As cliché as it sounds, New Year’s really is an opportunity for new beginnings and that almost always means starting new and healthier habits. For most people, starting or resuming an exercise program is often top priority. If you have access to a gym, you have lots of tools at your fingertips to reach your fitness goals. But not everyone has access or the means to join a gym—and that’s absolutely fine. Success can definitely be achieved at home.
Where to Begin
A solid workout program includes both strength and cardiovascular exercises. How you decide to do it is up to you, your schedule and what will keep you the most motivated. For overall efficiency though, a circuit of strength and cardio exercises gets the job done in one shot. And when it comes to exercising, efficiency is the way to go.
What to Do
The good news is that you don’t need weights to still get an effective, workout. Here’s a great, full body, at-home starter program where equipment is purely optional:
Do the following exercises for one minute with a 15-20 second rest in between each exercise. There are links with each exercise to show you the proper form. Take at least a one-minute break after each completed round. The goal is to finish 3 rounds. I've linked out to instructional videos in case you don't know how to perform a specific movement.
- Push ups
- Mountain climbers
- Alternating forward lunges
- Squat jumps
- Tricep push ups
- Alternating side lunges
- Lateral shuffles
While you don’t have to use weights, you can always incorporate them if you want to make the exercises, like the lunges, more challenging. If you don’t have weights, water bottles or jugs work well too. First and foremost, be mindful of your form. Proper form is always the most important thing when starting any new exercise routine. And if doing the exercise for one minute is too difficult, try going for 45 seconds and taking a longer break in between each exercise.
Let’s face it, working out at home has some challenges, especially these days. This circuit style routine will give you the most bang for your buck as it keeps you moving, incorporates full-body movements, and combines both strength and cardiovascular exercises. Ideally, it should take you less than an hour to finish, but if you want more, you can always add on another round or do some additional cardio at the end.
Also remember that every exercise can be modified so if you struggle with doing push ups on your toes, do them on your knees. You can also place your hands on a step or elevated surface rather than the floor. If forward lunges bother your knees, try doing reverse lunges which can be a bit more knee-friendly.
This workout is a good starting point and can be done three days a week with at least a day of rest in between workouts. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule gives you the weekends off but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something active on Saturday and/or Sunday if you feel up to it. See how you feel after your first workout. It may take you more than 48 hours to recover. The last thing you want to do is start a new routine only to push yourself too much that you suffer a setback. Ease into it and listen to your body.
Remember, it takes at least three weeks to turn a new habit into a regular occurrence so stick with it through those first three weeks. Also, be mindful of what you are doing rather than just going through the motions. If you are doing squats, focus on squeezing your glutes, pressing your heels into the floor and keeping your core tight. Performing the exercises in a slow, controlled manner will be more beneficial than rushing through it which can increase your risk for injury.
Finally, have fun. Yes—fun. Exercise is hard work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it. Play your favorite music, have a friend join you, go outside if you can. The more fun you make it, the more likely you are to stick with it and that three-week habit will quickly become a way of life.