Expert Tips to Make Your Home Workout More Effective

Burn more calories when you work out at home with advice from the pros

home exercise tips
Schedule workouts to get the best results. Barry Yee/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Do you work out at home? If you don't, you should give it a try. Gym memberships are expensive and health clubs are often overcrowded and intimidating.  And now that many workouts are available online, more exercisers are jumping on the home workout bandwagon.  So who wouldn't want to stay home and exercise in private?

The problem is that when you exercise at home, you don't get any feedback.  It's hard to know if your workout is really effective.

At the gym, you have an instructor or a trainer to guide your program, but at home you're on your own.  So I went to a few trainers who work specifically with home exercisers. They gave me their best tips to burn more calories and make your home workout both safe and effective.

How to Make Your Home Workout More Effective

  • Schedule your sessions.  Home exercisers often believe that extra time to exercise will just magically appear on their schedule.  But when you are home, there are always other priorities that pull your attention away from working out.  So if you work out at home,  schedule your exercise sessions (and healthy meals!) just like you would schedule a class at the gym.  Then put your workout calendar in a place where you see it everyday.
  • Use high quality equipment.  If you buy home exercise equipment, invest in the best machine that you can afford.  According to the folks at Precor, "the best way to keep a treadmill or elliptical from becoming a coat rack is to not shortchange yourself on both feel and features."  Do your homework and learn how to buy the best treadmill or elliptical so that you can use it effectively to lose weight.
  • Do a wide variety of workouts.  If you are trying to change your body, you should mix up your workouts to get faster results. That means you can't do the same old DVD day after day.  Visit a website like DailyBurn to get a wider variety of workouts.  This will help you to use different muscles and burn more calories.  Need a simpler option? Try one of these home strength workouts or this short 30-minute celebrity-inspired total body workout developed by JR Allen.
  • Get personalized attention.  Just because you aren't at the gym, doesn't mean you can't get personalized attention. Websites like Wello allow you to work out with a trainer one-on-one with the use of a computer camera and microphone.  If you like to spin, consider investing in a Peloton bike. These specially designed cycles allow you to take part in virtual spin classes where the studio instructor monitors your ride at home and provides personalized feedback.

Home Workout Tips from the Pros

So how do the pros keep home exercisers on track?  I talked to a few trainers to find out what they recommend to their clients who exercise at home.

Celebrity trainer JR Allen works with superstar clients like Mary J. Blige. But he also trains regular folks like you and me.  He stresses the importance of safety and common sense. "If you work out at home you should be aware of the space you have available. Make sure the area is clear so that you can move safely."  He also says that you should include enough time for a 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up before every session.


And of course, home exercisers need to work hard enough to lose weight.  This can be a challenge without the dynamic energy of a gym environment.  But Peloton cycling coach Marion Berrian Roaman keeps her home riders accountable by using social media.  When she streams her live classes into people's homes she encourages them to work harder if she sees that their intensity is lacking.  To reward them when they do, "we follow up with posts, tweets and emails...all fantastic ways to keep our riders on track to achieve their goals," she says.

What habits should home exercisers avoid? JR says that you should be careful not to do too much too soon. "Don't lift weights that are too heavy," he says, "and never overexert yourself.  Always stop if you feel sick in any way."

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