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10 Exercises For a Well-Rounded Home Workout with Limited Equipment

By Megan Smith, Fitness Director at Camelback Village Health Club and Spa

When you don’t have access to a gym, but still want to a well-rounded workout, what do you do?

 

You don’t need a ton of equipment to get in a good workout. In fact, if you were to set up a home gym, we wouldn’t recommend that you build out an expensive setup. With as little as a $300 investment, you can set yourself up for years of well-rounded home workouts with just the following three pieces of limited equipment:

 

  • A Dumbbell Rack with weights going up to 30-50 lbs
  • A Medicine Ball
  • A Pull-Up Bar

When you’re working with limited equipment, we recommend building your workout around the following 10 exercises. Most of these exercises can be done with bodyweight only, but if you have access to the three pieces of equipment mentioned above, you can really dial into the right intensity and challenge level for your body.

Best Exercises with Limited Equipment

1. Squats with an ISO Front Raise

Squats are fantastic for strengthening your ankles, knees, and hips. To amp up the challenge, grab your medicine ball or dumbbells and hold them away from your body during the squat. This not only engages your core more but also tests your balance while keeping your squat form in check. Give it a go with a slow descent, and you’ll feel one heck of a burn.

2. Unilateral Squats

Single-leg exercises are a powerhouse for building strength, stability, and coordination. They’re effective bodyweight moves that offer a range of variations to suit your fitness level. Here are a few unilateral squat patterns to try out:

 

  1. Single Leg Step-Down
  2. Lateral Lunge
  3. Bulgarian Split Squat
  4. Traditional Split Squat
  5. Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
  6. Pistol Squats
  7. Cross-Behind Lunge

 

Customize these exercises by adding external weight to match your strength and skill level for a tailored workout experience.

3. Single Leg Glute Bridge

Target your glutes effectively with this simple yet powerful exercise. To ramp up the challenge, place a dumbbell opposite your working leg and perform 6-10 reps per side. Feel the burn as you engage your glutes and strengthen your lower body. This exercise not only promotes muscle growth but also helps individuals struggling to feel their glutes activate during bilateral squats by enhancing their mind-muscle connection.

4. Nordic Hamstring Curls

Though this exercise typically requires a partner, it’s worth the effort. Considered one of the top hamstring strengtheners, Nordic hamstring curls engage your muscles intensely, especially during the lowering phase (eccentric). You can adjust the intensity according to your strength level by utilizing your hands during the rising phase (concentric). Give it a try and feel the difference in your hamstring strength.

5. Push-Ups

Transitioning to upper body exercises, few movements rival the classic push-up for building strength. To adapt this exercise to your fitness level, consider variations such as knee push-ups or elevating your hands onto a bench. You can also manipulate the tempo by emphasizing a slow descent (eccentric), enhancing muscle engagement and control.

6. Pull-Ups

In addition to push-ups, pull-ups are renowned as a cornerstone of upper body strength training. While they can be challenging, there are strategies to assist you on your pull-up journey. Band-assisted pull-ups are an excellent starting point, providing support as you build strength. Alternatively, focusing solely on the eccentric part of the lift can be beneficial. Begin with your chin over the bar and lower yourself slowly to maximize muscle engagement and control.

7. Dumbbell Row

Although the pull-up is an excellent exercise, it may not be the easiest starting point for everyone. To target and strengthen your lat muscles, consider starting with dumbbell rows. This exercise effectively develops your upper back muscles while providing a more accessible alternative to pull-ups.

8. Reverse Flys/Y Raises

Often overlooked, the lower to mid-trap muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the shoulder blades, promoting better posture, and reducing frontal shoulder pain. Despite their importance, these muscles are sometimes neglected even in well-equipped weight rooms. Fortunately, exercises like reverse flys and Y raises target these areas effectively with minimal weight requirements.

 

These exercises offer versatility, with variations including bent-over, staggered stance, or chest-supported positions. Incorporating them into your routine can help strengthen your shoulder muscles and improve overall upper body stability.

9. Core Training

The core is often a misunderstood aspect of fitness, but with the equipment we have on hand, there are countless ways to effectively challenge and strengthen it. Here’s a list of exercises you can try:

 

  1. Hollow Body Holds w/ Med Ball Pass
  2. MB Toe Touches/ V-ups
  3. Med Ball Russian Twist (Arms Extended)
  4. Bear Position DB Pull-throughs
  5. Figure 8’s
  6. Flutter Kicks
  7. Mountain Climbers
  8. DB Turkish Get-up
  9. MB Slams, Rotations, or Punches
  10. ½ DB Kneeling Chops/ Reverse Chops

10. Plyometrics & Sprinting

Plyometrics and sprinting often receive a lot of attention in training regimens. They require significant nervous system engagement, which can enhance muscle activation, recruitment, and coordination.

 

As we age, the risk of falling or injury increases, especially among seniors. While this may sound daunting, it underscores the importance of maintaining stability and balance. Incorporating sprints and jumps into your warm-up routine twice a week can help develop these essential skills.

 

The beauty of plyometrics and sprinting lies in their accessibility – you don’t need any equipment, just a patch of dry ground and some sunshine. By adding these exercises to your routine, you can not only maintain strength but also improve agility and reduce the risk of falls and injuries as you age.

Non-Exercise Adjustments

Enhancing your workout goes beyond just the exercises themselves. By making strategic adjustments to factors like tempo, reps, sets, and exercise selection, you can maximize your results and tailor your routine to your specific goals and needs. Consider these non-exercise adjustments as powerful tools to fine-tune your workout. Whether you’re aiming to increase strength, improve muscle tone, or challenge yourself in new ways, these adjustments offer endless possibilities for customization and progression. Let’s explore how you can take your workout to the next level with these simple yet effective tweaks.

Tempo

Tempo adjustments are a simple yet effective way to enhance your workouts. Whether you add a 5-10 second lowering phase or a 5-10 second isometric hold after the lowering phase of an exercise, playing with tempo can increase intensity and promote strength gains. It’s a versatile tool that can be easily incorporated into your routine, helping you maximize the effectiveness of your workouts and achieve your fitness goals.

Reps

This is a bread and butter adjustment that can be made. If an exercise feels too easy and you’re unable to increase weight, adding more reps can ramp up the intensity. Consider your objectives: if you aim to tone your muscles, increasing reps may be the way to go. However, if your focus is on building strength, adjusting tempo might be a more effective strategy. Tailor your rep count to challenge yourself and progress towards your desired fitness outcomes.

Sets

Increasing the number of sets in your training protocol can provide additional time under tension, which can be beneficial for promoting muscle growth and strength development. If you find that your muscles need more stimulation to progress, adding extra sets can help achieve this goal. Experiment with different set volumes to find the optimal balance for your training needs and goals.

Bi-Lateral or Uni-Lateral

Incorporating unilateral exercises, such as single-leg squats, into your workout routine can enhance core engagement and provide an instant challenge. These exercises are particularly beneficial for individuals with limited equipment or those recovering from injuries. If traditional bilateral exercises like back squats cause discomfort, unilateral exercises offer a safer alternative to challenge your muscles effectively. Experiment with both bilateral and unilateral movements to diversify your workout and target different muscle groups.

Number of exercises

Sometimes if one exercise isn’t enough to get the job done, add a second. Adding a variety of exercises not only keeps your routine exciting but also ensures comprehensive muscle engagement. For example, while Bulgarian Split Squats effectively target the glutes, complementing them with Single Leg Glute Bridges can provide additional muscle targeting and enhance workout quality. Experiment with different exercise combinations to find what works best for you and your fitness goals.

Starting Your Fitness Journey

We’re here to support and guide you every step of the way. Whether you’re a beginner taking your first steps towards a healthier lifestyle or a seasoned fitness enthusiast seeking new challenges, our clubs offer state-of-the-art facilities, expert trainers, and a vibrant community to help you thrive. Sign up for a 7-day free trial today and experience the difference firsthand. Your journey to a fitter, stronger you starts here!

 

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial at any of our clubs – Gainey, Ocotillo, DC Ranch, or Camelback.

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