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Best Home Gym Exercises to Burn Fat and Build Lean Muscle

home gym exercisesI’ve worked with people who absolutely need to go to the gym to have any chance of sticking with a workout plan and people who prefer to do home gym exercises and stay far, far away from the gym. I happen to fall into the latter category.

Regardless of your preference, I think going the home gym exercises route has plenty of benefits:

  • Cost: no expensive monthly membership fees or long-term contracts.
  • Time: no wasting time driving to and from the gym.
  • Convenience: no waiting in line to use cardio equipment or weight machines. And, you can work out on your own schedule, rather than only during gym hours.

Let’s start by looking at some exercises you can do at/around your home for free. Then we’ll look at a list of home gym exercises and instructions on how to perform each one.

Free at home exercises

at home exercises1. Walking

Benefits:

  • One of the easiest exercises to do at home or outside.
  • Great starting point for anyone who is just starting to exercise.

2. Jogging/Running

Benefits:

  • Jogging burns more calories than walking.
  • You can do it pretty much anywhere.

3. Bicycling

Benefits:

  • Riding a bike is an excellent, low-impact form of cardio.
  • Great for toning your lower body (hips, legs, butt muscles).
  • Can cover a lot more ground much faster than running.

4. Swimming

Benefits:

  • Involves all the major muscle groups of the body.
  • One of the best total body exercises (if you have a pool or body of water near you).

5. Yoga/Pilates

Benefits:

  • Both yoga and Pilates are great for building your core and flexibility.
  • Balanced workout for your mind, body, and spirit.

Home gym exercises for each muscle group

Back

Dumbbell Row
1. Bend at waist so your body is at a 45-degree angle facing the floor, feet shoulder width apart.
2. Grasp dumbbell with one hand and pull straight up to side of chest, squeezing your back muscles at the top.
3. Slowly lower the weight back down.
4. Once you’re done with one arm, switch arms and repeat.

Barbell Row
1. Bend at waist so your body is at a 45-degree angle facing the floor.
2. Grasp barbell with hands about 24 inches apart.
3. Pull bar up to chest, squeezing shoulder blades together at the top.
4. Slowly lower the weight back down.
Note: alternate your grip between wide and narrow to work different parts of the back.

Dead Lift
1. Place barbell on floor in front of you, standing with feet shoulder width apart.
2. Bend down and grasp bar with palms facing toward you.
3. Keeping your back straight, knees bent, and head up, stand straight up, using your legs to lift the weight.

4. Lean back slightly at the top of the movement and feel your lower back muscles contract.
Note: Start with a very light weight to reduce your risk of injury.

Inverted Row
1. Lie with your back on a bench (with a barbell on the rack).
2. Grasp the bar above you like you’re going to do a bench press.
3. Pull your body up toward the bar, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
4. Slowly lower your body back down and repeat.

Good Mornings
1. Rest barbell on your upper back and shoulders using a light weight.
2. Keeping head up and back straight, bend over at the waist until upper body is perpendicular to the floor.
3. Slowly raise your body back up, using your lower back to propel your body upward.
Note: Start with a very light weight to reduce your risk of injury.

Other good back exercises: pull-ups/chin-ups, lat pull downs, long bar row, power clean, shrugs, seated row, seated pullover


Biceps

Barbell Curl

1. Grasp barbell with underhand grip with barbell resting at your things.
2. Stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart.
3. Curl bar up toward your chest, keeping your upper arms tight at your sides and your back straight.
4. Slowly lower back to starting position.
Note: alternate your grip between wide and narrow to work different parts of the bicep muscle.
Note: really focus on keeping your upper arms close to your sides and do not rock your body back and forth to lift the weight.

Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curl
1. Grasp dumbbells with palms facing your sides.
2. Stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart.
3. Curl dumbbell in right hand up toward your chest, turning your wrist halfway up so your palm is facing your body.
4. Squeeze your bicep muscle hard for a few seconds at the top.
5. Slowly lower the weight back down and repeat the movement with your left arm.
Note: this exercise can also be done sitting down, but standing engages your core muscles more.

Hammer Curl
1. Grasp dumbbells with palms facing your sides.
2. Stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart.
3. Curl dumbbell in both hands up toward your chest, making sure your palms are facing in for the whole movement.
4. Squeeze your bicep muscles hard for a few seconds at the top and slowly lower the weight back down.

Isolation Curl
1. Grasp dumbbell in one hand, palm facing in.
2. Bend your body forward at 45-degree angle with your arms out in front of you about 12 inches.
3. Keeping upper arm as straight as possible, curl weight up, flexing muscle at top of movement.
4. Lower dumbbell, switch arms and repeat.

Other good biceps exercises: incline dumbbell curl, concentration curl, preacher curl, cable curl


Chest

Barbell Bench Press
1. Lie with back flat on bench, feet firmly planted on floor.
2. Grasp barbell slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
3. Slowly lower bar to mid-chest level then explode back up, squeezing chest at top.
Note: alternate your grip between close and wide grip to work different parts of the chest (close grip = inner chest, wide grip = outer chest).
Note: do incline bench presses to work your upper chest and decline bench presses to work your lower chest.

Dumbbell Fly
1. Lie with back flat on bench, feet firmly planted on floor.
2. Grasp dumbbells with palms facing in.
3. Raise dumbbells straight up then lower out to each side (palms facing in), elbows slight bent.
4. Return to starting position.
Note: do incline flyes to work your upper chest and decline flyes to work your lower chest.

Dips
1. Hold your body straight up on parallel bars of a dip station.
2. Lower body as far down as you can by bending at the elbows.
3. Push your body back up using your arms, chest, and shoulder and repeat.

Other good chest exercises: pushup, cable crossover, lying pullovers


Shoulders

Standing Shoulder Press
1. Hold dumbbells at sides and raise up to shoulder height.
2. With your palms facing forward, raise dumbbells up at the same time as high as you can.
3. Slowly lower the weights back down and repeat.
Note: this exercise can also be performed sitting down, but standing helps engage your core muscles more.

Standing Barbell Press
1. Raise barbell to your chest with your hands facing forward a little more than shoulder width apart, back straight and knees slightly bent.
2. Press bar up as high as you can
3. Slowly lower bar to your upper chest and repeat.
Note: can also be performed sitting down.

Upright Row
1. Hold barbell at waist level with palms facing toward you, with hands slightly more than shoulder width apart.
2. Pull bar straight up until it reaches just under your chin, keeping the bar as close to your body as possible.
3. Hold the weight there for 2 seconds, then slowly lower it back down and repeat.
Note: do not swing your body to move the weight…focus on slow, controlled movement.

Standing Lateral Raise
1. Stand straight up with your knees slightly bent, grasping two dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in.
2. Keeping your arms straight, raise dumbbells out to the side so both arms are pointing straight out (like a “T”)
3. Slowly lower the weight back down and repeat.

Seated Bent Over Rear Dumbbell Raise
1. Sit on the end of a bench, grasping two dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in.
2. Bend forward until your chest is almost touching your legs.
3. Raise dumbbells to shoulder height, squeezing your rear shoulder muscles together at the top of the movement.
4. Slowly lower the weights and repeat.

Other good shoulder exercises: dumbbell front raise, shrugs, cable lateral raises


Triceps

Lying Triceps Curl
1. Lie with your back on a flat bench, grasp a barbell like you’re going to do a bench press, and raise it straight up in the air.
2. Keep your upper arms straight and lower the bar toward your forehead, bending at the elbows.
3. Return the weight to starting position and repeat.

Note: Use a very light weight when first starting out.

Lying One Arm Dumbbell Curl
1. Lie down with your back either on a flat bench or on the floor.
2. Hold a dumbbell straight up, supporting your upper arm with your other hand.
3. Lower the dumbbell down toward your opposite ear, keeping your upper arm straight.
4. Raise the weight back up and switch arms.

Triceps Press Downs
1. Stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Attach rope or straight bar to high pulley.
3. Keep your upper arms tight at your sides and lower the weight down, squeezing your triceps hard at the bottom.
4. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Other good triceps exercises: dips, incline bench press, overhead extensions, overhead curl


Legs

Squats
1. Rest barbell on upper back and shoulders.
2. Stand straight up with feet shoulder width apart.
3. Squat down until upper thighs are at least parallel to the floor, keeping lower back slightly arched and focusing on using your legs to propel your body downward.
4. Using your legs, explode back up to the starting position and repeat.
Note: switch up the position of your legs from a narrow to a wide stance to target different parts of your legs.
Note: squats can also be performed with dumbbells or without weights.

Dumbbell Lunge
1. Hold two dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in, keeping body straight.
2. Raise one leg and take a giant step forward, lunging down as far as possible.
3. Raise your body back up and switch legs.
Note: lunges can also be done with a barbell or without weights.

Dead Lift
1. Place barbell on floor in front of you, standing with feet shoulder width apart.
2. Bend down and grasp bar with palms facing toward you.
3. Keeping your back straight, knees bent, and head up, stand straight up, using your legs to lift the weight.

4. Lean back slightly at the top of the movement and feel your lower back muscles contract.
Note: this exercise is also in the back exercises section because it’s an excellent all-around exercise that really targets your back and legs.

Seated Calf Raise
1. Sit down on bench, and place a barbell atop your thighs.
2. Raise your toes upwards as far as possible and lower the weight down, focusing on squeezing your calves at the top and stretching your calves at the bottom.
3. Repeat movement.

Other good leg exercises: leg press, leg extensions, leg curls, good mornings, hack squat, standing toe raise

Want More Tips on Getting Tight and Toned?

This article is #7 in my free 12-part tutorial called “Exercise 101: How to Get In Shape“.

Next up is article #8, which will show you step-by-step how to lose weight fast and keep it off.

Or you can go back to article #6 and read about my favorite stretches to increase your flexibility.