Favorite at-home workouts

By Dr. Josh Axe

The great thing about home workouts is that they cut out many of the excuses people have for skipping out on exercise — such as cost, lack of time or equipment, inconvenience, and not wanting to workout in front of others.

When my wife, Chelsea, and I don’t have access to a gym or fitness studio — for example, when we’re traveling or simply short of time — we both love to do at-home workouts. Some of our favorites are:

  • Burst Training Body Weight Circuits, which double as strength training and cardio workouts
  • Home boot camps, using weights or bands for an extra challenge
  • Yoga, which not only improves flexibility and balance but can also build strength and help you relax
  • Barre workouts, great for improving your posture and gaining core and lower body strength 

My Favorite At-Home Workout Plan

When I work out at home, my goals are to target as many parts of my body at one time as possible, which helps to keep my heart rate up and doubles as an aerobic workout.

A full-body, “burst training” circuit workout that consists of compound movements done at a fast pace is a great way to get an effective workout in a short period of time.

What is burst training exactly? It’s a type of interval workout that involves exercising at about 75 to 90 percent of your maximum effort for 30–60 seconds at a time, followed by a brief recovery period of about 30–60 seconds of rest.

The really appealing thing about burst training is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. And not only does this rapid-style workout save you time, but it may actually boost your fitness and strength even more than other types of long-distance cardio workouts.

Burst training (or high intensity interval training) leads to what’s known as an “afterburn effect” (scientifically known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).The afterburn effect describes how the body uses more calories and oxygen than usual following a tough workout in order to repair fatigued muscles.

So not only are you working on building strength during your workout, but your metabolism may also benefit from the extra challenge.

Burst Training Circuit At Home

Complete the exercises below back to back, using an interval approach. Complete one exercise for 30–60 seconds at a time at max effort, then rest for 30–60 seconds before starting the next one. If time allows and you have enough energy, complete the whole circuit 2-3 times in a row.

Plan to “burst” for 10–20 minutes in total, 3–5 times a week to see results fast. If you’re not a beginner and familiar with bodyweight exercises, you can try holding weights during some of these exercises to make them even more challenging.

Hip bridges (targets hamstrings, butt and back) — While laying down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet hip-distance apart with heels close to your butt. Raise your hips while pushing off with your heels. Push the hips up as high as you can. Hold for about 5 seconds or more, then release back to the starting position and repeat.

Squats (works your quadriceps, glutes and core) — With feet hip-distance apart, keep your upper body as upright as possible, then bend at the knees, pushing your butt back while squatting as if sitting in a chair. Lift yourself back up and repeat.

Alternating lunges (work your legs and core) — Stand with feet hip-distance apart, then step one foot forward while keeping your upper body as upright as possible. Step so your front leg lowers into a full lunge at a 90-degree angle and your front knee tracks over your front ankle. Push off from the floor and back to the starting position, then repeat on the other side.

Hip hinges (targets glutes and hamstrings) — Stand with feet hip-distance apart, ideally in front of a wall. Bend at the hips and touch the wall with your butt, while keeping your spine straight. Your knees should only slightly bend and you should feel it in your hamstrings. Return to standing position and repeat.

Planks (targets your core) — In a “front plank,” your hands are placed directly under your shoulders with the legs straight out behind you while your back is flat and belly drawn in. Hold for at least 30 seconds at a time. Make it harder by doing mountain climbers while planking, or by trying plank variations. 

Push-ups (works chest, triceps and core) — From plank position, lower your body down with your back flat and gaze forward until your chest almost touches the floor. Push back up to plank and repeat.

V-ups (targets your whole core) — Lay on your back and lift your legs straight up, while drawing your belly in. Lift your upper body off the ground and try to touch your toes so your body forms a V shape. Return your shoulders to the ground and repeat. 

Home Boot Camp Workout

While the circuit above requires zero equipment and relies on just your body weight for resistance, an alternative is doing a “Home Boot Camp” workout that includes some simple bands or weights.

If you prefer using weights/bands for an extra challenge, here’s one of my favorite Home Bootcamp workouts to try:

  • Squat presses
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Hip thrusts
  • Reverse flys
  • Shoulder presses
  • Lateral dumbbell raises

In addition to doing circuits at home that focus mostly on building strength and getting my heart rate up, I also try to mix in some stretching, mobility work and yoga. 

This is important for remaining flexible, avoiding injury and allowing me to do some light movement even on “recovery days” when I’m taking a break from tougher workouts.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let a busy schedule or being cooped up at home stop you from getting in a good workout. 

Depending on your physical abilities, goals and preferences, try home workouts such as burst training (aka interval training), boot camps using bands or weights, yoga or barre. 

My favorite workout to do at home is a type of burst training circuit, which combines short, high intensity bursts of exercise, with slow, recovery phases. You don’t need any equipment at all to do burst training, and with this interval-style approach you get both cardiovascular and strength-building benefits in one short workout.

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy through food and fitness. Besides being the author of books like Keto Diet, The Collagen Diet and Eat Dirt, he has been a physician for many professional athletes, including professional swimmers Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay. He also traveled to the 2012 Games in London to work with USA athletes.

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