DIY Fitness: Turn Your Home into a Home Gym, with Next to Nothing

DIY Fitness: Turn Your Home into a Home Gym, with Next to Nothing

Got athletes stuck at home craving fitness gains? These strength training circuts require just a few cheap items and/or household products.

With everyone still mostly stuck at home, we can optimize a critical part of our strength training routine: precision and stability work. Everyone can benefit from stability work as it’s the foundation of how we move, control our body and resist fatigue. The benefits? It’s cheap, can be done with minimal equipment, and can be done from the comfort of your own home and maybe even pajamas. So next time your athletes are giving you grief about their inability to work out, just refer them to the following.

Let’s start by creating your own gym for under $10. Equipment for the program includes:

Bodyweight exercises = FREE!

Bands – Likely you can’t even order these online right now or that’s an expense you don’t want to pay in this time of crisis. Call your local physical therapist and ask them if they have theraband for sale. This will cost you around $3.00/yard. You only need a few yards.

Sling Trainer – No, you don’t need to go spend on a high-cost sling trainer. Instead, go to your local craft store (if they are open) and purchase some nylon webbing. Cost wise, this will run about 10 cents/ft.

As for set up, you can put the bands in a doorway, around a sturdy beam, stair banister, pole, treadmill if you have one, or a tree. Same with your sling trainer. These can go over-top a door, around a tree branch, or another sturdy fixture.

Components of Your At-Home Program

Posture and Core: Use this time to work on core, form and sequencing movements. With a dynamic stability program, you’ll learn how to control movement precisely and proactively. The way our body responds to stress is critical to performance. Use sport-specific movements to translate to better form under fatigue.

Hip Drive: Let’s focus on optimizing our at-home program by successfully translating our hip movements into two categories: horizontal and vertical loads. When creating your program, focus on the hip-hinge movement which is a horizontal load. This motion most effectively reflects what we do as runners, triathletes and cyclists. This may include bridges, deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, banded hip exercises. Vertical loading, which can be less of a focus in your program include the squatting position.

Plyometrics: Remember, to develop true strength, we need both feet on the ground while moving a heavy load. Well, this isn’t always feasible with gym closures and at-home restrictions. So what can we do? Plyometrics!

Plyometrics teach our body to generate force, which the repetitive motion of running does not.  Plyometrics are great as they don’t have to be done frequently or for a long duration. You can incorporate plyometrics as 30-45 reps, 2-3x/week. Not only are plyometrics an essential addition to any gym program, but they also have health benefits by increasing bone mineral density.

At-Home Circuits

With these exercises, we can perform them as high repetition, low load activities. These circuits shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes and can be performed 1-3 days/week. 

Circuit 1

Equipment: Couch, laundry basket filled to your preferred resistance, 1 stair. 

Repeat 3x:

Couch Bridge Twist 10x

Couch Hip Thrust -optional to add laundry basket for weight 12x 

Bear Crawl 30 seconds

Couch Hamstring Curl 15x

Push-Ups 6-10x

Couch Squats -optional to add laundry basket for weight 12x 

Stair alternating quick steps 30 seconds

Exercise Descriptions:

Couch Bridge Twist: Lay with head and shoulders on couch, feet on the ground bent to 90 degrees. Clasp hands and slowly twist the upper body and head to the right side, then to the left, repeat.

Couch Hip Thrust: Lay with head and shoulders on couch, feet on the ground bent to 90 degrees. Pushing through the feet, use the glutes to press the hips to the ceiling. If this is too easy, put a laundry basket on hips to add resistance.

Bear Crawl: Crawl on fingertips and toes in a quadruped position.

Couch Hamstring Curl: Lay on the ground with heels on the couch. Push through the heels to drive the hips towards the ceiling.

Push Ups: Feel free to modify this activity by placing hands on the couch or stairs.

Couch Squats: Feet on the floor, shoulder width apart, squat down until you feel the couch under you. Explode back up. Use a laundry basket for extra resistance.

Stair alternating quick steps: Start with one foot on the ground, one on the stair. Quickly alternate focusing on smooth rhythm and timing. Alternate this movement for 30 seconds.

Circuit 2

Equipment: Couch, 1-5lb. object, band, sling trainer, 1 stair. 

Repeat 3x:

Weighted Twists 10x

Split Squat 6x each leg

Banded Plank 8x each side

Squat Swings 12x

Band Pull Aparts 15x

Single-Leg Squat 12x each leg

Stair Box Jumps 12x

Exercise Descriptions:

Weighted Twists: Lay on your back, knees bent to 90 degrees and feet off the floor. Hold an object, 1-5lb. (can be gallon of milk, medicine ball, can of soup, etc). Hold the object overhead and slowly twist the upper body and head to the right side, then to the left, repeat.

Split Squat: Place the back foot on the couch. In this split position, squat down. Repeat 6x before switching legs.

Banded Plank: Tie a band around a low surface (treadmill, stair banister, work with a partner, around a couch leg, etc). In a plank position, hold the band with the outside hand. Twist as far as you can trying to bring the arm to the ceiling. 

Squat Swing: Similar to a kettlebell swing, you’ll want to have an object you can hold tightly and comfortably. Squat down and then explode quickly to get the weight to shoulder height.

Band Pull Aparts: Keeping the elbows straight, bring the arms to 90 degrees. Pull the band across the chest.

Single Leg Squat: Hold onto a sling trainer and perform a single leg squat. Best with a sling trainer, but if you don’t have access to one, use a couch for feedback.

Stair Box Jumps: With box feet, jump up onto a stair that is mid-shin height. Land softly. Then step back down and repeat.

Circuit 3

Equipment: Couch, 1-5lb. object, laundry basket

Repeat 3x:

Twisted Warrior 5x each leg

Couch Punches 15x

Split Squat with Rotation 6x each leg

Couch Walks 30 seconds

Push Press 10x

Single Leg Deadlift 12x

Skipping 30 seconds

Exercise Descriptions:

Twisted Warrior: In a warrior position, twist one arm at a time towards the ceiling.

Couch Punches: Lay with head and shoulders on couch, feet on the ground bent to 90 degrees. Hold an object overhead, preferably a light weight in each hand. Press the object upwards lifting the shoulder blades off of the couch.

Split Squat with Rotation:  Place the back foot on the couch. In this split position, squat down then slowly rotate the head and torso to the right, then left. Return to upright position and repeat. You can hold a light weight in front of you or put a bar (swiffer, dowel rod, etc) over the shoulders.

Couch Walks: In a plank position with feet on the couch, walk the hands as far as you can to the right, then the left. Return to center and repeat.

Push Press: Hold an object (gallon of milk, laundry basket, 5lb. weight, paint can) at chest height or hold an object in each hand at shoulder height. In a split stance, bend the knees slightly and then explode up, using the hips to drive momentum. While in the air, switch your stance and bring the leg that was behind to the front and vice versa. 

Single-Leg Deadlift: Stand on one leg, maintain a flat back and hinge the hips back while raising the back leg behind you. Push your hips forward to return to an upright position. Feel free to modify this activity by using a weighted object in the hand opposite to the foot that’s on the ground.

Skipping: Regular forward skipping while focusing on upright posture and driving through the hips.

Caitlin Glenn Sapp

Dr. Caitlin Glenn Sapp is the founder of Crew Racing and Rehab, a performance coaching and physical therapy company. She holds her Doctorate of Physical Therapy as well as a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. She also holds certifications as a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach and American College of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer. Dr. Sapp is a seven-time Ironman finisher, which includes the Ironman World Championships, and is a multiple-time USA Triathlon All-American. She takes great interest in educating the industry, from athletes to coaches, on how to stay injury-free while performing at a high level. For more, visit Crewracing.org or email Caitlin at caitlin@crewracing.org.