How to Get Started Working Out at Home

Always make sure you start every at-home workout with a good warm-up session to avoid injury. (Image: 10'000 Hours/DigitalVision/GettyImages)

There's a lot to love about at-home workouts: They're affordable, convenient and accessible to all fitness levels — beginners included. However, it can be a bit tougher to avoid distractions (phone, email, kids, pets) at home than at the gym. If this is you, there are steps you can take to make sure you stay on track.

How to Do Beginner Workouts at Home

If you can, set up a small workout space that's enjoyable to be in. "If you dread the space you're working out in, you're less likely to be consistent," says Hannah Davis, CSCS, owner of Body By Hannah and creator of BBH.Fit online training studio. She suggests filling the area with fun decor, like signs featuring your favorite positive mantras, colors you like and a quirky exercise mat.

Also, if you plan on doing a lot of at-home workouts, consider investing in a few key pieces of equipment, such as a resistance bands, mini bands (resistance band loops) and two or three sets of dumbbells of varying weights.

Eliminate distractions as much as possible by activating your phone's do not disturb feature, asking your family not to bother you and shutting the door to your workout space (if possible).

Finally, always go into your home workouts with the same amount of planning as if you were going to the gym. "Knowing what to do and in what order to do it is a must to make sure you get an effective workout in your own home," says Amanda Dale, ACE-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition-certified nutrition coach.

A Few Safety Tips Before You Begin

Keep in mind that you'll have to take special safety precautions if you're working out at home — especially if no one else is around. First, make sure you have a safe, open space to work out in, and that any equipment you're using (such as a chair or bench) is sturdy and can support your body weight, Dale says.

Also, be mindful of the surface you're exercising on. "If you progress to any kind of plyometric movements [jumping exercises], I would not recommend doing those on concrete garage flooring," Davis says. Wood or carpeted floors are kinder on your joints. On the other hand, some exercises (ex. jumping jacks, lateral hops) can sometimes be risky on carpet, so you might want to use a mat or other smooth surface.

Finally, pay attention to how you feel during exercise. "If something causes a sharp pain, your form may off," says celebrity trainer Mike Donavanik, CSCS, creator of the Sweat Factor workout app. He recommends seeking professional help or watching videos to perfect proper form. And if you can, watch yourself perform the exercises in front of a mirror. "Your form will improve dramatically," Donavanik says.

If you still feel pain when doing a particular exercise, you may have an underlying issue. Skip that move for the time being and get help from a doctor or physical therapist.

A Full-Body At-Home Circuit Workout

Ready to get started? A full-body workout is the perfect choice for beginners, as it gives you more time to focus on form without fatiguing any one muscle group too much. Try this one from personal trainer Amanda Dale.

Warm-Up

Do: Two sets of the below moves for 30 seconds each, without rest.

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Body-weight squat
  3. Push-up
  4. Alternating front lunge

Move 1: Jumping Jack

  1. Stand with your feet together and arms by your sides.
  2. Jump in the air, bringing each foot about one to two feet out from the midline and arms up and overhead.
  3. Jump your feet back to the start and lower your arms.

Move 2: Body-Weight Squat

  1. Start with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat with your thighs at or below parallel to the floor.
  3. Press through your heels to return to standing.

Move 3: Push-Up

  1. Start in a high plank with shoulders over wrists.
  2. Keeping the elbows close to rib cage, lower your chest, body in straight line ,toward the floor.
  3. Push through palms back to start.

Move 4: Alternating Front Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet together. Step forward with your right foot and lower down into a lunge, keeping your torso upright. Both knees should be almost at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Press through your right heel to return to start; repeat on the opposite side.

Circuit #1

Do: 20 reps of each exercise. Then repeat the same circuit for 16 reps each, then 12, and finally eight reps for a total of four sets.

  1. Triceps dip
  2. Alternating side lunge
  3. Knee-to-elbow plank
  4. Jump squat

Move 1: Triceps Dip

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench with your heels on the floor. Place your hands behind you so that your fingers face forward.
  2. Raise yourself up so that your arms are straight. This is the starting position.
  3. Lower yourself until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Pause for two seconds, then press back up to start.

Move 2: Alternating Side Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Take a big step out to the right. Lean to the right and straighten your left leg. Stick your butt back and put your weight onto the heel of your right foot.
  3. Press through the right heel and step back to the center
  4. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating with each rep.

Move 3: Knee-to-Elbow Plank

  1. Start in a forearm plank, with shoulders over elbows and core engaged.
  2. Bring your left knee to your left elbow.
  3. Return to start and repeat on opposite side.

Move 4: Jump Squat

  1. Start with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat with your thighs at or below parallel to the floor.
  3. Quickly jump up, body as straight as a stick. Land in a squat and repeat.

Circuit #2

  1. Set a timer to go off every minute for six minutes.
  2. During each odd-numbered minute (1, 3, 5), try to complete 30 crunches.
  3. During each even-numbered minute (2, 4, 6), aim to hold a plank until the timer goes off.

Move 1: Crunches

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the mat and hands behind your head.
  2. Angle your chin slightly toward your chest and curl your torso up toward your knees, while your feet, tailbone and lower back stay flat on the mat.
  3. Once you've at the top of your range of motion, lower torso back to the mat.

Move 2: Plank

  1. Start at the top of the push-up position.
  2. Engage your core, make sure your shoulders are over your wrists and there's a straight line from your shoulders to heels.
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