Americans are ready to bring studio fitness home: Last year, Peloton, which came to fame offering futuristic-looking, $2,000 indoor cycling bikes that are connected to the internet, was valued at more than $4 billion.
Looking for even more ways to work out at home? Here are five simple, affordable equipment options, each with a full-body workout you can use with each to get gym-quality results right at home.
1. Pull-Up Bar Workout
Push-ups, squats, lunges and other at-home exercises can build incredible strength and an enviable physique, but one thing is often missing. "The pulling muscles are typically ignored when doing body-weight workouts," says Mike Whitfield, a trainer, weight-loss coach and author of Rise and Hustle.
And it's not just at-home exercisers. In a 2013 study from the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, researchers found that people were 1.5 to 2.7 times stronger in pushing than they were for pulling. This kind of imbalance can be exacerbated due to our sedentary lifestyles and eventually lead to injuries.
While there are ways to adjust body-weight moves to involve more back strength, an easier solution is just $20 away: a doorway pull-up bar. Without any tools or making holes in the walls, these bars can be hung on any standard doorframe. Using the bar to perform chin-ups and pull-ups each day can help increase back strength, improve your posture and even strengthen your grip, which is correlated with a longer life.
Try this four-move circuit from Whitfield for a full-body workout that takes just 15 minutes. Perform each exercise for the given reps, and then move to the next exercise with as little rest as possible. Continue cycling through the four moves until 15 minutes have passed.
Over time, work on improving the number of total sets you can finish. But be sure to stay safe, Whitfield says: "One good rule of thumb: If you feel you won't [or can't] give a set your best effort with perfect form, you need to rest."
1. Chin-Up: Perform 3 repetitions short of failure in each set. (So, if you can do 10 chinups, stop at 7.)
HOW TO DO IT: Hang from the bar with an underhand grip, hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders back and down. Pull your chin toward the bar by bending your elbows. To help engage your back, concentrate on bringing your elbows down to touch your lats instead of thinking about bringing your chin over the bar. Return to the start position, and repeat.
Can't do a chin-up? Start with negative chin-ups. Grab the bar with an underhand grip and jump to the top of the chin-up. Descend as slowly as you can until your arms are straight. Perform the move in this way until you can do "regular" reps.
2. Push-Ups: Perform 3 repetitions short of failure in each set. (So, if you can do 10, stop at 7.)
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor. Press back to start.
If regular push-ups are too hard, find a step, bench or the arm of a sofa, and perform elevated push-ups with your body angling up (hands on the step, bench, sofa, etc.).
3. Split Squat: Perform 12 reps on each side in each set.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your right foot about three feet in front of your left. Keeping your torso upright, bend your knees until they form 90-degree angles, your front knee over your ankle. Press back to standing. Perform all your reps, switch legs and repeat.
4. Mountain Climber: Perform 10 reps on each side in each set.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a high plank. Lift your right foot and bend your knee to bring it up toward your right shoulder. Return it to the start, and repeat with the left leg. That's one rep. Rapidly exchange in this way, or for more abdominal work, try Mike's tip: Perform the move slowly to really challenge your abs.
2. At-Home Kettlebell Workout
Kettlebell training has gotten pretty trendy recently, but these weights go way back. They originated in Russia in the 1700s. And there's a reason people have loved these cast-iron balls for hundreds of years: Swinging a kettlebell is an incredibly efficient way to burn calories, condition the body and build strength without impact.
But the kettlebell swing is not the move to jump right into: It's a technical skill as much as an exercise, says Mike Perry, owner of Skill of Strength, a performance-based training facility in Chelmsford, Mass., and an instructor with StrongFirst. A coach with kettlebell certifications can teach you to do the move proficiently and with less injury risk at home in just a few sessions.
Until you've had that coaching, though, you can use kettlebells at home to get a great strength workout with other moves. Try this five-move workout from Perry for a swing-free kettlebell session. Start with kettlebells in two or three weights so you can use different weights for different exercises, and also grow into them. If you're feeling strong, get bells of 16, 20 and 28 kilograms to start. If not, start with bells of 12, 16 and 24 kilograms.
To do the workout, perform each move for four sets of eight to 12 repetitions each, resting one minute between moves.
1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel. Cup the ball of the kettlebell in both hands in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down. Push your hips back to initiate the squat. Bend your knees to descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, keeping your chest up and your weight on your heels. Press back to standing.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand holding the kettlebell as you did for the goblet squat. Take a large step forward with your right leg, descending as you step until your knees form 90-degree angles. Press through your right foot to stand back up. Repeat on the other side.
HOW TO DO IT: See above
4. Bent-Over Single-Arm Row
HOW TO DO IT: Place your left knee on a weight bench, bend your torso forward and place your left hand on the bench to support your body. Reach down and grab the kettlebell with your right hand, returning to this position where your body is parallel to the floor. Pull your right arm up until your hand reaches the side of your chest. Lower the weight back down and repeat. Do all your reps on this side, switch sides and repeat.
5. Bottoms-Up Carry
HOW TO DO IT: Hold the handle with a straight wrist, the ball of the kettlebell above your hand at shoulder level, pointed toward the ceiling. Your hands should be facing each other at your shoulders, with your elbows close to your chest. In this position, walk slowly a short distance down and back. Perform one or two walks per set.
3. Dumbbell Workout You Can Do at Home
Adjustable dumbbells are a fantastic option for a compact, at-home strength training system and will allow you to do almost any strength training workout in a spare bedroom or basement. But if you're not in the market to shell out $250 or more at the start, you can grab just a few pairs of fixed-weight dumbbells and still get a great workout.
"I would recommend buying a pair you can grow into rather than grow out of," says Steven Head, a master trainer at Sport & Health in McLean, Va., and the author of Not Another Fitness Book: A Memoir. A Manual. A Message for 49 Million Baby Boomers. "If you buy a heavier pair, you can do certain exercises now with a heavier pair for 5 or 6 reps. Two months down the road, you can do those moves with 10 or 12 repetitions."
For a heavier pair of dumbbells, try a workout comprised of these five moves from Head. Try performing five sets of five reps of each exercise to start, progressing to more repetitions over time.
1. Dumbbell Squat
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel, dumbbells hanging at your sides, palms facing in. Push your hips back and bend your knees to descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, keeping your chest up and your weight on your heels. Keep the weight of your body in your heels and press back to standing.
2. Dumbbell Deadlift
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with the dumbbells in front of you. Bend at your hips and knees to grab the weights a little wider than shoulder width with an overhand grip. Keeping your weight in your heels and maintaining the natural curve of your spine, pull the dumbbells up up as you thrust your hips forward and stand. Reverse the maneuver until the dumbbells reach your shins. Repeat.
3. Dumbbell Single-Arm Row
HOW TO DO IT: See "Bent-Over Single-Arm Row" in the kettlebell workout.
4. Dumbbell Floor Press
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your upper arms should be at your sides. Hold the dumbbells up over your elbows. Pressing your mid- and upper back into the floor, press the weights straight up over your chest. Bend your elbow to return to start.
5. Farmer's Walk
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with heavy dumbbells next to your feet. Push your hips back to squat down and lift the dumbbells, driving through your heels to stand up and hold them at your sides. Your shoulders should be back, chest out and head directly in line with your shoulders. Brace your core and walk forward, keeping the dumbbells at your sides, for a distance of about 50 feet. Place the dumbbells on the floor, rest for 30 seconds and repeat four more times.
4. Beginners At-Home Workout With Dumbbells
For a lighter pair of dumbbells, the above exercises may not work for a time-efficient workout. Try these four moves for lighter weights. Perform each exercise for four sets of eight to 12 repetitions, or until you can no longer maintain your form.
1. Walking Lunge
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding the dumbbells at your sides. Take a large lunge step forward with your right leg, descending as you step until your knees both form 90-degree angles. Press through your right foot to stand back up and go straight into a left-leg forward lunge. Continue walking forward in this way.
2. Squat Press
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with feet hip-distance apart with the dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing in. Push your hips back and bend your knees to descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Keep your weight in your heels and press back to standing. As you stand back up, press the weights overhead until your arms are straight. Return the weights to your shoulders and squat again.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with a bench or chair in front of you or in front of a flight of stairs. Hold the dumbbells at your sides, palms in. Place your right foot on the bench and press through your heel to bring your left foot up so you're standing on the bench. Return to the ground, and repeat with the other leg.
4. Push-Up and Row
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a high plank with a dumbbell in each hand. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Bend your elbows to lower your chest until it touches the floor. Then push back up. Pull your right hand (and the dumbbell) up to the side of your chest. Lower the dumbbell, perform another push-up and row with the other hand.
5. At-Home Strength and Cardio Barbell Workout
"It's simple: With a barbell, you can lift heavier weights," says Elizabeth Burwell, co-owner of High Performance Gym in Greenville, SC. While really heavy dumbbells can present a balance challenge, the stability of the barbell lets you muster more strength — and build more.
If you're looking for a conditioning or cardio workout from your barbell, Burwell suggests trying a complex. In a barbell complex, multiple are exercises are performed in a row using the same weight. In most cases, you won't even put the bar down between moves — you'll finish one, and then move on to the next without resting.
Burwell suggests a four-move complex. Perform each exercise for 10 reps, and then move to the next exercise without resting. After you've finished all four exercises, rest for one minute, and then repeat. Perform four or five sets. Determine the weight to use by your 10-rep weight in the barbell bent-over row.
1. Barbell Push-Up
HOW TO DO IT: With weight on the bar so it's elevated from the ground, grab the bar your hands directly beneath your shoulders and perform a push-up.
2. Barbell Bent-Over Row
HOW TO DO IT: Stand holding the bar in front of you with an overhand grip, feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Push your hips back like you're opening a door behind you with your butt and hinge forward. Pull the weight toward your chest. Lower the weight back to the start and repeat.
3. Barbell Deadlift
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with the barbell at your shins. Bend at your hips and knees to grab the barbell a little wider than shoulder width. Keeping your weight in your heels and maintaining the natural curve of your spine, pull the bar up as you thrust your hips forward and stand. The bar should remain close to your body as it comes off the floor. Reverse the maneuver to return to start. Repeat.
4. Barbell Hang Clean
HOW TO DO IT: Stand holding a barbell in front of you with an overhand grip, your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Keeping your weight in your heels, bend at your hips and knees so the bar hangs in front of your knees. From here, explode up: Shrug your shoulders and bring the bar up in a straight line to your shoulders and you flip your wrists so you catch the bar in front of your collar bones. Return to the hanging position and repeat.
Or you can substitute a barbell push press instead — clean the bar up to shoulder level, palms forward. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Dip slightly at the knees and hips, and then explosively stand up as you drive the weight over your head with your arms. Return the bar to your shoulders, and repeat.
6. At-Home Cardio Workout With a Slideboard
If you're looking specifically for an indoor cardio option to use at home, Head suggests an old-school solution that can fit in a smaller space than a spin bike or treadmill — a slideboard. For $100 to 400, you can get a piece of equipment that will offer a serious challenge while getting you to move in a different way: Side to side.
As people age, many don't move that much in this manner — they run, bike and walk front to back — which can put us at greater risk for injury. The slideboard can help reduce that risk while challenging those un-practiced patterns.
To start, Head suggests setting the slideboard at 6 feet across instead of the full width of nine feet. Assume an athletic base stance, with your knees and hips slightly flexed. Use your arms to help you slide to one side, then back to the other side.
"You don't need to get really low. You don't have to look like a speedskater," he says. "You're getting a cardio benefit even if you don't look like that."
You'll also probably develop more soreness than you imagine by taking on an unfamiliar movement. So, Head says, start slowly. Do a slideboard workout two to three days a week, starting with bouts of just five minutes. As you progress, add more time on the board in each session.