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Low-Cost Home Workout Ideas

Looking to get active from the comfort of your own home? The good news is no matter what type of workout you want to do, there are at-home options available. You don’t need a lot of space. Equipment is not necessary. You don’t need to spend much money, or any money, if you don’t want to. And you can do these workouts on your own. 

If you want or need more guidance, motivation, or support—the sort you might get from a fitness class or a certified personal trainer—streaming workouts are a great option. Gyms and fitness centers may offer streaming options along with your membership. Or you can subscribe to other services which may be fully virtual. Many options are low-cost or even free. Some sites offer one-on-one training or even virtual sessions with a personal trainer, too. 

For a well-balanced workout routine, it’s best to include cardio and strength training, as well as balance and flexibility. Just make sure to warm up before every workout and cool down after. Here are a few ideas for how to do each of these types of workouts at home.  

Cardio workouts 

Classic cardio: There are a lot of classic cardio workouts that are free or low-cost. When the weather is nice, you can walk, run, hike, bike, or swim outside.  

Bodyweight-only options: Mountain climbers, high knees, jumping jacks, and side skaters are a few cardio exercises that you can easily do at home.  

Stair workouts: Try walking—or running—up and down the stairs in your house or your apartment building, if you have them.  

Dancing: You can also put on some music and dance. Don’t want to dance alone? Stream a dance workout. The instructor can provide steps and choreography to help guide you.  

Indoor cycling: Another option is to do some indoor cycling. You don’t have to invest in an exercise bike or stationary bike. You can temporarily convert your road bike into a stationary bike with a bike trainer. A trainer is a stand that holds your bike steady and allows you to pedal while the bike stays in place. It also provides resistance. Bike training stands come in a variety of styles and prices.  

Strength workouts 

Bodyweight-only options: Strength train using your own bodyweight to provide resistance. Pushups and triceps dips work your arms and shoulders. Planks and scissor kicks are great for your core. And squats, lunges, and bridges work your lower body.  

Resistance bands and free weights: You can also use resistance bands or free weights. These will increase the number of exercises you’re able to do and the amount of resistance. If you don’t have any, you can purchase them. Bands are relatively inexpensive, and small hand weights can be found at low cost. However, if you are unable to purchase those, you can also use household items, like canned goods or plastic containers filled with water or sand.

Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong: These workouts are great for improving strength. There are poses or postures that target all the major muscles in your body. For instance, chair pose targets your glutes and thighs. And downward dog targets your arms and shoulders. If you’re familiar with the poses or postures, you can practice on your own. If not, you can look up videos of poses or postures online. Try to choose ones that target a variety of muscles, so that you get a good total body workout. Or stream a workout for more guidance and to see how the poses or postures flow together. 

Balance and flexibility workouts 

Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong: These are all great workouts to help you improve both your balance and your flexibility. Again, either practice on your own or stream a workout for more guidance. 

Stretching: Stretch after an active warm up (5 - 10 minutes of a light activity) as well as during and after your workout, when your muscles are warm and loose. (An active warm up might include a brisk walk, bicycling, or jumping jacks.) Make sure you stretch all the muscles you are about to use or were using. The two most common types of stretching are static (such as reaching to touch your toes then holding that position for up to 30 seconds) and dynamic stretching (such as arm circles and leg swings).

Create your routine 

With these options, you can design a well-balanced, total body workout routine that you can do from the comfort of your own home. For best results, include all of these types of training using these guidelines.  

For cardio training: 

  • 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week, or
  • 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or 
  • A mix of the two  

Moderate activities include a brisk walk or a hike or a bike ride on level ground. More vigorous activities include a jog or a run, a bike ride on hilly terrain, or any other activity that involves more strenuous effort. There are many ways to total 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. For example, you could be active 30 to 60 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Or you could break it up into 3 sessions a day, with each session lasting 10 to 20 minutes. 

For strength training: 

  • Aim for 2 to 3 sessions per week.
  • Tailor each strength training session to be about 20 to 30 minutes.  
  • Once you’ve worked out one set of muscles, allow a day of rest before you work those same muscles again. You can work out all of your muscle groups on one day and rest them the next day or two. Or you can work out one set of muscles one day and a different set the next day, then repeat. For example, you might work your legs one day, and your upper arms, chest, and shoulders the next day. 
  • Try to do exercises for each of the muscle groups at least 2 times a week. 

For balance training: 

  • Basic balance training can be done for a few minutes a couple of times every day. Or you can mix it in with your regular workout routine.  

For flexibility training:  

  • Stretch after an active warm up (5 - 10 minutes of a light activity) as well as during and after your workout, when your muscles are warm and loose. This can help you maintain and maybe improve your range of motion.  

View Credits
Primary Author: Nora Byrne, MA
Clinical Reviewer: Julian Mines, DC, BS, CSCS, CHCQM
Final Review and Approval by Julian Mines, DC, BS, CSCS, CHCQM
--> Date of Annual Review:06/02/2023
Healthyroads' Editorial Staff follow a quality assurance process to help promote each article’s accuracy:
  • A health expert provides input on topic.
  • Scientific evidence from widely accepted health texts, peer-reviewed journals, and other reliable sources is consulted.
  • Final article is reviewed and approved by a health professional.
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