Direct Line magazine

How to get fit at home

Updated on: 17 March 2020

a woman and her dog perform yoga

Every year it’s the same: comfort food in the winter, and then the coutdown to losing the holiday tummy.

Some will try going to the gym, others will buy some running shoes and hope for the best. But you don’t have to spend loads of money to get healthy. We’ll show you how to get fit at home.

Why is it so hard to get fit?

There are some good reasons why sticking to a new fitness regime is hard to do.

  • It’s cold and dark. For most people the only time they can exercise - whether that’s going to the gym, a run or taking part in a sport - is after work. In the winter it’s cold, dark and usually wet. So after a day at work, the warm glow of the TV and the smell of dinner can make it hard to get back out there.

  • It seems an impossible task. If you’re not already a fitness fanatic then getting to the point where you love working out seems hard. After the first session you’ll feel sore and exhausted. Then the next day you feel worse. And weight loss doesn’t happen fast, so after a couple of weeks it doesn’t look or feel like you’ve achieved much, which gets depressing.

  • It gets in the way. To truly commit to getting fit you’re going to have to schedule regular exercise into your life. For many people who are working, have families, other hobbies and a social life, that means something is going to have to suffer to let you work out. For a lot of people, that’s just not sustainable long-term.

So what’s the solution?

Having a home workout regime can be ideal. All you really need is a bit of space, your body and some determination. Here’s how to get fit at home.

Exercises you can do anywhere

Keeping it simple is key to getting fit at home.

When doing these exercises you can either do three sets of each exercise with a specific number of repetitions (reps), rest between each set for 30-45 seconds and then move onto the next exercise or do one set of each exercise back to back without rest as a circuit, rest for one minute and repeat two times or more.

Before beginning have a short warm-up of running on the spot for a minute or two or some gentle stretching.


How to do pressups

The PE teacher’s favourite, and with good reason. The press-up mainly works your shoulders, triceps and pectorals, but your core will need to be engaged for correct form, as will your legs.

  1. Get down into a press-up position. Hands should be shoulder-width apart, your back flat making a straight line from your shoulders down to your heels.

  2. Under control, lower your body down to the ground stopping when your chest is about an inch from the floor. Take about two seconds to complete this movement.

  3. Drive up through the shoulders and raise your body back up. This should be done faster than the decline phase.

Press-ups can be done at high volume, 20 or more to a set. But if you struggle to do them, you can modify them by bringing your knees to the floor and pressing from that position, allowing your legs to take some of the weight. Aim at first for sets of 10 reps, but work up until you are able to do 20 or so. There are many variations of the press-up that make the movement harder or target muscle groups more specifically.


How to do squats

The squat works your hamstrings, quads and glutes as well as core.

  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Keep your head up, and back straight.

  2. Ground through your heels and slowly lower your body down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Keep your knees over your toes, don’t let them bow out or bend in. Don’t arch your back or lean forward. You can cross your arms over your body or hold them out straight in front of you to help balance.

  3. When you are at the bottom of the movement pause for a second then drive up to a standing position.

When you are able to do a set of 20 bodyweight squats you can make them harder by holding weights in your hands, or incorporate a jump. As you drive up to standing, increase the force and jump clear of the floor, land with a slight bend in the knee and then begin the squat again.


How to do the plank

The plank is a great way to strengthen your core muscles, which are vital as they support every other movement your body makes.

  1. Go into a press-up position, but instead of resting on your palms or knuckles rest on your forearms. Keep your back straight and tense your core and glutes.

  2. Hold the plank until your hips begin to sag then release.

At first you may only be able to hold the plank with good form for 20 seconds or so. That’s fine. Gradually work up until you can hold it for two minutes.


How to do dips

This move primarily hits the triceps. To do it you’ll need a chair (or two), or the edge of a sofa or steps.

  1. Sit on a chair/sofa/step and plant your hands on the flat surface next to your bum, knuckles pointing forward and fingers curled over the edge.

  2. Slide forward until your bum is clear of the seat and you are holding yourself up in the air, feet on the floor. Your feet should be stabilising your body but not bearing much weight. You can slide your feet out so your legs are straight or keep them bent.

  3. Slowly lower your body until your arms are bent to 90 degrees at the elbow. Take two to three seconds to do this.

  4. Straighten your arms to push yourself back up under control, again take a couple of seconds.

Aim to build up to a set of about 20 reps for these.


How to do burpees

You may remember these from school, and break out in a cold sweat. They combine a squat thrust, press-up and jump in one exercise, and are a great full body workout.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Drop down into a full squat, with your hands on the floor.

  3. Kick your legs back so you are in the beginning of a press-up.

  4. Perform a press-up.

  5. Jump your feet forwards so they land between your hands.

  6. Jump up into the air, driving hard to get some real distance from the floor, extend your arms up above your head.

  7. Land and immediately repeat.

Try a set of 10 at first. Increase this by a couple of reps when you begin to find sets of 10 easy, and gradually work up to sets with 20 repetitions.

If you want a real challenge and are pushed for time, try doing declining sets of burpees as your sole workout. Start off by doing your maximum set of burpees, so 12 for example. Rest for 30 seconds then do another set but with one less rep. Repeat this until you do a one rep set. If that’s easy then go back up, increasing the rep count by one each time.

Additional equipment

If you want to incorporate some equipment into your home workout here are some good ideas.

Exercise equipment

  • Kettlebell. These weights were favoured by the old Soviet military, and are preferred by many over dumbbells because they allow you to perform a range of very functional movements. They come in a variety of weights so you can start light and work your way up. Even sets of basic kettlebell swings will leave you sweating.

  • Skipping rope. If you have an outdoor space, or even a large living room, then a skipping rope could be your best investment. You can burn off over 100 calories in just 10 minutes, and skipping also works your legs, glutes, shoulders and arms.

  • Pull-up bar. You can get sturdy pull-up bars that hook around your doorframe giving you a stable platform for performing pull-ups, while not damaging your decoration. Pull-ups are one of the most demanding exercises you can do, so this is an excellent investment.

The secret to success

There’s no easy fix when it comes to getting fit. Whether you’re working out at home or the gym, it’s a matter of regular effort. Working out for 20 minutes a day is better than having one two-hour session a week that leaves you sore and exhausted for days.

Don’t set yourself a massive goal like ‘I’m going to lose 25lbs by June’, because as you start to fall short you’ll get despondent. Instead make a commitment to yourself to just exercise regularly. Set days and times for exercise and stick to it. And if you fall off the wagon then just start again. Failing isn’t a bad thing, but letting that failure lead to giving up, is.

Related articles

a couple celebrate pregnancy

How a baby will change your life

There's no bigger milestone in life than having a baby. You might think you know what's coming, but how does having a baby change your life? We go through the important things you'll quickly realise when a newborn joins your family.
Couple sitting at a desk writing their will together.

Your complete guide to making a will

A will is essential if you want to leave your assets to the right people, but it's easy to get lost in legal jargon. Our straightforward guide to making a will gives you all the information you need to get started.
A doctor holds someone's hand in support.

A complete guide to organ donation

Just one donor can transform up to nine lives. This guide answers all your questions, including details on how to register or amend your decision to donate, living donation and real-life stories.