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Strength training is a must if you’re trying to build muscle and power. But while the term “strength training” can bring to mind images of “pumping iron” at the gym, you don’t need a ton of equipment (or a gym membership) to get it done.

In fact, you don’t even need to leave your house to get a great workout in! 

In this article, we’ll go over five fast strength-training exercises you can do at home, plus how to make the most of your living-room workouts. 

Why strength training is important

Strength training, otherwise known as resistance training, is a form of exercise that helps you build muscle. When you introduce resistance to your workout (in the form of weights or your own body weight), your muscles become stressed and damaged.

With the right nutrition and recovery timing, your body then rebuilds those muscle fibers, leading to bigger and stronger muscles over time. 

In addition to muscle growth, strength training also has a variety of other perks that can further your health and wellness goals. For example, strength training has been found to be associated with a huge number of health benefits, including: 

  • Higher self-esteem and better movement control
  • Improvements in visceral fat, blood sugar levels, and insulin sensitivity 
  • Better heart health from improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels 
  • Stronger, denser bones 
  • Relief from aging-associated pain, such as back pain
  • Sharper cognitive functioning, especially in older adults 

No matter what your health goals happen to be, strength training is a crucial piece of the wellness puzzle. Luckily, you don’t need a ton of equipment to reap the rewards. Simple at-home exercise programs can still help you build muscles and enhance your strength

At-home workouts may be particularly helpful for older adults, since they are generally easier to follow and present fewer risks. They also tend to be more convenient than regular visits to the gym or local fitness studios, which means that you can get a workout in even when your schedule is packed to the brim!

5 fast strength-training exercises you can do at home 

All of these exercises can be done at home with minimal space and equipment. However, you can incorporate equipment you happen to have on hand into these workouts, such as dumbbells or resistance bands. In addition, you can attempt more difficult variations of these exercises if you’d like to make them more challenging. 


A person performs a push-up at home.

The traditional push-up is a great exercise for people of all fitness levels. It engages muscles throughout your entire body, especially your shoulders, arms, and chest. Even better, the push-up is challenging but fairly beginner-friendly!


  • Works major muscle groups in your upper body as well as your core 
  • No equipment required 
  • Several variations can increase the difficulty once you master the basic push-up 

How to perform: 

  1. Start in a high plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Keep your back straight with no arching.  
  2. Slowly lower yourself toward the ground. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body and to keep them moving backwards rather than out to the side. 
  3. Push back up to the starting position, keeping your back flat and your core engaged.
  4. Repeat. Try doing two or three sets of 10 repetitions to start. 


  • Narrow push-ups: Bring your hands together directly below your chest to further challenge your triceps, chest, and shoulders. 
  • Incline push-ups: Brace yourself against a slightly elevated surface (think a couch or a chair) rather than the floor, which is great for targeting your chest and core.  
  • Burpees: To perform this high-intensity move that increases your calorie burn, drop into a regular push-up, then immediately jump up and repeat it. 


A masked woman does a squat.

The squat is a great exercise that uses muscles throughout your entire body. It’s a popular weighted strength training exercise, but it’s also effective even with minimal equipment. 


  • A full-body compound movement 
  • Especially good for targeting your legs and glute muscles 
  • No equipment needed, but you can easily add weights to make it more challenging 

How to perform: 

  1. Stand with your feet slightly apart, aligned with your hips, and facing forward.
  2. Slowly “sit back” until your thighs are parallel to the floor. 
  3. Using your glute muscles, return to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat. Try doing five sets of 15 repetitions. 


  • Dumbbell squats: Lift two dumbbells up to your shoulders, then do your squats. This will increase the resistance. You can also perform squats with other weights, such as barbells or kettlebells. 
  • Bulgarian split squats: This is a challenging movement that targets each individual glute and hamstring while increasing your heart rate. Stand in front of an elevated surface, such as a chair, then lift one of your legs up behind you so that your foot is resting on the surface. Perform squats as usual.
  • Pause squats: Pause at the bottom of your squat for five seconds to force more muscle engagement, then resume the set.
  • Plie squats:  Target your thigh muscles by standing in a wider stance, with your feet pointing out. Squat, making sure your knees follow the direction of your feet. 


Two people do lunges while holding medicine balls in a home gym.

Similar to the squat, the lunge is an excellent full-body workout that is particularly effective for your large lower-body muscles. It’s also highly effective at isolating each leg, improving your balance, and building your core strength — and it gets your heart rate up!


  • Great for working your legs and glutes, and also enhancing your balance 
  • Excellent low-impact exercise for beginners

How to perform: 

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Step one foot forward. 
  3. Slowly drop the other knee until it almost touches the ground. As you observe the leg in front, make sure that your shin stays parallel and that your knee doesn’t extend forward past your toes.
  4. Push back up to a standing position, then repeat on the other leg to complete one rep. 
  5. Do three sets of 10 lunges on each leg. 


  • Dumbbell lunges: Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand to increase resistance. 
  • Walking lunges: This is a great variation for targeting your functional fitness. With each lunge, take a wide step forward.

Tricep dips

A man performs a tricep dip outdoors.

Tricep dips target the muscles on the back of your arms. They’re a simple movement with a big payoff, and they can be done at home using nothing more than a sturdy elevated surface, such as a chair or couch. 


  • Uses your own body weight to target your triceps, chest, and shoulders 
  • Very easy to do at home with just your furniture 

How to perform: 

  1. Sit on the edge of a sturdy couch, table, or chair. Place your hands on the edge of the seat on either side of your body. 
  2. Walk your legs forward until your body leaves the seat but your hands remain in contact with it. 
  3. Slowly lower your body toward the ground, using your arms as a brace. 
  4. Then, push up with your triceps to return to your starting position. 
  5. Repeat, doing three sets of 10 repetitions. 


  • Weighted dips: Add a weighted barbell or plate to your lap to increase resistance during the movement. 


A man does a plank outdoors.

Finally, holding a plank is a deceptively simple but excellent workout for your entire body. It especially targets your core muscles, as they have to work hard to keep you stable and in place during this challenging hold. 


  • Increases core stability and balance 
  • Zero equipment needed 

How to perform: 

  1.  Start by lying face-down on the ground. 
  2. Move so that your forearms are braced on the ground, with your elbows just below your shoulders. Your hands can either be clasped together or on the ground. 
  3. Push yourself up so that you are balanced on the balls of your feet and your forearms. 
  4. Hold this position for at least thirty seconds, keeping your back straight. Resist the temptation to arch your body in order to protect your lower back. 
  5. Release, rest, then repeat. Aim to hold your plank for at least one minute, then repeat it five times. 


  • Weighted plank: To increase resistance, have someone carefully lay a weighted plate onto your back.
  • Bird dog: Either on your knees or in a high plank, extend the opposite arm and leg straight out, to further challenge your core and sense of balance.

Important tips for strength training at home 

Focus on intensity

If you’re brand-new to strength training, these exercises will probably be fairly demanding, but you’ll likely notice that they get easier over time. If you find that you aren’t needing to push yourself as hard anymore, it’s a good sign that it’s time to increase the difficulty by adding more repetitions, sets, or weights.

Make the most of your time

Are you exercising at home because you don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to the gym? Good news! You don’t necessarily need to spend hours to get results — you just need to plan when you’ll hit the home gym. 

Some research suggests that the most time-efficient way to approach strength training to build muscle is to perform four weekly sets for each muscle group, with each set made up of about 15-40 repetitions that are performed to failure.

The same research also suggests that incorporating more advanced training techniques can cut the training time needed to build muscle almost in half! Advanced techniques include: 

  • Drop sets: Start your workout with a heavy weight for several repetitions, then immediately drop the weight and continue the exercise until you can’t do another repetition. 
  • Supersets: Perform one exercise for a certain number of repetitions, then immediately move into another exercise. 
  • Rest-pause training: Perform repetitions at a high weight until failure, rest for no more than a minute, then repeat for multiple sets. 

Consistency is key 

You’re not going to see a major transformation in one day — instead, for best results, perform these workouts several times per week.

Research shows that four or more weekly sessions of 30+ minutes each were effective at improving muscle strength compared to shorter and/or less frequent training in older adults. 

Add other exercises to your routine as well

While these strength-training exercises are a great way to start building muscle, you might find that you need to up the ante with other types of workouts. There are plenty of workouts that you can do at home or around your neighborhood that will help you get stronger, including: 

  • Running, walking, and other kinds of steady-state cardio: Cardio is good for your heart health and can also increase your calorie burn if you’re trying to lose body fat. 
  • Yoga and/or Pilates: Great for core strength, stability, posture, and mobility, yoga and Pilates are ideal complements to strength training.  
  • Plyometrics: Also referred to as “jump training,” the explosive movements used in plyometrics are great for calorie burning and muscle toning. From burpees and high jumps to pop squats, plyometrics will get your heart pumping! 


An effective strength-training workout can start in the comfort of your own living room or home gym. Make sure to keep up the intensity and recognize when it’s time to add weights or sets. That will ensure your muscles get challenged and keep growing, no matter what your fitness level is!

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