Although parts of the world may be going back to normal, the way we work out may forever change due to Covid-19. People worldwide have discovered the convenience of home workouts and may never go back to a gym.

The good news is that home and bodyweight workouts can be just as effective, if not more so, than the standard gym workout. I’ve been training using my own body weight and minimal equipment for nearly a decade now, and my workouts don’t look much different than they did before the pandemic.

Adding just a few select pieces of workout equipment to your home gym like a doorway pull-up bar, a jump rope, and a kettlebell or set of dumbbells can help mix things up and add a challenge to your home workouts. But there really is so much you can do using your own body weight—even if your goal is to build strength or muscle (just look at gymnasts for proof).

If you feel like your home workouts aren’t challenging you enough, or aren’t sure how to stay fit and healthy at home, here are several ways to up the challenge.

Add Weights (Or Get Creative With What You Have at Home)

When looking to make bodyweight workouts more difficult, the first thing most people think to do is to add weight.

A few sets of dumbbells, a kettlebell, or a heavy medicine ball can make exercises like squats, lunges, burpees, and even push-ups harder. If you don’t have any actual weights sitting around, you can always get creative and make your own (a duffel bag filled with cans, books, or other heavy stuff makes a great makeshift sandbag).

While weights can add challenge and variety to your workouts, I highly encourage you to master the full bodyweight version of the exercise first before you try adding any weight. So many people add dumbbells or other weights to exercises like squats or lunges before they can do even basic bodyweight squats. Make sure you master the bodyweight version of the exercise before adding any additional weight. 

Make it Plyometric 

My favorite way to make any bodyweight exercise more challenging is to turn it into a plyometric exercise. Plyometrics, also called jump training or plyos, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time to improve power. They’re commonly used in sports such as basketball, martial arts, and sprinting to improve athletic performance.

Plyos significantly increase the difficulty level of bodyweight exercises and are an amazing way to increase the intensity and efficiency of your workouts. Since plyos never really become easier, they offer an endless challenge—you can always strive to jump higher, further, or faster.

Think bodyweight squats into squat jumps, push-ups into push-up hops, and calf raises into jump roping or single leg hops.

Keep Upping the Challenge

There really are endless ways to keep bodyweight and home workouts interesting and challenging. If you ever find that your workout is too easy for you, you need to find ways to increase the challenge. 

Here are several ways to add a challenge to bodyweight workouts:

  • Increase the intensity 
  • Up the load (by using weights or switching to unilateral movements)
  • Change the speed (go faster or slower)
  • Increase the length of your actual workout (increase endurance)
  • Get creative and use things around the house as equipment (chairs = dip bars, etc.)

Which one you focus on will depend on your individual goals. Ideally, you’ll experiment and do a little of each to keep your workouts challenging long past when the pandemic is over.


Krista is the author of the new book, The 12-Minute Athlete: Get Fitter, Faster, and Stronger Using HIIT and Your Bodyweight and a leading fitness and mindset expert. She is the founder of 12 Minute Athlete and the 12 Minute Athlete app as well as a writer, TV guest/host, and motivational speaker. The book is available online or anywhere that books are sold.

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