How to have effective home workouts

With most of us in self-isolation and exercise equipment scarce, the need for high quality exercise sessions with as little equipment as possible is at an all time high. Many of us rely on a gym and base our routines on the equipment available. With all of this taken away, many of us are struggling to devise workouts at home or are concerned that they are not getting the same benefit.

Effective exercise always depends on your goal; whether its strength, cardio or power, home workouts can help you achieve it.

I’ve teamed up with Harry Smith (Personal Trainer) to give you some good tips to get the most from your home workouts!


Competing Supersets

Supersets have two main subcategories, competing and non-competing. Non-competing supersets, the more commonly known superset, is where two exercises done back to back hit different muscle groups (for example a deadlift and chest press).

Competing supersets are where both exercises will challenge each other, this is done to increase the difficulty, increase fatigue and achieves more effective reps with lower weights.

An example would be body weight squats and Bulgarian split squats.

Supersets allow for lower load exercises to reach enough stimulus for hypertrophy and strength.


Household items can be gym equipment too!

Things like books in a bag, Tupperware or any other sort of plastic lid, towels and paint cans are great examples of home workout equipment without the need for splashing out for the, now overpriced, equipment online.

Tupperware can be used to reduce friction to make slider exercises, towels can be fixed securely in doors for a basic TRX, and bags filled with books can be used to load up lower leg exercises!

The goal of the paint cans or liquid containers is to add a stability component to the exercise, this increases the challenge of the exercise and can help get more out of each rep!

These suggestions will hopefully give you a few ideas for your own home and hopefully sprout some other ideas of things you could use.


Unilateral exercise

Unless you’re a novice, movements like bodyweight squats and hip thrusts aren’t challenging enough. Whilst we will discuss pushing to failure next, doing 20+ body weight squats is asking for a lot of reps and can make the session longer than it needs to be.

Shifting to unilateral (single arm or leg) movements such as single leg squats and hip thrusts are a viable way of making the exercise challenging without increasing rep demand drastically.

Another way would be to focus on a unilateral movement in a bilateral exercise. This would be done by adding height to one arm in a push up, for example. This allows people to get effective upper body workouts without having to do something very difficult like a single arm push up!

Push to failure

This is arguably the most crucial way to gain good effects from your home exercise regime. Exercising to failure has shown in research to be the best stimulus for building muscle and strength.

Exercising to failure is essentially continuing an exercise until you are physically unable to perform another repetition.

For home workouts, load is limited which is one of the easier ways to stimulate exercising to failure. The other way would be to increase the amount of repetitions.

We advise finding out yourself how many you can do when you first try the exercise, usually between 10-20, and then aim for at least that in the following sessions.

Don’t mistake failure for difficult! Many people when not given an amount of reps to aim for can just stop when it gets difficult, rather than when they can’t physically complete another repetition of an exercise.

Focus on slow eccentric movements in the exercises, this increases the difficulty to allow you to get more from each exercise.

If you’re not sure how hard you should be pushing, you shouldn’t be able to do the same work out again the next day!



We’ve gone over some basic tips to help you get the best out of your home exercise routine. Many of us are having to think outside the box and this is a learning experience for everyone!

Finally, try not to mimic the gym – make the most of the new adapted exercises rather than trying to replicate the exact same thing. This can help keep you motivated in these trying times!

If you want to find out more about Harry here’s a link to his website and his Instagram where he has a free home workout guide!

Thanks for reading and stay safe.

Aran and Harry.



Aran Pemberton


Aran qualified as a Physiotherapist graduating from the University of Worcester in 2017. He has since been working within the NHS, rotating into different specialities such as the Emergency Department, Critical Care, Orthopaedics and MSK.  He has worked with people of all ages and different levels of health and fitness, encouraging exercise as an essential part of health and wellbeing and providing the best care for his patients.


Aran has a keen interest in soft tissue mobilisation and movement re-education as part of the rehabilitation process. He has an interest in sports injuries and has experience treating players and working with the strength and conditioning coaches under the physio in Worcester County Cricket Club.


Harry Smith79601070_2613934638892800_4524255439859370786_n

Harry lives his life by a mantra: “Honesty, always. Better, together. Science matters, and so do you. No detail is too small.“ From fat kid, to skateboarder, to avid gamer / Netflix connoisseur before settling on Natural Bodybuilding.

Harry has always had a deep appreciation for the Golden Era physiques of old. Wanting to replicate these physiques is what led Harry on a journey of discovery through just about every internet forum, qualification, course and publication out there related to muscle growth, Finally leading him to the coach he is today.

Harry loves nothing more than having his opinion challenged and changed through an intense debate. The nittier and grittier, the better. Want to get in his good books? Make sure your critical thinking skills are up to scratch.

Further Reading

Lasevicius, Thiago et al. “Muscle Failure Promotes Greater Muscle Hypertrophy In Low-Load But Not In High-Load Resistance Training”. Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, 2019, p. 1. Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000003454.

Santos, Wanderson Divino Nilo dos et al. “Resistance Training Performed To Failure Or Not To Failure Results In Similar Total Volume, But With Different Fatigue And Discomfort Levels”. Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, 2019, p. 1. Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000002915.

Wallace, William et al. “Repeated Bouts Of Advanced Strength Training Techniques: Effects On Volume Load, Metabolic Responses, And Muscle Activation In Trained Individuals”. Sports, vol 7, no. 1, 2019, p. 14. MDPI AG, doi:10.3390/sports7010014.

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