working out at home guide

How To Start Working Out At Home (Effectively)

May 02, 2020

If you’ve decided to start working out at home, you probably have a lot of questions you want answered. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned gym vet, this home workout guide has you fully covered. We discuss how to make your home workouts effective, fitness goals (building muscle/losing fat) and how to achieve them at home, and other aspects of working out from home in the most effective manner, like progressive overload, split vs full-body training, HIIT, home workout equipment, workout plans, and more.

This is the ultimate guide to getting your mindset right for working out at home and becoming the fittest and most athletic you’ve ever been.

Without further ado, let’s begin with a question most people wonder about before beginning their home workout journey, “are home workouts effective, especially in comparison with working out at the gym?”

how to start working out at home

ARE HOME WORKOUTS EFFECTIVE?

Yes, home workouts can definitely be effective. Working out is working out no matter where you do it. Of course, there are some caveats. With any workout, you need to take the right approach for it to be effective. If you set your goal, put together (or follow) the right workout plan and exercises for that goal, eat a proper diet, and put forth your best effort all around, working out at home can be not only effective but efficient as well.

Now, when comparing home workouts to gym workouts, the same thinking applies. The only drawback of working out at home is you might not be able to lift as heavy loads…unless you have all the necessary equipment at home (i.e. squat rack, barbell, plates, bench press, a range of dumbbells, etc.). However, for those who are beginners (and even intermediate), this is completely a non-issue as there are plenty of ways to build strength and muscle without the need of heavy loads. Some simple home workout equipment and even just bodyweight progressions will do the trick.

If you have other goals in mind, such as keeping fit and healthy, feeling good, losing weight and putting on some lean muscle while boosting your mind and reducing stress, then home workouts are perfect. You can build incredible body strength, improve quality of movement and aerobic capacity, and acquire new skills just as effectively as you can at the gym, and without any of the burden that comes with the gym, like memberships, people watching, and the time it takes to get to and from your workouts.

working out at home

Pros and Cons of Working Out At Home

If you are still unsure whether you should join a gym (that is, if you can) or start working out at home, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of both. Then we will get into the nitty-gritty of how to start working out at home.

Pros of working out at home:

  1. It’s super convenient
  2. You don’t need to think about “gym fashion” every time you get ready for a workout.
  3. You don’t have to share your space with anyone.
  4. It’s more hygienic, no worries about other people’s sweat or catching a virus.
  5. You can eat right after a workout without spending a premium to do so.
  6. There are no monthly recurring payments, you buy what you need and it lasts forever (at least any of the good home fitness gear does).
  7. You have privacy, which means you can try new skills (and fail) without worrying about people watching.
  8. You won't have to chat with anyone, so you can get your workout done efficiently and without messing up your flow, or worse lowering your heart rate.
  9. You don’t have to spend time traveling, to and from, to get a workout in.
  10. You can workout anytime you want.

Cons of working out at home (more like drawbacks), in comparison to the gym:

  1. You are limited to the equipment that you own. Depending on your goal, this could be a serious limiting factor or a non-issue. If you are a powerlifter or bodybuilder, clearly it’s a limiting factor (unless you buy the equipment yourself - once you own it, it’s yours forever and there are no recurring payments to use it!). However, if you just want to get fit and ripped, this point is a non-issue.
  2. No social motivation. As much as we get annoyed by Chatty Cathy’s at the gym, there are times when the people around you provide motivation. Plus, for some people, the gym makes up the bulk of their weekly social interactions. 
  3. There’s just something about the gym that keeps people consistent. It could be seeing others always going or just the environment as a whole. So if you workout at home, you need to have good self-drive to workout, and workout hard no less.
  4. No eye-candy. Admit it or not, this is always nice. For both men and women.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it covers most of the main advantages and disadvantages. As you can see, there isn’t a clear answer for which is better. A lot of it comes down to preferences and your overall fitness goal(s). Both working out at home and working out at the gym can be equally effective for the vast majority of people these days, as most of us just want to look good, feel good, and move good, rather than look like Jay Cutler (the bodybuilder of course, not the QB).

home workout guide

HOW TO START WORKING OUT AT HOME…EFFECTIVELY

We are gearing this guide more towards beginners as most fitness veterans don’t need much guidance as they know how to apply their knowledge to home workouts. That being said, this home workout guide applies to all fitness levels.

So, if you want to workout at home, and do so in the most effective manner, there are several things you want to understand and put focus on, all of which we will discuss.

This includes your main fitness goal, what every workout plan needs, the types of exercises for a well-rounded fitness regimen, how often you should workout (and what type of workouts), what are the best workouts for a home with minimal equipment, how to workout for fat loss (including diet), how to build muscle working out at home (including diet), and choosing the most beneficial fitness equipment. Then we will end with some pro tips to making the best of working out at home.

Let’s begin with fitness goals…

CHOOSING YOUR FITNESS GOAL

The first thing you need to ask yourself is what do you want to get out of working out? What is your fitness goal? With a clear goal in mind, you can create a direct path to get yourself there.

The two main fitness goals:

  1. Lose Weight & Fat
  2. Build Muscle & Strength

But, can you do both?

Yes, in fact, you can lose fat and gain muscle. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done, and we will explain how.

Other benefits that should come with working out are shared by everyone, no matter what their overall goal is. These are things like boosting your mind, feeling good about yourself, moving better, improving cardiovascular health, reducing stress, becoming more resilient to injury, and so on.

As these aspects of working out should come regardless of whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle (or both), we will simply focus on losing fat, building muscle, and losing fat while building muscle in this guide.

Before we section off this home workout guide based on these main fitness goals, let’s talk about aspects of working out that everyone should be incorporating in their home workout plan, regardless of their overall fitness goal.

are home workouts effective

WHAT EVERY HOME WORKOUT PLAN SHOULD INCLUDE

No matter what your goal is, there are areas of fitness that everyone should focus on. As humans, these are aspects of a healthy body that we must all maintain and work to improve.

1. Strength
2. Endurance
3. Flexibility & Mobility
4. Balance
5. Cardiovascular health

To work on strength, we must do resistance training.

To work on endurance, we must do resistance training and some form of cardio.

To work on flexibility and mobility, we must stretch and mobilize our joints (example of ankle mobilization exercises).

To work on balance, we must incorporate unilateral exercises and offset loads.

To work on cardiovascular health, we can run, bike, hike or workout in a way that keeps our heart rate up for the duration of the workout.

All 5 areas are important for a well rounded, healthy individual of any age. As we get older, the importance of strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility, balance and cardio becomes even more apparent. We don’t want to wait until we are older to focus on any of these “pillars” of fitness, we need to maintain them for life if we want to have longevity and athleticism.

The best part about the above is, all five aspects can be improved. This applies to everyone at any age. Unless you have some specific health condition, there is no excuse why you can’t get stronger, have more muscular endurance and stamina, create normalcy in your flexibility and range of motion, and improve your balance.

How do you make time for strength, endurance, mobility, flexibility, balance and cardio training?

You’ll be pleased to know that if you train properly, you can manage to improve all of the above without needing to spend tons of time working out.

Mobility for 5-10 mins before your workout. Test your mobility now.

Muscular strength, muscular endurance, and balance can all be trained in one workout (we will explain how, and it's simple).

And cardio can be done after your resistance workout, in the morning or evening, or on days where you don’t do resistance training as well.

Flexibility training can be done after you finish working out or on off days or before bed (never before a workout as that will affect your workout negatively). All it takes is two 15-20 minute sessions a week or three 10 min sessions. 

how to workout at home

HOW OFTEN SHOULD SHOULD YOU WORKOUT

To keep things simple for you, we will break it down as follows…

  • 2-4 resistance training per week (focused on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and balance).
  • 2-3 cardiovascular workouts per week
  • 2-3 flexibility training sessions.

Sounds like a lot? Well, it’s really not. Look how it’s broken down weekly.

In a weekly schedule it could look like this (with enough rest days to avoid overtraining).

Day 1: Resistance Training or HIIT
Day 2: Cardio/Flexibility
Day 3: Rest
Repeat

or…since you are working out at home and it’s convenient:

Day 1: AM - Cardio ; PM - Resistance Training/Flexibility
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: HIIT
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: AM - Cardio ; PM - Resistance Training/Flexibility
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: HIIT
Day 8: Rest
Repeat

This will give you two vigorous workouts per week (approx 60 mins) and 4 moderate-intensity workouts (approx 180 mins). That’s right in line with the standard recommendation for how often you should be working based on studies. In fact, it’s a little more.

All in all, for beginners, a schedule that has 3 resistance workouts and 2 cardio workouts is perfect. Then train flexibility 2 times a week, spaced out evenly through the week.

NOW, it should be noted, this is general fitness and is best for the goal of losing some fat and building some muscle (or in other words, just getting into good shape). If your goal is specifically to lose fat or gain muscle, as quickly as possible, we need to adjust the intensity. Lose fat = more vigorous resistance workouts; Gain muscle = moderate intensity with stricter resistance training. Don’t worry, we will get into this below.

how to do resistance training at home

What kind of Resistance Training should you do?

What kind of resistance training you will be doing (i.e. full body or splits, rest time, etc.) will be determined based on your goal, and, again, we will get into that more below when discussing working out to lose fat and working out to build muscle...and both.

Do I need to do resistance training if I just want to lose fat?

Absolutely! If you really want to become a fat burning machine, you need more muscle, and at the very least, you need to retain the muscle you already have. So, you will need to do resistance training and ideally eat a high protein diet (to feed your muscles and let them grow or..again..maintain).

REST & RECOVERY

We didn’t put this in the 5 main aspects of fitness, BUT it is probably the most important part of a healthy long-living person! Rest days, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water and eating a proper diet are all vital components of fitness recovery and life in general. These are things you will be doing before, during (in the case of water) and after your workouts.

Rest days: You want to give yourself enough rest days so that you are not overtraining. Listen to your body, you’ll know what it’s telling you, but don’t be lazy! Aim for 2 cardio and 3 resistance training workouts at a minimum. There’s a big difference between “I’m not feeling it today” and overtraining. If it’s the former, and be honest with yourself, then get that workout in as planned. If you plan your rest days like we did above, you shouldn't be overtraining, so long as you are eating right and getting enough sleep. Note - be active on your rest days, take a walk, stretch, play a sport. Rest day doesn’t mean couch potato day. Although once and while that’s completely fine.

Sleep: 7-9 hours of sleep per week is crucial. Aim for 9 if your workouts are more vigorous. Importance of Sleep.

Water: Drink plenty of water. They say 2 liters, but we say go for 3 liters +.

Diet: Eat a healthy, nutritious diet, day in and day out. Cheat once and while to let yourself live a little, but stay consistent with eating healthy. As for diet specifics, there are many ways to go about, depending on your overall fitness goal and your body, we will discuss this in the fat loss and building muscle sections below. Overall, a lot of diet is trial and error. You'll find what works for you if you make it a priority.

All in all, rest and recovery are just as important, if not more, than working out. So take it seriously. REST IS VICTORY. REST IS WHEN YOUR BODY RECOVERS AND SURPASSES YOUR PREVIOUS SELF.

home workout tips

TYPES OF EXERCISES

Regardless of whether you are trying to lose fat or build muscle, we highly recommend that you do resistance workouts each week. Resistance training is beneficial for losing weight, as the more muscle you gain, the more fat you will burn while resting. Moreover, if you do an intense resistance workout, you will be burning a lot of calories in the process. As for gaining muscle, resistance training is a must as you need to rip up your muscles so they can grow back bigger and stronger (that’s the dumbed-down explanation of building muscle but true nonetheless).

So, when it comes to resistance training, there are 6 types of exercises you need to employ to cover all your bases. They are as follows:

1. Push
2. Pull
3. Squat
4. Hinge
5. Lunge
6. Core

best types of exercises to do at home

What are Push Exercises?

Push exercises (or a Push Workout) involves training all the upper body pushing muscles, which are your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Think about when you do a “PUSH up”, you are targeting your chest and triceps with a pushing motion.

Push and press are the same thing. So, Shoulder Press = Push Exercise. To keep it simple, any time you target your chest, shoulders, and triceps, you are doing a push exercise.

What are Pull Exercises?

Pull exercises (or a Pull Workout) involves training all the upper body pulling muscles, which are your back and biceps. Think about when you do a “PULL up”, you are targeting your back and biceps with a pulling motion.

So, any time you target your back or biceps, you are doing a push exercise.

Note: Your traps are both push and pulling muscles. So you can hit them with push exercises on a push day or pull exercises on a pull day…or you can train them on back day and shoulder day in the same fashion. Depending on how your structure your workout plan.

What are Squat Exercises?

Squat exercises target the thighs - hamstrings and quads - as well as the glutes. Squat exercises are a vital component of being truly fit. You can not skip this type of exercise. There are variations of the squat, such as back squat, front squat, air squats, goblet squats and so on.

Variations of squat

What are Hinge Exercises?

Hinge exercises are important for every trainee to learn and do on a regular weekly basis. Hinge movements bend the body down and in half while putting the hips up and back (posterior pelvic tilt). It is essential that you learn this movement correctly, as putting your back in this position is risky, but the benefits are great. So start light, even just bodyweight-only.

Hinge exercises are stiff legged deadlifts, bent over rows, kettlebells swings, and so on. Any exercise that puts you in a posterior pelvic tilt.

Hinge exercises work your glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae, and transverse abdominis, as well as your back muscles if you are pulling.

We like to add hinge exercises to our squat days or pull days…or back day and leg day if you look at it in a more traditional “bro” way, which is completely fine.

Bodyweight Back Exercises

What are Lunge Exercises?

Lunge exercises refer to a position where one leg is positioned forward with the knee bent and foot flat on the ground while the other leg is positioned back behind your body.

It is a type of exercise used by athletes as lunges offer many benefits - Lunge exercises target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings and they are good for balance as they work core stability. As mentioned earlier in this home workout guide, balance a pillar of fitness, so with lunge exercises you are filling two needs with one deed.

What are Core Exercises?

Core exercises are any exercise that target the core. This includes rotation and anti-rotation (anti-movement). So, any plank variation, crunch variation, leg raise variation, or movement that involves your oblique slings is a core exercise. Core strength and stability is crucial as we use our core for everything - transferring force from our lower body to our upper body and to our extremities, twisting, turning, bending, running, accelerating, decelerating, and so on. To train the core in its entirety, you need to hit it from all 3 planes of motion - the transverse, sagittal, and frontal plane.

Aim to incorporate core exercises twice a week. At a bare minimum, once a week. The other types of exercises once a week is enough, but if you can hit them twice (requires good/optimal recovery) then you will speed up your progress.

Full Body Plan To Hit All 6 Types of Exercises (Ideal for Losing Weight)

If you do full body workouts, aim to do 1 or 2 exercises within each of the 6 categories above. Switch up the exercises you do each day. So, if Monday you do regular squats, then Wednesday do Sumo Squats, then the following Monday back to regular squats. The point is, don't do the same exact exercises every workout in your weekly plan.

For full body workouts, you can do traditional sets x reps, circuits, or supersets.

Split Training Plan To Hit All 6 Types of Exercises (Ideal for Gaining Muscle & Strength):

If you do splits, make sure you hit each of the 6 every week (ideally, core two times).

For split training, you will be doing 5-8 exercises of 3-5 sets during a workout.

Beginnger:

Day 1: Push/Core
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Squat/Lunge
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Pull/Hinge
Day 6: Rest
Repeat

Intermediate & Advance:

Day 1: Push/Core
Day 2: Squat/Lunge
Day 3: Pull/Hinge
Day 4: Rest
Repeat

Note: You can break it up as you’d like. The above 3 days on 1 day rest will allow you to hit each type of exercise 2 times a week. This is great for intermediate and advanced. The more often you can hit a muscle group, the quicker you will improve. However, you need to be recovering properly for this. For beginners, an ideal schedule will be every other day, which means you’d hit each of the 6 categories once a week.

To build muscle & strength, stick to traditional sets x reps, supersets and complexes. Focus on strict form and breaking down those muscles. 

The above doesn't include mobility, cardio and flexibility, so you will have to work that in too.

best workouts to do at home

What are the best workouts to do at home?

The best workouts at home are HIIT workouts, bodyweight-only resistance training, and simple home equipment (kettlebells, steel maces, resistance bands) resistance workouts. These workouts should include push, pull, squat, hinge, lunge, and core exercises. As for cardio, you can take that outside or do a cardio-based bodyweight resistance workout that keeps you moving the entire workout.

Now, the truly best workouts will depend on your goal. So, we are finally ready to get into home workouts and training for fat loss/losing weight, building muscle/strength, and all of the above.

FITNESS GOAL: FAT LOSS VS MUSCLE/STRENGTH

Now that we covered the musts for every trainee, let’s think about our fitness goals carefully as that will determine our approach to the perfect home workout plan and if we should buy any fitness equipment.

To help you decide, we will make things simple. If your body fat is high (in our opinion 20-25%+ for men and 33%+ for women), then your goal should be to lose weight. Why? Because if you want to build muscle, then getting lean first will be the more efficient way of doing so and if you just want to look better, losing that fat will achieve that.

If you are skinny and you need to put on muscle, then the building muscle approach is what you should focus on.

If you are already lean or skinny-fat, then your goal should be to maintain or build some more lean muscle. In this case, you should take our build muscle approach, with focus on a strict diet (you will find this info after the "how to build muscle" section). Think you can’t build muscle and get ripped at the same time? Well, you can and we will explain how.

So, we are now going to discuss how to workout and diet based on losing weight/fat, building muscle/strength, and a combination of both. Let’s dive in…

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT AND BURN FAT WORKING OUT AT HOME

working out at home to lose weight

Losing fat is pretty straight forward. You need to burn more calories than you consume each day. To do so, you need to be more active (workout) and you need to eat right (smart diet).

If your fitness goal at the moment is strictly losing fat, then follow the guidelines below.

Best types of workouts to lose fat:

  • HIIT
  • Cardio
  • Resistance/Strength Training

HIIT:

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. You give pretty much 100% of your effort via fast, intense movements/exercises, followed by short, active recovery periods. Hence the name, “high intensity” and “intervals”.

HIIT workouts burn crazy amounts of calories and help boost your metabolism. Not to mention, they are incredible for overall conditioning. They are the king of fat burning workouts. They will have you burning fat for hours after your training session is complete, not just during. It’s the afterburner effect, aka excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Now, a lot of people get HIIT confused with “cardio” type bodyweight resistance workouts. You see a lot of “HIIT” workouts on YouTube. However, they are often not intense enough and the structure is not exactly HIIT. An HIIT workout should be brutal (relative to your fitness level), simple as that.

What’s more, an HIIT workout can only be truly an HIIT workout if you are getting your heart rate to 80-95 percent max during the work intervals and maintaining 60-65 during the rest intervals). 

Here are a couple good and simple HIIT workouts:

Tabata - 20 seconds on/10 seconds rest for 8 sets (4 mins total) (this one is best for after a resistance workout if you want to do Resistance Training and HIIT on the same day to save time)

Sprints - 30 seconds sprint/4 min run for 4-6 sets (18-30 mins total)

Short Sprints - 8 seconds sprint, 12 seconds jog for 60 sets (20 mins total)

One-to-One - 30 seconds on/30 seconds off for 10 sets (10 mins total)

Tempo runs - 40 yard sprint/walk back to start and repeat for a total of 10-15 mins

15/35 - 15 seconds on/35 seconds rest for 8-10 sets (approx. 8 mins total) (This one can be adjust to 20/40 as well)

As you can see, there are plenty of options that will work for any schedule. Aim to switch things up each HIIT workout by doing all these options. As you can see, you don't need much time to squeeze in an HIIT workout at home.

Note: There are other ways to do HIIT workouts. Overall, the goal is to get your heart rate up to 80-95% max during the intervals and as soon as it gets down to 60-65%, get it back up. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, just use your best judgment. You’ll know if the workout is brutal or not as time goes on. Adjust accordingly.

Best Exercises for HIIT workouts:

You want to do full body, compound exercises. So, Sprints (obviously), Burpees, High Knees, Tuck Jumps, Mountain Climbers, etc. If you are a beginner, stick to the first three as you don’t need to over think. If you can’t do a burpee, do half-burpees (no push up and no jump).

Cardio:

Cardio is good for cardiovascular health, burning fat and endurance. If your goal is to burn fat, then you need to run for at least 15 mins per cardio workout (that’s when you start to burn fat reserves). So, ideally, longer, like 30-40 mins.

For burning fat, you want your heart rate to be at around 70% max, so the run should be moderate intensity. Difficult pace but maintainable for a long period of time. You will also get other benefits that come with cardio, such as a healthy heart, long-distance muscular endurance, improved brain function, and so on.

Running is the best form of cardio for most, as not everyone can swim well enough to maintain a 70% heart rate. Cycling is also good if you have the right bike.

Do a minimum of 2 cardio workouts per week.

Resistance Training:

We’ve already explained everything you need to know for resistance training. You need to incorporate push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge and core exercises. If burning fat is your main goal and you are doing HIIT and cardio workouts a few times a week, split training (different muscle groups each workout) will make your workout schedule very time-consuming. So, full body workouts make sense.

Best Exercises For Full Body Training at Home

You want to do compound movements, so the following should be staples in your workouts:

  • Squats (can be any challenging variation based on your fitness level and if you have equipment like kettlebells or resistance bands or not)
  • Push Ups
  • Pull Ups
  • Pike Push Ups or Overhead Presses (with bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, or steel mace)
  • Deadlift & Stiff legged Deadlift (can be done with just bodyweight but ideally you want some free weights or bands - get creative, suitcases work too!)
  • Bent over rows
  • Farmer Carries (single handed ideally)
  • Split Squats or Lunges
  • Plank variations (standard plank, side plank, plank up and down)

Short on time? Combine resistance training with cardio by doing bodyweight circuit workouts. Make sure your heart rate is up at around 70% max and stays at this level for the duration of the workout, which should be 15-30 mins.

Workouts per week to lose fat

2 HIIT workouts a week
2 Cardio workouts a week
2 Resistance Workouts a week

The more intense you make your workouts, the more fat you will burn. 

Day 1: HIIT
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Resistance workout followed by Cardio (or AM/PM workouts)
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: HIIT
Day 6: Resistance workout followed by Cardio (or AM/PM workouts)
Day 7: Rest
Repeat

If you want, separate the cardio and resistance workouts and have less rest days.

Day 1: HIIT
Day 2: Cardio
Day 3: Resistance workout
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: HIIT
Day 6: Resistance workout
Day 7: Cardio
Day 8: Rest
Repeat

Note: Be active on rest days. i.e. go for a walk and stretch. Flexibility training and walking will aid in recovery by getting your blood flowing and pushing nutrients to your muscles.

Fat Loss Diet

The food you eat and how you fuel your body is even more important than your workouts. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t workout, of course! Take both your workouts and diet serious for the best results.

There are a few diets that can help you lose weight and burn fat:

Count Your Calories & Macros - If you are meticulous with your diet, this is not a bad option. It's science. Keep track of how many calories you burn each day and then count your calories. Eat 5 medium to small meals a day while staying under how many calories your burn. Be sure to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. 45-60% Carbs, 20-35% healthy fats, and 10-30% protein.

Low Carb Diet - This is one of the fastest ways to lose fat as your body uses fat instead of carbs for energy. But it takes time to get used to, especially energy-wise. A low carb diet will have you eating around 20% carbs and 80% split between protein and fats. With this diet, also eat around 5 meals a day.

High Protein Diet - This is our personal go-to and favorite. Eat 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of your body weight (i.e. if you are 200lbs, then 200 grams of protein). Your macros should be around 30% carbs, 30% fat and 40% protein. It's similar to a low carb diet, accept you should indulge in more protein consumption.

Intermittent fasting - This diet is simple and effective. Eat a well balanced diet but only give yourself a window to eat each day. So, 14-16 hours fasting and 8-10 hours eating (16-8 is best). Don’t stuff your face with junk food during your time to eat, still eat healthy. The good thing with this diet is you can be a little less strict on yourself and not worry so much about the little things and counting calories/macros.

Hate to count calories and macros? Don’t worry, we do too! Start off your diet with a little calculation so you know but from there just guesstimate. Counting calories and macros gets old really fast, but it also gets easy to know what you can eat to hit your numbers quickly too. Once you can start eyeing things out and understanding your body, the dieting will become easy and natural.

Fat Loss Summary

Overall, aim to workout around 250 mins a week (moderate and vigorous activity, with an emphasis on the vigorous) - can be 150-200 mins if you are cutting calories - and eat a healthy, high protein, low carb diet. It's that simple. 

HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE AND STRENGTH WORKING OUT AT HOME?

build muscle and lose fat from home

To build muscle and strength at home, you need to focus on resistance and strength workouts and eat a proper high protein diet. By hitting push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge and core exercises with bodyweight exercises (and home workout equipment if you have and can afford) and implementing progressive overload techniques, you can build muscle just like you could at the gym, with a lot more convenience.

For building muscle, we like to break up our weekly workouts as follows:

60% Resistance Training
20% Cardio
20% HIIT

The resistance training should be of moderate intensity. This means you will be working hard every set, but you will give yourself enough rest time between sets to allow for this. You should be working close to failure, or to failure, with each set (especially if doing bodyweight-only). Then, give yourself about 90 seconds of rest time.

What’s more, you will want to do split training instead of full body, so you can really hammer down on each muscle group, and your aim should be to hit each muscle group 2 times per week (for beginners, one time is enough).

Do one HIIT workout per week and 2 cardio sessions to reduce fat gains, as you should be eating a lot if you want to build muscle. Plus HIIT and Cardio Workouts will give you other benefits such as cardiovascular health, faster metabolism, mental fortitude, endurance, athletism, and so on.

Don't forget to stretch a couple times a week too!

What is Split Training: Why You Should Do It If You Want To Build Muscle

Split training involves training separate muscle groups each workout, rather than full body workouts which target every muscle group each workout. There are various split training protocols. Here are the three best.

Upper/Lower Split

Beginner Upper Lower Split:
Day 1: Upper Body Workout/Core
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Lower Body Workout/Cardio
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Upper Body Workout/Core
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Lower Body Workout/HIIT Finisher
Day 8: Rest
Repeat

For this kind of workout plan, you could move your HIIT workout to your rest day, and same thing for the Cardio workout. Moreover, you could train chest, shoulders, back, arms each upper body day or you could do chest/shoulders/triceps for the first upper body day, then back/biceps on the next. The same concept applies to lower body, quads/glutes/calves on the first lower body day, then hamstring/glutes/calves the next. 

Option 2:

Day 1: Upper Body Workout/Core
Day 2: Lower Body Workout/Cardio
Day 3: HIIT
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Upper Body Workout/Core
Day 7: Lower Body Workout/Cardio
Day 8: HIIT
Day 9: Rest
Day 10: Rest
Repeat

Remove the second rest day if you can, so it will look like this:

Day 1: Upper Body Workout/Core
Day 2: Lower Body Workout/Cardio
Day 3: HIIT
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Upper Body Workout/Core
Day 6: Lower Body Workout/Cardio
Day 7: HIIT
Day 8: Rest
Repeat

As you can see, there are different ways to go about an Upper/Lower Split, do the most that you can without overtraining. Give yourself the recovery you need. Recovery is vital. So, sometimes less is more and sometimes more is needed. Use your best judgment.

Foundational Split

The foundational split, which is what we call it, focuses workouts based on push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, core. Here is how you could create a workout plan…

Beginners:

Day 1: Squat Workout/Cardio
Day 2: Push Workout/HIIT finisher
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Pull/Hinge Workout
Day 5: Lunge/Core Workout
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest
Repeat

Intermediate

Day 1: Squat/Lunge Workout
Day 2: Push Workout/HIIT finisher
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Pull/Hinge Workout
Day 5: Core/Cardio Workout
Day 6: Rest
Repeat

Advanced:

Day 1: Squat/Lunge Workout
Day 2: Push Workout/HIIT finisher
Day 3: Core/Cardio Workout
Day 4: Pull/Hinge Workout
Day 5: Rest
Repeat

There are other ways to split it up. The point is, hit all 6 foundational workouts/exercises each week - push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, core. Aim to do core twice a week.

“Bro” Split

Not a big fan of calling it a “Bro” split as it gives it a negative connotation, but it works.

For this split, you can do it in various ways, but the most common is Legs/Core, Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps, Shoulder/Core.

Other options:

Legs/Core, Chest/Shoulders, Back/Core, Arms/Calves

or…

Chest/Back, Legs/Core, Shoulders/Arms

It doesn’t really matter how you split, do it the most effective way you can. For beginners, aim to hit each muscle group once a week. Intermediate to advanced, twice a week is ideal if you want to streamline results. Again, recovery is key, so train wisely. Also, for all levels, throw in 2 cardio sessions a week (can be done on rest days or after a resistance workout) and 1 HIIT session a week (2 if you are feeling up to it).

For all of the above, make sure you train flexibility each week. Resistance training can make you tight, so loosen up on rest days or after a workout with 10-15 mins of flexibility training (twice a week ideally).

Workout Protocols:

For building muscle, sets x reps is the best way to go about it. This will allow you to train your body effectively for building muscle. You should feel your targeted muscles burning each and every set. 

Other good protocols for building muscle are supersets, dropsets, and pyramids. You can incorporate them into your traditional sets x reps workout as you see fit.

**Switch the exercises if you are hitting the same muscle group twice a week. For example, if you do push ups on the first day of upper body or chest/triceps, do decline push ups on the next. That being said, stick to the same routine. Don't keep switching. The point is, just hit different angles on day one than you did on day 2. Or for upper/lower, target anterior first workout, then posterior on the second. 

Best Bodyweight Exercises For Working Out At Home To Build Muscle:

  • Pull Ups (you’ll figure out a way…if not, get a pull up bar, it’s an essential movement).
  • Push Ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Single Leg Deadlifts
  • Plank variations

Get creative by using things you find in your house. A backpack can go along way. Stuff it full and use it for deadlifts, rows, squats, push ups, etc.

What about buying some home equipment? If you can afford it, definitely buy some home equipment. Let’s talk about that now and discuss the best exercises & uses for each…

best equipment for working out at home

CHOOSING THE RIGHT HOME WORKOUT EQUIPMENT

If you want to build muscle at home, then some home workout equipment would be great to have. The best part is, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Thinking economically, space-friendly, and “portable”, we will be avoiding squat racks, benches, Olympic bar, and a range of dumbbells. If you can afford that and you have the room, it’s a good investment, but it is not needed.

Here’s our favorite home workout equipment:

Kettlebells
Steel Maces
Resistance Bands
Pull Up Bar

Honestly, this is all you need to become a well rounded, strong, ripped, lean mean athletic machine.

With kettlebells, you can do hundreds of exercises to build muscle. Kettlebell swings, goblet squats, presses, snatches, cleans, stiff-legged deadlifts, sumo squats, and the list goes on and one.

Benefits of kettlebells

what home gym equipment should i buy to build muscle

With steel maces, you can also do hundreds of exercises, in a very dynamic way. The steel mace is incredible for core training and balance training, as well as working on muscular endurance, muscle building HIIT sessions, and everything in-between. Read about the benefits of steel mace training if you have any doubt and check out some of our favorite steel mace exercises. There really is no tool like it and we consider it up there with kettlebells as a must-have for every home gym (also great for fat burning workouts). What’s more, you really don’t need more than one mace, as you can increase or decrease the difficulty based on how you hold it.

Steel Mace Targeted Exercises (chest, back, legs, arms, shoulders, core)

best home workout equipment

Buy Steel Maces

With resistance bands, you ALSO have hundreds of exercises you can do. You can mimic any barbell and dumbbell exercise with resistance bands, yet they take up only a fraction of the space, and they cost only a fraction of barbells and dumbbells as well. Moreover, resistance bands are great for training in the transverse plane, explosive bodyweight movements, stretching, and mobility. They are a must-have.

24 best resistance band exercises.

Can I build muscle with resistance bands?

Can I use resistance bands to lose weight?

10 Ways to use Resistance Bands in Your Training

must have home workout equipment

Buy Resistance Bands

As for a pull up bar, if you don’t have a way to do pull ups at your house,  you need to get a pull up bar. Out of everything you can buy, this is probably the most essential as you can train bodyweight only for most things pretty effectively, especially as a beginner, but without a pull-up bar or a way to do pull-ups, you’ll be missing a major aspect of fitness. Pull-ups are vital to working out. Nothing can replace it.

home gym essentials

For those who want to lose fat, the home training tools above apply to you as well. If you are going to buy some equipment for your home workouts, these are the best for both losing fat and building muscle. They are effective, affordable, portable, and space-friendly. Win-win-win-win.

Best Unconventional Home Workout Equipment

progressive overload working out from home

**Progressive overload - Working Out At Home**

If you want to build muscle, you will need to employ progressive overload. The progressive overload principle is simple, it involves gradually increasing the stress/tension you place on your muscles over time so you can continue to build muscle and strength. If you don't your results will plateau. 

The most obvious way is increasing the weight load you use for any given exercise. However, it is not the only way, and that can be difficult if you don’t have the necessary equipment. So, for working out at home, we have other progressive overload techniques for you to follow. These progressive overload techniques can be used for bodyweight-only or workouts with home fitness equipment.

  1. Increase time under tension (slower tempo or add more reps)
  2. Increase volume of your workout (add more sets or exercises)
  3. Decrease rest time (this makes the most sense for bodyweight training)
  4. Increase workout frequency (if you do 3 resistance workouts a week, after your workout plan is done, increase to 4 or 5)
  5. Progression Exercises (do more difficult exercises…i.e. push ups to clapping push ups or push ups to banded push ups…i.e. air squats to squat jumps…i.e. standard planks to up-down planks)

Stick to your routine

If you want to build muscle by working out at home, you need to stick to a workout plan and the progressive overload techniques) you choose. If you keep changing things up, it will be hard to employ progressive overload and that’s what you need if you want to build muscle.

We recommend sticking to a routine for a minimum of 4 weeks, but ideally 6-8 weeks, and at a maximum 12 weeks. Choose 1-3 progressive overload techniques and stick to them., Maybe you just want to increase time under tension over time or time under tension and volume then eventually progression exercises. Either way, make a plan and stick to it. If you want to try new things, go ahead, but add them to your routine, don’t completely replace them with what you were doing (unless what you were doing is clearly not challenging enough).

If your goal is to burn fat and lose weight, you don’t have to worry so much about being strict on the progressive overload principle, as long as your workouts are burning a lot of calories and they are tough, you will see good results. Listen to your body. Challenge yourself.

Build Muscle Diet

We will keep this simple. Ideally you want to build muscle while minimizing fat gain. To do so, you want to eat about 200-400 more calories than you burn per day. This is a slow yet steady and effective approach to building muscle while minimizing fat gain. In terms of protein, you want to eat about 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. As for fat, .25-.5 grams per pound of bodyweight and the remainder will be carbs.

Don’t want to deal with all that nonsense? Understandable. Simply eat a lot of protein and fuel your body with carbs and some healthy fats each day. It’s as simple as that. Also, drink plenty of water.

BUILD MUSCLE & LOSE FAT?

how to build muscle at home

Can you build muscle and lose fat at the same time? Basic calories in and calories out science would tell us no, but the fact of the matter is, you can, but your diet needs to be strict, as do your workouts.

To build muscle and burn fat, you need to do vigorous resistance workouts and zone in on your diet.

To make your workouts more vigorous, focus on metabolic workouts, complexes, and HIIT workouts. We also suggest doing full body or an upper/lower split. Moreover, only compound exercises that will give you the best bang for your buck. 

METABOLIC WORKOUTS

Metabolic workouts are perfect for building muscle and burning fat. It's resistance training with low rest time. It's like a hybrid of HIIT and Strength Training. Your workouts will be around 40-45 mins, and they will be intense. They will incorporate "mini-workouts" within the workout. 

Metabolic Workout Example (45 mins):

Mini Workout #1: 10 mins of sets x reps or a block of one exercise for your first mini-workout - low rest time, high volume.

Rest a couple of mins...

Mini Workout #2: Circuit of 5 exercises for 5 rounds - 35 seconds on, 20 seconds rest.

Rest again for a couple mins...

Mini Workout #3: 5-8 min complex (a series of movements done for a number of reps - i.e. 5 movements done back to back for 10 reps each x 3 sets, rest between sets). 

Read more about complexes.

Mini Workout #4: Finish as quickly as possible an ascending/descending ladder. This should be about 3-5 mins of nonstop work (only rest if needed, just to catch your breath). This is a burnout finisher.

All this confusing? Read about metabolic workouts (and the benefits) and see a sample metabolic workout using a steel mace/bodyweight.

Build Muscle and Burn Fat Workout Plan Example:

Day 1: Metabolic Workout (full body or upper)
Day 2: Cardio
Day 3: HIIT (20-30 minute HIIT)
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Metabolic Workout (full body or lower)
Day 6: Cardio (20-30 minute HIIT)
Day 7: HIIT
Day 8: Rest

Build Muscle and Burn Fat Diet

What you want to do is burn more calories than you consume each day while eating a high protein, healthy diet. Aim to eat 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

We recommend eating 5-6 small meals a day, each meal packed with protein and veggies, with healthy fats and a little carbs. Not very scientific or specific, but nevertheless it works. If you are not super OCD on your macros, then just follow that and see how it goes, adjust accordingly with time. You’ll see if it’s working or not. If you are happy with the results after a couple weeks or a month, keep going. If not, adjust. Remember, feeling good is the most important aspect of working out. So, pay attention to that first and foremost.

Another option for building muscle and losing fat is intermittent fasting. Read about intermittent fasting techniques.

There are plenty of science backed in-depth guides on “building muscle while losing fat diets”, check them out. We will release something in-depth and science-based on building muscle and losing fat at the same time soon.

ideas for working out at home

BEST TIPS FOR WORKING OUT AT HOME:

  • Set up a designated space. Dedicate that space to working out. That’s your workout zone. It will keep you consistent.
  • Speaking of consistency, be consistent with everything you do if you want to see results. Fitness goals take time, they don’t happen overnight.
  • Stick to a plan, give it time if you want to see results. Don't keep switching things up, this includes your diet. Trial and errors. Change things up after you've thoroughly tested your plan. Fitness is a life long journey, so there's no rush. 
  • Get outside (do your HIIT workouts outside in the sun sometimes, it’s great for the mind and body)
  • Invest in home equipment smartly. 
  • Doing something is better than nothing. Don’t make excuses, don’t stress if you are having difficulty seeing results, just keep moving forward at your own pace.
  • Slow and steady. Don’t push yourself to the point of wanting to quit. Progress slowly. Small steps lead to great success.
  • Get a fitness tracker if you are meticulous about your diet and workouts. Keeping track of your heart rate on HIIT workouts and cardio and calories burned each day will help you stay on top of your game.
  • Find some motivation to workout. How you find your motivation is up to you.
  • Take your recovery seriously. It’s key to achieving your fitness results. This means sleep, diet, rest days, and water.
  • Don't give up, quitting is not an option.

HOME WORKOUT PLANS

9 At Home Workout Plans For Building Muscle or Losing Fat (this guide has detailed workouts for you to follow)

Contact us if you have any questions about working out at home. We'd love to hear from you. 



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