Best At-Home Workouts for Men
Getting in a great workout doesn’t have to mean hauling yourself to the gym or spending thousands of dollars on fancy equipment or memberships. With the right exercises, you can burn just as many calories and build muscle at home, potentially saving time and money in the process.
If you aren’t sure where to start with a home-based workout routine, here are some of the best home workouts for men that will get you into great shape in no time.
The Basics of a Home Workout
The CDC sets recommendation guidelines for both strength training with aerobic exercise. Ideally, adults should aim for between 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, including strengthening exercises that use the whole body at least twice a week. This may help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. In fact, when you exercise all of the major muscle groups, the benefits of exercise only increase.
Therefore, a full-body at-home workout for men needs to combine both aerobic and strength training exercises. Your workout should last between 35 to 45 minutes (longer if you only work out a few days per week) and combine exercises that get your heart pumping with those that build muscle. Try interval training, in which you perform exercises in short bursts with breaks in between. For example, repetitions of one-minute biceps curls followed by a 15-second break and then one minute of triceps extensions constitute an effective exercise pattern.
An effective full-body workout doesn’t require expensive equipment, either. Using your body weight for resistance with exercises such as burpees, pushups, wall sits, planks, squats, and lunges are just as good at building your strength as exercises using weights or machines. To get your cardio in, try walking, running, or biking. Free applications, such as Couch to 5K, are great places to start if you haven’t run before. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to run about three miles and be on your way to better health.
Dumbbells, or free weights, are a staple in most fitness centers but are often overlooked in favor of heavier barbells or weight machines. However, when designing an ideal at-home workout for men, dumbbells can build muscle strength and help you slim down without taking up a ton of space or costing a lot of money. A decent set of dumbbells of varying weights will cost you around $100 or less while giving you a virtually endless array of exercise options.
Now, you might think basic dumbbells, as light as they are, couldn’t possibly give you the gains you’re looking for. But the American Council on Exercise (ACE) points out that dumbbell workouts actually have multiple benefits for men. Unlike other forms of weights that only work out one muscle group in one type of motion, the same dumbbell can be used for multiple exercises that work out different muscle groups. Dumbbells also contribute to muscle development, both through mechanical and metabolic means.
Mechanical muscular growth refers to how muscles grow when they are damaged via exercise. When muscles are overburdened, the body activates repair mechanisms that result in increases in muscle mass.
Sample Dumbbell Workout
To work out with dumbbells, you’ll need a selection of weights in a variety of sizes: usually two lighter weights for working on arms and the upper body and two heavier weights for the lower body or multiple muscle group exercises. Adjustable dumbbells are also a good option, as you can customize your weights and add weight as you gain strength.
The best dumbbell exercises for men work out all of the major muscle groups. For each exercise, aim to complete as many reps as possible in one minute with a 15- to 30-minute rest in between sets. To build your upper body strength, complete two to three sets each of biceps curls, triceps presses, bent-over rows, hammer curls, chest presses, and bench presses. For the lower body, add weighted squats, lunges, straight leg deadlifts, and calf raises to your routine to sculpt and strengthen your legs.
Video-based workouts have many advantages. For starters, you can attend a “class” any time you want, wherever you happen to be, and follow an instructor, taking the guesswork out of which exercises to do and for how long. Video workouts are more affordable than a personal trainer or gym membership, with DVD sets typically costing no more than a couple hundred dollars at their priciest and streaming subscriptions running about $15 per month. And, of course, it’s hard to ignore the testimonials you see from people who have gone from being overweight or having a “dad bod” to being a buff bodybuilder with six-pack abs using a system such as P90X or Insanity.
The problem with video workouts, of course, is that many of the most popular programs aren’t for fitness newbies. If it’s been a while since you have worked out, jumping into something like P90X right out of the gate may be too intense and lead to injury. If you don’t use proper form with some of these exercises, you won’t get the most benefit, and you’ll increase your chances of injury. Finally, some of these programs work best with specific diets or supplements, which can increase costs or make them harder to stick with.
Getting the Most From Video Workouts
That being said, if you use a video workout that’s appropriate for your fitness level and work your way up to more intense exercises, it can be effective. Before you begin, watch the videos without doing the exercises to get an idea of what to expect. While working out, don’t be afraid to stop or pause the video to catch your breath.
For a heart-pumping, effective workout that won’t cost you a dime, go outside and play. Activities such as hiking and kayaking count toward the recommended 150 minutes of exercise and are a lot more fun than running on a treadmill. Join in on a friendly game of basketball or soccer, or join your office softball league.
Outdoor activities aren’t limited to cardio, either. Your backyard or local park has plenty of features that can be used for working out. For instance, try using a park bench or boulder for pushups or triceps dips, or a strong tree branch for pullups. Hills can also help you build strength. Try walking backward uphill for an extra challenge, or carry heavy rocks or branches up and down the hill instead of weights. Be creative, and enjoy some fresh air and fun during your free workout.
Your honey-do list doesn’t have to be a chore – it can be your workout too, torching calories and building strength. Not convinced? Just mowing the lawn with a push mower can burn almost 500 calories in an hour. Chopping wood for a half-hour incinerates almost 300 calories and builds your arm and shoulder muscles.
The key to getting the maximum benefit from outdoor chores, of course, is actually doing them, so no riding mowers or power equipment allowed. But if you’re struggling with fitting in a workout with everything you need to get done around the house, take comfort knowing yardwork and strenuous household chores will totally count as your workout.
Whatever workout you decide to do at home, talk with your doctor before beginning it to ensure you’re healthy enough for physical activity and that your planned routine is appropriate for your fitness level. With commitment and time, your home workouts will be just as effective as going to the gym – and less expensive to boot.