Fitness Tips

How to Get Fit at Home Without Equipment 

Some people love the gym, and that’s great for them.

Personally, I can’t stand it.

First of all, I hate all the logistics that are involved. It feels like I spend twice as much time getting to and from the gym as I do actually working out in it.

Then there’s all the waiting around to use exercise equipment, wiping things down because the person before you didn’t (ugh!), and listening to the person on the treadmill next to you yak away loudly on their phone about the terrible weekend they had.

The proverbial cherry on top is the post-exercise locker room experience. If I’m not over the gym before then, I certainly am after showering in flip-flops and vying for that one corner of counter space where there’s actually an outlet for my hairdryer. (Why aren’t there more outlets??)

Factor in the current pandemic, and now you also have to worry about exposure and needing to wear a mask while you work out.

Just thinking about it all puts me more in the mood to hit the bar than the barbell, know what I mean?

The thing is, I didn’t actually need a gym membership to get fit. In fact, the gym had been holding me back from succeeding, because for me it made exercise feel like a punishment.

It wasn’t until I started working out at home that I lost 25 lbs and got in the best shape of my life.

my before and after pictures
My before and after pictures

I am now so passionate about home exercise that I have an entire blog dedicated to the subject. So, if you’ve been wondering how to get fit at home without equipment, I’m here to tell you it can be done by following these 3 steps.

Step 1: Do the Mindset Work

Many people are convinced they need a gym membership to hold themselves accountable. Yet, Americans spend 1.13 billion on unused gym memberships each year.

Here’s the thing; if you aren’t motivated to work out in your living room two feet away from you, you’re probably not going to be motivated enough to pack a gym bag and drive to the gym.

It’s not the gym that motivates you and holds you accountable, it’s your mindset. You may have the desire to get fit, but you need to be in the right headspace to make a lifestyle change.

Before we talk about what kind of home workouts to do, you first need to:

a) Find Sustainable Motivation

Get deep about why you want to exercise. Try to concentrate on the practical benefits and how it will change your life rather than how it affects your appearance. (If you’re doing it because you just hate the way you look, you’re treating exercise as a punishment and not as self-care.)

For example, imagine the joy of being able to keep up with your kids when you’re playing outside with them.

b) Set Action-Based Goals

It’s okay to have a target weight but make it a secondary goal. Your primary goal should be something that is not outcome-based, but action-based. For example, set a goal to work out 2–3 times a week for at least 15 minutes.

c) Plan Your Workout Schedule

Decide in advance how often you will work out, when, and for how long.

Only schedule what you know you can actually manage. It’s completely okay to ease yourself into it; a 10-minute workout is infinitely better than a 0-minute workout.

Take some time to plot out your game plan before moving on to Step 2.

Step 2: Find Workouts You Enjoy

When you’re first starting out, I would first focus on finding exercises you enjoy (or at least, don’t completely detest).

Because it’s true what they say: The best workout is the one you actually do.

As exercising becomes a habit, you can start experimenting with other types of workouts to progress or reach certain goals.

There are three main pillars of fitness: cardio, strength, and flexibility. Here are some home-based options for each.

Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is vital for heart health and a great way to shed fat because it torches a lot of calories. Here are some examples of cardio you can try that are guaranteed to get you sweating!

Dance Fitness

If you enjoy dancing this is my top recommendation for you. It’s my personal favorite and feels more like a party than a workout! Here are some examples.

Zumba: This is probably the most well-known form of “dancercise” that merges Latin and international music with choreographed dance moves.

Cize: This is a highly-rated dance program offered by Beach Body on Demand, an online platform for streaming workouts.

Figure 8 Fitness: Figure 8 is my personal favorite. It was created by a former ballroom dance competitor and features Latin-inspired dance. There’s definitely a learning curve but it’s lots of fun!

Jump Rope

Okay, technically this does require a piece of equipment but you can buy a jump rope for $10 at Target (or just steal your kid’s). It’s a killer workout and can burn as many calories as running.

Running

Running is the quintessential cardio workout, but it tends to be one of those things you either love or hate with vehemence. If you like the idea of running but need some inspiration, you can try signing up for a virtual race like the ones offered by Conqueror Virtual Challenges.

Walking

Do not underestimate the power of walking. I walk for at least 40 minutes every single day and it’s been a game-changer. Why? Because it’s easy, low-impact, and even 20 minutes a day can add up to a lot of calories burned over time!

Strength Training

If your fitness goals involve changing your body composition (i.e., how you look), then strength training is a must. It’s only by building muscle that you get that “toned” look. There are a ton of options for strength training at home.

Home Fitness Apps

There are so many great fitness apps out there, and many of them only require a small monthly fee. My personal favorite is the Jillian Michaels app, but other good ones include SWEAT, Freeletics, and Aaptiv.

Apps are my top recommendation for home-based strength training because you get structured, customizable programs based on your goals and current fitness level that can really expedite your progress!

YouTube

YouTube is a treasure trove of workout videos that you can load up anywhere you have an internet connection. This is a great free option, but not a very structured approach since you’re doing the videos at random from one day to the next.

Still, you will find some pretty fantastic workouts there and the price is certainly right!

Flexibility (Alignment and Recovery)

Flexibility, alignment, and recovery type exercises are very similar and are a great addition to any workout regime. I would suggest adding at least one session a week to help prevent injury and expedite recovery between workouts.

Some ideas for this kind of exercise include:

Yoga

Yoga is fantastic for increasing flexibility, improving balance, and managing stress. There are many different styles of yoga to choose from, but Hatha and restorative classes are a good place to start. My favorite source for online yoga is yogadownload.com.

Barre & Pilates

Barre and Pilates are also low-impact workouts that put the focus on alignment and balance. I find they contain a lot of isometric exercises (static “holds” like plank or boat), and “pulsing” which involves moving slightly up and down in a repetitive motion while holding a pose. I recently discovered The Dailey Method for online barre workouts and highly recommend them!

Step 3 Track Your Progress and Celebrate Each Milestone

Tracking your progress is essential to your success because it gives you an idea of what’s working and what’s not. It also keeps you motivated as you start to see changes.

But progress tracking involves more than stepping on a scale once a week. Yes, you can track your progress this way, but how much you weigh is only a small, incomplete picture of your overall fitness. In fact, weight changes can be pretty misleading!

For example, if you are doing a lot of strength training, you may find that your weight either doesn’t change much. (It may even go up!) But that’s because you are replacing fat with muscle, which is denser tissue.

In other words, losing fat while gaining muscle makes you leaner and fitter, but it doesn’t necessarily affect your weight.

Therefore, make sure you are also using other metrics for tracking your progress, such as:

  • Taking monthly measurements of your waist, hips, chest, biceps, and thighs
  • Progress photos — because a picture really is worth a thousand words!
  • Non-Scale Victories (or NSVs) such as your clothes fitting better or doing 10 pushups when before you could only do 5

For every milestone you reach, no matter how small, take a moment to celebrate your success and use that to propel you forward. Plan little rewards for when you reach certain goals, like treating yourself to a new outfit, or a home spa day. (Some of that money you saved from not going to the gym could fund this!)

Above all, stay focused on how far you’ve come, and don’t get hung up on how far you have to go.

Troubleshooting Your Home Fitness Routine

If you’re a few weeks into your new home workout routine and not seeing changes (or your progress has stalled), it’s time to tweak your regime.

Chances are you need to do one or more of the following:

Review Your Calorie Intake

In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you’re consuming. To get a good handle on your calories in vs. calories out, use a calorie tracking app like Cronometer.

Eat More Whole Foods

The quality of calories you consume is just as important as the quantity. Try to eat a variety of whole, minimally processed foods, with a focus on fresh fruits, veggies, and protein.

Switch Up Your Workouts

It might be time to shake up your workouts or make them more challenging. Your body is an adaptation machine and if you do the exact same workouts all the time, it can become so efficient at them that you stop seeing progress.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial to your overall health and fitness. When you skimp on sleep, your cortisol levels spike which throws your hormones out of wack and makes losing weight a lot more difficult.

Conclusion

There’s no magic hack or special secret to getting fit at home. It comes down to aligning your mindset with your goals, picking what workouts you’re going to do, then making the commitment to get it done.

It doesn’t need to be self-torture or a huge, time-consuming part of your life. Every little bit of exercise you do is vastly better than doing none at all. And as you start seeing — and feeling — changes, you may even grow to love it.

I know I certainly did.

how to get fit at home with no equipment pin - woman holding plank

Corrie Alexander is a former ISSA-certified personal trainer, home fitness advocate, and founder of The Fit Careerist. A proponent of personal growth and a self-proclaimed fitness app-junkie, Corrie shares tips and product reviews with the goal of helping others on their own fitness journey.

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