This blog is a guide to working out at home with a workout program that can be as hardcore as you want it to be. The blog is in and of itself a companion document to your training program that is included as a download below. The written content here serves as an explanation of the program and is important to read if you want to make the most out of this home gym training plan. Review the exercise program and this blog in detail to understand the details and to make this program work for you, to make it YOUR WORKOUT PROGRAM from which you can achieve the best results FROM HOME.
Basic Program Layout
Your basic program layout is as follows. I go into more detail further down.
- Your program is 12 weeks in length with the three, four-week phases
- Weeks 1-4 are Phase 1, weeks 5-8 Phase 2, and weeks 9-12 Phase 3
- Each week has five resistance workouts and four optional cardio workouts.
- This program offers structure in that it lays out specific tasks to do, but also gives you flexibility by allowing you to adjust some of the tasks or variables (e.g., sets, reps) of the tasks.
- This flexibility allows you to keep the workouts fresh and also adjust for days where you feel more or less energetic.
- If you think you cannot complete all days as laid out, start with fewer days, such as three, and slowly work up to five days over time, adding a day at a time; remember, safety first.
A few key points to understand:
- Customize this program to you based on the information in the blog and Excel download.
- The program is progressive in that intensity increases over time if you apply the program correctly..
- It is periodized in that training variables change over time.
- At five days per week, it has the potential to be difficult, that is, it can be as hardcore as you want.
- You must increase volume or weight safely over time. Err on the side of caution and always remember, safety first. But again, you can make this as hardcore as you want—as long as you do so safely.
- Always warm-up properly before you begin working out, this may include a general warm-up as well as the warm-up sets for the exercises in the workout plan; use your best judgment and remember safety first.
- This program can be as hardcore as you want by adjusting the load, numbers of days, reps, and other variables, such as completing the optional work, but be smart. Over injury and overtraining by pushing but not surpassing what you are capable of doing.
This program will help you get stronger, leaner, and fitter overall while also building muscle, but understand but you must complete it as laid out. If you change the program outside of the adjustable variables, you change the results.
Additionally, nutrition is paramount. If your nutrition is off, the program is not as effective.
Understanding the Days
On Day 1, for the weighted exercises, your goal is to use a moderate weight you can safely use for the given rep ranges (you will have the chance to go heavier as the weeks progress). Keep these things in mind:
- Complete your warm-up sets.
- Pick a weight that you can complete the given reps for the workout.
- If unsure, err on the side of caution and go lighter than you think you need to.
- Change weights on each set if you need to.
Exercises and the associated reps for each change week to week, providing variety for the sake of interest and to work the body in different ways. That said, phase-over-phase you will revisit exercises and try to use more weight while the reps remain the same.
For the core work, select two of the exercises and complete the reps listed for the day. For example, in the beginning you might select the lying leg raises, and eventually work yourself up to the toes to bar. The reps change each week.
The cardio is optional. I strongly advise completing the cardio if you are looking for overall fitness, not just improvements in strength and muscle. You work on all these areas simultaneously if you do it right.
Day 2 follows an approach similar to Day 1, in that your goal for the weighted exercises is to use a moderate weight you can safely use for the given rep ranges (you will have the chance to go heavier as the weeks progress). Keep these things in mind:
- Complete your warm-up sets
- Pick a weight that you can complete the given reps for the workout
- If unsure, err on the side of caution and go lighter than you think you need to
- Change weights on each set if you need to
On this day you also select a calisthenics workout of your choice from sheet 3 and complete it after the weighted exercises. The exercises should be self-explanatory, but a quick search should provide videos of the listed exercises.
Like Day 1, the cardio is optional, but I advise completing it if you really want to be fit.
Like days 1 and 2, Day 3 calls for you to use a moderate weight you can safely use for the given rep ranges (you will have the chance to go heavier as the weeks progress). However, you have the option to choose some of the exercises from the listed items. For example, the first two exercises call for :
- Any pull-up, pull down or inverted row
- Any dip or triceps extension
A pull-up and dip would be preferable, but if these exercises are too hard, then choose one of the others and work you way up to the pull-up and dip over time.
Pull up examples include:
- Wide grip pull-up
- Close grip chin-up
- Alternate grip pull-up/chin-up
Pull down examples include:
- Close grip pulldown
- Wide grip pulldown
- One-arm pulldown
Inverted row examples include:
- TRX inverted row with feet on ground (the body will be at an angle, the exact angle will depend on how far back/forward you place your feet)
- TRX inverted row with feet on bench (ideally, your body will be parallel to the ground)
Dip examples include:
- Dips in a dip station, parallel bars, gymnastics rings, or similar set-up
- Bench dip with feet on ground (your legs will have angle)
- Bench dip with feet on box (your legs will be parallel to the ground)
Triceps extension examples include:
- Lying dumbbell triceps extension (uses two dumbbells)
- Overhead dumbbell triceps extension (uses one or two dumbbells)
- Cable triceps pushdown
- Cable triceps kickback
Day 4 is a simple shoulder complex circuit. You will complete each exercise in succession with no rest, which constitutes one round. In the beginning, I suggest resting between rounds as needed. As you move forward, you should be able to complete multiple rounds in succession. Reps change each week.
On this day you also select a calisthenics workout of your choice from sheet 3 and complete it after the weighted exercises.
The cardio is optional, but again, I advise completing it for full fitness.
Day 5 provides changing sets and reps over time. Some exercises stay the same each week, while others can be changed as you see fit, based on the listed options. The goal here is to work a wide variety of rep ranges with varying weights to induce hypertrophy and improvements in muscular endurance. When using the higher set and rep ranges, use relatively lighter weight. When using the lower set and rep ranges, use relatively heavier weight.
The first three exercise each day are set and do not change over time. The second three exercises are always from the same groups (see the spreadsheet):
- Biceps curls
- Triceps extensions
You can choose which specific exercise you perform each week, as long as it fits the group. For example, for rows you might choose:
- Bent barbell rows
- One-arm dumbbell rows
- Yates rows
- TRX inverted row
For biceps curls you might choose:
- Hammer curls
- Supinating curls
- Palms up curls
- Any cable curl
For triceps extensions you might choose:
- Triceps kick back
- Overhead triceps extensions
- Skull crushers
- Any cable extension
Making the program hardcore
Some people look at a layout such as this and say it is not hardcore. They are right. The layout in and of itself it not hard; you make this as hard or easy as you want based on how you implement the program. Let me explain.
Look at Day 1. I have literally had people look at such as workout and say it is only 10 sets. That is incorrect. There are 10 working sets for the first two exercises combined. For some people, they do not count warm-up sets for the first two exercises, or even worse, do not complete warm-up sets, so some of the working sets become warm-up sets. Of course this is going to make the workout easier, as is not putting effort into the core exercises, which is something else these same people do. Do not be those people. Make this program work for you by implementing it correctly.
Here are a few steps to help with that:
- Complete warm-ups sets—for each loaded exercise complete warm-ups sets that are progressively heavier until you reach a moderate to hard weigh for the noted rep range for the given exercise.
- Use the right load—all weight should be heavy to moderate.
- Slow the pace down—You should not power through these sets as quickly as possible. Focus on form and control. If you can power through these sets quickly and easily, you are not using enough load, not controlling the pace enough, not focusing on good form, or a combination of all three.
- Really slow down the pace—in some instance you may not want to use more load or may not have more weight to use; slow down the pace more. Consider using a 3-5 count descent, ascent, and pauses as applicable. You could easily turn a 5 rep sets in 45-75 seconds of work.
- Do all the work—if you complete the weight based work, calisthenics, and running with proper intensity and in the listed entirety, this will be a hard program that reaps results.
And that is it. The home workout program can be complete at home with dumbbells, a bench, a pull-up bar, and honest effort. With these things combined, as well as properly implanting the program, such as monitoring form and effort, you can build strength, become more muscular, bring out leanness, and improve fitness, all at home.
Program download: 8.1 – A hardcore home gym training plan
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.