The No. 1 excuse people use for not going to the gym is time. If getting yourself to the gym is proving difficult, bring the gym to you and work out at home. You can save on the cost of a gym membership and save yourself the commute — we dare you to find a new excuse now.
As men, we tend to put a greater emphasis on the muscles we can see in the mirror, like our chest and biceps. But a strong back is fundamental to all upper body strength, and helps offset the impact a large chest can have on body posture — you don’t want to look like a gorilla, do you?
Pulling exercises like rows and pull-ups use your body weight against you, and allow you to control the degree of difficulty by manipulating leverage (see video). They also happen to be two of the most primal, most functional exercises you can do, creating a larger anabolic response than isolation exercises, leading to greater gains in size and strength. If that’s not motivation enough for you, know this: The trick to properly filling out a shirt is having a back to make Atlas jealous.
No home workout routine would be complete without a good lower-body exercise. Enter the walking lunge. You don’t need barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells to make this exercise challenging; you just need strict form and persistence. But if you are looking to make this harder for yourself, you can hold dumbbells by your side or a plate above your head.
The key to the exercise is to forcibly contract your glutes rather than relying on your quad muscles to get you out of the hole. This will emphasise the proper motor pathways, correcting the bad habits you learn by spending all day sitting at a desk.
One of the oldest exercises is still one of the best. From primary school to the Marines, pushups are a great test of upper body strength — but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun or original. Watch this video for variations on the standard pushup, all of which add difficulty. Master these, and you will be guaranteed to turn heads.
Add intensity either by doing more reps or by giving yourself a time limit and seeing how many pushups you can do within a given time. Whichever variation you choose, make sure your form is good: legs and back in line (do not arch your back or allow your pelvis to drop), hands underneath your chest. Control your descent and be explosive.
Planks are one of the most basic ab exercises available, but don’t be fooled: They may look easy, but they will have you sweating and shaking in seconds. The main benefit is to your core, which is forced to brace itself against the weight of your body. Standard planks work your upper and lower abs, and side planks target the obliques. As with all body-weight exercises, you can manipulate your body position to increase the degree of difficulty. Try, for example, doing a side plank with your upper leg raised off your body.
But there is an added benefit to doing planks, in particular, rather than crunches or side bends. Planks force your body into a proper alignment, taking stress off of your hips by forcing your abs and glutes to contract. For people who spend long periods of their day sitting down, this can do wonders for improving your posture and reducing lower back and hip pain.
Agility And Anaerobic Conditioning
Few people do agility work or anaerobic conditioning. And there’s a good reason for that: It’s hard. It’s not as glamorous as working on your bench press, it’s not as fun as running outdoors, and it won’t stroke your ego like doing bicep curls in front of the mirror. In fact, agility work and anaerobic conditioning will kick your ass. It will humble you. And that’s exactly why you have to do it.
You don’t need much: some open space and a pair of good shoes will do. The goal is to push yourself to your limits for short periods of time and to take long rests between sets to give your body time to recover. This is not something to do when you’re already tired — you want to force your nervous system to adapt by working at maximum intensity at all times.
The reward for all your suffering? Greater speed and agility. Oh, and a dose of humility.
Finish With Cardio
By the time you’ve finished the preceding exercises, your body will be in a state of glycogen depletion. The advantage to being in such a state is that any further exercise forces your body to draw on your fat stores for energy, making this an ideal window to do some running, swimming or other form of cardio.
It’s not enough to train hard; sometimes you have to train smart. And taking advantage of the natural changes in your body chemistry is a great way to see improvement and make the most of your workout.