2: standing rows (4 sets of 12 reps)
Stand with a weight in each hand and your arms straight down in front of you. Raise your arms until the weights are under your chin, with your elbows flaring out.
Chest exercise 2: dumbbell flys (4 sets of 12 reps)
Lie flat on your back on a bench, with one weight in each hand then extend your arms straight out to the sides. Bring your hands together over your chest, keeping your arms straight.
Superset back exercise: dumbbell deadlifts (4 sets of 12 reps)
Place the weights in front of your feet, then squat down to grab one in each hand. Keep a straight back as you lean forward, as rounded backs increase the risk of injury. Stand up by straightening your legs and bringing your hips forward and shoulders back until you are standing straight up.
Superset chest exercise: push-ups (4 sets of 12 reps)
Place both of your palms flat on the ground, shoulder width apart to create a strong base. Plant the toes of both feet on the ground so that your body is in a straight line. Bend your arms to lower your chest to just above the ground, then press back up to the start position. For a more difficult version, make a diamond with your hands. For a lighter toning exercise, rest your weight on your knees instead of your feet.
Wednesday: biceps, triceps, and shoulders
Although your back and chest are bigger and stronger muscles, your arms are still important for most daily activities. It's important to work your biceps, triceps, and shoulders to achieve balance in your arm muscles.
Biceps exercise 1 - one arm curls (3 sets of 12 reps)
Hold a weight in each hand and your arms straight down to assume the starting posting. Start by Curling your right arm until the weight in that hand is raised to your shoulder, then lowering it. Next, repeat the motion using the weight in your left hand to complete one rep.
Triceps exercise 1 - chair dips (3 sets of 12 reps)
To perform a triceps dip, place the palms of your hands on the edge of a chair or other flat surface and your arms straight so that you are facing away from the chair. To take the resting positing, extend your legs out with weight on your heels. Perform a rep by bending your elbows to lower your weight, then straightening them to return to the starting position. To increase the difficulty of the exercise hold a weight in your lap. To decrease difficulty, rest your feet flat on the ground and nearer to the chair.
Shoulder exercise 1: front dumbbell raises (3 sets of 12 reps)
Hold one weight in each hand with your arms straight down for dumbbell raises. Extend both arms up in front of you until they are shoulder height, keeping them straight throughout.
Biceps exercise 2: focus curls (3 sets of 12 reps)
Hold a weight in each hand with your right arm down and left arm bent at 90-degrees then curl the weight in your right hand 12 times. Repeat the same series but with your right arm bent and left curling to complete your set.
Triceps exercise 2: skull crushers (3 sets of 12 reps)
For skull crushers, lie flat on your back with a dumbbell in each hand held straight up off the ground. Bend each arm at the elbow, lowering the weights behind your head, then extend them back up to perform a skull crusher.
Shoulder exercise 2: side dumbbell raises (3 sets of 12 reps)
Hold one weight in each hand with your arms hanging straight down as with the front raises. Extend both arms up to the side until they are shoulder height, keeping them straight throughout.
Superset biceps exercise: two arm curls (4 sets of 12 reps)
Hold a weight in each hand with your arms hanging straight down at your sides. Perform a curl with both arms at the same time, with your palms turned to face in at your chest at the top of the curl.
Superset triceps exercise: overhead triceps extensions (4 sets of 12 reps)
Hold one dumbbell in each hand straight over your head. Bend at the elbows, so the weights lower behind your head, then extend them back to straight up.
Superset shoulder exercise: overhead shoulder presses (4 sets of 12 reps)
Stand with a weight held in each hand at shoulder height then extend both arms straight up at the same time.
Leg days are often overlooked, but they are vitally important. Make sure to push yourself on leg days to give the strong muscles in your upper legs a good workout.
Side lunges (4 sets of 12 reps)
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart then step out to the right entering into a squat while keeping your left leg straight. Straighten up to the starting position then repeat to the left to finish one rep.
Wall sits (4 sets of 45 seconds)
Sit with your back flat on the wall and legs bent 90-degrees with no support under your butt. Increase the difficulty if your sit by holding a weight in your lap. Decrease the difficulty of the exercise by sitting a few inches above 90-degrees.
Front lunges (4 sets of 12 reps)
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart then step forward with your right leg and lower your weight until it is just above 90-degrees bent. Reset to the original position then repeat with your left leg forward to finish one rep.
Superset weighted squats (4 sets of 12 reps)
Hold a weight in each arm with your arms straight and legs shoulder-width apart. Next, squat until your butt is level with your knees then extend back up to standing. For this superset move directly to your first calf raise instead of doing all 12 squats then 12 raises.
Super weighted calf raises (4 sets of 12 reps)
Press up onto your toes as high as you can while maintaining your balance for one calf raise. This combination of a squat then a raise counts as one rep in the superset.
Taking Care of Your Body While You Train
The purpose of working out is to improve your health, so it's important to train smart. Always consult with a physician before starting a new intense home exercise program to ensure your body is ready for it. It is also important to keep rest days for your muscles to recover after lifting. Lifting breaks the muscles down, and the day off lets them rebuild even stronger.
Adding in abs
The abs are the king of glory muscles, but your core is also very important. You have two options for your ab exercises and can use as you prefer, either performing them after each above workout or as a stand-alone on your rest days on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Though this may seem like a simple program, the multiple sessions add up quick!
Crunches (30 reps)
Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and knees bent up toward your chest then crunch your chest forward to touch your elbows to your knees.
Vertical scissors (30 reps)
Lie on your back with your legs about 8 inches off the ground then raise your right foot slightly and lower your left. Move both legs up and down quickly, with one up and one down at all times, and count one rep each time you reset to the starting position.
Horizontal scissors (30 reps)
Lie on your back as if doing vertical scissors but move both legs out to the side a little more than shoulder width. Begin crossing your legs over each other with the left leg on top. Next, spread back out then cross again with the right leg on top for one rep.
V-outs (30 reps)
Sit on your butt with your knees bent to your chest and arms in a loose hug around them. Spread your arms wide and extend your legs, then bring them back in and hug for one rep.
Russian twists (30 reps)
Sit on your butt with your knees bent to your chest and hands clasped. Turn to your left and tap the ground with your hands, then turn and do the same on the right for one rep.
Every home exercise program starts with the same thing -- a first workout. The first week back in training is never easy. You will have aches in your muscles from using them in new ways. The key is to push on and keep training. That is the pain of your muscles growing stronger and the more you train the less it hurts. If you can press through your first week you'll notice it gets easier and easier to keep working, so quit stalling and get started!
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