The Simple, At-Home Workout Perfect for Beginners

bodyweight lunge at home

Getty Images / Morsa Images

Working out at home is both convenient and efficient since you don't have to travel or share equipment. If you are a beginner, or just someone who hasn't been in a consistent workout routine for a while, working out at home is a good way to ease into a routine that is accessible and enjoyable.

It's important to note that proper form should be a top priority for any exercise participant, whether novice or advanced. For this reason, it's best for beginners to stick to exercises that have a low injury risk and are easily progressed. You can always work your way up to more advanced movements as you grow comfortable with proper form and execution.

Below is a complete at-home workout for beginners to try.

What You'll Need

For this beginner workout at home, you will need dumbbells and resistance bands. If dumbbells aren't accessible, using bodyweight for the exercises will work as well.

Be sure you have enough clear space to perform these movements. You may also want a mat or padded flooring for additional comfort.

At-Home Beginner Workout

Perform the following exercises in order. Aim for two to three sets of each exercise. The ideal repetitions are added in the instructions, but it's best to do as many repetitions as it takes to challenge your muscles. This means by the final two to three reps, you feel as though you are close to failure.

Dumbbell Lunges

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Unilateral movements like dumbbell lunges are excellent for building strength and muscle in a functional way. They challenge the legs, glutes, and core. If you are very new to exercise or do not have dumbbells, you can perform lunges with bodyweight only.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Retract your shoulders back and brace your core.
  2. Take a large step forward with your right leg so that when you bend your right knee, your thigh and lower leg are at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Slowly bend your knees, lowering your body toward the floor until your knee almost touches the ground.
  4. Raise to the start position by slowly straightening your legs and pushing through your feet.
  5.  Alternate legs until you've performed 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.

Banded Glute Bridge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Glute bridges target the glute muscles (your bum) and core. They are also excellent for reducing injury risks, helping stabilize your pelvis, and preventing low back pain. If you don't have a band, perform this exercise with bodyweight only, increasing repetitions so you are still challenged.

  1. Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor, and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lay a resistance band across your pelvis and hold it down with your hands by your sides.
  3. Lift your hips by pushing through your feet until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  4. Hold this position for a count of one while squeezing your glutes, then slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.
  5. Aim for 15 to 20 reps.

Banded Chest Press

Banded chest presses are safer and easier to manage while working out at home where you may not have access to a rack or a spotter. This exercise targets your chest. You can perform it laying on the floor, on a bench, or from a standing position with the band anchored safely behind you, as described below.

  1. Attach a resistance band to a sturdy anchor point at the level of your shoulders.
  2. Hold each handle and step forward into a split stance, one foot in front of the other.
  3. Brace your core and push the bands in front of your chest without locking out the elbows.
  4. Slowly reverse to the starting position, feeling the stretch and tension in your chest muscles.
  5. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

If you don't have bands, you can perform pushups with your upper body elevated onto a step, or against a wall at an angle, depending on your strength level.

Banded Back Row

banded back row

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Banded rows will work the muscles of your back, strengthening them to prevent soreness and injury, and counteract the effects of sitting.

  1. Stand onto a resistance band with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips with a braced core and slightly arched (hyperextended) lower back
  3. Pull the handles of the band back, leading with your elbows to retract your shoulder blades closer together. Hold this contraction and feel the squeeze of your back muscles before slowly reversing the motion.
  4. Aim for 10 to 12 reps.

While you normally want to maintain a flat or neutral spine for most exercises, the back row is best performed with a hyperextension in your lower spine, in other words, a slight inward arch. This helps protect you from the tendency to hunch which can cause injury and pain.

Side Plank on Knees

side plank with knee lift

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Side planks are challenging and require you to brace against gravity, activating your core muscles including the abdominals, back, glutes, and obliques.

  1. Kneel on an exercise mat and place your feet behind you.
  2. Lower yourself onto your side and place your elbow and forearm perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Brace your core, lift your hips, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds or longer, depending on your ability.
  4. Switch to the other side.
  5. Aim for three sets on each side.

Increase the challenge by separating your knees and raising one arm, as demonstrated in the photo.

A Word From Verywell

Beginners can get a safe and enjoyable workout at home with some effective exercises and a few pieces of equipment. Just be sure you know how to perform each movement properly and you don't overdo it. Progress your workouts by adding heavier weights, more repetitions, and/or more sets to gain muscle and strength. If you experience any lingering pain or unusual ailments, seek advice from a healthcare professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a 30-minute at-home workout effective? 

    A 30-minute at-home workout can be very effective, especially if you are a beginner. You can reduce the amount of time you work out by performing circuits or shortening rest times. Just don't speed through the motions—this will reduce effectiveness and increase injury risks.

  • Is it better to exercise at morning or at night? 

    It doesn't matter if you exercise in the morning or night, the main goal is to be consistent. Choose a time that you can stick to and you feel energized. For many people, the morning works best because they are refreshed from sleep and there are no unexpected commitments to get in the way.

  • Should I exercise on an empty stomach? 

    Exercising on an empty stomach is a personal choice, but it is often recommended to fuel up (whatever that means to you) before your workout. How close to your workout you eat and how much depends on the composition of your meal and how large it is. Smaller, less fatty meals that contain simple carbohydrates can be eaten closer to a workout while larger, fat-containing meals can be eaten a few hours prior to avoid gastrointestinal issues. Exercising on an empty stomach will not increase weight loss and can hinder your performance. However, if you have gastrointestinal issues, such as acid reflux, it may be beneficial to wait until after your workout is complete to eat a meal.

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.
  1. Núñez FJ, Santalla A, Carrasquila I, Asian JA, Reina JI, Suarez-Arrones LJ. The effects of unilateral and bilateral eccentric overload training on hypertrophy, muscle power and COD performance, and its determinants, in team sport players. Sampaio J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(3):e0193841. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0193841

  2. Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, et al. Gluteus maximus activation during common strength and hypertrophy exercises: a systematic reviewJ Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):195-203.

  3. Buckthorpe M, Stride M, Villa FD. Assessing and treating gluteus maximus weakness – a clinical commentaryInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2019;14(4):655-669. doi:10.26603/ijspt20190655

  4. Lorenzetti S, Dayer R, Plüss M, List R. Pulling exercises for strength training and rehabilitation: movements and loading conditions. JFMK. 2017;2(3):33. doi:10.3390/jfmk2030033

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