The Best Exercises for Home Workouts, According to Personal Trainers

best exercises for home workout

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If you’re one of the 56% of Americans who prefer to work out at home, you already know what  a 20-minute sweat session can do for your energy level, mental clarity, and mood—without ever leaving the house. 

Working out at home means no gym memberships, class fees, sitting in traffic, or waiting for your turn with equipment. All good, right? Maybe. For many, working out at home also means feeling overwhelmed by the mere prospect of choosing a workout. If you’ve ever typed “home workout” into your search bar and looked up 20 minutes later only to realize you only had… 10 more minutes left before your next call, you get it.

We asked fitness experts to share their favorite home workouts (read: little or no equipment required) so you can spend your next chunk of designated workout time sweating instead of scrolling.

Our friends at Fyt Personal Training (the largest platform of personal trainers, NBD) connected us with the very best fitness experts for this article. Our parent company, Ness Well, Inc., has also partnered with Fyt to provide an exclusive benefit to users of the Ness Card. You can learn more about the Ness Card here. The Ness Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri, pursuant to a license from Mastercard, and serviced by Ness Well Financial, LLC.

Best 10-Minute Full Body Workout

man stretching at home with bottle beside him
Getty Images

“When you only have 10 minutes, you’ll want to focus on doing dynamic exercises that hit more than one muscle group,” says Laura Endres, CPT. Including one or two high-intensity exercises in your session will get your heart rate up. Plus, she says, “you’ll increase your cardio capacity and muscle endurance.” 

For this workout: Set your timer for 10 minutes, then perform each move 10 times. Cycle through the circuit until you run out of time. Rest as needed between exercises (but keep in mind, you’re only sweating for 10 minutes)!


Muscles worked:  Quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders
Great for: Lifting objects overhead

How to do it:

  • Hold two dumbbells at your shoulders with your elbows bent at your sides. These should be what you consider a moderately heavy weight—something that challenges you, but not so much that you’re in pain by the fifth rep. 
  • Squat down with your feet about hip-width apart, toes facing forward, keeping your weight in your heels and your chest up. 
  • As you stand up out of the squat, thrust your dumbbells overhead. 
  • If you don’t have dumbbells, you can use household items like canned soup or bags of rice.

Plank Jack Push-ups

Muscles worked: Chest, shoulders, core
Great for: Developing a strong core and upper body so you can bend, lift, and twist for life

How to do it:

  • Get into a high plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, elbows straight, palms pressed into the floor, and toes on the floor. 
  • Do two “jumping jacks” with your feet, then do one push-up. That’s one rep.

To make push-ups easier, try any of the following:

  • Rest your lower body weight on your knees instead of your toes 
  • Widen your hands
  • Face a wall and perform the same motion as a regular push-up with your hands resting on the wall. The closer you stand to the wall, the easier it will be.

Runner Roll-Ups

Muscles worked: Abs, obliques 
Good for: Posture and back injury prevention

How to do it:

  • Lie face-up with legs extended and arms reaching overhead. 
  • Roll your upper back up. When you’re about halfway up, bend your left knee toward your chest as you reach your right hand toward your left foot. 
  • Roll down, keeping your core engaged. 
  • Repeat, alternating sides for 10 total reps.

Side Skips + 2 Jumping Jacks x 1 minute

Muscles/systems worked:  Legs, aerobic fitness
Good for: Conditioning for hiking, biking, or whatever you enjoy doing outdoors

How to do it:

  • Start with your feet hip-width apart.  
  • Take a step to the right with one foot while simultaneously lifting the other foot off the ground and bringing it to meet the first foot. 
  • Repeat this movement three times, alternating between each side and lifting and lowering the feet in a hopping motion. 
  • Stop and perform two jumping jacks. 
  • Repeat while moving in the opposite direction.
  • Alternate directions for the full minute.

Best Upper Body Workout

woman doing a plank outside
Ayo Ogunseinde

No dumbbells? No problem. You can get in an effective upper body resistance workout even if you’re short on equipment, says Stephanie Thomas, CPT. Her go-to equipment-free upper body workout is designed to build upper body strength and muscular endurance. 

For this workout: Perform each of the following exercises 10 times, then repeat the circuit twice for a total of three sets of each exercise. Rest as needed between each circuit. 


Muscles Worked: Chest, shoulders, core
Good for: Keeping back pain at bay

How to do it:

  • High plank: Press into the floor with your hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, elbows straight, and your toes on the floor.
  • Forearm plank: Rest your weight on your toes and your forearms, keeping elbows bent to about 90 degrees.
  • For both: Focus on bringing your navel toward your spine to engage your core while keeping your low back flat.


Muscles Worked: Triceps, chest, shoulders, core
Good for: Building upper body strength so you get your Costco-sized bag of dog food out of the car

How to do it:

  • Get into a plank position. (On your toes or your knees.)
  • Slowly bend your elbows, lowering yourself until your chest or chin grazes the floor. Keep your core engaged and spine straight as you do this so your body moves in one consistent line.
  • Straighten your elbows to raise yourself up until you’re back in the plank position. That’s one rep.

Tricep Dips

Muscles Worked: Triceps, anterior deltoids
Good for: Isolating your tricep muscles

How to do it:

  • With your back to a bench, coffee table, or chair, rest your palms on the object’s surface. Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Your legs should be straight out in front of you while your hips are bent to about 90 degrees.
  • Resting your weight through your heels and your palms, straighten your elbows to lift your body up and then slowly lower back down.


Muscles worked: Core and low back
Good for: Counteracting all the slouching we do while typing and driving

How to do it:

  • Lie facedown on the floor with your arms extended overhead. 
  • Raise your arms and legs a few inches off the floor while keeping your neck in a neutral position. 
  • Hold your arms and legs at the top for a few seconds
  • Slowly lower back down.

Diamond Push-ups

Muscles worked: Triceps, chest, and shoulders
Good for: Building upper body strength without equipment

How to do it:

  • This is just like a regular push-up (see above for details). But instead of positioning your hands under your shoulders, bring them in so they’re directly under your chest. (Your thumbs and pointer fingers will form the shape of a diamond.)

Best Lower Body Workout

woman in lunge pose
Dmitry Frantsev

Sure, kettlebells, barbells, and dumbbells are great to have if you’re building lower body strength. But body weight is an excellent alternative. Thomas recommends this workout to develop lower-body strength, endurance, and power.

For this workout: Perform each of the following exercises 10 times, then repeat the circuit twice for a total of three sets of each exercise. Rest as needed between each circuit. 


Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
Good for: Balance, coordination, and lower body strength

How to do it:

  • Step your right foot two to three feet ahead of your left foot. (Imagine keeping your feet on opposite sides of a railroad track; they should be along parallel lines but not too close to your center). 
  • Bend both knees to about 90 degrees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • At this point, your left leg’s weight should be resting on your left toes. 
  • Come back to standing with your feet together.
  • Repeat, this time with your left leg leading. 

Calf Raises

Good for: Isolating your calf muscles
Muscles worked:

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Then, elevate your heels so you’re standing on tiptoes. 
  • Slowly lower back down. 
  • For extra intensity, perform this exercise while standing with the balls of your feet at the edge of a stair step and lower your heels down below the level of the step before elevating your heels.

Glute Bridges

Good for: A healthy back and core
Muscles worked: Glutes and lower back

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 
  • Tighten your core and your glutes while raising your hips up toward the ceiling so that your hips are aligned with your shoulders.
  • Slowly lower back down to the floor. 


Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
Good for: Keeping your low back, hips, and knees happy

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width.
  • Push your chest out and engage your core. At the same time, shift your hips back and down, hinging at your knees (and nowhere else).
  • Keep lowering until your thighs are almost parallel with the floor.
  • Raise yourself back up. That’s one rep.

Best HIIT Workout

best exercises for home workout
Jonathan Borba

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are one of the best ways to get an effective workout when you’re pressed for time, says Kami Blease, CPT. According to Blease, “The goal of a HIIT workout is to go as hard as you can during the ‘work’ period of the workout and then have a lower intensity movement or rest so you can recover slightly before going back to the ‘work’ portion.” 

How to do it: Do each movement for 40 seconds with a 20-second rest between each movement. Repeat the following circuit eight times (for a total workout time of 40 minutes).

Squat Jumps

Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
Good for: Conditioning for other sports (think running, cycling, and hiking)

How to do it:

  • Lower down to the bottom of a squat. 
  • Once you’re at the bottom, in one explosive movement, jump up. 
  • When your feet land on the floor, press down into a squat with control.

Walking Lunges

Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves
Good for: Balance, coordination, and lower body strength 

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet roughly hip-width apart. 
  • Step your right foot forward about 2 to 3 feet in front of you. 
  • Bend both knees to about 90 degrees, stopping just before your left knee touches the floor. 
  • Press your weight through your right heel as you stand back up and step forward with your left leg. 
  • Plant your left leg 2 to 3 feet in front of your right foot and repeat this sequence, leading with the left leg this time.

Plank With Shoulder Taps

Muscles Worked: Chest, shoulders, core 

How to do it:

  • Get into a high plank position. Keep your right hand planted on the floor, and touch your left fingertips to your right shoulder. 
  • Place your left hand back down on the floor and touch your left shoulder with your right hand.  

Bicycle Crunches

Muscles Worked: Abs, obliques
Good for: Injury prevention

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor about hip-width apart.  
  • Engage your core and lift your knees to 90 degrees as you raise your upper body. 
  • Extend your left leg out straight, rotating your trunk to bring your right knee toward your left elbow. 
  • Return to your starting position and repeat in the opposite direction.

Whichever workout you choose, the mindset you bring to the workout is just as important as the moves you do. So if you need to substitute a squat for a squat jump or skip a push-up, go right ahead. And when (not if) life interferes with your workout, it’s okay to shorten it rather than scrap it altogether. Because the imperfect workout you do is always better than the perfect one that you skip. 

Best Gear for Home Workouts

The best thing about these exercises? You don’t need much—or anything, really—to do them. Still, it’s helpful to have some essentials on hand. 

1. A Yoga Mat

Any exercise that calls for getting on the floor—like planks, push-ups, and glute bridges—feels a lot better with a relatively soft surface underneath. We’ve tested a bunch and like Lululemon’s Reversible mat for a wide range of exercises.

2. An Adjustable Kettlebell

If you don’t have a ton of space, but still want a way to add resistance to your workouts, try an adjustable kettlebell. We like the Bowflex 840, which has an 8-to-42-pound range, and an easy-to-grip handle. Use it to add resistance to lunges, squats, and more.

3. Resistance Bands

Try looping one around your thighs or knees for squats, lunges, plank jacks, or glute bridges. We like Arena Strength’s booty bands.

4. Dumbbells

When you’ve graduated from canned veggies and wine bottles, level up to a pair of dumbbells. These add extra resistance to squats, lunges, and thrusters, and lots more. Start with a pair of 10-pounders (or an adjustable set) and go from there.


  1. 56% of Americans now prefer to work out at home: “At-Home Fitness Regime Is the Top Fitness Trend in 2022: GoodFirms’ Survey,” GoodFirms Research (2022).
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