The Most Effective Exercises You Can Do At Home

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We get it, your home is your comfort zone. It’s where you relax, unwind and binge on boxsets. The last thing we’d want you to do is turn it into a house of “No Pain, No Gain”.

But doing your exercise at home is much easier than you might think and saves on extortionate gym memberships, too. No need to trade in your sofa for a weights bench.

“All you need is a plan,” says Alex Marks, owner of PT studio On Your Marks in south London. “You can burn excess body fat, get physically fit, and look and feel better all from the comfort of your sitting room.”

How To Build A Home Gym

In this article, we’ll break down the six best bang-for-your-buck exercises you can do at home. Don’t start sawing away at your doorframe to try and squeeze the latest running machine into your living room just yet though.

Most of these are bodyweight exercises and can be done without equipment, and to see progress in your strength and stamina you merely need to add weights.

To give your home gym the edge, Marks suggests investing in a simple pair of dumbbells. “Check your ego and don’t go too heavy or they’ll be redundant for most exercises,” he says. “With light weights, you can always make a move more taxing by slowing down the tempo or increasing the number of reps.”

Make sure you have space to move freely as well, you don’t want to be knocking over your mum’s prize china.

We’ll also show you how to get going with a four-move home workout. No kit required. No excuses accepted. Do try this at home.

Home Workout

Six Of The Best Exercises To Do At Home

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift is the king of hinge movements, a set of exercises that revolve around your hips and specifically target your lower body.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend at the knees. Keep your shoulders retracted, chest proud and back flat as you fold forward at the hips until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Drive your hips forward and squeeze your glutes to reverse the movement and return to standing.

Keep In Mind…

“This targets the posterior chain of muscles running from your calves to your lower back – muscles we neglect when sitting at a desk for eight hours a day,” Marks says.

“Lengthening and strengthening your hamstrings and glutes will improve your lower body aesthetic balance, increase your muscle mass which in turn helps burn fat, reduce back pain and improve posture.”

Squat

If the Romanian deadlift is king, the squat is God. “They’re the best weapon in your arsenal against old age,” preaches Marks.

The key to a great squat is keeping your knees wide to activate the crucial muscles in your glutes and thighs. Stand with feet hip-width apart, and your toes slightly pointing out. Keeping your body upright and core braced, bend your legs with knees wide until thighs are parallel to the floor, then drive back up, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Keep In Mind…

“You don’t have to be perfect at the start,” says Marks, “but with some time invested in learning good technique you’ll start to love it instead of endure it.”

Bent-Over Row

This one – as with most pulling movements for the back muscles – requires kit. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hinge forward at your hips, keeping your knees slightly bent, the back flat and your core engaged.

Retract your shoulders to engage those upper back muscles and lift the weights until they’re level with your chest, then lower slowly. Experiment with different grips: palms facing back, forwards or each other.

Keep In Mind…

“Strengthening your back is vital for men and women, especially as you get older,” says Marks. “Your future quality of life depends on this. This horizontal pulling movement will dramatically improve your desk posture, especially if you spend most of your day huddled over a computer.”

Press-Up

The press-up is a move that has stood the test of time, and for good reason too. “The horizontal press is a key functional skill we use every day,” explains Marks. “We operate in front of us all day so to have strength and resilience here is crucial.”

You know the drill. Place your palms on the floor with your shoulders directly above. Keep your shoulders, hips, and ankles in alignment as you bend your elbows to lower your chest just off the floor, then drive back up.

Keep your core strong so your hips don’t sag. Too tough? Start with incline press-ups with your hands up on a chair or sofa as you build up your strength.

Keep In Mind…

Want to feel more burn? Upgrade this move with the hand-release press-up, slowly lowering your chest to the floor, briefly releasing your hands from the floor, and then powerfully driving back up to your starting position.

Hip Thrust

Also known as the glute bridge, the hip thrust is a move made Instafamous for it’s miraculous thirst-trap booty building powers. But don’t let that stop you taking the hip thrust seriously – this exercise deserves its place at the top table.

“This is a killer compound move for glute power, lower body stability and reduced risk of injury when playing sport,” says Marks. “It involves extension, abduction and external rotation all in one. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.”

For the bodyweight version, lie flat with your feet on the floor, knees bent at right angles. Keeping your knees hip-width apart throughout, drive through your heels to raise your hips as high as you can.

Squeeze your glutes hard at the top, then lower them, gently tapping the floor before repeating the movement again.

Keep In Mind…

For more activation, perform on one leg or hold a dumbbell across your lap and rest your upper back against your sofa so your hips have further to travel.

Overhead Press

Hands up if you don’t want to have shoulder issues when you grow up? If can still manage to get your arm in the air, this one’s for you. “Pressing and pulling movements over your head work wonders for shoulder stability and posture,” says Marks.

“Your shoulders are ball and socket joints so it’s important to use multi-plane directional exercises to keep them strong, mobile and injury-free.”

Grab those dumbbells again and hold them at shoulder height, keeping your core and glutes engaged to protect your lower back. Press the weights straight up, so at full extension, your biceps are close to your ears and lower under control.

Keep In Mind…

As with the rows, mix up your grip and tempo on this shoulder exercise to target different stabiliser muscles and those boulders will be bulletproof in no time.

The No-Kit No-Excuses Home Workout

Now you know the six super moves to try at home, here’s a kit-free workout using variations of each one from personal trainer Alex Gildea, owner of G:Fit London.

Reps And Sets

Perform each exercise for 30 to 45 seconds while resting – or howling profanities – as little as possible between movements. This is a timed circuit, so as opposed to counting reps, try and perform as many repetitions of the exercise as you can within that time limit. Three rounds is good. Four is great. Five is a blockbuster effort.

Home Workout

Pause Squat

“This workout alternates between lower body and upper body moves so your legs can recover while your chest, back, and arms are working and vice versa,” says Gildea.

Start with slow, controlled movements. Keep your knees wide apart as you lower until your thighs are parallel with the floor, pause for two seconds, then drive back to stand.

Keep In Mind…

Not unbearable enough? Add a powerful into the air jump with each rep.

Cobra Back Extension

Lie face down with your hands beside your head and elbows off the floor. Slowly raise your head to arch your upper back, pause, then lower to the start. Raise your feet at the same time if you want to really show off.

Keep In Mind…

“Strengthening your back without kit can be tricky but this move provides a great contraction for both the deep and superficial muscles in your lower, mid and upper back, as well as targeting the glutes,” says Gildea.

Reverse Lunge

The lunge will kick your butt into shape as it targets the glutes better than any squat ever will. Stand with feet together, then take a big step back on one side, lowering until your knee is just off the floor. Keep your body upright rather than falling over your front leg, and drive back to the start before switching sides.

Keep In Mind…

“Working your legs unilaterally – as in on one side at a time – helps identify any imbalances or weaknesses to reduce risk of injury,” Gildea says.

Narrow Grip Press-Up

Last but never least when it comes to home exercises, the press-up rounds off this full-body circuit. “A narrow stance targets your triceps muscles more while a wide position is greater for chest activation,” says Gildea. “Both will drive your heart rate up and help torch calories long after you’ve stopped sweating.”

Place your hands closer than shoulder-width apart and lower your chest until it is just off the floor, keeping your elbows tucked into your body. Drive back up to the top of the move.

Keep In Mind…

Still struggling? Focus on holding the top position for the full set, squeezing your chest, core and glutes hard throughout.

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