Work It Out: Best Workouts at Home for Women
2020 has been rough. With the majority of Americans having to stay home and businesses having to shut their doors (including gyms and fitness studios), we’ve had to change how we live our day-to-day lives. Compounded stressors and the many hats moms have had to wear during the pandemic have left our health and wellness at the bottom of the To-Do list.
Whether you have five, ten or 45 minutes for a workout during the day, the goal is to move in a way that challenges your body, gets your heart rate up and gives you some time to focus on yourself and your body.
We’ve got some great at-home workouts for women that are not only effective but are also easy to set up and can be done at any time of the day (or night). Whether it’s cardio or strength-training, we got you. Check out our ideas for daily exercises at home, put on that cute workout outfit and get started on your journey to fitness!
The main goal for cardio exercise is to increase your heart rate, pump more blood through your body and burn calories. Cardio is totally attainable at home (and outside) because you really don’t need any equipment.
Strength training can definitely have a cardio component to it, but its main focus is to tone and work your muscle groups, making them stronger, flexible and less prone to injury. Minimal equipment, like graduated weights or resistance bands are good to have, as you get stronger and need to challenge your body in new ways.
Dance It Out
This is my favorite type of cardio exercise because I get to learn a little choreography while working out. There are different levels of dancing workouts from intricate hip hop (my fav) to super fun and easy to follow Zumba movements.
Cardio dance workouts usually involve simple dance steps that are repeated throughout the song (if there are multiple songs in the session), or just a few moves that are stacked throughout the class.
From Latin dance, Hip Hop, Bollywood, Ballet/Contemporary, African Drum and Pop music, the end goal is really to move your body and have fun. Don’t worry about matching the moves or looking exactly like the instructor, just do you!
Dancing not your thing? That’s cool. You can still get an amazing cardio workout with just your bodyweight. HITT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and it’s perfect for those wanting a quick, effective, high cardio workout.
Mixing quick bursts of energy and short rest periods, the workouts usually don’t need to go over the 30-minute mark because you’re working at your max. It’s a great distraction from anything going on in the outside world that might be bugging you. People love it because it improves endurance and has a high afterburn effect – meaning you’ll be burning calories long after the workout is over.
HITT workouts are totally customizable and you can really do any combination that suits your space, time and energy. The popular formula is the 2:1 where you work for a certain number of seconds or minutes and rest for half that time. So, for example, you could workout to the max for 40 seconds and then rest for 20.
Not sure where to start? Try these exercises in any combo, remembering to take a short rest break in-between:
- Jumping jacks
- Squat jumps
- Jump rope
- Jogging in place or on a treadmill
- Climbing stairs
- Jumping on a trampoline
Walking or Running
Walking or running requires no real thought to start; just get outside, enjoy the fresh air and take in some vitamin D (since 41.6% of us are deficient). Even a brisk walk offers tremendous benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, mood-boosting and even deeper more restful sleep.
The activity of walking has come a long way, with apps and devices on the market which motivate you and track your progress while you’re active. FitBit and iWatchs track heart rate and steps, while also reminding you to breathe and rest.
Other apps and even walking meditations have grown in popularity because they can help with stress, anxiety and much-needed self-care. Being present, listening to a different perspective and being free of distractions (hello, kids) are all awesome benefits of walking or running. Oh, and your favorite podcast? Great to listen to when walking!
Yoga isn’t necessarily the best exercise that comes to mind when thinking of burning calories fast and getting your heart rate up. However, the benefits surpass just the physical as yoga also involves quieting the mind – a very important skill to learn in our busy lives.
There are many different types of yoga. Vinyasa (power) yoga incorporates faster movements to get the heart pumping and includes more ab work to strengthen that core. Hatha yoga is slower-paced, focusing more on the breath and holding poses for a longer period of time to improve balance and build endurance.
Weights are usually not necessary in yoga unless you’re doing some sort of hybrid practice. Bolsters, bands and blocks are used to help you get into the poses and for facilitating stretching. Don’t be fooled, though. Even though your heart isn’t pumping as much as when you’re doing a HITT session, your muscles are getting stronger, making this an excellent strength-building workout for women.
Working out just the upper body first (and then the lower body afterward, as we’ll talk about below), helps to focus on muscle groups that may not be given as much needed attention when working the entire body. In an upper body workout, you’re able to really focus on your arms, shoulders, chest and upper abs.
If you don’t have weights or resistance bands, you can totally use your own body weight for a similarly effective workout. Here are some exercises to try:
- Push-ups and planks: These work your abs, biceps and shoulders while engaging your core. Try shoulder taps and side-to-side plants, too.
- Dips: These work your triceps using just a chair or a low table. Or you can just get in a sitting position with your legs bent in front of you. You’ll start to feel the burn in no time.
Weights and resistance bands are also used for upper–body exercises. Try bent-over rows, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and chest presses with light to medium weights, depending on your fitness level.
While these advanced exercises are available and ready whenever you are, they are not necessary for a great workout at home. Listen to your body and challenge yourself to reach that balance between knowing when to back off or keep going.
Workouts at home are easily attainable when you adopt the mindset that you’re ready for a change. Make some space, grab some weights or resistance bands and dedicate some time to building a fitter, healthier you.
Your lower abs, glutes and legs all need some more “love,” too. These muscles help with movement, flexibility and strength. Lifting heavy things becomes easier with a strong back, just like climbing up a flight of stairs becomes less of a hurdle with strong legs.
Just like the upper body workout, you don’t need weights or machines to work out your lower body. Your body weight is enough to take you through a challenging workout where you’ll be able to see the progress the more often you keep it up.
Try these exercises below to work your abs, glutes and legs. You can try different variations to engage your core and get a mini cardio workout in the process:
- Jump squats
- Plies with calf-raises
- Single-leg bridges