Not quite ready to head back to the gym? We share seven types of exercise you can do from the comfort of your living room. From yoga to HIIT, barre to cardio.
Gyms may be starting to reopen, but if your favourite session is still unavailable, or if you’re simply not ready to head back to your classes, don’t worry. It is now easier than ever before to get a great workout from your living room.
Countless videos, apps, podcasts, virtual classes and more are available online to help you keep up your fitness at home. And these can be just as effective as a gym session when it comes to losing weight, getting your heart rate up and boosting your overall fitness levels.
Whatever your goals and whatever your exercise tastes, there’s a home workout routine for you.
We’ve highlighted seven of the best types of at home workouts and shared some of our favourite video guides to help you get back in the game.
- How much exercise should I be doing?
NHS guidelines on exercise recommend you should be doing either 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week.
You should spread out different types of exercise and activity across the week and try to do some form of physical activity every day, even just something light.
- Light activity is anything that gets you up and moving. This could be anything from making a cup of tea to cleaning the kitchen. The older we get, the more important it is to keep up with light activity.
- Moderate activity gets your heart rate up and may raise your body temperature and create some shortness of breath. You should be able to talk but you probably won’t be able to sing.
- Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. You may well struggle to say more than a few words at a time.
This advice is the same for all adults, and children should be doing a lot more. You can find the full NHS guidelines here.
Before you dive into any workout, it’s important to get your body properly warmed up. This reduces the risk of injury and should improve your performance.
Many online workouts will start with a workout, but not all of them do. If yours doesn't, find a separate warmup online.
This NHS 10-minute warm-up routine is a good place to start. Healthline also offers some great warm up and stretching advice.
Yoga is a great exercise to do at home. It is a bodyweight workout, meaning you don’t need equipment beyond a mat and perhaps a block (though this can be improvised).
Yoga builds strength and flexibility and has been shown to have significant benefits to your overall wellbeing, including boosting your circulatory health and helping you to lose weight. It is a very accessible form of exercise that is safe for most people.
Yoga with Adriene is one of the most popular sources of home yoga videos, and with good reason. The channel holds over 500 videos, all of them completely free to access, and they’re organised into a variety of categories.
These cover everything from ‘yoga for beginners’ to ‘yoga for runners’ and ‘yoga for pregnancy’, meaning everyone at every level should find something suitable.
Classic aerobics videos are where the home workout began. But don’t worry, they have been updated since the 80s.
Aerobics offers a fantastic cardio workout, and you’ll find all manner of interpretations on YouTube, from kickboxing-inspired workout videos to workouts designed to burn calories.
If that seems a bit advanced, the NHS offers a great beginner’s aerobics video that we highly recommend.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or low-impact exercise.
Interval training can be great for people with little free time, as sessions are often only around 20-30 minutes long but can be extremely effective.
Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) has a number of HIIT videos on his YouTube channel, including this Absolute Beginners HIIT Workout.
If you would rather attend live streamed classes, Les Mills offers sessions for people of all abilities.
4. Strength training
A lot of people are put off by strength training, mistakenly thinking it’s the same thing as body building. Actually, strength training is anything that builds muscles in any way, not just to extreme proportions.
We really enjoyed this 20 Minute Full Body Toning Workout from Zeus Fitness. It works all your muscle groups rather than focusing on the upper body as some workouts tend to. And rather than being immediately tough, it builds in intensity.
You will notice that the trainer has a dumbbell in each hand. If you don’t have dumbbells and don’t want to buy any, use tins of soup or beans. Yes, they’re not as heavy, but you’ll still get a workout. These exercises are using your body weight to build strength, too.
Alternatively, try the Verywell Fit at home strength workout. It offers options for various abilities and uses household items, combined with your body weight, to help you build your strength.
Barre is an increasingly popular workout that combines elements and moves from ballet with aspects of Pilates, dance, yoga and strength training. It boosts fitness in various ways, including targeting core strength.
People like barre because it’s a low-impact exercise that gives a whole-body workout. Many people experience significant results in a short amount of time.
Barre is best done in classes because it relies on precise movements so having a teacher is invaluable. Barrecore’s online classes are some of the best.
If you want to get a taster, this 15-minute beginner’s barre workout should show you what to expect from classes.
Boxing makes for a really fun workout, and you don’t need all the equipment at home to make the most of it. Many online workouts are specifically designed to be done without gloves or punch bags.
A session of boxing gives a great cardio workout, and over time the sport should help you with your balance, flexibility, strength and agility.
Try this easy beginner’s boxing workout if you’re interested in learning key techniques, or this 30-minute at home boxing session if you prefer a mix of boxing and aerobics.
7. Dance cardio
An hour’s dancing can burn an impressive number of calories and give you a full body workout. If you like music and have found that more traditional workouts leave you bored and uninspired, this might be the thing for you.
Zumba may not be the coolest new workout on the block anymore, but don’t discount it. People across the word love this Colombian workout because it’s both fun and effective.
This 30-minute Zumba Dance Workout from One How To is a great introduction for anyone who wants to give it a try.
Or perhaps you’d rather attend a live dance class? Frame is well known for its retro dance aerobics classes and the online versions are just as fun.
Consider one-to-one support
For some people, video workouts and online classes can be too impersonal, or too easy to skip. If you’re missing the benefits of one-on-one guidance, did you know that many personal trainers are offering virtual and online sessions?
Search online for one in your area so that you have the option of moving to face to face sessions in future if you want to. Be sure to read reviews carefully and ask lots of questions to make sure they’re the right trainer for you.
If you are starting exercise for the first time or recovering from an injury, you might also benefit from an online physiotherapist session. They too will help you to build a training plan based on your individual needs.
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