How To Get The Same Workout From Home That You Would At The Gym
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
With many of us living in the cozy comfort of our homes, more often than not, we become more sedentary in the process. Fitness lovers realized this fate years ago, which sparked a trend of at-home workouts—ones that require little to no equipment and can be done in a minimal amount of space. In recent years, at-home workouts have caught on, and the necessity of staying inside has driven lots of us to find the best ways to get a good workout in while staying inside.
I love a home workout as much as the next homebody, but are they as effective as a gym session or class? I decided to ask some fellow trainers and doctors their thoughts on the matter.
Can you get a good workout at home?
If you ask a fitness professional whether it's possible to get a good workout at home, chances are they'll respond by saying you can get a good workout anywhere. What stands in the way of you and a solid workout isn't where you do it—it's whether you do it.
"Some movement is ALWAYS better than no movement," says Lauren Kanski, NASM-CPT. "You may be limited in creativity with an at-home workout but definitely not in ability."
The two main limitations people think of when they consider working out at home are space and equipment. A gym has endless space and equipment—how could you match that at home?
Answer: You don't have to. You don't even need shoes to work out indoors.
"All you need is a space the size of a yoga mat so you can move in all different planes of motion," Kanski says.
And if you don't know how to program (i.e., you're not a trainer), that's no issue. There are thousands of trainers (maybe even tens of thousands) who post workouts online, whether it be on Instagram, YouTube, or their websites.
"Nowadays we have countless resources, videos, and equipment," says Amy Shah, M.D. "These can all make our home workouts just as good as a gym workout."
However, a word to the wise: Make sure that you're taking fitness advice from people who have credentials. Not doing so may result in ineffective workouts, or even worse, serious injury.
The potential downside of working out from home.
By now, the idea of exclusively working out at home has probably crossed your mind. But, like all choices, there are a few downsides to at-home workouts.
Many people go to a gym or studio for the community aspect of exercising. For some, being around other people who are working out is a motivator.
"The problem I have with working out at home is that I love to feel the motivation of everyone around me," says Shah. "I also enjoy someone telling me what to do in a group class."
In the same vein, there's no external accountability at home—only you know if you do it; there's no fee for skipping it or person waiting for you.
"Other than equipment being a limiting factor, I find that people get distracted with other tasks or things they need to do while being at home and can't dedicate time to a full workout," Kanski notes. "When you're at the gym, you're committed to the time for a workout, as you already made the effort to get there."
While these are certainly drawbacks, when you weigh the convenience and affordability of working out at home, you may find it's worth the sacrifice.
What are the best workouts to do at home?
Running? HIIT? Yoga? If someone is going to work out at home primarily, is there a specific type of workout they should be doing? Experts say no.
"You don't have to do anything fancy," Kanski says. "Standard body-weight pushups, squats, lunges, stair climbs, jumping jacks, planks—any of the fundamentals—are all we need. Just move with intention! If you really want to invest in equipment, I recommend 5- to 15-pound dumbbells or kettlebells, a TRX, a yoga mat, and a set of resistance bands. These allow for some resistance, suspension, and cushion for moving."
In the event that you prefer cardio or getting outside, walking and running are worthwhile options.
"You can do all kinds of workouts at home," says Shah. "I like doing a walk around the neighborhood with little sprints built in between. All you need are your sneakers."
Still not convinced you can get a kick-ass workout at home? Try this five-minute core workout or, if you want to take it up a notch, allow one of our mbg Collective members to put you through the paces.
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction. A runner, yogi, boxer, and cycling devotee, Bass searches for the hardest workouts in New York (and the best ways to recover from them). She's debunked myths about protein, posture, and the plant-based diet, and has covered everything from the best yoga poses for chronic pain to the future of fitness, recovery, and America's obsession with the Whole30 diet.