In-Home Total Body Workout

Saturday, April 04 2020

Looking for a simple muscle conditioning workout to follow along with at home?  This 42-minute Total Body Conditioning Workout is a simple routine I teach in my Muscle Works class at the YMCA in Sarasota, FL.  Using just a set of hand weights (or cans from the pantry), every major muscle group is targeted with a progressive approach to utilizing gravitational forces. 

Changing routines frequently in my Muscle Works class, I use a variety of equipment, including hand weights, rubberized tubing, stability balls, step benches and more.  The routine in the Total Body Conditioning video is one that I use during season, January to April, when classes are packed and space is limited in the studio.  Using just a set of hand weights, every major muscle group is targeted with a progressive approach.

Small or medium hand weights are recommended for this workout.  Several progressions of repetitions are performed for each muscle group and a heavy set of weights would likely lead to premature muscle fatigue, poor form and potential injury.  The goal in this workout is muscular endurance, or the ability of a muscle group to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.  Improving muscular endurance helps to improve activities of daily living.  In lieu of hand weights, consider using cans from the pantry, or you can exercise without any hand held equipment if you prefer.

The real “resistance” in this workout is gravity and I want to educate participants how to better utilize this force by repeating a 4-aprt progression of repetitions throughout the workout.  The first set of repetitions is performed at a faster cadence.  The second set of repetitions is performed at a slower cadence, thus interacting with the downward force of gravity for a longer duration.  Slow, controlled muscle actions, both up and down, are key to utilizing the force of gravity.  The third progression of repetitions is an isometric contraction, where there is no movement at the joint, but force is still generated in gravity by holding a move.  The fourth progression of repetitions decreases the range of motion in the mid-range with a pulsing action. 
WATCH the video to better understand the role of gravity in exercise.

This 42-minute In-Home Workout is split into 6 segments, targeting all of the major muscle groups.

Segment 1:  Warm-up
The goal of a fitness warm-up is to warm the body, gradually elevate the heart rate and prepare the muscles and joints for the exercise to come.  In this warm-up, we spend extra time on the shoulder and hip joints, as well as limbering the hands and wrists to prepare them for holding weights. 

Segment 2:  Chest, Shoulders, Quads & Glutes
Performed in stride/lunge stance, this segment targets the anterior (front) upper body muscles with upward motion of the arms in the downward force of gravity.  A careful distinction is made between shoulder flexion and elbow flexion.  Lengthening the arm and flexing from the shoulder joint is very challenging and requires a lighter set of weights.  Attempting to use heavy weights will likely default the movement into elbow flexion.  Elbow flexion targets biceps only.  Shoulder flexion targets chest, shoulders and bicep.  Hip extension, targeting glute, can be optionally paired with the shoulder flexion for a muscular and balance challenge.  This segment also includes stationary rear lunges and shoulder raises (forward & lateral).  The shoulder raises are performed at a slower cadence to showcase the power of gravity when movement is slowed.

Segment 3:  Back & Hamstrings
Also performed in stride/lunge stance, this segment features unilateral deadlifts combined with back exercises.  When teaching group fitness, I prefer teaching deadlifts in stride stance because the hip is automatically loaded into an anterior pelvic tilt allowing for safer form.  This segment also includes additional posterior upper body exercises performed with the arms moving backwards into the downward force of gravity. 

Segment 4:  Bicep & Tricep and Inner & Outer Thigh
Performed in a wide stance, this segment first targets the biceps and the triceps with the 4-part progression of repetitions.  An inner thigh exercise is also executed with the 4-part progression of repetitions.  This segment also includes exercise for the calves and outer thighs. 

Segment 5:  Standing Core
During season, there is limited space in the studio and having a mat would simply take up too much room.  Therefore, I have gotten used to creating standing core routines.  In this short routine, the abdominus rectus and internal and external obliques are targeted with spinal rotation, flexion and lateral flexion with three different knee lifts.

Segment 6:  Final Stretch
Finally, the workout ends with a stretch routine for all of the major muscle groups that were targeted in the workout. 

I sincerely hope that you enjoy this workout. Please be sure to share the site with others who are looking for either pool workouts or safe in-home exercise routines. 

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.