Disclaimer: if you purchase any of the equipment through the affiliate links, I will receive a small commission. However, you will not pay any extra for the products.
This is your beginner’s guide to creating your own home workout. This article will walk you through everything from how much you should eat to how much rest you should take in between your set.
If you’re completely new to fitness or just struggling to survive lockdown without access to a gym, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
The exercises included can be tailored to meet any experience level – so without further ado, let’s get into it!
What’s your goal?
So first thing’s first – why are you reading this article? What is your motivation behind wanting to know how to create your home workout routine?
Is it to lose weight – to improve your endurance – or to build muscle?
The answer to this question is going to impact which exercises you choose to include in your workout routine. Endurance is going to be heavily based on cardio. Muscle building for a beginner is going to require heavy lifting and weight loss is going to require a mixture of the two.
Of course, you can just eat a bit less if you want to lose weight or try lifting heavy ‘things’ to build muscle but I’m going to give you a great guide to determine the best way to methodically progress towards whatever goal you decide on.
So I’ve decided what my end goal is… now what?
Well, now you need to know how you should be eating.
How should a beginner eat?
Now, unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this.
As everyone has different genetics and a different metabolism, the number of calories that are needed in order to promote weight loss or gain muscle is going to be completely different from person to person.
The way to determine the right amount you should be eating is to first find your maintenance level.
This is the level of calories that you need to eat every single day in order to not gain any weight, but not lose any weight either.
I wrote an article called ‘Weight-loss – How To Diet For Quick Results‘ which talks you through exactly what you need to do in order to determine the right amount of calories you should be eating as a beginner.
Now that you’ve worked out whether you want to gain muscle or lose weight and you’ve determined your maintenance calories, you need to implement a diet plan.
How do I tailor what I eat to my goal?
If you’re looking to gain muscle, I suggest eating 200 calories above your maintenance calories – increasing calories each time weight plateaus.
A weight plateau is when your weight loss/gain stops for an extended period of time (usually 1-2 weeks).
If you’re looking to lose weight, I suggest eating 200 calories below your maintenance calories – reducing calories each time weight plateaus.
The main reason for such small increments in the calorie changes is because, by increasing calories and promoting muscle gain, you’re also promoting fat gain.
The best way to ensure the majority of your weight gain is muscle, is to add calories gradually rather than eating everything in sight!
Similarly, the small increments in the reduction of the calories when trying to lose weight are to ensure that the majority of the weight lost is body fat, rather than hard-earned muscle.
To drill further into this, you should then divide your calories into the following:
- 50% of calories, dedicate to Carbs. 1g of Carb is 4 calories;
- 30% of calories, dedicate to Protein. 1g of Protein is 4 calories; and
- 20% of calories, dedicate to Fat. 1g of Fat is 9 calories.
So if you find your daily maintenance calories are 2,000kcal. These would be your macronutrient breakdowns:
- 50% = 1,000kcal, divided by 4 = 250g of Carbs;
- 30% = 600kcal, divided by 4 = 150g of Protein; and
- 20% = 400kcal, divided by 9 = 44g of Fat.
You can track this using the smartphone app called ‘MyFitnessPal’.
If you’d like to read more about how to calculate your macros – I’ve linked a great article here that you should check out.
‘Okayyyyy, now I know how much I need to eat and I know how it’s going to help – but I still don’t know how to work out how to exercise properly?…’
Patience… first we need to grab a few cheap items to help us out.
(These purchases are not compulsory of course, I will include exercises variations that won’t require any additional equipment. However the use of equipment will make it possible to achieve progressive overload and therefore help gain more muscle) *spoken super quickly like the terms and conditions of radio ads*
Do I need to buy any equipment?
I’m glad you asked.
Here are a few fundamental bits of kit I would suggest starting with to kick off working out at home – I’ve hyperlinked the ones I would suggest to help you out.
- Resistance bands – these are so we can add resistance to 90% of our exercises to promote muscle gain.
- Yoga mat – this is more for hygiene. I personally don’t like working out on a bare floor as I don’t know where people’s feet have been…
- Medicine ball – these are great for as you start to advance with your ab workouts and also can be used in a number of different exercise variation.
- Occlusion bands – commonly used for rehabilitation purposes, these help to exhaust the muscles more quickly whilst using lighter weights. They essentially make 5kg of resistance feel like 15kg!
With these fairly cheap pieces of equipment, they can take your workout game to a whole new level.
What exercises should a beginner do?
So here’s the good stuff.
I’m going to list a number of different exercises that you can do at home with links to how each exercise should be performed.
- Back extensions (no equipment need);
- Towel rows (just need a towel);
- Pull-ups (if you have the facilities);
- Banded pullovers (resistance bands needed); and
- Banded rows (resistance bands needed).
- Jump push-ups (no equipment needed);
- Normal push-ups (no equipment needed);
- Kneeling push-ups (no equipment needed);
- Banded flies (resistance bands needed); and
- Banded push-ups (resistance bands needed).
- Close-grip push-ups (no equipment needed);
- Tricep dips (no equipment needed);
- Banded tricep kick-backs (resistance bands needed);
- Banded tricep extensions (resistance bands needed); and
- Any of the above whilst using occlusion bands.
- Towel bicep curls (no equipment needed);
- Weighted bicep curl (just some books in a bag);
- Banded bicep curls (resistance bands needed); and
- Any of the above whilst using occlusion bands.
- Air squats (no equipment needed);
- Lunges (no equipment needed);
- Banded squats (resistance bands needed);
- Single leg split squats (no equipment needed);
- Wall-sits (no equipment needed); and
- Any of the above whilst using occlusion bands.
- Hand-stand push up (against a wall of course);
- Shoulder push up (no equipment needed);
- Banded lateral raises (resistance bands needed); and
- Banded front raises (resistance bands needed).
- Sit-ups (no equipment needed);
- Plank (no equipment needed);
- Russian twists (use a medicine ball for added intensity);
- Jack-knifes (no equipment needed); and
- Side-crunches (no equipment needed).
I would suggest creating 3-4 different workouts that you rotate through. Each workout will focus on a key body part i.e. Back, Chest, Legs and Arms & Shoulders. Throw in a bit of abs if you’re feeling naughty.
“Okayyyy, so now I’ve got my exercises selected – how do I actually turn these into a routine?”
Sets -v- Reps
This, again, is not simply a one-size-fits-all.
I think, before we talk about sets and reps – we need to talk about training volume and frequency.
Training frequency – how often you train.
Training volume – Sets x Reps.
The key to moving towards whatever goal it is that you have set yourself – YOU NEED TO GIVE YOUR BODY TIME TO RECOVER.
Now, how does this affect my training frequency and my training volume? Well. Let me tell you.
If you do a 3 hour session, you’ll have massive training volume. Now pair that with training every other day, you will not be able to give your body time to repair.
In a nutshell… if you want to do a massive workout with tons of sets and tons of reps, go for it. Just do it maybe twice a week. If you want short and sweet workouts, you’ll probably be able to train four to five times a week…
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s my general suggestions for structuring sets and reps:
If you’ve got limited weights – stick to 3 sets. If you’ve got enough weight to push yourself, go for 2.
As for reps, aim for 8-10 on each set. You want to pick a weight or resistance that lets you fail at 8 reps. On the next workout aim for 10 then once you hit it, move up another weight – that’s progressive overload hun x
“So how long do I need to rest between sets?”
The Rest Period
The rest period is a beautiful thing.
Not only is it your time to sit down and take a sip of water – it can also be used as a tool for intensity.
If your weights are not heavy enough and you’ve exhausted the rep ranges, you can reduce the rest period to keep intensity high!
That being said, I would probably aim for 30 seconds to 1 minute to begin with and adjust it for your needs :)
What should I do during my rest period?
So you’re going to want to stay hydrated.
You’ll want to drink about 250ml (1/4 litre) every 15 minutes of working out. That’s according to webmd. So if you’re doing a 2 hour workout, aim for 2 litres of water.
As for catching your breath – a whole bunch of research has been done on the area and it would appear that hunching over with your hands on your knees is the fastest way to catch your breath.
This is because it slightly moves the diaphragm muscle (the one that makes your lungs breathe in and out) so you can inhale more air than normal.
So how heavy should I lift to begin with?
True to the nature of this article, this is going to be for beginners so I would take it very slow. This will avoid risking injury and putting yourself out of the running before you’ve even started.
Start with just your bodyweight and if you need a weight, maybe start with a can of beans or an extremely light weight/resistance.
Then when you’ve exhausted your 8-10 rep ranges, move up to something heavier. Then keep adding weight until you’re hench.
**FAST FORWARD TO A FEW WEEKS LATER – YOU’VE EXHAUSTED ALL OF THE REP RANGES AND WEIGHTS AVAILABLE. YOU NEED SOMETHING TO ADD MORE INTENSITY TO YOUR WORKOUTS**
Let’s talk about a way that we can add intensity through manipulating set structures…
Supersets & Dropsets
This is where you do one set of an exercise followed immediately by one set of a different exercise. These two sets can also be called one superset.
The idea is to keep your heart rate high (as you’re not resting) but allows you to change the muscles you’re working out.
Another good reason to incorporate Supersets is so you can cut down the time it takes you to work out.
An example of a superset could be doing a set of press-ups then going straight into a set of squats.
There isn’t really any rule as to what exercises should be superset-ed together. A popular is usually a bicep exercise with a tricep exercise but you can decide on your favourite combo.
If you’re in a hurry or you just want it over with – superset two of your exercises together to save some time!
Dropsets are where you add an extra set on the end of an exercise and half the weight. Then you smash out as many reps as you can until your muscle fails. Muscle failure is when you can’t do any more reps.
These are great to completely exhaust a muscle – getting the most muscle gain as possible.
“Okay… so is there anything else I should know? That’s it covered right?”
Well… if you’re serious about getting some serious progress, you’ll need to track every workout. Here’s how you do it!
Tracking workout progress never seems to be done by the masses, however, it’s probably the single most important thing in the whole process.
It will ensure you are burning enough calories for weight loss and getting consistently stronger to enable more muscle to be gained.
I suggest using an app called RepCount and programming in your workouts so that you know exactly what weights/reps you are aiming for each and every workout.
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