The best no-equipment home workout for beginners

This simple full body circuit training programme is easy to follow and can help to improve your overall health

Alejo Rodriguez Lo |

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Did you eat way too much during your holiday gatherings? Or maybe getting into shape is one of your New Year’s resolutions. Whatever your motivation, improving your overall health is easier than you think with Young Post’s Home Gym column. This weekly section will focus on gym or exercise routines you can do at home with minimal equipment.

Before we dive into the workout details, it is of utmost importance that you put safety above everything else. This means doing the exercises in the correct form, and not pushing yourself too far if you feel pain. Finally, be sure to complement your new exercise routine with a balanced and healthy diet.

This week’s Home Gym routine is at the beginner level, perfect for people trying to get back into a healthier lifestyle or just giving it a go for the first time. Most of the exercises do not require additional equipment and will aim to improve all the muscle regions of your body.

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Circuit training plan

3 complete sets of 6 exercises below. 1 minute rest between sets.

Body weight squats: 20 repetitions (reps)

Push-ups: 10 reps

Walking lunges: 10 reps each leg

Dumbbell rows (using a full milk carton or another weight): 10 reps each arm

Plank: 45 seconds

Jumping jacks: 30 reps

This workout is a circuit training routine, which means you will be doing all the exercises in order (with the required repetitions) three times (or sets) with a one-minute rest period between each set.

We will now go through each exercise, describing its motion, form and which part of the body we are focusing on.

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Body weight squats (20 reps)

These will mainly train up your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes (your legs and bum).

First, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes slightly turned out and your eyes forward. Then slowly bend at your knees and drop your hips to lower your body. Remember to keep your heels flat on the floor and your back straight.

As you bend your knees, they should go in the direction of your toes. If your knees are going inwards or flaring outwards, your form needs improving.

Finally, when you hit the bottom, pause for a while and strongly push back up to the starting position using the same motion you came down with. Repeat this movement 20 times and then move on to the next exercise.

Push-ups (10 reps)

The push-up is one of the most common exercises you see people doing. Why? Because it trains most of your upper body muscles, primarily focusing on your chest (or pectorals), shoulders (or deltoids), and triceps.

First, place yourself in a plank position, with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, your feet in a comfortable position and in balance (sometimes comfortable can be shoulder-width apart), bum down and your back straight.

Your body should form a big straight line. Now lower your whole body towards the ground while keeping it straight, especially your back. Your arms should not flare out, so try to keep them as close to your body as possible. Once you have reached maximum depth without touching the ground, push your body back up to the plank position.

Do this 10 times. You can do more if you wish but remember you have three sets, so pace yourself.

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Walking lunges (10 reps each leg)

For the next exercise, we will work on the lower-body muscle groups with walking lunges. Just like the body weight squats, walking lunges train your legs and bum (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes).

These are best to do in a long corridor or hallway, as you will need space to walk. Stand upright, with feet together, and take a controlled large step forward with your right leg. Then lower your hips towards the floor by bending your knees. Both knees should form a 90-degree angle. The back knee (your left one in this case) should be facing the ground without touching it, and your front (right) knee should be pointing to the end of the hallway.

As we mentioned before, always keep your back straight to avoid injuries. Repeat the above but with the other leg, alternating each leg, and make your way across the hallway. For added difficulty you can carry one water bottle in each hand. Don’t cheat; it’s not 5 reps per side to make 10 reps, it’s 10 reps each leg.

Dumbbell rows (10 reps each arm)

Dumbbell rows are the only exercise in this routine that requires equipment. Don’t worry if you don’t have a dumbbell at home; you can replace the weight with a carton of milk or your favourite juice. This exercise will train your latissimus dorsi (lats) while also engaging your entire back, shoulders and arms.

Find a chair, a bench or a long coffee table and place your left arm and leg on it with your knee bent. Bend over so that your body is parallel to the ground, while keeping your back straight (see a pattern?)

Reach down and pick up the weight with your right hand, and pull the weight towards your body while keeping it close to your body. Your finishing pose should have the weight close to your chest and your arm close to your body. Extend the arm back down and you have got yourself one rep. Now you just have to do 10 in total for each side.

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Plank (45 seconds)

The plank is simply the starting position for push-ups, where you keep your body weight balanced with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, your bum down and your back straight.

Holding this position will engage your core and abs (abdominal muscles). If this is too easy for you, you can increase the holding time or alternate with side planks for the remaining two sets.

Jumping jacks (30 reps)

Your PE teacher has probably already taught you how to do jumping jacks, but here is a quick recap. Begin with your arms close to your body, and then jump and snap your legs shoulder-width apart and clap your hands above your head. Rinse and repeat 30 times.

Once you have done all six exercises and their required reps, you can take a one-minute rest before moving on to your next set. Remember to pace yourself because you will be doing three sets in total. Drink plenty of water, do them in the correct form, and try to break a sweat!

Edited by Pete Spurrier