Basics of Making Effective At-Home Workout Routines

Last week we looked at tips for effective gym workout routines, this week we’ll look at some tips for designing effective workout routines that can be done at home.

Maybe you need a routine for your days off from the gym or for when you travel. Maybe you don’t want to join a gym and are looking for ways to have an effective workout routine at home. It shouldn’t take much effort or money to design an effective program at home. Even figuring in the cost of some equipment it should be relatively inexpensive. Some of the equipment you may want to consider is push-up bars, exercise bands, exercise tubing, dumbbells and fit balls.

Elements of Fitness

1Effective exercise programs have five components:

  • Warm-up routine
  • Cardiovascular exercises
  • Resistance exercises
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Cool-down routine

None of these components require a gym or even exercise equipment.

Warming Up

The goal of warming up is to loosen your muscles and to gently prepare them for exercising. You want to gradually increase your heart rate and circulation, loosening your joints and increasing your blood flow to the muscles. This helps prevent injuries.

Some good warm-up activities:

  • Walking
  • Using a treadmill
  • Using a slow pace on a stationary bicycle

Cardiovascular (Aerobics)

Cardiovascular activities enhance the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. They will also improve your muscles’ ability to utilize this oxygen, supplying adequate energy.

2A link between cardiovascular fitness and longevity was established in a 1995 research study, the Harvard Health Alumni Study. The subjects were male Harvard alumni who did not have any form of heart or pulmonary disease. The subjects were given a questionnaire to record their physical activities on. The data was collected throughout years and resulted in findings that showed a direct correlation between levels of physical activity and rates of longevity.

Some good cardiovascular activities:

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Aerobic Dance
  • Brisk Walking
  • Jumping Rope

3During this activity you want your pulse to be in a target range and this is determined by subtracting your age from the number 220. You then calculate 60-85% of this number.

Resistance Moves

Resistance exercises increase muscle strength by making your muscles work against a force. Benefits include strengthening your muscles and bones, speeding up your metabolism, and helping to minimize muscle loss. These exercises also facilitate calorie burning even after you’ve stopped exercising.

4Some suggested resistance exercises:

  • Leg Adduction
  • Planks
  • Short Arc Squats
  • Straight Leg Raises
  • Arm Raises
  • Heel Step-Downs

Flexibility Moves

Improving your flexibility can improve your performance in various physical exercises and enable your muscles and joints to work effectively with a full range of motion. Flexibility will also help prevent or decrease your risk of injury.

5There are two types of flexibility exercises: static stretching and dynamic stretching.

With static stretching, you are stretching a muscle without moving it. Here are some examples of static stretching:

  • Sitting on the ground with legs straight out, leaning forward – this stretches the hamstring muscles
  • Stepping forward with one leg, shifting weight towards the front leg – this stretches the calf muscles
  • Bending one leg back towards the buttocks and holding onto that foot – this stretches the thigh muscles

Dynamic stretching involves moves that combine stretching with movement. They are intended to prepare muscles for the movements they’ll be making during the workout. Start out slowly with these stretches, gradually speeding up as your muscles warm up.

Some examples of dynamic stretches are:

  • High Steps – raise your knee toward your chest, hold your shin and then lower your leg. Alternate legs.
  • Ankle Stretch – raise one foot slightly off the ground, keep your leg straight and flex foot with your toes pointed up. Alternate feet.
  • Arm Swings – put both arms out in front of you with your palms facing down, walk forward swinging your arms to the right side, then swing them to the left side.
  • Arm Circles – with arms straight at your sides, parallel to floor, move your arms in circular directions. As your arms become more flexible, make your circles bigger.

Cooling Down

Just as warming up increases your breathing, body temperature and heart rates, cooling down decreases them, gradually bringing your body back to resting levels. These moves also prevent blood from pooling in larger muscles, which causes dizziness and cramping. Cooling your muscles down helps rid your body of lactic acid build-up. Increased lactic acid levels can result in increased muscle soreness after working out. Suggested time frames for cooling down are 5-10 minutes.

Some good ways to cool down are:

  • Walking slowly
  • Stretching slowly
  • Gentle jogging

6It’s best to include static stretching in your cool-down routines, not dynamic stretching.

You don’t need a gym membership to get and stay in shape. You don’t need to be exercising in a gym every day either. Use these tips and suggestions to design a workout you can do outside of a gym, or in addition to, and keep up the good work!



1“No Gym Required: How to Get Fit at Home,” Kevin Steele, PhD,

2“Exercise Intensity and Longevity in Men. The Harvard Alumni Health Study,”  I-Min Lee, MBBS, ScD; Chung-cheng Hsieh, ScD; Ralph S. Paffenbarger Jr, MD, DrPH,

3“Why is Cardiovascular Fitness Important?”  Lisa Marie Mercer,

4“10 Forms of Resistance Training that Strengthen Your Muscles,”  Vonda Wright, MD,

5“Everything You Need to Know About Flexibility Exercise,”  Rachel Rettner,

6“Why is it Important to Cool Down After Exercise?”



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Post by Andrea Rogers