The Ultimate At Home Workout Guide

At Home Workouts

We wrote the biggest at home workout guide ever.

We reviewed over 20 different case studies and research articles to bring you this complete resource of at home workout advice.

Let’s get right into it…

Table of Contents

Let’s face it, working out without a gym can be very tough. At home workouts are some of the toughest things to manage.

Building muscle or losing weight effectively can be almost impossible without proper resistance. Unfortunately, at home workouts are usually seen as inadequte due to this, which does it a disservice. However, this stigma is very false, as seeen through calisthenics, which if you want to learn more about I have a post dedicated to beginners of calisthenics and why you should do them: Why You Need to Start Calisthenics Right Now

At home Workouts can be incredibly effective. However, we need to learn how they work, how to progress using them, the cheapest equipment for it, reaching failure using only your house, and a couple of techniques that should help. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive on in.


Intro: How to Build a Stunning Physique Working Out at Home

 

Consider this an intro before we get into the real meat of this guide. This will cover a basic intro to everything you’ll need to know for those of us who have too much to do. After all, there’s a reason we’re working out at home, isn’t there?

Reviewing all of the case studies and other home workout routines, we devised a 7 step process for building muscle, losing weight, progressing, and advancing our at home workouts. We will also cover fundamentals such as bulking and cutting, so you can manage your ENTIRE fitness journey from home. Here’s a quick overview before we dive into the research. Below is a quick infographic of everything we’ll discuss today, with a short description of each technique.

 

                                                                    At Home Workouts 

There’s a quick overview of the topics we’ll be getting into. However, if you want the real information and case studies, I’d recommend you keep reading; we have a lot of ground to cover.

Build Muscle for A Long Time Using Only at Home Workouts

 
We all know it can be incredibly difficult to build muscle at home. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? However, following a key set of steps will help you overcome this goal easily. Let’s see what the science says for building muscle at home.

Perfect Your Recovery and Passively Gain More Muscle

One of the most overlooked parts of training is how to recover properly from it. Intense training can place an incredible pain on our bodies, and allowing our bodies to rest through good nutrition and rest gets rid of this problem. Let’s see how we can perfect our recovery.

Calculate Your RPE

 

To quickly recap, RPE is rating of perceived exhaustion, which helps determine how intense a set is. In order to master recovery, we have to master our management of RPE and more specifically its application. Usually, most workouts take place in the 6-9 RPE zone. This means that, on average, we are training up to 1-4 RIR (Reps in Reserve) each time we train. Depending on the range we’re in, we need to account for it. Here’s a quick overview of the ranges and RPE’s to get an idea of how to recover correctly.

RPE Ranges

 

RPE 1-4: You shouldn’t be training in this zone unless you’re injured.

RPE 5-6: Usually, you should be able to train the next day right after your session. This RPE is great for full-body workouts, which we’ll cover in the advanced section.
 
RPE 7-9: Give these muscles around 48 hours to recover unless they’re more minor muscles like biceps or delts, which can be trained back to back, but you need to be careful.
 
RPE 10: 48 Hours Minimum for 90% of people on all muscles

Safety Over Stupidity

 

The fitness industry refuses to talk about the insane amount of injuries and build-up that happens from constant training to failure with no breaks, not sleeping correctly, incorrect form, lousy nutrition, and a refusal of rest time. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you don’t fall into those same traps:

You Need to Train with Good Form: I’ll be releasing an entire guidebook on form soon. Until then, youtube videos teach everything you should ever need to know about form. Look up some videos, preferably by Jeff Nippard, Geoffrey Verity Schofield, or Will Tennyson, which i’ll link below.

Excessive Training to Failure: Overloading a muscle stimulus over and over with failure and not allowing for enough recovery can massively injure that muscle tissue and take up to 2-3 MONTHS to fix, in some cases years or permanent. Don’t be stupid for the 5% extra gains. Train to failure, but not all of the time.

Inadequate Nutrition: If your body doesn’t have the proper nutrients and your bones aren’t receiving the minerals they need, it can be a lot easier to injure yourself. Eat your vegetables; if you want more nutrition advice, check out our article on that: The Startling Truth Of Dieting and Weight Loss.

Rest More: Not giving your body enough time to rest between sets is a massive oversight. If you haven’t had enough rest, you could seriously be putting your body at risk. Imagine your muscle being worked to its absolute max, then going again after 1 minute. That muscle would die faster than GoT did after their ending. Give your muscle time tor rest, preferably 2 minutes maximum.

Train to Failure, or Very Close to It, 60-80% of the Time for Best Muscle Focus

There are a lot of debates nowadays about whether or not sets in the GYM should be taken to failure. Notice how I emphasized gym. At home, it’s much harder to gauge proximity to failure than with a set amount of weight. In addition, low amounts of customizability and progression limit us extensively. That’s why an RPE of usually 9-10 is suitable for most at home workouts. 5-6 is usually only needed for full-body workouts, which we’ll discuss in the advanced section. Here’s a graph showing the correlation between proximity to failure and muscle hypertrophy; this is just a general prognosis from most of the data we have found and is in no way representative of a study.

It should be said that the rules for failure still apply: wait at least 48 hours after training a muscle to train it again.

Train Each Muscle Using The Best Exercises

Now that we know how hard to train, how on earth DO we train at home? After all, working out without equipment is nearly impossible, right? Oh, my dear friend, we have much to cover.

Your body weight is a much more powerful force than you give it credit for. How many of us reading this article can do 20 pullups and feel perfectly fine afterward? Not most, I’m guessing. Using the correct exercises for each body part is very important. Here are the three best exercises for EVERY SINGLE MUSCLE. We’ll also review how to progress in all of these during our advanced progression stage. Let’s get started!

Back

Beginner: Inverted Rows: using a table, or another object


Intermediate: Pullups: use a cheap pullup bar or a crevice in a wall


Advanced: Muscle Ups: definitely need a pullup bar for this one

Chest

Beginner: Pushups/Assisted Pushups: do either incline or knee pushups for assisted


Intermediate: Dips: most playgrounds have sustainable dip bars, but you can always buy one; check our equipment section for more info


Advanced: Weighted Dips and Clapping Pushups: Use backpacks, shove them as full of weight as possible, and train to failure. For pushups, explode upwards and clap. As you get more advanced, you can do up to 3 claps at a time!

Legs

Beginner: Lunges/Squats: Long times and reps, take big strides and make it feel like a squat; squats should be done normally


Intermediate: Sumo Squat/Pistol Squat: These are complicated but can be done with enough practice and time. Don’t go to complete failure as it is difficult.


Advanced: Weighted Pistol Squats/Bulgarian Split Squats: These will really crush your legs, so make sure you have a wheelchair ready. Use slow and controlled momentum and good form.

Glutes

Beginner: Glute Bridges: Carefully up, carefully down, not very complicated


Intermediate: Pistol Squat


Advanced: Weighted Bulgarian Split Squats

Core/Abs

Beginner: Long Lever Plank/Crunches: Crunch as you usually would; for a long lever plank, stick your arms out as far as possible and your glutes as close to the ground as you can


Intermediate: Hanging Leg Raises: Don’t swing; slowly raise your legs up and engage your core with correct breathing and control.


Advanced: L-sit Hold: Hold this for longer and longer, slowly increasing weight through backpacks and other things.

Biceps

Beginner: Reverse Inverted Row: Suppinate your arms and pull yourself up, focusing on your biceps


Intermediate: Chin-ups: Focus on the bicep contraction, and don’t go all the way down for safety


Advanced: Weighted Chin-ups: Lots of weight through backpacks and other home materials

Triceps

Beginner: Pushups: Use a close grip, either assisted or normal


Intermediate: Diamond Pushups/Dips: For diamond pushups, really focus on the contraction of the eccentric. For dips, focus more on the tricep contraction and get a full range of motion


Advanced: Weighted Dips/Clapping Push Ups: Same advice as for the chest; refer back to see it
 

Delts: Frontal

 
Beginner: Assisted/Tucked Planche: Slowly build up towards doing a normal shoulder planche. To set up the position, get in a pushup position and try to push up your body using your center of mass and delts without your legs. Tuck your body in the air, and push your body in the air like a ball.
 
Intermediate: Planche: Here’s a complete video tutorial on how to planche, as it’s too difficult to describe here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ-1jwG7aQ4 
 
Advanced: Ring Planche: Here’s a really good guide we found surfing for ring planche content that’s much more descriptive than a piece of content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuaJz8zlRb0
 

Delts: Lateral and Rear

 
Beginner: Ring Lateral Raises/Holds: Use your rings, and attempt a lateral raise that can hold you in the air and go back down as you lower yourself. Progress by going higher each time. 
 
Intermediate: TRX Ring Rear Delt Rows: Use the rings as cables, lean your body at an incline, and push yourself up while keep your rings above your forehead for rear delt focus. 
 
Advanced: Ring Planche Holds: Works all three heads of the delt, overall amazing exercise but very hard to do. Do the ring planche from earlier, but hold it for as long as you can without going near failure. 

Forearms

Beginner: Hand Grippers/Dead Hangs: Hang from a pullup bar, and use hand grippers for beginning strength


Intermediate: Towel Hang/Rock Climbing: Hang from the pull-up bar using towels; rock climbing is a good option for those of us that like going out a lot


Advanced: Towel Pull Ups/Weighted Rock Climbing: Pullup using only a towel; see if you can get more resistance rock climbing through weighted vests and optional add-ons

Calves

Beginner: Standing Calf Raise: Bodyweight with a bit of weight, just getting ready to train it intensely


Intermediate: Sprinting: Full spring ahead for 30 seconds with little rest in between; really tones your legs


Advanced: Weighted Sprinting: Wear a weighted vest, and sprint as fast as you can for small intervals

Bulk Up

The simple fact of building muscle is that you need to be in a caloric surplus at nearly all times. You can build muscle without being in a surplus; however, you will struggle. A surplus of around 300 calories should be more than enough. Make sure to track your progress using scale weights, monthly photos, and calorie counting.

How to Bulk Up Easily and Healthily

One of the biggest misconceptions about bulking is that you need to “eat big to get big, bruh”. While this isn’t false, tons of muscle can be made when you shove pretty much everything in your mouth, it also produces a lot of fat gain. This is undesirable due to the amount of time it would take to cut that weight out and possible body dysmorphia issues. So, only really eat in an absolute maximum of 500-600 calories if you want to avoid massive fat gain, and 300-400 calories if you want to lean bulk and put on the least amount of fat possible.

To easily track this, use an app like MyFitnessPal, or MacroFactor. Each offer amazing ways for calorie counting, (if I had to give a favorite, it’d be MacroFactor), which can help with easily bulking up when you need to calculate your exact caloric intake. They even come with their own bar scanner. 

Lose Weight Easily at Home With Minimal Effort

Losing weight at home is easy, no matter who tries to convince you otherwise. I’ll go through three easy, practical things you can implement into your life RIGHT NOW for extra results. Now, you won’t lose weight immediately but I can guarantee it’ll be incredibly easy. I’ll also be going through WHEN you should lose weight, and how to avoid simple mistakes we all make. What are we waiting for? Let’s get right to it!

Maintain a Calorie Deficit Through Tracking Apps

Did you know that eating healthy to lose weight is a complete lie? Granted, you’ll probably live a longer and healthier life if you eat vegetables over ice cream, but because you do doesn’t mean you’ll be skinny. The only thing that, technically, matters for losing weight is calories and counting them correctly. Thats right; the main stream fitness industry lies to you. However, who really is surprised about that?

Track Your Calories Using MacroFactor or MyFitnessPal

You need a calorie tracker to correctly guess your calories. If you’re doubting me, read this study where people calculated their calories wrong by ~500 calories: https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/1356/woolleyliujcr.pdf?1607191495. This study shows one thing: we mostly suck at guessing calories.

Using calorie trackers makes this a lot easier. MacroFactor even has an AI machine that can accurately guess your calories by just telling it what you ate, alongside a bar scanner that can completely guess the amount of calories for most scannable items. Go on the app, pay the subscription, fill out some info, set a goal, and let the machine do the work for you. You can also use MyFitnessPal if you like, which can be cheaper but has a lot less functions and is mainly just a tracker, without the AI and automated expenditure MacroFactor has.

Track Your Calories on Your Own

Here’s a quick formula to determine your own calorie intake:

https://www.freedieting.com/calorie-calculator

Walks, seriously, just walk.

It is easy to walk, less you live in a dangerous environment. While you’re working, maybe through email campaigns or whatever else, take a 30-minute walk through your neighborhood. I’m not joking; studies show that a 30-minute walk each day can increase our lifespan and reduce our weight. Here’s the article containing most of the studies: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/walking-for-weight-loss#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5.

List of Tips and Tricks

Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks we found based on our research that can help a bit when trying to lose weight quickly.

Don’t Be Sedentary: Take a 15-minute break every hour to stand up and walk around. Studies show that being completely sedentary can lead to more fat gain and fat retention.


Eat With Smaller Portions: We often finish our food because we feel like we need to, even though we’re full. Eating in smaller portions and seeing fully completed plates usually help us feel fuller without developing a toxic relationship with food


Eat Low Calorie Dense Foods: Popcorn bags consist of only 160 calories if they’re artificially buttered such as Orville. Cooked kale is only 35 calories, and with oil, only around 190 calories for an entire bowl! Calorie dense foods, especially those with fiber, can keep you full and satiated for long.


Use a Blue Plate: Studies show that seeing the color blue makes us less hungry, so try eating with a blue plate and see if it works for you.


Find a Friend: Studies show that fitness alongside a companion can make it easier, more enjoyable, and even more effective. Try a diet with your friend, and encourage each other to see it through. It can be anyone as well, from family to partners to even random strangers; this works with anyone as long as you find their presence enjoyable.

(Optional) The Best and Cheapest Equipment and Supplements for Home Gyms and Use

Usually, home gyms are extremely expensive, and you’d be better off going to an actual gym. However, some equipment is relatively cheap and can make a huge difference in your at home workouts. Here’s a COMPLETE overview of probably every piece of equipment you’ll need, and I’ll separate them into groups.

These groups each have a piece of equipment that can function similarly and be exchanged or bought together to complement each other.

Cardio

 
Cardio mainly requires running and walking, so gear usually isn’t needed. That being said, here’s a couple of things you should be wary about before hopping straight into a cardio session. 

 

  • Hydro flasks or another water bottle that keeps your drink nice and refreshed for a long run or walk. 
  • Gatorade or any other source of electrolytes that prevent possible injury while running 
  • Fitness trackers, such as Apple Watches, FitBits, Phone Apps, etc. to keep track of how many calories you burn
  • Weighted Vest (Expensive): Weighted Vests make cardio more difficult and implement a little muscle gain alongside burning fat. You can find these vests through Amazon and see if discounts are available.

Exercise Equipment

 

Crucial

 
The following equipment is nearly crucial to working out at home. Not only can it have a massive effect on how quickly your muscle journey can go, but it will also make your journey safer and less prone to injury. We’ll list them in order from most to least expensive.
 
  • Adjustable Dumbbells: Adjustable dumbbells are insanely helpful, not only because of their weight range but because of their flexibility. From ab workouts to even bench pressing, these have it all. If you’re looking to spare money, pro tip, do NOT buy the normally adjustable dumbbells. Instead, buy a dumbbell handle with some plates, which should cost around 300-400 dollars LESS than it usually would. 
  • Dip Bar: If you’re trying to splurge money, dip bars are crucial for chest, tricep, and ab development. Dip bars can change the way we workout entirely and also helps introduce our body to a different stimulus rather than finding a million different ways to do a pushup.  
  • Pull-up Bar: Probably the most essential item on this list besides the dumbbells, pullup bars guarantee easy back development and possible ab workouts as well. 
  • Bench: Everyone needs a good bench, whether you’re trying to squat with it, bench, or whatever else. Benchs are essential for beginning stages as well as progression and safety
  • Rings: The BEST exercise equipment for people looking to workout at home, these rings offer infinite flexibility. From pullups to calisthenics to incredibly advanced moves such as planches, handstand presses, and l sit holds, the rings are a fully body workout that is easy to implement; grab a nearby tree, and you’re good. 
  • Chalk: Don’t be stupid, and get some chalk. Chalk prevents calluses and hand damage that’s way more likely due to working out at home on surfaces that aren’t evenly shaped barbells. 

Secondary

 

These workout accessories offer a lot of usability to your workouts, but due to their high price and/or not crucial usage, we placed them in the second tier, ordering once again from most to least expensive. 

  • Rower/Bike: This is one of the most useful ways to burn calories quickly and easily. Unfortunately, finding a good bike or rower can cost a lot of money. Although I think these make great additions, running can be as good if not better due to not needing anything to tun. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, thundering, or muddy; you can still run. 
  • Paralletes: If you have a dip bar and rings, these are not needed in any way, shape, or form. However, they’re a cheaper alternative for a Walmart version of each, with its own little perks such as very safe front planches. 
  • Battle Ropes: While not needed, this is the best cardio your body can get using only your arms. You’ll be lucky to last 30 seconds.
  • Blood Flow Restriction Bands: This is mainly secondary due to the lack of a majority consensus of complete concrete evidence suggesting the effectiveness. If more studies support this, BFRB would be near the top of equipment you can gather. These bands are mainly use for blood flow restriction training, which can be used once every 4 – 7 weeks for progression. 

Use Different Positions and Ranges of Motion to Progress

Different positions during different exercises affect our trained muscles and can be used to progress when you don’t have that much equipment. Switching from close to standard pushups, a wide grip to regular pull-ups, and more isolates your body parts and progresses lagging muscles.

Isolation Exercises

Back

Back muscles have several ranges of motion that can massively impact the muscle you’re working on. The most significant for our purposes, at home workouts, is the Lats. The lats can be trained in many, and I mean many, different ranges of motion, and each uses the lats in a different way. Let’s review each one so we can find out how to use them for our at home workouts.

Vertical

Vertical workouts for our back usually include but are not limited to pull-ups, lat pulldowns, and pullovers. However, because we don’t have enough equipment for the pulldowns and pullovers, we’ll mainly be sticking to pull-ups. The vertical range of motion for our backs is the most critical part we train and is what will be primarily trained.

Vertical Grip and Width

Gripping farther apart on an exercise makes it harder and incorporates more of our actual lats. Going underhanded increases our bicep contraction, while going overhanded focuses on balance between the two. Underhanded should never be fully extended for the danger of possible bicep tears but is otherwise completely safe.

Horizontal

Horizontal ranges of motion are essential for our mid back. Horizontal ranges of motion include cable rows, bent over rows, inverted rows, and more. For our purposes, we’ll mainly be using inverted rows. Horizontal ranges of motion give us more control over our midback and helps focus on our rear delts.

Horizontal Grip and Width

The grip choice affects the back and biceps as much as the veritcal does. Where it really differs is the grip width, where a wider grip can be used for more rear delt activation while a closer grip is more centered towards the back. Use a wide grip if your rear delts are lacking, and a narrow one if they’re not.

Chest

The chest muscles probably have the most variation when it comes to at home workouts and their variability using chest positions. From close grip pushups to wide pushups to even clapping pushups, we have alot of room to cover. So, saddle up, grab some popcorn, and let’s proceed.

Upper

Incline benching normally trains the upper part of the chest muscle. However, because of our lack of equipment, we need better solutions. Incline pushups work well, but only if you have a lot of weight nearby to take you to failure in a reasonable 10-12 reps. If not, go with incline pushups on a pair of parelletes, which we discussed in the equipment section, if you want to look back at that.

Lower

The lower part of the chest is considerably easier to train, mainly because decline pushups are more challenging than incline. Doing decline clapping pushups is one of the hardest things an athlete can do, and you can attempt it from your own home. This will give your chest more shape and a well-rounded definition.

Grip Width

The closer to your chest, the more triceps you will use in that exercise. The farther from your chest, the more front delts and chest you’ll be using. Reasonably, your normal grip should reside between these two extremes. However, switching to each one stimulates your lagging muscles and gives them more definition.

Legs

Depending where we put our legs during an exercise, we can target different muscles entirely. From our quads and calves to our glutes and hammies, the legs have lots of variety in the ways we can train them. This is VERY important for at home workouts because they allow us to focus in on a certain muscle that may be lagging behind.

Quads

Focusing on your quads in an exercise usually means we need to keep our back straight in an upward curve, and lean back as little as possible. In order to build insane quads, you shouldn’t be leaning back a lot during an exercise, and should be incorporating more of a push on your legs than a pull.

Hamstrings

Exact opposite of what I just said, pull back as far as safely possible and let your legs do the work instead of balancing with your abs for the most part. Really focusing on pulling the weights with your legs, and the mind-muscle connection between you and the back of your legs.

Ranges of Motion

 
When we’re talking ranges of motion, we don’t mean just full and partial ranges. Range of motion, especially how we perform the exercise, can entirely change it. Let me explain:

 

Say you were doing face pulls, and tried pulling it to your head rather than above your head. Your head would cause your back to be more involved, while above your head would cause your rear delts to work far more. These differences in range of motion and position can help us truly elevate how we workout, and master the art of working out at home. Normally, these concepts aren’t that important. However, it’s vital that we use these steps to make the most out of our lack of equipment. Now who says you can’t do the best at-home workouts without equipment? 

 

Chest

 
The chest doesn’t have that much range of motion that can change its muscle usage, except for pushups. Pushups can be done in SO MANY WAYS, and here’s exactly how each one targets your muscles. 

 

  • Diamond Pushups – Use your triceps and your chest the most, very soft-sided on the delts  
  • Close Pushups: Utilize your triceps mainly over your chest and shoulders
  • Wide Grip Pushups: Delts and Chest development, with submaximal tricep development 
  • Clapping Pushups: Use for solid contraction and explosiveness for sports like boxing, competing, etc. 
  • One-Arm Pushup (ADVANCED): Use wisely, very hard, and utilizes a lot of the delts and tricep

Back

 
The back is incredibly diverse in the range of motion. From the traps to the lats to the lower back, there is much more than grip width that goes into the actual dynamics of the back. Let’s describe each motion and how they pertain to how we train our back:

 

Shrug
 
Whenever we shrug with a bar of weight, or dumbells, or any sort of equipment, we’re training our traps. However, how do we effectively “shrug” without any weight to do it with? Pullup shrugs are a great way to get around this issue, which involves us shrugging our back as we push our legs to an L-like shape (if you can’t do that yet, slowly build up by raising your legs a little higher each time).

 

Pull
 
Pullups and inverted rows are the way we pull heavy with our backs. However, there are different ways other than grip width to affect the muscles trained. The farther you are from your center of mass, the harder it is to complete the exercise. As we discussed before, wide-grip pullups are more brutal than standard pull-ups. In addition, where you center the bar and how you complete each exercise is very important. 

 

  • CrossFit Pullups: NOT useful for explosiveness, don’t do them under any condition.
  • Explosive Pullups: Pull your chin ABOVE the bar quickly at first, and then slowly on the way back down by lining your body directly in a line across the pull-up bar
  • Wide Grip Pullup (Advanced): Pull your back upwards and have yourself nearly balanced while you hang from the bar. It should look like an inverted row, but you’re floating in the air. 
  • Pullup: Several ranges of motion can affect pull-ups, but the best way is to utilize different ranges of motion through different concentric and eccentric timing and positions. Allow me to explain very quickly, by going up faster or down slower; we can position our bodies into different stimuli which helps us grow. In addition, by outwardly pushing our bodies on the way down or by positioning our bodies in different positions on the way up, we can stimulate our muscles even faster. 
Legs
 
We discussed the legs in vivid detail, but who’s to say we can’t do it again? The legs are complicated regarding the range of motion, and they can be a bit overwhelming, so hang on for a second.

 

Whenever we train our leg muscles by keeping our knees overtly behind our toes, that trains our hamstrings which trains the back of our legs while keeping our knees barely below or even sometimes slightly on top of our toes; we train our quads to a higher degree. In addition, by keeping an upward back while squatting and not pulling hard at our leg, we train our quads more. 

Triceps
 

The triceps have three heads: long, lateral, and medial. Working all three heads is simple and requires little to no work if you know how to properly train it. Here’s a list of how to properly hit every head at home for maximum development. 

  • Shortened: Whenever your triceps are worked mainly in the shortened zone, I.E., whenever they’re bent, and the exercise doesn’t affect it, whenever the triceps are flexed, this primarily works your long heads. 
  • Flexed: Whenever your triceps are flexed fully outwards, this works mainly on your medial and lateral head. Some examples are tricep pushdowns using an inverted row bar and your body weight, or a dumbbell kickback or any other material, as I guarantee kickbacks are difficult even with 10-15 pounds only for most beginners to intermediates. 

Master A New Exercise or Skill at Home with Ease using this Technique

 
The 5×5 technique is a technique many powerlifters used for the longest of times, and it’s still very popular today, and for a good reason. This technique is an easy way to gain strength quickly, which is great, but how does it help us master a specific technique? Well, the science says the following:

 

Whenever we put a significant stimulus on our muscles, say 80-90% of our 1RPM, and train to about a 7-9 RPE, we train our muscles with strength and memory. When we start working out, our legs can probably squat 1-1.5x our weight as a BEGINNER. Yet, they don’t. Why? It’s because our muscles don’t know when to kick in. Our muscles aren’t sure what the correct depth is, how fast or slow we should be going, and what muscles to activate at certain times. By training heavily, powerlifters increase their strength through muscle gain, strength, memorization, and correct timing of the muscles.

How on earth does this apply to at home workouts? Well, whenever we try to work out at home, it’s challenging to build strength quickly. Many suffer from progressively overloading at home and find themselves in a hole, trying to advance to the next calisthenics exercise or workout, but they can’t. That’s why we’re going to show you EXACTLY how to build muscle and strength through this special technique by taking advantage of our muscle memory:

Implementing the 5×5 Technique

 
The 5×5 technique isn’t something we jump into without any regard. A lot of the weights are going to be very heavy. While we may not be training with weights, there is still a slight risk of injuring ourselves, which is why we do NOT go to failure on the 5×5 technique. Going to failure on this lift completely defeats the purpose of gaining more strength and progressively overloading. It’s hard to gain strength, especially from home, if your muscles are too sore and broken to work. 
 
To implement the technique, here are the steps.  

 

  • First, start by doing 5 sets of 1-2 reps of an incredibly difficult exercise, preferably something like a planche, ring pull-up, or any other extremely difficult exercise. Next, build up to 3 reps, than 4, and get comfortable doing 5 sets of 5, preferably with 3-5 minutes of rest between each set.
  • Keep going with this 5×5 until you feel that you could pump out 1 – 2 more reps. After that, make the exercise harder and push back to 5 sets of 2 reps. Keep building up until you eventually get to 5 reps. You can also use velocity, RPE, and any other progression method that we’ll discuss in the 7th section. 
  • Only use the 5×5 technique on strength exercises, not for building muscles. Use this on the fundamentals, such as planches, ring pull ups, dips, and squat forms for the best overall strength development.

Why the 5×5 Technique Works So Well

 

The 5×5 Technique works for all the reasons it shouldn’t. It takes longer rest, preparing our muscles for the next set. It has less volume, keeping us from failure and focusing on high intensity while not also destroying our muscles beyond belief. While simple and used everywhere, it’s not used in home workouts nearly as much as it should be. This method is one of the best ways to build strength, and studies support this.

Science shows repeatedly, despite its controversy, that muscle memory likely exists. To make our muscles remember our movements, we need to train them at a high enough intensity to recruit most of our effective muscles. After all, how can we make oru muscles remember the movements if we’re not using all of them?

Muscle memory is the best factor that constantly gets ignored when training; it’s not about pure strength, humans have more than we know what to do with. The problem is rather our technique, and the ways we incorporate our muscles into intense workout sessions. By mastering our technique, we can apply strength consistently for a long period of time. This 5×5 Technique gives us the foundation for that growth. 

 

Using Case Studies and Other Routines to Advance Our Workouts

 
We are making a docs with each of the case studies used for this workout sheet, but for this section we’ll be teaching you a secret technique that nearly no one uses: using case studies and other peoples routines. 

 

We researched over 20 case studies to make this list, but how does that apply to you? Why does it matter? Why should we use research to supplement our training? Well, you’re about to find out. 

Using Research To Boost Your Training Up to 20%

 
20%+ growth from using research sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not far from the truth. In many of these studies, world class powerlifters and complete beginners differ up to 20% from their counterparts when using the experimental procedures in the study (warning, those same results may not apply to you due to possible outliers and human error. 

 

New case studies are made everyday about fitness, especially muscular hypertrophy and weight loss. Don’t believe some random influencer over a scientific procedure. While it may seem difficult to implement at first, here’s some easy ways to use the results. 

Where to Find the Best Case Studies

 
Tools like Google Scholar, and websites such as the Journal of Scientific Conditioning are great resources for case studies, meta-analysis’, and more. However, you can find your own resources by simply looking for five things. Accredited scientist, scientific journal, accurate citations, no “absolute” terms, and the classic formula of “abstract, introduction, experiment, experiment hypothesis, data collection, data, analysis, and conclusion” all indicate a legitimate resource. 

Read the Abstract

 

Usually, the abstract has more than enough data, simplified data at that, to apply to your workouts. Most abstracts will have tons of data that isn’t important, so don’t get overwhelmed. Stick to the easy-to-interpret facts.

Look at the Graphs

 

The graphs have tons of actionable data plastered all over them if you know the correct terms. Well, we’re here to help with that. Usually, you should have an online dictionary next to you, where you can look up the terms. Then, use the graphs measurements to compare and contrast the findings of the study. Wherever the graph appears to be best, follow that specific area. For example, if a study showed best muscular hypertrophy in a graph point of 8 RPE, you might decide to structure your workouts around a 7 – 9 RPE. 

Conclusions 

 
Conclusions make our job incredibly easy. After all the data is brought up, we can easily look at the ways they compare it and the disclaimers about possible interpretation of the workouts. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell where the scientists are going with their experiments. So, use the conclusions to get an easy answer. 
 

Other Routines

 
Copying other people’s routines never works: never. Each person is different, and requires a different setup for their training due to their genetics, time to train, goals, and previous experience. However, there are some aspects about looking at other routines that can be helpful.
 

Look for Similarities In Your Niche

 
Let’s say you want to be an incredible calisthenics athlete. Then, you start studying all of the big names in the industry that generally have the same amount of experience, passion, time, and/or genetics as you, and take a look at their training plan. You notice all of them use a form of planche in their workout, so you decide to use them as well. That’s looking for similarities, and it works brilliantly, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t know how to do at home workouts yet. 
 

Look What Others Did Wrong

Too often, we look at the winners or the people that are following our exact path. However, we never look at the mistakes of the losers and their training plans. No one ever searches for the 3rd place workout plan, and it’s a shame. By finding the differences in their training plans, compared to those who won, we can easily see what made them fall compared to their peers and stay far away from their mistakes. If you wanted to do 10 ring pull-ups, and notice two people did them, one in 2 months and one in 5 months, you should look at what the guy with 5 months did for his training plan, and try and avoid the differences from the 2 month training plan.

It should be said that the difference needs to be significant. Oftentimes, if it’s by 2-5%, then the genetics of person 1 are simply superior to person 2 and there’s not much that can be done about that, with no fault to the workout plan. 

 

Advanced at Home Workouts, Techniques, and Progression 

 

Advanced Stages: How to Progress

 
The problem with at home workouts is we hit plateaus and can’t find a way to break past them. To break past this, we need to implement new strategies, ranges of motion, exercise variations, and special techniques to boost our workouts and guarantee our muscular gains. 

 

Drop Sets, Cluster Sets, and Super Sets: 

 
Drop Sets: 
 

Drop sets are when you do a specific amount of reps, drop the weight, then do those reps again. Science shows that, with weights, this doesn’t make a difference. However, when working out at home with minimal equipment, drop sets are amazing ways to push yourself past failure and progress even further.

Say you were doing 5 sets of wide grip pull-ups for 8 reps each. You’d effectively do a second set with less difficulty when you do a drop set. So, in this case, you could do 8 regular pull-ups as a drop set immediately after the 8 wide-grip pull-ups, with a very small break between 2-5 seconds. 

Drop sets can push us past failure when we have no equipment to adequately stimulate our muscles to that failure or close to the failure threshold. By stimulating our muscles past their inherent range, we can effectively progress even into the advanced training stages where we’re not strong enough to try a new exercise but too strong to consistently follow the one we’re currently doing. 

Cluster Sets:
 

Usually, there’s a lot of confusion whenever cluster sets are brought up. How do they even work? Do they even work? Studies show that, when using weight, they’re not all that effective. However, as I said, we don’t have the same range and flexibility as weight training has. So, we need alternatives. 

Cluster sets are when someone performs a set to failure, waits 15 seconds, does it again up to that same threshold, waits 15 seconds, and does it again. These are so effective for progressing past failure for your at home workouts is it allows us to build a certain amount of resistance and endurance while also pushing us past failure. 

Cluster sets are best used on exercises where reaching failure doesn’t massively impact recovery. Therefore, doing cluster sets of dips or ring pull-ups is probably not the best idea. However, using cluster sets in your home workouts is a surefire way to progress if drop sets don’t match your cup of tea or you’re simply looking for a way to increase explosiveness and volatility. 

Super Sets: 
 

Super sets should only be done one way to maximize pure muscle growth: agonist and antagonist movements. What are these movements? Suppose you’re doing bicep curls. The agonist is the bicep, which is the main muscle worked for the exercise. The antagonist is the tricep, which actively opposes the motion of that exercise in its function. Chest/Back, Quads/Hamstrings, and Biceps/Triceps are the most well-known super sets.

Super sets are very helpful for progressing in short periods of time. While they don’t increase muscular endurance or strength directly, working out our opposing muscles allows for quick and easy progression. In addition, some studies have shown that stretching our muscles beforehand allows them to be slightly stronger during the superset. So, if you’re doing a really hard set of pull-ups, maybe add some pushups beforehand to increase performance. 

Velocity and RPE

 

Now we’re getting into the complicated mechanics. Velocity and RPE are what we use when increasing the weight, sets, and reps, or making the exercise more difficult simply isn’t an option. First, let’s go over velocity training and also, in that same regard, power/explosiveness training.

RPE: 
 

RPE is a measure of perceived exhaustion that measures how intense a workout was for the individual working out. An RPE of 10 is passing out on the floor after a marathon run or an insanely challenging deadlift set. An RPE of 1 is relaxing on your couch, eating chocolate, and ranting about your favorite tv show with your friends. Most of our training should fall between the 6 – 10 RPE zone, with most residing around 7 – 9 RPE. However, to progress, this usually changes.

Before progression can occur, RPE needs to be toned down a bit. If you’re training at an RPE of 10, stay there until you’re ready for 9. Then, go for 8. Then finally, when you can hit 6 reliably, add another rep and return to the RPE of 10. Realistically, each set should start around an RPE of 9 – 10 RPE and should end around 5 – 7 RPE. Here’s an example of how it can work. 

  • RPE 10: 8 Pull-ups 
  • RPE 9: 8 Pull-ups
  • RPE 8: 8 Pull-ups 
  • RPE 7: 8 Pull-ups 
  • RPE 6 8 Pull-ups 
  • RPE 10 9 Pull-ups

RPE is very useful when it comes to incredibly advanced progression. However, it’s mainly a waste of time for your first 2-3 years, which is why it’s mainly advanced progression. RPE should only be used when adding volume, intensity, or rest time doesn’t work. 

Velocity
 
The speed at that we do our workouts matters for muscular development, to no one’s avail. Recent studies show that the effect isn’t as much as it seems for strength and muscle; however, it is a great way to progress toward muscular goals. 

 

So, how do we measure our progression through velocity? Well there are several ways, and let’s list them now:

Velocity Loss
 

Each time we complete a rep, it takes a certain amount of time. We can measure that time through a stopwatch and spotter or simply get a motion detector for each part of the motion. However, the latter is expensive so we recommend finding a spotter. Measure the amount of time it takes for each rep, and write down the velocity lost near the end.

Now, to increase and progress, we’re not trying to measure the velocity of our first few reps. If anything, we’re measuring the velocity loss between failure and normal reps and trying to make it better each time. Here’s an example:

  • 10 Diamond Pushups: 4.28 seconds 
  • 10 Diamond Pushups: 3.89 seconds
  • 10 Diamond Pushups: 3.2 seconds
  • 10 Diamond Pushups 2.7 seconds
For each decimal of a second decreased, we eventually lower it to where it takes almost 1.1 – 1.3x the speed of a regular pushup, and then we add another rep. Think of this strategy as another way to measure RPE without explicitly listening to and memorizing your body movements.
 
This is the most challenging way to measure progression as it requires a spotter or an expensive machine and exact measurements down to the decimal point. However, if you can master it, velocity can quickly become an amazing part of your program. 
 
Velocity Training
 

Instead of directly measuring progression, velocity training accelerates it by twisting up our training splits. Usually, whenever we train, speed is not a concern. We take our workouts slow and measured to ensure we get the best hypertrophy possible. New studies, however, oppose this way of thinking. Isometric, slow, and accentuated movements show either decreased, equal, or slightly better results to fast, active, and explosive movements for hypertrophy. However, fast and explosive movements have a much higher impact on strength than slow movements.

Now, this isn’t saying you should push up a barbell as quickly as possible and bring the speed barrier. However, it reveals that muscle hypertrophy isn’t affected by time under tension so much as by the intensity of the movement. This is HUGE for at home workouts because people always believe the more time, the more muscle. Now that we know this isn’t the case, we can use velocity training to quickly advance throughout our workouts and become insanely strong. Here’s an example of how to train using velocity effectively. 

First, time your set for each rep and the velocity loss due to it. Then, for each session you do afterward, try increasing that velocity by a slight amount, not through force but by progression. When you’ve gotten to a point where your velocity loss is less by a substantial degree than what it used to be, upgrade the difficulty by inclining, declining, spreading out from your center of mass, or the many other ways we cover in the next section. 

Exercise Variations and Inclining/Declining

 
Exercise Variations
 
The farther you are from your center of mass (chest for boys, barely above hips for girls), the harder an exercise is to perform. If you’re doing a pushup, the farther your hands are from your chest, the more challenging the exercise is. However, the caveat is that different muscles usually activate in these variations and are not very safe. 
 
Different variations of exercise strengthen our weak points while sustaining our strong ones. If your ring pull-ups are falling behind because you can’t hold onto the rings before you work to failure, you may work on pull-ups with a towel to increase your grip strength while sustaining your back development. Varying our positions and distance from our CoM progressively makes exercises harder, even without weight. 
 
One final note on exercise variations is that they shouldn’t be overused. Sometimes, an exercise simply becomes inferior to other options. Pull-ups are excellent, but having rings for pull-ups works much better. Glute bridges work too, but Bulgarian split squats work your glutes and quads to a higher degree once you get good at them. 
 
Inclining/Declining
 
I’m sure we’ve all done an incline and decline pushup before. However, the usage of incline and decline positions works well for progression as much as it does for engaging our other muscles. By putting our muscles in different ranges of motion, we stimulate the muscle with a stronger contraction (caution should be advised here as continuously providing different stimuli will do nothing but hamper progression).
 
Incline and Decline positions are mainly assumed with pushups. However, there are other ways this strategy works. For example, take squats. Which would be more challenging, squatting on a solid floor or squatting at a 15-degree incline? Now try squatting at a 15-degree decline, having to fight gravity as it tries to pull you down. 
 
The hardest part about this form of progression is it’s not easily scalable. It’s hard to measure the exact degree of incline or decline a surface has, so mainly use this to pump out a set of pushups or squats. 
 

Blood Flow Restriction (Optional)

 
This chapter is optional, mainly because there’s not a major consensus on the evidence supporting blood flow restriction training. In addition, it requires a bit of money to get started, so I ensured this option was entirely up to the reader. That being said, there are studies showing SIGNIFICANT growth due to blood flow restriction training. 
 
Here’s the crazy part; one study found that trained powerlifters increased 12% fiber muscle mass over a span of 6.5 weeks. This doesn’t sound amazing on paper, but considering they were elite and advanced trainers capable of squatting 2x or 3x their body weight, it’s an impressive feat.  
 
Blood flow restriction training should not be used daily or weekly. The best way to use BFR is a block in your training plan. For 4-7 weeks, train normally. After that, do a week of BFR. It should be said that BFR requires less intensity than regular training. You should be training within 40 – 60% of your 1RPM, which means not using incredibly difficult variations or velocity loss. For this block, only focus on using blood flow restriction. Here’s an example of how it may look in a training plan:
 
Practice Training Plan
 
  1. First Week: Normal 
  2. Second Week: Normal
  3. Third Week: Normal
  4. Fourth Week: Normal 
  5. Fifth Week: BFR
  6. Sixth Week: Normal
  7. Seventh Week: Normal
  8. Eighth Week: Normal
  9. Ninth Week: Normal 
  10. Tenth Week: BFR
Practice BFR Training Week Plan
 
  • Pull: BFR Pull-ups, 6 RPE, BFR Inverted Rows, 5 RPE, BFR Chin Ups, 6 RPE 
  • Push: BFR Pushups, 6 RPE, BFR Dips, 6 RPE, BFR Diamond Pushups, 5 RPE
  • Legs: BFR Bulgarian Split Squats, 6 RPE, BFR Pistol Squats, 6 RPE, BFR Squats, 5 RPE 
  • Rest Day
  • Days 5 – 7: Repeat the previous three
  • Day 8 Rest
  • Continue from here

Deloads

 
Deloads are incredibly important for progression and allowing our body to rest. If we work out 6 days a week, relatively close to failure, our bodies will quickly fall apart. De-loads show positive results for increased time for muscle damage to heal, preventing injury from weak joints, and overall hypertrophy. 
Implementing a deload into your training takes many places. First, I recommend doing the 4 – 6 weeks of intense working out before having a whole week of deload. Depending on your goals, your deload could look entirely different from someone else’s. Some deloads take the full time away from the gym, while others still go to the gym and decrease the volume and intensity by 30 – 50%.
 
Generally, if your goal is to build strength, you should deload but still train during it, so your strength doesn’t take a massive hit when you start working out again. However, it’s okay to take the entire week off if you’re going for only muscle. 
 

Conclusion

 
There you go, the best at home workout guide anywhere on the internet. If you liked what you read, give us a comment and tell us something new from this list you didn’t know before. If you knew everything, than give us a share, tweet, or email so we can discuss your favorite part of the guide. Cheers!
 

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