Home Sweet Gym: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Resistance Training in Your Living Room

at home workout for beginners

Welcome to the world of at-home muscle building, where sweat meets smiles and gains are accompanied by a sense of accomplishment! In this fun and educational article, we're diving into a workout routine that not only transforms your living room into a makeshift gym but also transforms your body with targeted muscle development. Whether you’re short on time, aren’t a fan of gym settings, or simply feel more comfortable in your own space, we are here to help.  Stick around for a sample workout program designed to kick-start your home fitness adventure! Whether you're aiming to redefine your physique, boost your metabolism, or simply embrace a healthier lifestyle, get ready to flex those muscles.

Why is Resistance Training Important? 

why is strength training important

Resistance training is for more than fine tuning your physique (although that is a plus). Strength is directly tired to longevity and quality of life as we age. Resistance training can also improve bone health, metabolism, joint health, injury prevention, hormonal responses, insulin sensitivity, mental health, functional fitness, and cardiovascular health. 

Incorporating resistance training into a well-rounded fitness routine offers a wide array of benefits, making it an essential component for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Always consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially for beginners.

What Exercises are Great for Beginners?

sample workout for beginner's
  1. Bodyweight Squats:

How to do a bodyweight squat: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, chest upright, and shoulders relaxed. Lower your body by bending at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight. Ensure your knees stay in line with your toes (don’t let them cave in). Descend then push through your midfoot to return to the starting position.

How to make it harder or easier: Focus on proper form and gradually increase repetitions.  Add weight like a backpack, dumbbells, or resistance bands to increase the difficulty. For experts try a pistol squat to challenge balance.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core

  1. Push-Ups:

How to do a push-up: Maintain a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core and keeping your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground, then push back up to the starting position, ensuring a full range of motion for an effective push-up.

How to make it harder or easier: Modify your position based on your fitness level; use a bench or knees if needed.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Chest, shoulders, and triceps

  1. Bent-Over Rows:

How to do a bent-over row: Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hinge at your hips, keeping your back flat and shoulders pulled back. Grasp a barbell, dumbbells, or household item with an overhand grip, and while maintaining this hip hinge position, pull the weights toward your lower ribcage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Ensure controlled movements and avoid rounding your back for a safe and effective bent over row.

How to make it harder or easier: Use household items as weights (e.g., water bottles) to start.  Progress to heavier weights/dumbbells or increase the repetitions as you become more experienced.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Upper back, rhomboids, and biceps

  1. Glute Bridges:

How to do a glute bridge: To perform a proper glute bridge, lie on your back with knees bent, feet hip-width apart, and arms at your sides. Lift your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top, and ensure a straight line from your shoulders to your knees while maintaining engagement in your core throughout the movement. Do not let your knees cave in during the exercise.

How to make it harder or easier: Performing a single leg glute bridge is a great way to progress this exercise. Add a resistance band around your knees and push outward while performing the glute bridge to increase difficulty. Adding a weight/barbell across the hips or looping a resistance band under the feet and around the hips will also make a glute bridge more challenging.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, and lower body

  1. Overhead Press:

How to do an overhead press: Hold a weight in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing forward with elbows at a 90-degree angle. Press the weights overhead, fully extending your arms, and then lower them back to shoulder height for a complete dumbbell overhead press.

How to make it harder or easier: Increase the weight in each hand or increase the number of repetitions performed.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Shoulders (deltoids), upper back (trapezius), triceps, and core

  1. Lunges

How to do a forward lunge: To execute a proper forward lunge, begin by standing with feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with one leg, ensuring the knee is directly above the ankle, and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, keeping the back straight and core engaged. Push off the front foot to return to the starting position, and repeat on the other leg for a well-balanced and effective lunge.

How to make it harder or easier: Lunges can be modified in various ways. For instance, a walking lunge can increase the demands on stability and coordination. Adding weight in your hands, on the shoulders (e.g. a barbell), or on the back (e.g. a backpack) can all make a lunge more difficult.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, valves, adductors, core, and low back.

  1. Dead Bug:

How to do a dead bug exercise: Lie on your back with arms extended towards the ceiling and legs lifted off the ground. Maintain proper form by simultaneously lowering one arm straight behind your head and the opposite leg towards the floor, ensuring your lower back remains pressed against the ground to engage your core, then return to the starting position and switch sides.

How to make it harder or easier: Add a weight in your hand or switch to same side dead bug exercises where you raise the left hand lower the left leg simultaneously.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, and shoulder stabilizers

  1. Leg Raises:

How to do leg raises: Lie on your back with your back flat against the ground. Keep your knees straight and lift your legs upward. Lower them back down without letting them touch the ground. Keep your lower back pressed into the floor.

How to make it harder or easier: Perform more repetitions or add a raise every time the leges are in the air.

Primary muscle groups targeted: Lower abs and hip flexors


Sample Home Workout: 

what exercises are good for beginners
  1. Bodyweight Squats: 3 sets of 15 reps
  2. Push-Ups: 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Bent-Over Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps
  4. Glute Bridges: 3 sets of 15 reps
  5. Overhead Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
  6. Forward Lunges: 3 sets of 20 reps
  7. Dead Bugs: 3 sets of 15 reps
  8. Leg Raises: 3 sets of 15 reps

Tips for the Workout:

  1. Warm-up: Begin each session with 5-10 minutes of light cardio to increase blood flow and stretch. This insures that you are ready to move through the range of motion you need to complete the workout.
  2. Form is Key: Prioritize proper form over lifting heavy weights to prevent injuries. If at any time you become fatigued to the point where your form deteriorates then it’s time to either move onto a different exercise or take a break.
  3. Progress Gradually: Start with lighter weights and less repetitions. Increase gradually to challenge your muscles.
  4. Rest Between Sets: Allow 1-2 minutes of rest between each set to optimize recovery.
  5. Listen to Your Body: If an exercise causes pain (other than typical muscle fatigue), stop the exercise and consult a professional.

Remember, consistency is key. Gradually increase intensity as you become more comfortable with the exercises. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.


Author: Dr. Colleen Gulick