These At-Home Workouts for Beginners Prove You Don't Need a Gym to Get Seriously Strong

Plus, score tips from fitness pros on how to get the most out of your at-home workouts for beginners.

Photo: Getty Images

Thanks to fitness influencers who record every single squat and gym bros who hog the weights, it's all too easy to feel a sense of "gymtimidation" while exercising in a public space, especially if you consider yourself a beginner. In fact, a 2019 survey discovered that half of the people who participated reported feeling intimidated while exercising around others in a gym setting.

One way you can get into the groove of exercising without feeling as though all eyes are on you? Keep your workout within the confines of your humble abode. By sticking to a judgment-free space such as your living room or garage, you'll feel more comfortable trying new exercises, making mistakes, and getting sweaty — and this positive experience can increase the odds you keep up with your fitness routine, says Jayne Gomez, an NSCA-certified personal trainer with FYT Personal Training in Los Angeles.

To help kick off your own at-home fitness journey, Shape tapped trainers to break down the biggest points to keep in mind when getting fit sans gym. Plus, they've programmed at-home workouts for beginners that will leave your entire body shaking — in a good way, of course.

How to Incorporate At-Home Workouts for Beginners Into Your Routine

Start off with the basics.

If you're a total newbie to exercising, start your journey with the understanding that you probably won't be breezing through 45-minute HIIT workouts or squatting 150 pounds right from the get-go. Instead, you'll need to focus on learning the proper form for foundational moves (i.e. squats, lunges, and wall push-ups) with just your body weight and slowly building your strength, says Jennifer Fidder, a certified personal trainer with FYT Personal Training in Miami, Florida.

Rather than trying to cram a lot of different exercises into one beginner workout, Gomez recommends picking four or five different moves, then performing 12 to 15 reps of each exercise for two or three sets. "Some people try to do so much at once, and then they burn out really quickly, and they're not going to be able to stick with their routine for long," she says. "Pick a workout that is not too intense right off the bat."

Focus on form.

You may feel like a badass powering through bicep curls with 20-pound dumbbells, but if your form is wonky, you're not going to see as great of a benefit — and you could increase your risk of injury. "Form is always going to be more important than how much you're lifting or for how long you're doing the workout," says Gomez. "It doesn't matter if you can do a plank for two minutes; if your form is totally off, it's not working the muscle that you are supposed to be working…[and] you only could potentially be doing damage to your body." While giving an at-home workout for beginners a go, make sure you follow the cues closely and correct positioning when you notice your form is starting to fumble.

Remember to breathe.

This pointer may seem like it should go without saying, but Gomez says it's common for beginners to hold their breath during workouts without even realizing it. When you inhale, your body absorbs the oxygen in the air and uses it to create energy (also known as ATP), which is needed to keep your muscles moving during exercise. And as the intensity of your workout increases, so does the amount of oxygen your body needs, Thanu Jey, D.C., C.S.C.S. chiropractor and clinic director at Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic in Toronto, previously told Shape. By holding your breath while performing a round of bicep curls or push-ups, you may not take in enough oxygen, which can increase blood pressure and lead to muscle fatigue faster, according to an article published by Penn State University.

Breathing properly throughout your sweat sesh can also reduce the odds of injury. If you're weight lifting, for example, exhaling during the "lift" portion of the movement reduces the amount of pressure in your abdomen, which lessens the risk of sustaining internal injuries such as hernias or blood vessel strains, according to info published by the University of Delaware.

Know when to increase the resistance.

When you start incorporating at-home workouts for beginners into your routine, Fidder recommends first sticking to bodyweight moves to nail the form and get comfortable with the movement. When those exercises start feeling easy or you're no longer seeing progress, then it's time to add a resistance band or light dumbbells, slowly increasing the load over time, she says. "Let's say you started out with 15 repetitions and it was really, really tough," says Fidder. "When you get to a point where you could do 20 with no problems, then it's definitely time for some resistance."

Incorporate both strength training and cardio into your routine.

While strength training helps prevent injury, strengthen your bones, and burn calories, it shouldn't be the sole component of your fitness routine. To get your heart pumping, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (think: you can talk but not sing during movement) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (meaning you can't say more than a few words at a time) weekly. And folks who stick to that moderate-intensity quota have significantly less risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to the U.S. Department of HHS.

To hit those recommendations without the boredom of steady-state cardio, Fidder suggests incorporating some heart-pumping and strength-training exercises into a circuit, performing a handful of moves back-to-back, taking a short break, then repeating the process two or three times. "You can do your standard jumping jacks, lunge kicks, or mountain climbers," she says. "Every beginner hates mountain climbers, but they are amazing to get the heart rate up and to just get a little bit of cardio activity, especially if you're at home where you don't have a lot of space."

Don't forget to rest.

If you're trying to bang out the most reps in the shortest amount of time, it can be tempting to skip the suggested rest breaks during your workout. But giving your body a short breather during a sweat sesh allows the muscles to recover just enough that they're able to power through another set — all while keeping your heart rate up, Ryan Rogers, a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, California, previously told Shape.

As a rule of thumb, Gomez recommends keeping your rest breaks to about 30 seconds, but you can also consider your rating of perceived exhaustion, or RPE, adds Fidder. "Basically, rate your exhaustion on a [scale] from zero to 10 — zero is super chill and 10 is 'my heart is pounding like it's coming out of my chest,'" she explains. "Then bring it down to like a four or five, and if we're talking about a circuit workout, then start over." (

Consider meeting with a trainer.

No matter how many YouTube workouts you've watched or how confident you feel performing those basic moves, Fidder encourages you to meet with a certified trainer if you're just kicking off your fitness journey. "I think it's always a good idea to do at least a couple of sessions to learn proper form," she explains. "Once you want to progress and start adding weight, if you don't have proper form, the risk of injury is very, very high."

Meeting up with a trainer can also be beneficial if you feel like your progress, whether it be in terms of muscle gains or weight loss, has plateaued or if you need someone to help you stick with your new routine, says Gomez. "If you want continued support, every personal trainer will be happy to hold your hand during the journey," adds Fidder. (These fitness trainers on Instagram might just give you all the motivation you need.)

Be kind to yourself.

As a total beginner, you're bound to slip up somewhere along your fitness journey. You might not have the proper form the first few times you try a plank, or you may not be able to perform all the reps you've set out to achieve — and that's okay, says Fidder. "Just have a little bit of a beginner's mindset and say, 'Okay, I'm learning as I'm going, I'm being patient, I'm doing my best, and I'm trying to be better every day.'" she says. "You don't have to be perfect."

The Best At-Home Workouts for Beginners

Now that you have the low-down on how to have a killer fitness regimen under your own roof, it's time to start incorporating at-home workouts for beginners into your routine. Consider aiming to do three workouts a week, says Fidder. That said, "if you find yourself to be very, very sore after one workout, then maybe start with two times a week," she says.

First, kick off your journey with the below beginner-friendly workouts.

Next, add two more at-home workouts for beginners, programmed by Gomez and Fidder, respectively, into your routine.

5-Move At-Home Workout for Beginners

You'll need: a mini loop resistance band (Buy It, $13, and a pair of light dumbbells (Buy It, $16,

How it works: Perform the suggested repetition or time for each of the five exercises in the circuit. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat the circuit for a total of three rounds.

Resistance Band Glute Bridge with Abduction

A. Place the loop resistance band around thighs, about two inches above knees. Lie down with your back flat on the floor. Bend knees and place feet hip-width apart on the ground. Keep arms at your side, palms facing down.

B. On an exhale, slowly push through both heels to lift hips off the floor. Tuck tailbone and lift the hips up as high as possible without allowing the lower back to arch. Your body should form a straight line from knees to shoulders.

C. At the top of the move, slowly press knees out to side, hold momentarily, then slowly bring them back to center.

D. On an inhale, gently lower hips back to the floor one vertebrae at a time.

Repeat for 15 reps.

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees softly bent and core engaged. Hold dumbbells in front of thighs, elbows at sides and palms facing up. Grip dumbbells tightly, with wrists in line with forearms, forming a straight line from knuckles to elbows.

B. Squeeze biceps and curl dumbbells up toward shoulders, keeping elbows tight to your sides. Pause at the top of the curl, then slowly lower arms back to start.

Repeat for 15 reps.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees soft, and core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, just outside of shoulders with palms facing forward, and elbows pointing down.

B. Exhale while pressing dumbbells directly overhead (not forward), so wrists stack directly over shoulders and biceps are next to ears. Keep core engaged and spine neutral.

C. Reverse the movement so the dumbbells follow the same path to return to starting position.

Repeat for 15 reps.

Forearm Plank

A. Start on the floor in a table-top position, with hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees bent and stacked directly under hips.

B. Step one leg back at a time to come into a high plank on palms, actively squeezing glutes and heels together.

C. Lower one elbow at a time to come into a plank on forearms, with forearms directly under shoulders. Actively draw navel in toward spine.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms extended over head, holding one dumbbell in both hands.

B. Draw shoulders down and back and engage core. Keeping elbows pointed forward, bend elbows and lower the weight behind head until elbows are bent slightly less than 90 degrees.

C. Pause, then extend arms to bring the weight back overhead.

Repeat for 15 reps.

Full-Body At-Home Workout for Beginners

You'll need: a tube resistance band (Buy It, $25,

How it works: Perform the suggested repetition or time for each of the six exercises in the circuit. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds, then repeat the circuit for a total of three rounds.

Bodyweight Squat

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with toes turned slightly outward. Brace abdominal muscles to engage core.

B. Hinge at the hips, then bend knees to lower into a squat position until thighs are parallel or almost parallel with the floor; heels begin to lift off the floor; or torso starts to round or flex forward. (Ideally, in the lowest position, the torso and shin bone should be parallel to each other.)

C. Exhale and press into the mid-foot to straighten legs to stand, hips and torso rising at the same time.

Repeat for 15 reps

Jumping Jacks

A. Stand with feet together and arms by sides. Jump feet wide while simultaneously lifting arms laterally and then overhead, palms facing forward.

B. Immediately jump back to start by bringing feet together and arms back down to sides.

Repeat for 15 reps

Resistance Band Seated Row

A. Sit tall with legs extended in front of you, knees slightly bent. Wrap resistance band behind balls of feet and hold one end of the band in each hand, arms extended.

B. Keeping core engaged, shoulders down and away from ears, and palms facing floor, bend elbows and pull the ends of the band toward ribcage until elbows are slightly behind body.

C. Slowly extend arms back to start.

Repeat for 15 reps

Reverse Lunge

A. Stand with feet together and hands clasped in front of chest or resting on hips.

B. Take a big step backward with right foot, keeping hips square to the front and pelvis neutral. Lower until both legs are bent at 90-degree angles, keeping chest tall and core engaged.

C. Press into the mid-foot and heel of the left foot to stand, stepping right foot up to meet the left.

Repeat for 20 reps, alternating sides.

Wall Push-Up

A. Stand two to three feet away from a wall, feet together. Place hands shoulder-width apart on the wall at chest level.

B. Keeping elbows at a 45-degree angle out from ribs, shift weight into balls of feet and slowly bend elbows to lower upper body toward wall.

C. When nose almost touches the wall, push through palms to return to start.

Repeat for 15 reps

Forearm Plank

A. Start on the floor in a table-top position, with hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees bent and stacked directly under hips.

B. Step one leg back at a time to come into a high plank on palms, actively squeezing glutes and heels together.

C. Lower one elbow at a time to come into a plank on forearms, with forearms directly under shoulders. Actively draw navel in toward spine.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles