Workouts at Home to Tighten and Tone

a baby boy sitting in front of a woman in plank position
10'000 Hours / Getty Images
In This Article
Table of Contents

When people think about working out to lose weight, they often assume it means strenuous cardio and resistance training at the gym. But if you're not ready or able to commit to a gym membership you can still lose weight and build muscle in the comfort of your own home.

If performed correctly and consistently, home workouts can be every bit as effective as a gym workout. The key is to focus on strength training. Building muscle through resistance exercises helps to boost lean mass.

While you will want to eventually incorporate cardio into your workout, start by getting the basics correct. By seeing and feeling the results early on, you will be more likely to keep with the program over the long term.

Beginner's Home Workout

This beginner's workout plan targets the large muscles that provide stability and core strength. You don’t need any special equipment. You can do the exercises together in one workout session or split them up throughout the day.

Aim to perform two to three sets involving 10 to 12 repetitions (reps) of each exercise. If you can only do four or six to start, that's okay. The aim is to perform an exercise so that you are slightly shaky by the final rep. Every week thereafter, aim to increase the reps until you are finally able to do three sets of 12.

Here are the four exercises to launch your home workout program:

  • Push-ups: Perfect form is essential when doing a push-up. Start with a variation you can complete with good technique. Progress to the next level when you can do 10 to 12 reps without dropping you back, stopping short, or shaking unsteadily.
  • Lunges: Start by doing a set of simple back lunges, which help build your buttocks and thighs. Use a wall or chair for balance if needed. When you are able to do 10 to 12 lunges on each leg without support, try the front lunge or another variation.
  • Squats: The squat works the major muscles in your lower body and helps to shape firm buttocks and thighs. Always perform a squat with your feet hip-distance apart. Your hips should sink behind you as if you are sitting in a chair.
  • Planks: A plank exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles and those that support your back. Begin by holding the plank position for 15 seconds. As you get stronger, progress to 30 seconds and eventually 90 seconds.

Intermediate Home Workout

As you begin to master the beginner's workout, you can incorporate additional exercises to build visibly stronger arms, legs, and abdominal muscles. For this intermediate plan, you would need to purchase an expensive set of dumbbells. You can usually find a set of adjustable dumbbells for under $50 on eBay which allows you to remove and add weight plates as needed.

Start by adding one or two of these exercises to your routine. You can then mix it up as you get stronger, creating workouts of six to seven exercises of your choosing (focusing on the upper body, lower body, overall body, or core).

Here are six you can easily do at home:

  • Biceps curls: Stand with feet hip-distance apart and one dumbbell in each hand. Maintain good posture as you raise and lower the weights, bending at the elbow. Do two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps. Increase the weight when you able to complete the sets with relative ease.
  • Lateral raises: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing inward towards the mid-line of your body. Raise your straight arms to shoulder height and lower slowly. Do two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps. If you find that you are bending your elbows, you are lifting too much weight. Lower the weights and keep your arm straight.
  • Triceps kickbacks: For this exercise, use a chair to stabilize yourself. Extend your arm slowly backward and return to the starting position with control. Complete two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
  • Bent rows: To get into the proper position for this exercise. tilt forward from the hips so that your chest is facing the floor and your arms are hanging beneath you. Pull your arms toward your chest as if you are rowing a boat.
  • Wall squats: For this variation, stand with your back to a wall and sink down to a seated position with your thighs parallel to the floor. Let the wall support your back. Now hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. As you build strength, challenge yourself to hold the squat for a minute or more.
  • Overhead press: This exercise is performed while seated in a straight-back chair. With your back pressed firmly against the seatback, press the dumbbells over your head with your upper arms positioned in a straight line from elbow to elbow. Extend the arms fully without locking the elbow, pausing momentarily before returning to the starting position. Do two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

For an added twist, you can add dumbbells to the exercises of the beginner's workout. For example, you can hold a dumbbell in each hand as you do a set of lunges or squats.

Advanced Home Workout

In this advanced workout program, you will need a set of resistance bands and an exercise ball, each of which you can pick up for between $5 to $15 a discount department store. These tools can help further strengthen the muscles used for stability.

There are four exercises you should add to the plan:

  • Stability ball push-ups: If you can complete a standard push-up with good form, try performing the exercise with your lower body positioned on the ball. Start with the ball under your knees and, as you get more comfortable with the exercise, move the ball closer to your feet.
  • Banded side steps: Step on the middle of the resistance band and grab one handle in each hand. The band should be looped under your feet. Now, step to the side with your right foot while keeping your left foot on the band. Do five steps to the right and five steps to the left to complete a set. Rest and repeat for three to four more sets.
  • Lunges with overhead extension: Step forward into a lunge position, placing your front foot on the middle of the band. With one handle in each hand, raise the arms into an overhead press while sinking into a deep lunge. Return to the starting position. Do five reps on each side to complete a set. Rest and repeat for two to three more sets.
  • Lat pulldowns: For this exercise, you will need to hitch the center of your resistance band to a hook on the door. Place the ball against the door. Grabbing a handle in each hand, take a seat facing away from the door. Slowly pull the bands down until your elbows are fully pressed to your sides. You will feel the effort in the back muscles adjacent to your armpits, called the latissimus dorsi. Raise to the starting position and repeat, aiming for two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.

To create a balanced exercise program, workout two to three times per week. Be aware that your weight may drop at first but then increase slightly as you build muscle mass. By this stage, your success should be measured not only in pounds and inches but how you feel look and feel.

If ever you reach a plateau, simply increase the intensity and/or duration of your workout. Your body will respond in kind, putting you back on the fast track to weight loss.

Was this page helpful?
Article 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. Willis LH, Slentz CA, Bateman LA, et al. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. J Appl Physiol. 2012;113(12):1831-7. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011