maximizing at home workouts

Five Tips To Make Your Home Workouts Harder Without Buying Equipment

One of the recurring questions from my private clients this week has been ‘how do I make my at home workouts harder without buying extra equipment?’

I recommend strength training 2-4 times a week to all my clients (especially through the COVID-19 quarantine) it is the key for effective fat loss, boosting metabolism, toned muscle and bone strength and density

Whilst the plethora of IG Live workouts and bodyweight training apps are wonderful, most people’s results will start to plateau after around 3 weeks, especially for those used to working out with heavier weights. For those looking to lose weight, tone up or increase strength these type of workouts might help you maintain for a few weeks, but will not help you progress towards your goals. In fact, an over-reliance on bodyweight activity and steady state cardio can lead to plateaus for both weight loss and gaining lean muscle. 

So with  a set of 2 dumbbells costing over $100 on Amazon, how do we progress our workouts? Simply increasing the amount we work out can lead to exhaustion, joint pain and soreness due to overuse, and can actually cause you to gain body fat and lose lean muscle as the stress of these workouts takes it toll on our bodies.

But all is not lost! By using science based, tried and tested training methods you can make your workouts harder and smarter by manipulating certain variables – ensuring maximum fat loss, lean muscle gains and taking your workout to the next level. 

1. Increase Range of Motion

Increasing range of motion in exercises such as lunges, squats, push ups etc promotes joint health, prevents injury and recruits more muscle fibres. Recruiting more muscle fibres literally gives you more ‘bang for your buck’ during the workout, helping you burn more calories during the workout, and increasing your resting metabolism.

Easy ways to increase range of motion in your workouts include:

  • placing your front or back foot on a step during a lunge
  • elevating your heels in a squat
  • placing a book or two under your hands in a push up
  • raising the height of your feet in a plank

2. Add Tempo

One of the most under utilized fat-burning and muscle-building tips is to add tempo. Tempo is best described as the cadence or lifting speed (in seconds) for which you perform an exercise. For example, the tempo of a push up could be ‘4-1-1’. 

The first number (4) tells you in seconds how long you should lower your bodyweight towards the ground. The second number (1) tells you in seconds how long of a pause there should be the bottom position (as you hover your body in plank position above he ground) and the third (1) tells you how fast you should ‘push-up’ to the starting position. 

Tempo allows you to increase the time-under-tension (TUT) or stress your muscles are under, leading to increased levels of fat-loss and muscle-gain due to an increase in circulating hormones. An easy way to start? Focus on adding seconds as you lower your weight or body weight to the ground.

3. Perform 1&½  Repetitions

Another way to increase time-under-tension, and therefore reap more metabolism-boosting, muscle-building, and fat-burning benefits is to perform 1&½ repetitions. In a push up, this means you would lower your body down to the ground, push yourself up halfway, lower your body all the way back to the ground, then push yourself all the way up to the top. This counts as 1 repetition!

By combining a slow tempo with an additional ½ movement for every rep can make even the simplest of bodyweight exercises incredibly challenging! You’ll definitely ‘feel the burn,’ but also challenge your muscles (and willpower) in new ways! 

4. Don’t Lock Out at the Top of a Rep

Another way to get faster fitness results is to make bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges ‘oxidative.’ To do this always leave a small amount of bend in your joints so that you never ‘lock-out’ at the top of a rep. To make your push ups ‘oxidative’  you would leave a tiny bit of bend in your elbows at the end of the rep as you push your body weight away from the floor back to the starting position. This small act creates even more stress and likewise can make the simplest exercise much harder! 

5. Reduce Rest Periods

The final tip for making exercises harder is to reduce the amount of rest time in between exercises and sets. If you normally take a minute between exercises, instead try reducing this down to 45 seconds. This will increase both the intensity and work volume of your session, and promote the growth hormone stimulus needed to increase muscle mass. 

You don’t want to be too aggressive when reducing rest time, but making this small change (especially if combined with the other 3 tips) can make your home fitness workouts all the more challenging, giving you even better results!

Looking for maximize your at home workouts? We are currently offering 4 Week at Home Online Training Programs and 60 Minute Online Personal Training Sessions to help you take you stay healthy and strong during the COVID-19 Quarantine. Click here for more details, or email 

What pre and post workout supplements do I recommend? Check out this post on my top pre and post workout supplement recommendations.