The Advanced, At-Home Workout Perfect for Those Looking to Take It Up a Notch

Woman doing a renegade row

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There are many excellent reasons to work out at home. It's more convenient, more affordable, you don't have to worry about sharing equipment, and you can play your own music (and sing along) without worrying about disturbing others. Home workouts are gaining popularity for a reason.

Even better, home workouts are adaptable for all levels of fitness enthusiasts. Yes, even advanced lifters can get a fantastic, challenging session using minimal equipment in the comfort of their own home.

What You’ll Need for an Advanced At-Home Workout

This advanced at-home workout requires some basic equipment: a couple of pairs of dumbbells, a yoga mat or non-slip surface, and a set of resistance bands.

If you have kettlebells, feel free to use them in place of dumbbells where appropriate. If you don't have bands, dumbbells can be used with substitute exercises. You'll also need a bench, stable low table, or step for some of these movements.

If you don't have any equipment, you can check out this Body Weight Training article for more tips. Only have resistance bands? Try this Simple Total Body Resistance Band Workout and use the instructions for advanced lifters.

Advanced At-Home Workout

Follow this workout by performing each exercise in order. The number of repetitions you do will depend on the weight you have available and your strength. You should feel challenged to the point where by the final repetition, you feel as though you could only do between 1 and 5 more reps (1 to 5 "reps in reserve," or RIR) before failure.

The ideal repetition range for building muscle (hypertrophy) is anywhere from 6 to 30 repetitions while aiming for 1 to 5 RIR at the end of a set. For each exercise below, you will find an alternative that uses different equipment.

If you aim to build strength as an advanced lifter, you'll need heavy weights while aiming for 3 to 6 repetitions with a 1 to 2 RIR. This type of training is best done with safety bars, a spotter, and someone around to ensure your safety due to the heavy and challenging nature of strength training.

Dumbbell Overhead Squats

Dumbbell overhead squats provide an advanced challenge while using light to moderate weights—a lower weight than you'd use for traditional squats.

This is because holding the weight overhead adds more demand from your core, upper back, and shoulders while primarily targeting your glutes, hip flexors, and quads. You can also perform this movement using a resistance band anchored under your feet and pressed overhead.

  1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
  2. Hold two dumbbells firmly in your hands. Brace your core and keep your chest up.
  3. Drive the dumbbells straight overhead and lock out your elbows.
  4. Stabilize and brace your core, then hinge your hips backward, bending your knees, and maintaining a braced core.
  5. Lower until your upper thighs become at least parallel with the floor, then slowly push back up through your feet to return to the starting position. The dumbbells stay fixed overhead the entire time.
  6. Try four sets of dumbbell overhead squats using a challenging rep range based on the weights you have available.

Overhead movements like this need to be performed with control. Be sure you have a firm grip; if you use adjustable weights, they are sturdy and locked in place. Err on the side of using a lighter weight to see what you can control before challenging yourself with heavier weights for this exercise.

Dumbbell Floor Press

Dumbbell floor presses are an alternative to the bench press. They are safer to do at home if you are an advanced lifter who may not have a spotter or safety person available. However, you can of course perform bench presses with dumbbells if you have a bench and someone to ensure your safety.

Dumbbell floor presses primarily target your chest, but your triceps will assist the movement, along with some front delt activation. Your core will also turn on to help with bracing for this exercise.

  1. Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and lie on your back between them. Bend your knees with your feet close to your glutes.
  2. Grasp the dumbbells and lift them above you with your upper arms on the floor.
  3. Push the dumbbells over your chest and pause at the top, squeezing your chest muscles without fully locking out your elbows.
  4. Slowly lower the weights to your chest with your lower arms and elbows pointing at an angle away from your body.
  5. Continue for desired repetitions before resting. Repeat for four sets.

You can also perform this movement with resistance bands, either lying down or standing with the bands anchored behind you. If you do have a bench, another variation is the incline chest press.

Shoulder Press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The dumbbell, kettlebell, or resistance band shoulder press works your entire shoulder complex, especially the front (anterior) delts, but it also activates muscles in your upper back triceps and core as you brace. You can perform these sitting or standing, so long as you have freedom of movement for your arms to extend fully.

  1. Sit or stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.
  2. Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders, palms in.
  3. Rotate your wrists so your palms face away from you at shoulder height.
  4. Brace your core, exhale, and push the dumbbells overhead, extending your arms fully.
  5. Slowly reverse with an inhale, maintaining a braced core.
  6. Repeat for as many repetitions as you need to feel challenged with the weight you are using—complete four sets.

Renegade Rows

Renegade rows, also known as commando rows, are an advanced exercise that works your entire body with the primary focus on your back. Since you must hold a plank during this movement, you'll be performing an isometric exercise with a concentric/eccentric rowing movement for an extra challenge.

Due to the taxing nature of this combined exercise, you can use a lighter weight than you would for traditional back rows, making it perfect for an at-home training session. You can use a dumbbell or kettlebell to do renegade rows.

  1. Set two dumbbells or kettlebells on the floor about shoulder-width apart with enough space for your body.
  2. Get into a push-up position on your toes and hands, then grab the dumbbell handles.
  3. Push your weight into the left dumbbell and row the left dumbbell up, leading with your elbow. Keep your elbow close to your side.
  4. Pause here for a breath, then lower the dumbbell to the floor with control. Immediately repeat on the other side to complete one rep.
  5. Perform desired reps. Try three sets.

If you are working out with resistance bands, try performing a resistance band push-up instead of a renegade row. Wrap the band around your back and under your hands until there is sufficient tension. Perform a push-up, pushing against the tension of the band on your back for an advanced push-up variation at home.

Weighted Crunches

Your core muscles are like any other muscles in your body—in order to grow and strengthen, they need to be continuously challenged. While compound exercises like squats and presses will work your core, if you want additional gains, try adding isolated weighted core exercises to your training routine.

  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees, or place your feet on a bench or step.
  2. Hold a dumbbell, kettlebell, or weighted ball straight above your head. Alternatively, you could loop a resistance band around your back and hold the ends in your hands, elbows locked out.
  3. Press your lower back to the floor, tilt your pelvis under, and engage your abs.
  4. Lift your shoulder blades off the floor a few inches while still keeping your back on the floor and the weight extended overhead.
  5. Contract your abdominal muscles, feeling the contraction and using your abs to lift the weight and your shoulders up.
  6. Return to the start position with control and repeat for desired repetitions. Try three sets.

A Word From Verywell

Working out at home as an advanced lifter means you likely have to choose your exercises more carefully to ensure a challenging workout that progresses you toward your goals. Using exercises that add intensity, recruit more muscles, and allow you to use lighter weights is a wise choice.

If you are lifting heavy weights, ensure you have a spotter and at the very least, someone should be available to help you or call emergency services should an accident occur. Be sure you know how to execute each movement with proper form before attempting them. A personal trainer can help you learn the correct form if required.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I workout more intensely at home?

    You can work out more intensely at home by adding more challenging exercises. This can mean performing unilateral movements or overhead movements instead of their traditional counterparts. For instance, a split squat or overhead squat allows you to use a lighter weight than traditional squats while still intensely challenging your muscles.

  • How do I know if I’m an advanced lifter?

    Advanced lifters are typically thought of as those who've consistently lifted weights for more than 5 years. Advanced lifters have progressed their workouts over time to gain strength and/or muscle mass and have a vast knowledge of exercises and correct form.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Luczak J, Bosak A, Riemann BL. Shoulder muscle activation of novice and resistance trained women during variations of dumbbell press exercises. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013;2013:1-6. doi:0.1155%2F2013%2F612650

  3. Oliva-Lozano JM, Muyor JM. Core muscle activity during physical fitness exercises: a systematic review. IJERPH. 2020;17(12):4306. doi:10.3390%2Fijerph17124306

  4. Oliva-Lozano JM, Muyor JM. Core muscle activity during physical fitness exercises: a systematic review. IJERPH. 2020;17(12):4306. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212216

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.