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Trainer Approved: 7 Helpful At-Home Exercises for When You Can't Hit the Gym

A black yoga mat with a pair of blue sneakers black dumbbells and a jump rope on it

Finding time to get to the gym on your best day can be tough. But throw in some late-night meetings, last-minute soccer practices, and unpredictable weather (like the sudden freezing temps we have in Denville, NJ), and getting to the gym can feel like a pipe dream. 

But sticking to a regular workout routine is crucial to hitting your goals – and keeping up with those New Year fitness resolutions you set! That’s why we’ve created this guide with the help of expert trainers at The Gym Connection. So we can help you bring the gym home to stay healthy and fit no matter the circumstance. 

In this guide, we’ll offer you

  • 7 helpful and effective at-home workouts

  • A 30-minute sample workout plan that will get your heart pumping and your muscles burning

  • Some safety tips to help you stay on top of your game and injury-free when you train at home

Why Is It Important to Stay Consistent With Your Fitness at Home?

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: consistency is key to your fitness journey. Even if you have an amazing workout on your first day in the gym, it won’t lead to massive changes in your physique overnight (as much as we want it to). Real changes happen when you put in the work, week after week. 

That’s why getting a workout in even when you can’t make it into the gym is so important. If you’ve ever taken a week off from the gym and come back feeling like you lost tons of muscle and strength, it can be discouraging. At-home workouts help ensure your hard-earned progress isn’t lost and help you build healthy habits that last a lifetime.

How Does Going to the Gym Help You With At-Home Workouts?

What’s one of the hardest parts about working out? Not knowing where to start. It can be tough to know what workouts you should do together, if your squat form is correct, rep ranges, and tons of other things. But don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. Going to the gym and starting your journey with a personal training consultation can help set your at-home workouts up for success. 

Certified personal trainers can help craft training plans for you on days you’re stuck indoors or can’t squeeze in the gym. They also can help teach you the proper exercise form so you don’t get hurt, offer equipment substitutes (water jugs make great dumbbells), and equip you with other skills and knowledge to make your at-home workouts just as effective as in the studio. 

The Best At-Home Exercises Recommended by a Personal Trainer at The Gym Connection

Exercise 1: Jump Rope 

Did you know that you can burn over 10 calories a minute by jumping rope? But that’s not the only reason James at The Gym Connection loves it. Jump roping is also a great way to strengthen your glutes, legs, calves, and shoulders – talk about a full-body workout! 

And you don’t even need to have a jump rope to do this workout! Simply mimic the motion by rotating your arms in tight circles, keeping your elbows tucked into your body. Try different variations like double-unders (two rotations per bounce), single-leg jump ropes, or high knees to switch up your training. 

Exercise 2: Squats

You don’t have to make working out at home complicated. This Denville personal trainer loves adding simple squats to his at-home training routine. “Squats are the bread and butter to any good leg day,” says James, “they target key muscle groups like your glutes, hamstrings, and core which help you build a strong foundation.” 

Remember, the key to a good squat is your form. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your back flat and chest up as you bend your knees. Imagine your foot is a tripod, and push your big toe, pinky toe, and heel into the ground as you drive on the way up. To spice up your squats, add some weight (in the form of water jugs if you don’t have dumbbells), or try jump squats to add in some cardio.  

Exercise 3: Frog Stand

You won’t see this one in every home training routine. But James believes that the frog stand is a fundamental calisthenics exercise that helps build crucial core strength, balance, and concentration. It helps lay the groundwork for more advanced bodyweight exercises. 

To perform the frog stand, start by placing your hands flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Position your knees on the outside of your elbows, and lean forward to shift your weight. (Now comes the tricky part). Find your balance, and place your knees on your elbows as you lift your feet off the ground, still leaning forward slightly. Maintain this position for as long as possible but remember – quality over quantity! Aim for a few seconds to start, and try working your way up to 1-minute holds.  

Exercise 4: Push-Ups

Another classic exercise to add to your at-home training routine: push-ups. James emphasizes, "Push-ups are the ultimate test of upper body strength. They target your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core in a way that few other exercises can.” Hey, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. 

Like the other exercises on our list, you can always incorporate different push-up variations to keep them interesting and challenging. Add some decline push-ups and incline push-ups to your routine to target all three sections of the chest. How, you ask? Let us explain. 

To do a decline push-up at home with no equipment, place your feet on an elevated surface like the couch, or a dining room chair, and then perform a push-up. To do an incline push-up from home, reverse it: keep your feet on the floor, put your hands on a solid elevated surface (like the counter or the dining table), and perform a push-up. Whatever push-up variation you do, make sure you keep your back flat, your core tight, and don’t let your butt sag and sway. 

Exercise 5: V-Ups

V-Ups are one of the few core workouts that target both your upper and lower abdominal muscles. “V-Ups are tough but incredibly effective for an all-around core workout,” says James. “The key is to move smoothly and control the motion on the way up and down without letting your lower back lift off the floor.” 

Start by lying flat on your back, arms extended behind your head, and feet extended in front of you. Brace your core, keep your back flat on the ground, and begin to lift your legs straight up while you reach towards your feet with your hands (until you form a ‘V’). Slowly lower back down to the starting position. If you need more of a challenge, try to keep your feet 6 inches off the ground in between reps.  

Exercise 6: Chair Dips

According to James, “Chair (or bench) dips are great because you can do them almost anywhere.” “Whether you’re at The Gym Connection, at home, or on a bench at a local park in Denville, they’re great for targeting those triceps and building that horseshoe.” 

To do this exercise, find a sturdy chair or bench. Sit on the edge, and place your hands next to your hips. Extend your legs out in front of you, and use your arms to lower your body off the chair until your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Push through your palms to lift back up. You can adjust the difficulty level by changing the position of your feet: the closer your feet, the less intensity, and the further away, the more challenging. 

Exercise 7: Lunges 

And last but not least, lunges. James notes, “I love lunges for at-home workouts because they’re so versatile and great for building strength and stabilization muscles. Adding lunges and squats to your at-home workout routine is a lower-body powerhouse.” Lunges work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. And depending on where you put your foot, you can focus on one muscle group more than another depending on your goals. 

To perform a standard lunge, step forward with one foot and lower your body until both knees are bent about 90 degrees (try not to let your back knee hit the ground). Keep your front knee in front of your toes, your chest up, and push back up to the starting position. For an added challenge and even more leg concentration, try Bulgarian split squats. It’s the same movement, but your back leg is on an elevated surface behind you. 

Putting It All Together: Your 30-Minute At-Home Workout Plan From The Gym Connection

Now that we've offered you some awesome at-home exercises recommended by James, a seasoned personal trainer at The Gym Connection, it's time to put them to work. We've crafted a 30-minute workout plan that incorporates these exercises into one comprehensive full-body workout. Whether it's a snowy day or just one of those times when getting to the gym isn't possible, this workout helps you stay on track with your fitness goals. So, clear some space in your living room, grab a timer, and get to work!

Total Workout Time: 30 Minutes

We’re counting the total workout time without breaks between exercises. Try to keep your breaks between 1-3 minutes to keep your heart rate up. 

Warm-Up (5 Minutes)

  • 2 Minutes: Light jogging in place or brisk walk around the room/home.

  • 3 Minutes: Dynamic stretching (arm circles, leg swings, gentle torso twists).

Jump Rope (5 Minutes)

  • 1 Minute: Basic jump rope (or mimic movements if without a rope).

  • 1 Minute: High knees jump rope.

  • 1 Minute: Double-unders (or single jumps at a faster pace).

  • 1 Minute: Single-leg jumps.

  • 1 Minute: Cool down pace jumping (double jumps with a slower rotation)

Squats (4 Minutes)

  • 1 Minute: Standard squats, 15-20 reps.

  • 1 Minute: Rest.

  • 1 Minute: Jump squats, 12-15 reps.

  • 1 Minute: Rest.

Frog Stand (3 Minutes)

  • 30 Seconds: Hold frog stand position.

  • 30 Seconds: Rest.

  • Repeat 3 times.

Push-Ups (4 Minutes)

  • 1 Minute: Standard push-ups, 10-15 reps.

  • 1 Minute: Decline push-ups, 10-15 reps

  • 1 Minute: Incline push-ups, 10-15 reps.

  • 1 Minute: Rest.

V-Ups (4 Minutes)

  • 1 Minute: Perform V-Ups, 10-15 reps.

  • 1 Minute: Rest.

  • Repeat the cycle once.

Chair Dips (3 Minutes)

  • 1 Minute: Chair dips, 10-15 reps.

  • 1 Minute: Rest.

  • 1 Minute: Chair dips, 10-15 reps.

Lunges (2 Minutes)

  • 1 Minute: Standard lunges, 10-12 reps per leg.

  • 1 Minute: Jumping lunges, 8-10 reps per leg.

Cool Down and Stretch (5 Minutes)

  • 2 Minutes: Light walking in place or gentle movement to lower heart rate.

  • 3 Minutes: Static stretching (focus on legs, arms, back, and shoulders).

Top Safety Tips for Home Workouts

When you work out at home, your personal trainer isn’t there to watch your every move. It can be easy to get lazy with your form or forget to rehydrate between sets without your accountability buddy reminding you. 

So to help you stay as safe during your home workouts as you do in the gym, we’ve put together a list of our top safety tips for home training. 

Begin with a Proper Warm-Up

A good warm-up is like telling your body it’s time to put in work. Something as simple as a light jog up and down the stairs or a set of jumping jacks can elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping. Make sure you also throw in some dynamic stretches to help prime your joints and ligaments for the workout. 

Make Sure You Hydrate

Dehydration is a surefire way to ruin a good workout. When you’re in the comfort of your own home, you might forget to sip between sets. Just like in the gym, try to keep a water bottle close by so you can drink some high-quality H2O before, during, and after your training session. 

Focus on Proper Form

This one should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Good form is crucial during training. Not only does it help you get the most out of each exercise, but it also helps you stay injury-free. If you’re ever unsure if you’re doing an exercise correctly, stand in front of the mirror as you do it. Or you can record a video to review your form (and show it to your trainer as proof you were consistent with your workouts during your next session!)

Listen to Your Body

Rest and recovery are just as important as your training. And the line between “pushing yourself” and “overdoing it” is very fine. If an exercise hurts in a way that it shouldn’t, you should stop immediately and rest. This is your body’s way of saying it needs a break, and listening to your body is crucial for preventing overuse injuries. Remember, fitness is a marathon, not a sprint! 

Wrapping Up: Your Home, Your Gym, Your Fitness Journey

At the end of the day, exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. A few simple exercises done in your living room can help you improve your health, strength, and mobility. The most important part of a good training routine is sticking with it.

But when you’re ready to take it to the next level, we’re here for you. Our certified personal trainers are ready to teach you some new training tricks you can add to your arsenal. And our semi-private training studio in Denville, NJ is the perfect place to learn some new exercises (away from prying eyes at big-box gyms) so you can master them for at-home training. 

To schedule your free fitness consultation with a trainer at TGC, click here. Or if you’re ready to step out of your living room and into our gym, sign up for a membership here.

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