It is cold outside, and the gym really isn’t your thing. How are you supposed to keep up on your exercise goal? Luckily, fitness is something you can do anywhere! It is especially accessible now with tools such as YouTube and health apps at our fingertips. And contrary to what some may tell you, you don’t need all those fancy machines at the gym in order to get fit! Here are 5 impactful indoor home workouts that you can do at home that require little or no equipment!
No matter what workout you decide to do, don’t forget to warm up beforehand with 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements rather than static stretches. This means just warm up with regular movement like walking from room to room, maybe taking the stairs a few times, doing some knee raises and moving your arms around to loosen them up. After your workout, do the same to cool down.
Yoga is a low-impact exercise centering on increasing strength and flexibility while building a strong connection between the mind and body. It is one of the most versatile workouts. It can cover needs for any age, any level of fitness, and can take into consideration illness and/or injury. In recent years, it has really been put more into the health spotlight. Many scientific studies have been published showing the wide range of benefits that come from a regular practice.
Yoga builds strength and muscle tone – sometimes surprising so! Many only think of it in terms of flexibility and the pretzel-like shapes that some yogis bend themselves into. But the focus of control of movement coordinated with breath leads to some serious strength. Because of the integration of breathwork, it also improves lung function, posture, sense of well-being, energy, and stress management. In fact, yoga is considered a type of moving meditation, so if you are looking to pack in some mental benefits along with physical, this is a great way to do that!
Yoga can also improve metabolism and cardiovascular health, leading to lowered cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and better regulated blood glucose levels. It also contributes to weight loss and lower levels of inflammation in the body.
Practices range from gentle, restorative yoga focusing on breathwork and simple movements from a seated or lying position to fast, intense flows that will have you sweating in no time. This allows you to be able to choose what works best for you and really lets you create a customizable plan.
There are many different yoga videos online. A light-hearted, positive YouTube channel that is excellent for beginners is Yoga with Adriene. Once you learn several different poses and how to flow from one to the next, you can create your own workout as well!
While no equipment is necessary (you don’t really even need a mat, although it may make it more comfortable if you have hard floors), you may hear instructors referencing things like bolsters and blocks. These can be replaced with pillows and rolled up blankets, but they aren’t really a requirement.
2. Circuit Strength Training
Strength training is important to include in your workout routines, and it is super easy to do with body-weight exercises. This will also contribute to more lean muscle. The focus here is on the form of each movement. Slower, intentional movements will build muscle more than quick motions where the momentum pulls you through each move rather than your own strength.
The benefits of strength training are many. They include increased muscle mass and strength, improved cognitive function, reduced inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol, improved blood sugar regulation, and enhanced mood.
These workouts can also be adjusted to meet you where you are by learning progressions of movements. For example, a basic strength exercise is a push up. If you aren’t able to do a standard push up, you can do a progression modification by lowering your knees to the ground until you build up the ability to do the standard formation.
There are so many different varieties of exercises that you can put together for this. If you are going for the maximum results in a short amount of time and effort there are four movements that can work your entire body. They are squats, planks, push-ups, and pull-ups. (The pull ups will require either a pull up bar or some alternative.)
For circuit training, you simply choose the exercises you want to do, how many reps you want to do at a time, how long you want to rest between circuits, and how many times you want to do the full circuit. A good starting point is often 10 reps per circuit. Then you can adjust from there based on the specific exercise and your skill level.
Using the above example, this could look like:
- 10 push ups
- 10 squats
- 30 second hold for plank
- 10 pull ups
(rest for 90 seconds and repeat 4 times)
You can also choose a time frame for how long you want to do your circuits rather than a number of circuits, but this type of exercise doesn’t have to take long at all – around 15-20 minutes (after warm-up) is sufficient a few times a week.
Again, you can find a lot of inspiration for the specific exercise movements online. Usually there are several variations of each movement (such as regular planks, elevated planks, side planks, etc.)
3. High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT has also had a lot of popularity in the last few years. I believe it has it’s place in a workout schedule for people in generally good health and looking to take their workouts to the next level. It will push your heart rate up and really challenge you. So it is important that you only do this when you feel fully rested and recovered from any other workouts. I recommend adding it in only once per week on average. Special care should be taken if you deal with chronic inflammation or chronic illness. HIIT can cause high stress to the body.
HIIT is a general term that basically means short periods of intense, maximum effort exercise paired with brief periods for recovery. A great benefit to this sort of exercise is that you can get a lot of benefit in a short amount of time. Some health benefits of incorporating it into your exercise plan are similar to other workouts – lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, better blood sugar regulation, and a mental boost. The higher intensity can also raise your metabolic rate after workouts.
The concept of HIIT is similar to the circuit strength training, except rather than doing slower controlled movements focused on building strength, the focus is on explosive, maximum effort movements that really get your heart rate going. A common exercise for this is burpees, in which you begin with a squat, transition to a push up, hop back to standing, and then do a full effort jump up in the air and repeat. This does work many different muscles in the body, but can be hard on joints. Mountain climbers are a lower-impact option – beginning in a raised plank position, alternate bringing each knee up towards your chest as if you were running. You can find a lot of different exercise examples online!
During a workout, you can mix up your movements by doing a few reps of each one. An illustration of this using the burpees and mountain climbers would be:
- 30 seconds of burpees
- rest 30 seconds
- 30 seconds mountain climbers
- rest 30 seconds
- Repeat as necessary (add more rest if needed!)
How you structure your workouts both for time and exercises is totally dependent on where you are starting from. You do want to push yourself during this type of exercise. But as previously mentioned, it can be very stressful. So you need to listen to your body and know your limits. If you find yourself slowing down, getting fatigued, or not being able to put in maximum effort and get the same result, it is time to wrap up. HIIT does not have to last long – that’s the biggest perk of it. You can do anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes (after warming up) and still have a highly effective workout.
Pilates and yoga have some similarities, but Pilates focuses more on core strength with accompanying arm and leg movements. The concept is that trunk stability has everything to do with how our bodies move through life, and by strengthening it we can move with grace, ease, strength, flexibility, and efficiency. There are six principals that summarize Pilates and can help you get the most of a workout. They are centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow.
Benefits of Pilates include lean strengthening of muscles, improved flexibility and skeletal alignment, increased energy and body awareness, improved mood, sense of wellbeing, and overall general health.
There are two main types of Pilates, one using large equipment and one that doesn’t. For at home workouts, you can find routines that require nothing and some use easily found items like stability balls, mats, resistance bands, etc. The workouts also range in skill level. So there is something for everyone, and countless ways to modify and adapt to adjust for physical ability or injury.
There are a large option of Pilates workout routines available online.
One of the easiest workouts that you can do is just to dance! Put on your favorite music, make sure you have enough room to move around freely, and just let go and get lost in the rhythm. The beauty of this is that there are no specific routines to follow and no certain moves that you have to focus on. There are absolutely no barriers except working through your own self-consciousness.
If you do want something more structured or to help you overcome not knowing what to do on your own, you can find dance workouts like Zumba online as well!
The benefits of dancing are similar to cardio exercise in general – improved mood and wellbeing, endurance, and overall fitness. It also improves heart and lung function, strengthens bones, improves cognitive function, tones muscles, and promotes weight loss.
Dancing can be modified to meet you wherever you are, from slow swaying to fast jumps and hops. If you wanted to step it up a notch, you could focus in on a certain dance style and learn it.
Let’s be honest – who doesn’t feel amazing after dancing around your house and giving yourself permission to move how you want, no matter how silly it may seem? If it feels good, go for it!
Keep it up!
In the later parts of winter, it can seem hard to stay motivated to get your workouts in. But with these ideas, you can build an exercise routine that you enjoy without ever having to go out in the cold!
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*It is always recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any new exercise program.