Each January, millions of people make goals to live healthier and get in shape. But trying to hit the gym each day can feel like more effort than it’s worth, especially when it’s freezing cold outside, you’re worried about how you look in those workout clothes, and the price of a monthly membership hits hard after the holidays.
If you miss one workout, and then two, morale and motivation can start circling the drain. That’s why you always need a backup plan, or even just a short-term plan to get you through to those warmer months. Working out in your living room might seem less effective than using all that fancy equipment in the gym across town, but you might be surprised how well a workout using just your body weight as resistance does the trick.
In fact, you may be able to reach all your goals at home. “What you can achieve with body weight is unbelievable,” says Christie Cash, certified personal trainer and co-founder of BikiniBOD.com, adding that it takes time and consistency for any fitness plan to work. For this reason, Cash strongly recommends setting small, attainable targets each week to get you to your larger goals.
A comprehensive routine includes resistance training to strengthen your muscles and cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart pumping. At first, any amount is good, but you’ll want to work up to strength training twice per week and at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio activity five times a week, according to the American Heart Association. Here’s how you can get started and work out at home without spending a lot of money.
Body weight workouts
If you’re just starting your fitness journey, body weight workouts are a perfect way to begin. Cash suggests the following 35- to 40-minute starter regimen:
1. 5 minutes of moderate steady state cardio, such as jogging in place or shadow boxing.
2. 5 minutes of dynamic stretching, such as arm circles, standing hip flexor stretches or rotating hamstring stretches.
3. 10 minutes of functional body weight exercises, such as squats, walking lunges, push-ups and sit-ups.
4. 10-15 minutes of focused isolated movements, such as lying leg raises, hip raises, bridges and seated Russian twists.
5. 5 minutes of cool-down static stretching.
Housework can burn some calories, but why not ramp it up a notch and work toward your fitness goals too? The next time you’re about to clean, throw on your favorite workout tunes and do a few jumping jacks or dance moves to get your heart rate up.
After that, get started with your first cleaning task. When that’s done, do some squats, push-ups, lunges or sit-ups. Complete as many of each exercise as you can in a row, then go on to your next cleaning chore and so on. This might take longer than your normal house cleaning session, but you’ll be accomplishing two things at once.
One of the best ways to get in a good workout is to take an instructed class or the next best thing: Follow a professional workout video. If you like everything digital, consider a subscription to DailyBurn.com or FitnessGlo.com for a variety of great, full-length workouts for $10 to $15 per month.
If that’s more than you’re willing to spend, or you think you won’t need that many videos, head over to FitnessBlender.com or YouTube for free workout videos.
If you’d rather use a DVD player than your Internet connection, you can find videos for a low price. Several are available for less than $10 online, and customer reviews can help you make an informed decision.
For even cheaper DVDs, check out the discount bins near the video section of your local department store. Some can be found for $5 or less at many stores.
For many, the key to sustaining a regimen is variety. Several fitness apps allow you to mix and match moves, or use your goals to create a different daily routine for you.
Similar to online videos, these systems usually charge a monthly fee, but most offer trial periods so you can try several workouts for free. Fitocracy and Instant Fitness are available in major app stores and have positive customer reviews.
If you’re tired of the same old exercises, try purchasing inexpensive resistance equipment such as resistance bands, a kettlebell or a jumprope. These small items can be found at a variety of stores and often include instructions for moves you can do with them.
Nearly everyone should do strength training workouts, but nothing torches fat like cardiovascular exercise. If you have room in your home for a bicycle or collapsible treadmill, it’s a great way to get a workout in while you watch your favorite shows. Of course, machines are rarely cheap, but an investment in your health might just be worth it to you.
You can save money on these devices, though. Gyms often sell older machines at a low cost, and the classified section of your community newspaper may have ads for used cardio equipment. If that doesn’t work, and you live in a major metro area, check out Freecycle.org for workout equipment. The products offered there are always free, but you may have to go pick them up yourself.
Whatever you end up doing, remember that achieving goals is mainly mental, and although it will take persistence, you can get there.