10+ Outdoor Workout Hacks For Beginners To Build Muscles (2020)

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You stare at the icicles dangling outside your window and suddenly you just don’t feel like going out for a run…or walk, or really anything. Repeat every single day of winter. That’s OK: You can get an extraordinary workout indoors, complete with bonus payoffs from activating muscles in new ways. Top fitness professionals share tips for toning up and burning fat in your very own home. You may not miss zipping up your jacket after all.

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You can jump right in without any setup, plus you’ll have a visual reminder to workout, says Luke Lombardo, a master trainer at Lagree Fitness in Los Angeles and an Ironman triathlete. “Perhaps your yoga mat is rolled out by a bedroom window,” he adds, “or you put a set of weights or bands on the table by your doorway so you see them when you come home from work.”

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You know how it goes: You skip the gym and figure you’ll make some sort of fitness effort at home. Too bad Snapchatting doesn’t help you gain muscles. “Not knowing what to do is a good way to do nothing,” says Adam Rosante, a fitness and nutrition coach in New York City. “On Sunday, pick a few days in the coming week when you’ll work out inside, put those dates on the calendar, and decide what exercises you will be doing for those workouts. Preplanning makes it easy and more of a commitment.”

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Put on your sports clothing and leggings, and lace up your shoes. “I like to get some good music on and start doing some moves, or I’ll set a timer,” says Michelle Lovitt, an exercise physiologist and celebrity trainer in Los Angeles. “Once you’re all dressed up and get going, you’re more likely to just get it done.”

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If you have more time, by all means, don’t limit your workout in a short period of time. But if you’re lounging around and feeling seriously lazy, tell yourself you’ll do just 10 minutes. “Doing any kind of body-weight exercises, like push-ups, squats, and lunges, for 10 minutes gets your heart rate rise a bit and can burn 100 calories,” says Lovitt. “That could add up to an extra 700 calories a week.”

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You can experiment without ever once feeling awkward. (No judgment from your cat.) Like dance? Check out Dance Body, with unlimited streaming for $35 a month. Another popular pick: Barre3, which blends Pilates, yoga, and barre, for $15 a month. YouTube has a number of good workout channels, including BeFit, BodyRock, and FitnessBlender.

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Sure, you can do a lot of exercises like lunges and squats with your bodyweight alone, but adding dumbbells makes moves that much more intense, says Lovitt. An adjustable pair from ProForm is perfect since they’re all you need—you can add the weight over time.

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Resistance bands are cheap, extremely useful, and maybe the easiest piece of exercise equipment to store. “They can give you an astonishing workout because you can essentially work every muscle in your body,” says Lovitt. “You can do anything from bicep curls to upright rows to weighted squats. And as you get stronger, you can just change to a band with heavier resistance.” (Here’s a good seven-minute band workout.)

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It’s not just for kids—it’s one of the best aerobic workouts out there, with calorie-burning payoffs that could be compared to jogging. “Depending on your weight and muscle mass, you could burn anywhere from 150 to 200 calories in 15 minutes,” says Lovitt. Try a Crossrope Starter Set; it comes with two different weighted jump ropes, so you can up your game as you improve.

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Put those dumbbells, resistance bands, and jump rope on the coffee table shelf or on the side of your couch. “When you’re watching TV, they’ll be right there to take and do some squats, dead lifts, chest presses, or rows,” says Kristin McGee, a celebrity fitness, Pilates, and yoga instructor in New York City, and author of Chair Yoga. “If they are placed somewhere you can easily see, you are more likely to use them”

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You’re less likely to be a motionless binge-watcher if you write a motivating phrase or mantra on paper in big letters, then put it up in an obvious spot in the house, says Rosante: “It should be right in your line of sight, so that it’s impossible to watch TV without seeing it.” The words can be as simple as “Go move!”

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If you’ve never tried meditation, it could be the Rx you need for warding off cabin fever on a snowy day. Do it after you wake up, recommend Lovitt: “Focusing on just your breath in a quiet surrounding can set you up for success during the day,” she says. A good option: Gaia offers meditation and yoga workouts and lets you filter results by time.

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When you’re stuck in a state of laziness and is feeling unmotivated, snap yourself out of it with Rosante’s trick: “Stand in the middle of the floor, shout, ‘I got this!’ and do a burpee,” she suggests. (Here’s how.) “A simple, powerful movement coupled with a verbal cue can make powerful emotion and ignite momentum.”

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Maybe it’s a Hula-Hoop or a medicine ball you can use for overhead presses and ab twists—something you haven’t used before, or at least not for a while. “When you have interesting stuff to use, you’ll get more encouraged to work out inside,” says McGee.

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Think a mini elliptical, kettlebells, or an ab wheel. “Any of these pieces of equipment can assist you in changing your mindset on how you watch TV,” says Lombardo. “You’ll no longer link watching television with the couch—it becomes active time with entertainment.”

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Invite a few friends over for workout/dinner night, suggests Rosante. “Keep dinner simple—pick a lean protein and green veggie, like salmon and asparagus, that can be popped into the oven with a little olive oil and lemon juice and left to bake,” he says. “While it’s cooking, you and your girls can do a 20-minute high-intensity workout sequence. By the time you’re done, dinner should be ready.” Bon workout—and bon appétit!

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