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How to start a workout program without joining a gym

With summer just a few short months away, people are feeling more motivated than ever to get fit and healthy. 

However, not everyone wants to fork out for pricey gym memberships or boutique fitness classes in order to achieve the active lifestyle of their dreams, instead choosing the cheaper, easier option of working out at home on their own time. 

But how can you be sure that you’re getting the same level of intensity from your at-home fitness routine as you would with a professional trainer? 

Thankfully, a group of top nutritionists, trainers, and health coaches, have revealed three simple steps that will enable you to create a killer workout, promising that these tools will give you everything you need to achieve the same results as you would in a paid-for class or gym.

Workout routine: Experts shared three steps to a tailored routine: finding exercises that are right for you, creating a circuit and practicing the circuits at least twice a week (file photo)

Master certain exercises

The one type of workout that shows results the quickest are bodyweight exercises and many experts agree that even simple movements give the best results.

Jessica Matthews, M.S., ACE-certified personal trainer and health coach, tells Self: ‘Believe it or not, your body is all that you need to get a good workout.

‘By just doing bodyweight exercises, you can get a really efficient total-body workout, since many bodyweight moves are considered compound exercises, or exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once.’

A few key bodyweight exercises include: bear crawls, plank, mountain climbers, lunges, squats, push-ups, burpees, and wall sits.

One exercise that involves concentration is the ‘inchworm’ which consists of slow and steady movements.

Start off standing up straight and bend down so that your fingertips touch the floor and with your legs straight, slowly walk your hands forward until you’ve come to a push-up position.

Once you’ve made it to the push-up position, slowly walk your hands back towards your feet, trying to keep your legs as straight as possible without being locked.

If you’re looking to get your heart rate up, then the ‘tuck jump’ is the perfect move for you. 

Stand up straight with a slight bend in your knees and jump up as high as you can bringing the knews towards the chest with your arms straight out in front of you.

When you land, keep your knees bent and as soon as your feet hit the ground jump right up again and do the same thing.

Jess Sims, NASM-certified personal trainer tells Self, ‘Every other movement is a variation of one of these basic movements.’

Create workout circuits

After you’ve discovered the exercises that work for you and have nailed them down it is time to create a routine.

To get into a routine you have to create circuits for each exercise and continuously do a certain amount of reps of each circuit. 

A circuit is a program made up of a series of exercises that you complete one after the other with very short breaks in between. 

One circuit can be however long you want it to be and can consist of whatever workouts you choose but it has to have a certain amount of reps. 

Reps are the amount of times you repeat an exercise, so if you’re doing push-ups for example, you could do three reps of ten which means you do ten push-ups three different times throughout the circuit.

Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., instructor at Soul Annex in NYC, tells Self a ‘good general formula to follow’ if you are just starting out.

‘Pick five or six moves that focus on different movement patterns and do each one for 45 seconds, resting 15 seconds in between moves,’ she suggests.

Resting in between workouts is necessary for you to gain stamina but the rests are very quick in circuits. 

She also suggests that you can rest longer if you need to but the more you practice the workout, the less time you’ll need to rest later on. 

Charlee then suggests doing the circuit three times to total a full 15-minute workout.

One example of a full circuit is Kendall Jenner’s 11-minute ab workout which consists of 13 different moves.

Workout circuits: Once you found the exercises that work, step two is creating a circuit made up of those exercises and one example of a circuit is Kendall Jenner's 11-minute ab workout

Workout circuits: Once you found the exercises that work, step two is creating a circuit made up of those exercises and one example of a circuit is Kendall Jenner’s 11-minute ab workout

Kendall Jenner’s 11-minute ab workout

1. Forearm plank: 30 seconds

2. Hand plank: 30 seconds

3. Forearm side plank: 15 seconds per side

4. Side plank elbow-to-knee crunches: 5 reps per side

5. Hands plank with around-the-world arm and leg raises: 15 seconds

6. Alternating knee to elbow in forearm plank: 10 reps

7. Bicycle crunches: 30 seconds

8. Raised toe touches: 30 seconds 

9. Rocking hands plank: 15 seconds

10. Bent-knee jackknives: 15 reps 

11. Russian twists: 15 reps

12. Crunches: 20 reps 

13. Donkey kicks: 15 reps per side 

The 22-year-old starts with a forearm plank for 30 seconds before moving on to a 30-second hand plank and then a forearm side plank for 15 seconds per side.

The rest of the circuit consists of: side plank elbow-to-knee crunches with five reps per side and then a hands plank with around-the-world arm and leg raises for 15 seconds.

After that, move on to alternating knee to elbow in forearm plank for 10 reps, bicycle crunches for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of raised toe touches and a rocking hands plank for 15 seconds.

The last four exercises in the circuit include: 15 reps of bent-knee jackknives, Russian twists for 15 reps, 20 reps of crunches and finally donkey kicks with 15 reps per side.

If you want to incorporate more cardio into your circuit, Jess Sims suggests a ‘cardio finisher’ for three to five minutes at the end of your workout. 

Not only does it get your heart rate up, it is super challenging to do a spurt of cardio after you’ve just completed a full-body workout.

She suggests picking a certain cardio move such as: ‘jump squats, mountain climbers, or high knees. 

‘Do one for 20 seconds of all-out intensity and then rest for 60 seconds. Repeat three or four times or do 20 seconds each of three different exercises if you want to mix it up. 

‘Alternatively, you can also get in that cardio by adding 15 to 30 minutes of walking or running outside or on a treadmill to reach 30 to 45 minutes of activity.’

Do your workout routine at least twice a week

Once you have knowledge of what exercises you like and start working out, you should be building yourself up into a routine which allows you to practice the workouts two to three times a week, if possible.

When it comes to creating your own workout routine there are tons of different ways to go about it because every body is different and people have different schedules. 

That’s one of the benefits of creating your own workout instead of joining a gym, as you can cater your routine completely to yourself. 

How to create the best DIY workout program 

1. Try out different bodyweight exercises such as: bear crawls, plank, mountain climbers, lunges, squats, and push-ups until you find what’s right for you. 

2. Once you’ve found the proper exercises, create a workout circuit with five or six moves and do each one for 45 seconds resting 15 seconds in between each. 

3. Do your workout circuit at least two to three times a week. 

There are two ways you can go about practicing your routine. 

You can either dedicate certain days to different body parts or you can just train your whole body with each workout. 

Jess Sims suggests that it definitely makes more sense to practice total-body workouts rather than, ‘splitting your days up into upper and lower body. 

‘Bodyweight movements are rarely just one dimensional,’ she continued.

‘For example, a push-up is predominantly an arm-driven movement, but it also requires activation throughout the abs, glutes and quads.’ 

Michele Pernetta, founder of Fierce Grace, a new hot yoga class in NYC told, ‘I always recommend writing down your dedicated time to working out in your planner as you would with any other important meeting or commitment because it makes it easier to stick to your planned workout.’

She also noted, ‘It can be extremely daunting to say, “I have to work out every day for one hour,” which can result in us not event starting or cancelling our workouts.

‘When you set smaller more achievable goals such as setting aside 10 or 20 minutes every day or even 30 minutes every other day, you will notice you feel like you’re able to actually take the time to workout.’

Michele explained that doing a little bit each day helps to kick start your routine and even points out: ‘You’ll notice that once you are feeling the benefits, you’ll be more motivated to add more time to your workout.’

While most people feel like a workout isn’t good enough if they weren’t doing it for a long time, that’s actually not the case at all.  

‘People often feel they have to do a complex, difficult or advanced workout at home. However if you aren’t familiar with different types of workouts, the simplest exercises can yield great results,’ Michele said.

She continued saying, ‘Exercises as simple as skipping, jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups and push-ups are perfect examples – as many of these movements are still staples in workouts today because they work.’

Michele also suggests: ‘Putting a photo of you at your fittest or of someone with a body that inspires you on your wall or somewhere you frequently look is great motivation.

‘Even if it’s an image of a pair of legs, a butt or abs you are working towards. It helps motivate you a little harder, getting you to push yourself to workout.’