How to intensify at-home workouts with no equipment

Improving your at-home workout plan without equipment can seem a bit challenging at first. That is until you follow these simple steps.

If you are like me, and you are a frequent gym-goer, you might think it impossible to get in a good workout at home. You might feel as if, with our current COVID situation, that you are left with a choice between risking everything by visiting your local gym, or just staying out of it all till things blow over. Truth is, you can still get in a pretty intense workout at home, without a single piece of hardware.

That is correct. Even if you do not own a set of dumbbells or resistance bands, you can still get an intense exercise session at home. Especially if resistance training is more your lane. Keep reading to learn about some of the most effective strategies you can start using during your next training session.

#1: Slow it Down

Changing up the tempo of your exercises is a highly effective way to make them more challenging without adding any extra weight. During your next workout, think about slowing down the eccentric portion of your go-to movements.

Remember, it’s during the eccentric, or lengthening, portion of an exercise when you build the most strength. Focusing on eccentric muscle contractions can also create more muscle damage and help you to experience more muscle growth.

Some good exercises to slow down and use eccentric training are squats, push-ups, single-leg deadlifts, and reverse Nordic curls.

Instead of lowering your body in these exercises for just one or two seconds, try to increase the lowering time to 3-5 seconds. Each week, try increasing the lowering time by one second. You’ll be amazed at how challenging this is and, as an added bonus, you’ll likely notice yourself getting a lot stronger.

#2: Pause

What do you normally do when you reach the bottom position of a squat or lower yourself down all the way to the ground when doing a push-up? If you’re like most people, you probably pop right back up as quickly as you can so you can do another rep.

Instead of returning to the beginning position as fast as possible, what if you paused and spent some time holding the most challenging part of the exercise? This is very difficult to do, especially when you’re doing exercises that might already be a bit of a struggle for you. Holding yourself in that position, though (known as an isometric contraction), is a great way to build strength.

Try holding the bottom of a squat, push-up, or another exercise for two seconds during your next workout. Then, each following week, increase the length of the pause by one second.

#3: Rest a Little Less

It’s still important to make rest a priority during equipment-free workouts. That being said, you might be able to get away with resting a little less when doing these kinds of workouts since you’re not moving as much weight around.

If you normally rest for three minutes between sets at the gym, for example, try reducing your rest time to 1.5 minutes between sets. This allows you to keep your heart rate up and helps to prevent boredom. You’ll be able to wrap up your workout and move on with your day a bit sooner, too.

#4: Change Your Workout Split

When you were working out in the gym, perhaps you followed a traditional “bro split” and trained back and biceps one day, chest and triceps another day, etc. This may have worked well for you in the gym, but you might find that it’s not really translating very well to your home workouts, especially if you don’t have any equipment available.

Instead of sticking to your old workout split, consider trying a new format. For example, you could do two upper-body days and two lower-body days or try 3-4 full-body workouts per week.

Changing up the frequency of your training sessions is a good way to break out of a plateau, and it allows you to experiment with new ways of exercising. Even when you do return to the gym, you might find that you like training a little less frequently, especially if you can get the same results while having more time for other things in your life.

#5: Increase Your Range of Motion

Many people, even experienced exercisers, forget about the benefits of increasing their range of motion while they train.

By elevating part of your body while performing an exercise, you can create a new stimulus for your muscles and get more out of that movement. Deficit push-ups, for example, allow you to lower your body down farther than you’d be able to when doing a regular push-up on the floor.

To try this out, elevate your hands on two books (make sure they’re the same height) while you do push-ups. You’ll find that it’s much more challenging for your chest, arm, and shoulder muscles.


Just because we are, for the most part, locked indoors with very little social interactions doesn't have to be the reason we miss out on having those good old intense, therapeutic workout sessions we used to have at the gym.

Follow these five tips and take your at-home workouts to the next level!

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