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Home workouts to lose weight

When it comes to weight loss, calories in vs calories out is the most important factor. Essentially, you need to be burning more calories than you consume.

One of the best ways of increasing the number of calories you burn is to do more physical activity. This can look like:

  • doing more steps (around the 10,000 mark)
  • cleaning or doing chores around the house
  • gardening
  • cardiovascular exercise (such as running or cycling)
  • strength training (or weight lifting)
  • any form of activity that gets your heart rate up

It’s a common misconception that you need a gym membership in order to have a challenging and effective calorie-burning workout.

This article will outline how you can train at home using bodyweight exercises or with common household objects you might already have lying around the house.

It will include both cardio (HIIT) workouts, as well as some strength training workouts (working mostly against the resistance of your own body weight).

Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by Dr. Kyle Collins Last reviewed 06-01-2024

Home workout equipment

If you’re working out at home, chances are you don’t have access to much gym equipment (like dumbbells and kettlebells). Luckily, certain household items can be used as weights instead.

If you decide to use furniture or household objects, always ensure they are sturdy and safe to use. This means you're less likely to injure yourself


Household objects

Any of the following household objects can work to add resistance to your training:

  • a backpack can be used when filled with heavy items
  • books
  • tins of food, or canned goods
  • paint cans
  • large bottles of water
  • large packets of rice (these are often around the 5kg mark)

You can also use your furniture to your advantage. For example, you could use your sofa to perform split squats (by placing your back foot on the seat), or you could use it as a ‘bench’ for hip thrusts.

A woman doing elevated push-ups using a sofa chair

You could also make push-ups more advanced by elevating your feet on the sofa to increase the range of movement.

Other equipment

Some equipment might be worth investing in if you want to get the most out of your home workouts. These items are small and generally inexpensive, but can really help you to up the intensity:

An array of gym equipment including kettlebells and a skipping rope
  • skipping rope
  • one or two small, lightweight dumbbells
  • a kettlebell
  • resistance bands
  • a TRX rope

The best exercises to lose weight at home

The aim of any workout is to get your heart rate up, whether this is through cardiovascular exercise or weight lifting. The more you elevate your heart rate, the more calories you burn.

The following exercises are optimal for adding intensity to your home workouts:

  • squat jumps
  • split squats
  • single-leg hip thrusts
  • mountain climbers
  • planks
  • push-ups
  • inverted rows
  • pike push-ups
  • jumping jacks
  • skipping
  • burpees
  • jumping lunges

Even though they can be challenging, they are suitable for beginners as they’re relatively easy to get the hang of.

Plus, you can practice them safely inside your house until you feel confident with the movement.

HIIT workouts at home

HIIT workouts are a form of cardiovascular exercise, though you can incorporate light weights in order to work your muscles too.

It stands for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) - and involves switching between short periods of very intense exercise and periods of rest.

HIIT training gets your heart rate near its maximum speed and therefore burns a lot of calories. It’s arguably one of the best cardio exercises for weight loss.

Bodyweight HIIT workout

Try one of our HIIT home workouts if you’re not sure where to start. The following workout plan requires no equipment at all - just your body weight is needed.

A HIIT workout plan that requires no equipment

This HIIT workout should take around 20 minutes to complete. Because of the short time frame, it’s important to work as hard as possible during the short bursts of exercise.

The aim is to get your heart pumping as quickly as possible to burn more calories.

HIIT workout with equipment

If you do have access to some small weights or resistance bands, you might prefer trying this HIIT workout instead:

A HIIT workout plan that requires minimal equipment

If you find these workouts too challenging initially, you can increase the length of rest or swap out some of the exercises with less difficult variations.

For example, instead of weighted squats (e.g. barbell or goblet squats) try sticking to regular bodyweight squats.

Sprinting workout

Another type of HIIT involves doing sprints. If you have access to a garden or a nearby park, a sprinting workout can be an efficient way of burning calories without having to go to the gym.

Start by marking the beginning and end points of your sprint. Aim for anywhere between 40 and 100 meters (although it can be less if you’re short on open space).

The workout will alternate between sprinting (running as fast as you can) and active recovery (walking back to the start point).

A 20-minute sprint workout would look like this:

  • 1 x sprint (running as fast as possible to the finish line)
  • 1 x active rest (slowly walking back to the starting point)
  • Repeat 10 times

Remember to cool down after this type of exercise. Go for a 5-10 minute walk and do some stretches.

Leg workouts at home

You don’t have to be in a gym in order to strength train. It’s possible to effectively target your muscles using mostly body weight and a little extra resistance.

Strength training exercises help you to increase your muscle mass as well as burn calories. This can be a great choice for weight loss because, when you build muscle, you increase your metabolism.

The following home workout will target your leg and glute muscles:

A leg workout plan you can do at home

The numbers on the workout refer to the number of sets and reps.

4 x 16 equates to 4 sets of 16 reps. This means that you will do 16 repetitions of the exercise 4 separate times (making sure to take rests in between).

Upper body workouts at home

When strength training, it’s important not to neglect any of your major muscle groups (as this can cause imbalances within your body).

You can target your chest, back, and shoulder muscles by incorporating push-ups, inverted rows, and pike push-ups.

Bicep curls and bodyweight tricep dips are also great exercises for training your arm muscles.

The following home workout will target your upper body:

A home workout containing 5 upper body exercises

If you don’t have access to a TRX rope, you can work your back muscles by using weights instead. Hinge at the hips and extend your arms (holding weights). Then, bring the weights towards your chest, performing a ‘rowing’ motion.

Ab workouts at home

Because your abdominal muscles are a relatively small muscle group, you don’t need much weight to train them.

This makes ab workouts a great option if you’re at home because all you need is your body weight.

If you want to strengthen your core muscles, try our workout plan:

An ab workout plan you can do from home

Remember, whilst it's always good to train your core, ab workouts won’t burn a huge amount of calories. It might not be the most efficient workout if your aim is to lose weight.

Training larger muscle groups, or doing cardio, is a more effective way of speeding up your weight loss journey.

Exercises to reduce belly fat at home

You might have heard that by doing sit-ups and crunches (or any other ab exercise) you can reduce the fat around your midsection.

This is a common misconception. The fact is, training your ab muscles will only make your core stronger. Unless you’re eating in a calorie deficit, crunches will have no effect on your belly fat.

Woman exposing her midriff and holding a tape measure

You cannot spot reduce fat. When you lose weight, you cannot choose which fat cells in your body will disappear first. You might lose all the fat around your hips and thighs before you start to notice your belly fat going.

The only way to remove belly fat is to eat fewer calories and be more active. Remember, losing weight is not something that happens overnight. It’s a slow and steady process.

Further reading

Weight lifting for weight loss

Home workouts to lose weight Weight lifting for weight loss

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
The best cardio exercises to lose weight

Home workouts to lose weight The best cardio exercises to lose weight

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
Walking and how it can help with weight loss

Home workouts to lose weight Walking and how it can help with weight loss

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
The benefits of exercise for weight loss

Home workouts to lose weight The benefits of exercise for weight loss

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
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