My recent article, Five Inexpensive Gym Alternatives for Exercise, resulted in a small flood of feedback from readers offering up their tips for home exercise.
I reviewed the many links and ideas that readers provided and found nine really great free resources if you’re trying to get in shape (or stay in shape) at home.
I tried to mix up resources that were led by men and by women because people often have a gender preference when exercising and following a routine.
All of these exercises and routines are awesome, but they’re somewhat ranked with what I consider the most useful ones at the top and the ones with somewhat narrower appeal (usually because they have restrictions) lower down.
Neila Rey’s 100 No-Equipment Workouts is available as a free PDF. You can also purchase it in book form if you prefer a book. It’s exactly what is described – the book provides 100 different workout routines that require no equipment whatsoever and rely wholly on body weight. The routines vary quite a bit and each offer multiple levels of intensity. This is just an amazing resource that is entirely free.
Mike Rowe’s Burpees Workout (from Dirty Jobs) is a nice video that demonstrates a very simple and repeatable exercise that works well for busy people. You can do this in a hotel room or your bedroom and only have to remember one repeatable exercise to do in sets. Again, this is purely bodyweight – you need no equipment at all. The video is also rather humorous.
Several people pointed me to DDP Yoga resources on Youtube, but the best one I found was Sheree Rensel’s introduction to the “Diamond Dozen”, which are twelve “strength yoga” positions that you essentially repeat over and over and mix up with other body weight exercises. These are great if you have a sore back or other physical challenges that keep you from wanting to exercise. (Note: I am a huge fan of DDP Yoga, as it has helped tremendously with lower back pain from doing a job that naturally revolves around sitting.)
Many people suggested hiking as a way to improve fitness at a low cost. HikingGuide’s Get Ready to Hike guide is a great tool for helping you take small steps toward hiking. I actually wish we lived closer to a state or national park where I could regularly hike, as the area we currently live in is very flat and doesn’t offer much opportunity for hiking.
The Nerd Fitness Playground Workout revolves around using public playground equipment for exercise (obviously, using it when it wouldn’t be busy, such as during a school day, early in the morning, or late at night). It mixes up body weight exercises, running, and things like chin-ups (using the playground equipment) to get into better shape.
Fitness Blender’s Top 10 Fat Burning Exercises at Home delivers almost exactly what it describes. Each one has a video showing how to do it. (Note that their #1 exercise is burpees, which shows up on Mike Rowe’s video, above.)
Joanna Soh’s Beginner Fat Burning Workout is a pretty good choice if you’re feeling overwhelmed with options and just want one routine to start with. This is really simple, so it’s a good starting spot if almost every other exercise routine seems overwhelming.
Final Round Training’s Shadow Boxing Cardio Workout is basically what it sounds like – you use shadowboxing as the centerpiece of a home fitness workout. This is a short routine that’s a good cardio workout. You can repeat it or, even better, do it while walking or jogging outdoors. There’s also a second shadowboxing workout video.
Scott Herman’s muscle gain routines are great YouTube videos that contain full workouts you can do at home to build muscle. These videos contain a mix of body weight exercises (meaning no equipment) along with some weights, so their usefulness will depend on what you have at home.
There are enough exercise resources online that you should be able to find what you need to help you start improving your physical fitness without spending a dime, no matter what your situation. The only thing you need is motivation.
If you have additional resources that are free and require no equipment or minimal equipment, feel free to note them in the comments!