You really don’t need a fancy home gym — or heck, even a lot of equipment — to get a great sweat sesh without leaving the house. Don’t believe us? We asked Chicago-based personal trainer Elena Flores Rector, creator of Champagne & Fitness, to share the six most effective exercise moves you can do at home to build strength and burn calories.
Try them out and see for yourself.
A deadlift is one of the best ways to work the entire back side of your lower body, but you need to have some added weight. Sure, you could do this move with dumbbells, but no need—a big bottle of laundry detergent or even a cast iron skillet will do the trick here, says Rector.
Stand with your legs hip-width apart and slowly hinge forward at your hips: “Imagine there’s a wall behind you that you’re trying to touch with your booty and let your chest drop forward, maintaining a long spine,” Rector explains.
As you hinge forward, your heavy object should glide down parallel to your shins; stop as soon as you notice that your spine is no longer straight and stand back up. Do 10 reps, three times through.
2. Wall Sits + A Front Press
Aah, the old-school gym class wall sit. It’s a super effective way to burn out your thighs and booty, and the exercise becomes even harder when you add in an upper body move with it, as Rector suggests.
Sit against a wall so that your hips are in line with your knees. Focus on engaging your core and pressing your lower back into the wall, then grab the same heavy object you used for deadlifts and push it straight out from your mid-chest.
Do this for 60 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat three more times.
3. Sliding Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are great for the whole body, particularly your core, and have the added benefit of getting your heart rate up, too. Rector suggests upping the ante by using a slider under your feet; a small towel works great on hardwood or tile, or use paper plates on the carpet.
Place one under each foot, then slide one forward so that your knee is under your chest, and repeat with the opposite foot. “Make it harder by picking up speed or pulling both feet toward your chest at once,” Rector says, adding, “You can also change the muscle work by twisting knees towards opposite elbows to target your obliques.”
Work for 45 seconds, take a 15-second break, and repeat three to four times.
4. Side Lying Leg Circles
“We all need more hip mobility and outer hip strength, especially since we’re moving around a little less than normal,” points out Rector, and this is one of the most effective exercises you can do at home to achieve it.
Lay on your side with your head in your hand. Pull your knees in front of your hips and extend your top leg straight out in front of you, creating a 90-degree angle from leg to torso and making sure your hips are stacked directly on top of another.
Draw a circle the size of a watermelon with your toe, directly in front of your hip. Do 10 reps in one direction, reverse for another 10, then switch sides.
5. Lunges + Single Arm Rows
Here’s another great compound movement that will effectively target both arms and legs simultaneously. Step one leg forward into a static lunge and hinge your torso forward. Hold a medium-size weight—Rector says a wine bottle works great here—in the same hand as your back leg. Drop the weight (erm, bottle) toward the ground, then pull your elbow straight back, keeping it tight to your body so that it grazes your ribs.
Do 20 rows on each side and repeat twice. Want to make it harder? Hover that back foot off the ground while rowing to challenge your core.
“You may not like them, but your body will thank you,” says Rector of what’s arguably a universally-detested move. Jump back to a plank and drop down to your stomach, then hop your legs outside of your hands, into a squat, and jump towards the sky.
Move quickly and make sure to keep your core engaged as you jump your feet. If you need to scale back, step in and out rather than jump, advises Rector. She suggests doing these to cap off any at-home workout, in sets of five, 10, 15, and 20, with only 20 seconds of rest in between sets.