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I’ve always been a big fan of working out at home. Time is the thing I’m generally shortest of and, sometimes, the extra half an hour it takes for me to get to the gym and back can mean a workout takes more time than I have and so, I’m often found jumping up and down around my office or waving bits of me around the lounge. However, as I write this, there’s, a bit of a shutdown of gyms and other public spaces going on and so I’ve been thinking about all the ways I might be able to work out if, and when it happens to me….and it’s actually been pretty good fun.
And so, I decided to create a list of all the fun or innovative ways you can workout at home…
Try a Challenge
I’ve run a few of these on this blog over the years and I had actually planned to put them all in one place – so this seems as good as any. What these aim to do is focus your attention for short periods.
Unlike going to the gym, if you’re working out at home you don’t have to do your workout in one go, you can do what’s known as ‘exercise snacking’ where you workout in short 5-10 minute bursts a few times throughout the day. And these work perfectly to keep you interested…
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The Sally Challenge
I first heard about this from a trainer called Stuart Amory. It’s a workout which sees you doing a set of movements – to the Moby song Flowers (the lyrics of which go ‘Bring Sally up, Bring Sally down’).
When Moby says up, you go up – when Moby says down you come down and hold it.
You can do it with lunges, squats, press ups, tricep dips – basically any move that sees you moving up and down.
There’s a heap of videos you can work along with on You Tube to see how it works – including one from Tom Daley.
The 10,000 Challenge
This sees you aiming to 10,000 of one move in the next three months – you might do 10,000 pushups, 10,000 crunches or walk 10,000 metres.
Obviously, you are not trying to do these all at once – but instead, rack up a few hundred moves (or steps) a day.
This requires a set of dumbells and the soundtrack of the Police song Roxanne. And trust me, you’re going to end up with really good arms after you do it.
To stop this post turning into a complete book, I’m not going to print all the details here – but they are in this post from when I tried it.
If your Netflix queue is getting more of a workout than the rest of you, you can combine the two – and try a TV workout.
The idea of these is simple – you take your favourite series and think of a few things that the characters do that you can use as an exercise trigger. Whenever they do that thing on screen, you do your allotted workout.
Now I admit, I don’t have a current ‘series’ on the go to give you an example of this – doing squats every time Joe does something creepy on You might lead to severe butt ache
But I have tried past ones with Breaking Bad – do Burpees every time Jessie says Beyatch and House of Cards – do abs every time Claire walks in in an amazing fitted dress – that you can then integrate into whatever you are watching.
The Big Building Challenge
Climbing stairs is one of the easiest ways to get a decent varied cardio workout at home – you can run up them, climb them two at a time, do quick step-ups or plyo-jumps on the bottom one – and, while you do all of this, you can try the Big Building Challenge.
This sees you trying to scale the number of stairs on some of the world’s famous tall buildings or sights – again, it might not be something you’re going to do in a day, but over a week or two, you could have some fun. So, how many do you need to do…
Sydney’s Habour Bridge Pylon has 200 steps
Monument Tower in London has 311
New York’s Empire State Building has 1576
Auckland’s Sky Tower has 1103
Taipei 101 has 2046
And then there’s the big one, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai which has 2909
To stop you going slightly mad trying to keep track, it might be easier to divide each of these by the number of stairs in one flight in your house and set a target for flights.
Easy (but fun) Equipment to Use
You might not have room for a treadmill or full rack of weights at home but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some easy, fun, equipment to workout with at home.
Not only do you burn about ten calories per minute jumping rope (about the same as jogging) a study from Japan found that skipping can alter levels of hunger hormones in the body and actually lower appetite. Other benefits include improving balancing and strengthening the legs.
If you’ve got any rope lying around the house, you can jump that (you’ll need a piece long enough for you to hold each hand at waist height while you stand on the rope) or buy a specialist jump rope which will whip faster and be less likely to get tangled, and therefore be way more fun.
And no, no-one will judge if you suddenly start playing all those skipping games you knew as a child.
I always thought these looked like wimpy workout tools, until the day that celebrity trainer Dalton Wong (who works with stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Gwendoline Christie) had me walking up and down his gym with one around my ankles – the next day when I tried to get out of bed, a new respect for them was born.
Resistance bands work in the same way as lifting weights – and if you have a tough, or short, band, they can create some serious force for you to work against.
Another one of Dalton’s tools, these are like working out on a frisbee. You put the discs under your hands or feet and the increased instability helps boost the intensity of the move.
You can find the discs here, and check out this video from Dalton to show you how to use them.
You can buy kits of these to use at home – they fix on top of the door and are secured when you close the door.
The kits also come with a full workout sheet so you also know what you’re aiming to do.
Lots of fun, really good for your abs – and a lot harder than I remember!
While you can workout with those thin hoops you had as a kid, weighted hoops add a little bit more resistance to the moves and make everything work a little bit harder.
There’s heaps of them out there now and they mean you can work out with some of the world’s best trainers in your lounge. Unfortunately, because anyone can launch one of these no matter what their qualifications, it’s important to know that the person you’re jumping up and down with is qualified and that the workouts are safe – otherwise, you could end up at the doctors, which is not the plan.
A few I recommend therefore are…
Julia Buckley: I recommend Julia a lot because I like her attitude, want her abs and she specifically designs her workouts for the average woman.
Instructor Live: They partner with the NHS and if their team is good enough for them then they’re good enough for me to suggest. They offer a huge variety of different workouts from HIIT sessions to yoga and Pilates – and the monthly price is low.
Gym Cube: They were one of the original streaming services and are still going years later. They’ve got a huge number on trainers on board including some of the most respected names in UK fitness like Richard Callandar and Katie Bulmer-Cooke.
At the time I write this, a lot of big-name gyms and studios are also live streaming workouts for people to try, like Barrys Bootcamp and Planet Fitness. Find a full list of what’s on offer here.
Got a Garden?
Then you’ve got your own outdoor gym – depending how big it is you can…
Run Laps: No, it’s not going to be as exciting as running on your normal route, but you can use a technique called Fartlek to make it far more fun.
Or, do intervals – one lap as fast as you can, then take one or two laps to recover.
Got a Tree? Then some sturdy and well-secured rope can work in the same way as a TRX to add resistance.
Get a football: Even if it’s just you doing your workout, you can slam it to the ground, chase it, dribble it between cones, throw it up in the air and catch it, shoot hoops – or just lie on the floor and put your foot on it and use pull it back and forth with glutes and hamstrings to tone your butt.
Get a tennis racket: And bash your ball against the wall. Who needs a partner? NB: Please don’t do this against your neighbour’s wall, it will drive them insane – and no-one needs a dispute with them next door.
Get a wind trainer: If you normally enjoy cycling, then you might want to try one of these little gadgets. They attach to the wheel of your bike holding it steady so you can cycle as normal – but without moving.
Play with kids: Dogs and kids add their own fun to the mix. There is no reason why you can’t play tag, hopscotch, hide and seek or anything else once you reach more than 2ft 4 you know.
Use Your Body
One of the best pieces of home workout kit in your home is you. Lifting and pushing your own body weight is one of the best ways to workout. You’ve already seen some fun challenges you can try using it – but, if you want something a bit more traditional, or a longer workout, here’s a few ideas…
One Song Workouts: Another really fun way to work out just using body weight is a One Song Workout. In this, you pick one song you love, choose a body part (say abs, arms or legs) to work and just go for it mixing up moves for the length of the song.
I’m also just dancing around my desk a lot right now – every time something good comes up on Spotify, it’s time for 3 minutes of disco (current fave is Shiny Things by Taylor Swift.) This is not only excellent cardio, it’s also a most excellent way of cheering yourself up should you need it.
Playing Card Workouts: Get yourself a pack of playing cards – but remove all the cards numbered 1-5 and the picture cards. Now assign each suit an exercise – so for example it might be
Diamonds – Press-ups
Spades – Squats
Clubs – Crunches
Hearts – Star Jumps
Shuffle the cards and then pull one out – the suit determines the move you do and the number on the card determines how many reps you do it for. Keep shuffling until you’ve done 30 minutes of toning.
The Dice Plan: In a similar vein, pick six exercises per body part (there are some suggestions below if you’re stuck) and number them one to six. Take each body part in turn and throw the dice to determine which move you’re going to do – then do it solidly for one minute. Work each body part in turn, then start again. Keep going for 30 minutes
Legs and butt: lunges, squats, leg lifts, hip thrusts, knee circles and plie squats
Arms and chest: punches, bicep curls, tricep dips, shoulder raises, chest squeeze and triangle press-ups
Abs: planks, crunches, side planks, tree pose, Russian twists and leg circles
Heart: star jumps, high knees, can-cans, grapevines, skips and spot runs.
So, there you have it – 23 fun ways to work out at home. Do you have any others? Let me know in the comments.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.