It’s time to learn how to get fit without leaving your home:
Maybe you’re practicing a self-quarantine.
Maybe you work from your apartment and are avoiding the gym.
Or maybe you just like living like a house cat.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place, because I put together a practical guide for rational people to help you get fit or stay fit, even if you can’t leave the house.
We’ve had incredible success with no-gym workouts for our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, allowing our clients to train from any part of the world…or an underground bunker.
Here’s what we’ll cover in our guide, How to Stay in Shape Without Leaving the House:
- How to stay in shape (while staying inside)
- 11 Workouts you can do at home
- Building a Temporary Home Gym: What Equipment to Buy
- The Nerd Fitness “Stuck in the House” Game
- Tips and tricks for staying fit inside
- How to get fit from home (Next steps)
Note: this is not prescriptive, nor guidance about protecting against the coronavirus – see the PS.
Let’s jump right in!
So you’re stuck inside eh?
Here’s the best advice I can give you: treat this as your new normal, and recognize the fact that nutrition is still 90% of the health and fitness equation!
That means the most important thing you can do to stay in shape:
Focus on your nutrition!
It’s really easy for our brains to think: “Well, I can’t work out like I used to, who cares what I eat.”
This is the EXACT opposite of how we should be thinking.
Whether you rarely leave the house or bike to work every day, what (and how much) you eat will largely determine your overall weight.
Here’s a telling story from our community: one of our coaching clients, Kyle, rides his bike EVERYWHERE, which meant he was incredibly active.
That’s why Rule #4 of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion states “You can’t outrun your fork.”
When you stock up your kitchen, pantry, or panic room with food, make sure the choices match with your fitness goals.
Step #1) Use our Daily Calorie Calculator to determine how much you should be eating each day based on your goals.
Step #2) Learn about portion sizes of different foods! If you are largely eating meals composed of rice, pasta, oatmeal, cereal, etc. during your quarantine, it’s important to know the correct portion sizes.
These are the foods that are the easiest to accidentally overeat.
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Step #3) Do the best you can. You might be stuck eating less than optimal meals for a few weeks or longer, which means controlling your calorie intake is the best step you can take to keep your weight in order.
Here are 5 resources to help you focus on nutrition while living inside:
- How to Start Eating Healthy. If you have no idea what a healthy meal looks like, start here. We’ll explain ideal macronutrient ratios for weight loss, proper portion sizes, and putting it all together to build a healthy plate.
- 5 Rules of Weight Loss. Losing weight and keeping it off is tough stuff. Whether this is the first time you’ve embarked on a diet, or the 17th, read our guide for the exact rules to follow for sustainable weight loss.
- 10 Ways to Make Vegetables Taste Good. If you want to be healthy, you need to eat your vegetables. Vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories, making them ideal for a healthy plate. But what if you don’t like veggies? Have no fear! Read our guide on how to turn any “picky eater” into a “vegetable lover.”
- The Nerd Fitness Calorie Calculator. Losing weight comes down to eating fewer calories than you burn. But how many calories do you need to eat? What should be your calorie target for weight loss? Read our guide to discover your requirements!
- Which Diet is Right for Me? There are a LOT of diets in the fitness world. However, not all of them are created equal. We explore the pros and cons of today’s most popular diets, plus strategies for determining which one is right for you.
One challenge of staying in shape while staying inside comes down to movement, and actually STICKING with a routine.
If you don’t have a home gym, how are you supposed to workout when confined to your house?
This is especially challenging if you’re a gym rat and used to a very specific gym routine!
So what’s a rational, level headed person to do in this situation?
In a nutshell here’s what we recommend:
- Schedule your workouts in your calendar, and treat them as you would a gym workout.
- Have a specific routine to follow, or set a time to make sure you are getting enough fun movement!
As for what’s possible, meet Jimmy, an aeronautical engineer who got in great shape without ever stepping foot in a gym.
Bodyweight training and gymnastics can build muscle, it just needs to be done with the right intention and intensity! Meaning you just need to have the right plan in place.
Like these types of plans!
Here are 10 workout routines you can do at home:
This is the Beginner Bodyweight Workout (3 Circuits):
- 20 Bodyweight squats.
- 10 Push-ups.
- 10 Walking lunges (each leg).
- 10 Dumbbell rows (use a milk jug or other weight).
- 15 Second Plank.
- 30 Jumping jacks
If you’re unfamiliar with any of these moves, check out the main post for a breakdown of each exercise.
This bodyweight routine has helped many a Nerd Fitness Rebel jumpstart their strength training journey.
If the Beginner Bodyweight Workout above seems too easy, try this advanced routine on for size.
This is the Advanced Bodyweight Workout (Do 3 Circuits):
- 10 One-Legged Squats – each side
- 20 Bodyweight Squats
- 20 Walking Lunges (10 each leg)
- 20 Jump Step-Ups (10 each leg)
- 10 Pull-Ups (or inverted bodyweight rows using your kitchen table)
- 10 Dips – Bar Stools
- 10 Chin-Ups (or inverted bodyweight rows with an underhand grip)
- 10 Push-Ups
- 30 Second Plank
Again, if any of these moves are unfamiliar, head to The Advanced Bodyweight Workout for a complete tutorial.
Strength training comes down to challenging your muscles more and more each workout.
This can 100% be done with your own body’s weight, meaning you can train from the comfort and safety of your home.
The trick is picking an exercise for each major muscle group (focusing on compound exercises to get the most bang for our buck) and making it more challenging as you begin to grow strength and muscle.
So we’ll want to pick a bodyweight exercise for each major muscle group:
- Lower Body
- Upper Body – Push
- Upper Body – Pull
The lower body exercise can be a bodyweight squat:
The upper body “push” exercise can be, you guessed it, a push-up!
An inverted bodyweight row would be a great way to train your “pull” muscles, which can be done on a sturdy table in your dining room:
Alternatively, you could do doorframe rows:
To strengthen your core, you can perform some reverse crunches:
If these moves seem too tough, you can check out The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises for easier (and more difficult) variations.
If you’re stuck at home, try and do at least one of these moves every single day.
You can also try “exercise snacking”: doing just a few reps of an exercise on the hour: 5 push-ups and squats every hour, for example.
Up for a real test? Consider the “PLP60 Challenge:” every day, you add ONE more rep of a push-up, pull-up, and a lunge, and do them in as many sets as you need:
- Day 1: 10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups, 10 lunges.
- Day 2: 11 push-ups, 11 pull-ups, 11 lunges.
- Day 3: 12 push-ups, 12 pull-ups, 12 lunges.
- And so on.
There’s a benefit to doing one of these bodyweight exercises every single day:
Not only will you build muscle, but training can also remind us we’re trying to be healthy, which can remind us to eat healthier (remember our lesson on the importance of nutrition).
#4) Get a Kettlebell, follow our Kettlebell workout.
Right now, you can order a 30 pound kettlebell on Amazon for $40. It doesn’t take up much room, and you can do dozens of exercises with a single kettlebell to stay strong!
Watch our Beginner Kettlebell Workout video below, and follow along with the workout:
- 8 Halos (each side)
- 10 Goblet Squats
- 8 Overhead Presses (each side)
- 15 Kettlebell Swings
- 8 Bent Over Rows (each side)
- 6 Front Rack Reverse Lunge (per side)
This Beginner Kettlebell Workout is what’s called a circuit (you can learn all about circuit training here). That’s just a fancy term for doing a workout like so:
- 1 set of exercise A, go immediately to
- 1 set of exercise B, go immediately to
- 1 set of exercise C, and so on…
- Repeat from the top!
Your long term goal should be to do 3 full circuits back to back for a complete workout.
#5) Get Your 10,000 Steps In!
Movement of any kind is beneficial for human health.
That’s why we often recommend people starting their fitness journey begin by simply going for a walk.
But this can be more difficult if you’re trapped in your house or apartment.
That’s why you should create a walking path through your home.
Maybe it’s up the stairs, going around a perimeter of each bedroom (ask permission if it’s not yours), back through the kitchen and then out to the patio.
Or maybe it’s outside, walking circles around your backyard.
The longer the walking path the better, and don’t be afraid to go one direction and then turn around to reverse.
A cheap pedometer, FitBit, or even just the pedometer feature of your watch/phone could help a lot here.
Try to accumulate 10,000 steps per day if possible.
#6) Create an In-Door Obstacle Course.
Just because you’re trapped inside, doesn’t mean you can’t play!
How about creating a fun obstacle course out of furniture?
Of course, the floor is always made of lava.
This video might give you some ideas:
No one says you can’t do parkour in your apartment.
We discuss obstacle courses, parkour, and much more in our guide 40 ways to exercise without realizing it.
#7) Do Mobility Drills to Stay Limber
Here’s a great 5-minute drill from trainer (and great Instagram follow) Jack Hanrahan!
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Even in just a few minutes, it’s possible to do a full-body mobility drill.
You don’t even have to follow a pre-made routine. Just get moving, find what feels good, and give yourself permission to get creative.
However, if you are more of a “follow the blueprint” type of person, check out our guide How to Stretch for some pre-made mobility drills.
#8) Complete a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) Workout.
You don’t have to head to the gym to do High-Intensity Interval Training. You can do a complete routine right in your own home!
HIIT is just following a specific regimen where you vary your speeds and intensity throughout a shorter run, swim, bike, or row.
Unless you have a giant backyard, running at home might be tough.
But you know what doesn’t require a lot of room?
To complete a burpee:
- Start standing up, then squat down and kick your legs out.
- Do a push-up, bring your legs back in, and explode up into a jump.
- For a HIIT workout, try to do 20 repetitions, then rest for two minutes.
- Repeat until you hate yourself.
Check out our full guide on How to Start Interval Training for some more ideas on HIIT workouts.
You can also check out our post “The 20-Min HIIT Workout for Home” for another living-room-friendly interval routine!
Don’t have 20 minutes? What about a 4-minute tabata workout?
You don’t have to head to a group class to do yoga. No “namaste” or “ohmmmmm” required either.
Here’s a 20-minute yoga routine, specifically designed for newbies, that you can do in your dorm room:
No idea what a downward dog is?
Check out 21 Yoga Poses for Beginners, where we cover each and every move covered in this video.
On the one hand, handstands are really tough. On the other hand, the amount of strength and balance required to perform a handstand will get you in great shape.
Plus, you don’t need to leave your home to practice.
Never done a handstand before? No problem! Check out our guide on getting your first handstand to begin.
#11) Train like Batman. Because, Batman.
We love the Caped Crusader here at Nerd Fitness, so naturally we have The Batman Bodyweight Workout for you to try!
This workout is separated into two days for you:
Batman Home Workout Day 1:
- Rolling squat tuck-up jumps: 5 reps
- Side to side push-ups: 5 reps
- Modified headstand push-ups: 5 reps
- Jump pull-up with tuck / Pull-up with Tuck-up: 5 reps
- Handstands against wall: 8 seconds
Batman Home Workout Day 2:
- ‘180 Degree’ jump turns: 5 reps
- Tuck front lever hold: 8 seconds
- Tuck back lever hold: 8 seconds
- Low frog hold: 8 seconds
This is a relatively advanced workout already, but if you want to progress to the next level, check out the main Batman Bodyweight Workout for tips on how to do just that.
Outside of all these super-sweet workouts we covered, there’s more!
If you want a more customized approach for your exact situation (kids, an old injury, you turn into a werewolf once a month), then check out NF Coaching.
We know exactly how to get people into shape without ever leaving the house.
If you’re going to be stuck in the house, some essential equipment might help you stay fit and healthy without breaking the back.
As somebody who trains in a gym four days per week, I’m going to be avoiding the gym for the upcoming few weeks.
In addition to plenty of bodyweight training (push-ups, pistol squats, and handstands), this is the equipment I’m using to create an inexpensive mini-gym in my apartment:
#1) A 30 lb Kettlebell. While you don’t need any equipment to grow strong, if you were going to buy anything, a kettlebell would offer you a lot of versatility.
If you do end up picking one up, make sure you check out our 20-minute beginner kettlebell workout, which can be done with one single bell in your living room.
#2) A Door Frame Pull-Up Bar. With this one piece of equipment, you’ll have all you need to build a complete bodyweight workout.
If you’re serious about fitness, and you’re trying to get your first pull-up, a pull-up bar is a must.
I also will be hooking up gymnastic rings to the pull-up bar so I can stick with my ring training!
Here’s NF Coach Jim playing with his setup:
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Honestly, if you have access to a kettlebell to help with some lower body strength training, and then a pull-up bar to do upper-body pull movements, you can build one heck of a workout!
#3) Resistance Bands. Exercise bands don’t take up a lot of room and can be a great way to increase the difficulty of normal bodyweight moves.
For example, you could start doing band squats:
You have a few different options on bands to purchase, so check out our guide to exercise bands for tips on what to secure.
If strength training isn’t your bag, consider these other two options:
#4) Healthy Gaming – Ring Fit Adventure
I’ve heard from multiple coaches and clients that Ring Fit Adventure provides a way to train in your living room that isn’t monotonous.
Do you have experience with Ring Fit Adventure? Please share in the comments below!
#5) Beat Saber: Come on, this is a no brainer! IT IS a video game to get you moving and THIS IS Nerd Fitness.
If you’re trapped inside and you can afford it, YOLO.
You can also check out our guide “How to Build a Home Gym” for more ideas on how to create a fitness room in your house or apartment.
To play today’s game, you’ll need a twenty-sided die like you would use in Magic: The Gathering or Dungeons and Dragons.
To play our game, simply roll one die.
Then do the activity that matches it:
- Walk the complete perimeter of your house or apartment, reverse, and do it again.
- Strike a yoga pose.
- Do a 60-second workout (pick any bodyweight movement).
- Balance on one leg for a total of 60 seconds, then switch.
- Dance like no one’s watching, to something with a fast pace.
- Try to read a chapter in a static pose (plank, wall sit, deep squat, etc).
- Eat a meal with protein and veggies.
- Take a picture of a meal to share.
- Skip the snack or eat a piece of fruit.
- Make a 10-minute meal at home (try one from here).
- Eat slowly and stop at 80% full.
- Drink zero-calorie beverages today.
- Skip a meal (a la intermittent fasting).
- Go to bed 30 (or 5) minutes earlier.
- Take a 5-minute break to breathe, meditate, de-stress.
- Pamper in the shower with a brush and special body wash instead of soap and washcloth.
- Send Steve a message about your day (reach me on Instagram!)
- Go outside for 5 minutes.
- Work on a puzzle (jigsaw, sudoku, crossword).
- Give the cat a thorough brushing (or dog, or child, or creepy doll).
Feel free to edit The Nerd Fitness “Stuck in the House” Game to make it your own!
(Oh, and share your favorite additional missions in the comments below!)
Although this game seems very simple, don’t underrate its value.
One of our coaches plays this game with his clients, and they utilize it as an easy trigger for daily self-care.
#1) Find ANY WAY to move more.
Did you know ‘fidgeting’ (aka “small micromovements”) can account for up to 350 additional calories burned per day? It’s called NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis).
Per the New York Times:
“Overweight people have a tendency to sit, while lean ones have trouble holding still and spend two hours more a day on their feet, pacing around and fidgeting, researchers are reporting in findings published today.
The difference translates into about 350 calories a day…”
350 extra calories burned per day ain’t no joke!
As we cover in our “How many calories should I eat every day?” guide, burning an extra 350 calories per day can result in sustainable weight loss and maintenance over time for many.
Here are some ways to increase NEAT at home:
- Watch TV standing up.
- Pace while talking on the phone.
- Sit on the floor and actively stretch while reading.
- Air drum like Dave Grohl.
#2) Prioritize sleep!
When you never leave the house, you can really get off track with your schedule if you’re not careful.
You might be able to wake up tomorrow whenever. Why prioritize sleep if you no longer need to commute?
Well, because poor sleep can really mess with your immune system.
Depending on why you’re isolating yourself (like a quarantine from a nasty virus), a hampered immune system can really be harmful.
Here’s how to build healthy sleep habits.
#3) Wash Your Hands.
This hopefully goes without saying, but you should be washing your hands all the time, even without the threat of a virus or flu.
But I’m going to say it anyways. Wash your dang hands! Here’s exactly how to wash your hands:
Good hygiene is always important, but even more so if you’re trying to avoid sickness and have spent time in public.
#4) Consider a Vitamin D supplement.
Another one to consider, especially if you are now living like a vampire and avoiding sunlight…
Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium and also plays a critical role in our immune system.
We normally get our Vitamin D from sunlight, or from animals (who also get it from sunlight). In the absence of the sun, taking a Vitamin D supplement is the best we can do.
This brand is a well-reviewed option that I take personally.
#5) Fake Human Contact.
We are social creatures. Meaning if you aren’t careful, never leaving the house might give us cabin fever.
Prioritize human connection, even if it’s not face-to-face:
- Call a friend (use Facetime, Skype, or Google Hangouts). Meeting a friend in person is preferred, but whether because of a mandatory quarantine (or you just live far apart) a phone call can be a great way to break the loneliness. Bonus points if you use FaceTime or a video service, which makes it seem like you’re closer than you are.
- Write a letter. You can go the other way with technology, and use some pen and paper to write a friend a letter. Yeah, you can just use email, but actual letters are becoming scarce in the 21st century (especially amongst friends) so you’ll set yourself apart by pulling out some stamps and saying “hello” to your mailperson.
- Message Boards. Digital communities can make one feel connected with people from all over the world. Many Rebels in our forums have become friends in real life. Go pick out a user handle and get going!
- Daily Check-In so People Know You Haven’t Gone Feral. It can be incredibly valuable to have an accountability buddy. An “accountabilibuddy” if you will. You can check in with each other to make sure you’re both training, or even compete against each other “I get 5 pull-ups today!” Personally, I have an online coach in my life to fill this role, because I value an expert who can build me a new workout program when the situation changes.
#6) Look out the window!
Constantly glaring at computers and objects right in front of you isn’t exactly great for your eyes.
Solution: The 20-20-20 Rule!
For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
There is some evidence it will help with eye strain, so it’s an easy enough rule to help your peepers stay healthy.
If you want some help here, the app Eye Care 20 20 20 will offer a reminder every 20 minutes to go look outside.
Whether you’re only quarantined for a couple of weeks, or you’re somebody who works from home, the most important thing you do:
- Schedule workouts in your calendar.
- Know your calorie intake.
- Move daily.
- Stay strong.
- Eat your vegetables.
- Get plenty of sleep.
It’s time to build a new routine, and it starts by treating your new life at home seriously.
It’s easy to say “I’ll work out later” when your training takes place in the next room over. So easy in fact, that it’s easy to push out until tomorrow.
Then the next day.
Then the next.
Before you know it, you realize you just don’t exercise anymore.
So, no matter how long you’re practicing extreme social distancing, KEEP up your momentum, train aggressively, and take care of yourself indoors.
This will allow you to get back on track without having lost all of your progress.
Note: it doesn’t really matter what time of day you train. Pick a time that works best for you. Just be consistent with it!
Our coaching clients who have the most success training at home are those that place working out in their calendar.
Then at the end of the week, ask yourself “Did I complete this week’s training?”
- If “yes”, that’s awesome. Keep at it.
- If “no,” don’t fret. Pick a smaller workout (5 minutes vs 10 minutes) and try again.
We discuss this throughout our guide on tracking your fitness progress. If you want to see results, make sure you’re hitting your goals. If you aren’t, pick smaller goals.
The goals themselves aren’t so important at first. What is important is picking one, crushing it, then picking another.
This really is the quickest path to getting in shape. We’ve seen it time and time again throughout the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.
So pick a goal (or roll a die) and get going!
Want a little help? The perfect next step on how to start getting in shape at home?
Here are 3 options on how to continue with Nerd Fitness:
Option #1) If you want step-by-step guidance on how to get strong, lose weight, and level up your life, check out our online coaching program:
Option #2) Exercising at home and need a plan to follow? Have questions you need answered? Join Nerd Fitness Prime!
Nerd Fitness Prime is our premium membership program that contains at-home exercise routines, live-streamed workouts with NF Coaches, a supportive online community, group challenges, and much more!
Option #3) Join the Rebellion! We need good people like you in our community, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.
Sign-up below and receive our free guide Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It includes step-by-step instructions for all the exercises covered in today’s guide.
Alright, enough from me. Your turn:
How do you plan on staying active at home?
Stuck at home with kids? How are you getting them involved?
Do you have any tips or tricks for training without a gym?
Are you currently reading this from an abandoned missile silo?
Let me know in the comments!
PS: Check out The 7 Best At-Home Workouts for more tips on how to train without a gym.
PPS: Hopefully this goes without saying, but getting healthy and building a strong immune system is one of the best defenses one can have against getting sick.
PPPS: Be careful where you are getting your medical news from with regards to this virus! If you are looking for the most up to date information on the CoronaVirus situation in your country, please refer to actual experts over at Johns Hopkins.
GIF Source: Mario dance,