Fitness

10 best online home workouts

The Lin family exercising using filled water bottles as weights as they watch a fitness class online at home in Shanghai last month. There is little reason not to get moving even if you cannot get out. PHOTO: REUTERS
The Lin family exercising using filled water bottles as weights as they watch a fitness class online at home in Shanghai last month. There is little reason not to get moving even if you cannot get out. PHOTO: REUTERS

With offices shutting down and more people working from home, it is important to consider your physical fitness: exercise has proven benefits for mental well-being, and can be a welcome break from other daily stress.

Also, you may be about to have a lot more free time on your hands, so whether you have never trained before or you are a gym veteran looking to add some moves to your repertoire, there has never been a better time.

We have assembled the best free online resources for at-home fitness for every level of dedication - so, whether you want to fix a dodgy hip or master your first handstand, now is the time.

GOLD MEDAL BODIES

GMB's founders are gymnasts and martial artists with intimidating levels of coordination and bodily control. But their speciality is simplifying their expertise down into things that anyone can attempt - including mobility routines that will redress all the imbalances you have been cultivating from years of hunching over your phone.

The larger programmes are behind a paywall but resources such as the eight-move hip mobility routine are a fantastic way to make yourself more limber during even the most intense The Boss Baby: Back In Business binge.

If you are feeling more ambitious, there are programmes to start you down the path to learning moves such as the handstand or cartwheel from the comfort of your home.

R/BODYWEIGHTFITNESS

The quality of information on Reddit's various communities is variable but bodyweight fitness is one of the best, with a wiki that features FAQs and advice on technique, as well as progressions to nudge you towards tough exercises such as the L-sit and single-leg squat.

There is also plenty of helpful discussion, with regular events such as Form Check Friday that let you upload your efforts via video for more experienced users to critique.

Start with the Recommended Routine, which includes dynamic stretching, strength work and mobility - or, if you are pushed for time, the Minimal Routine.

A word of warning: if you do not want to invest in a pull-up bar, you will probably want a sturdy kitchen table.

ROSS TRAINING

Old-school, but thoroughly modern.

The boxing coach Ross Enamait has been banging the drum for DIY training since before YouTube was invented. Now in his 40s, he is a chiselled living advert for training in a garage with gear that has been duct-taped together.

His blog is full of inspiration for quick workouts - such as the infamous "deck of cards", where you assign each card suit a movement and then run through them as fast as possible - but it is also worth checking out his Instagram for inspiration on making your own sandbags and ab wheels.

Watch him skipping in deep snow and forget about every excuse you have ever even considered.

COLE CHANCE YOGA

YouTube has more aspiring yoga gurus than downtown Los Angeles - so the trick is finding one that does not want to make you dry-heave during your downward dog.

Yoga empress Adriene Mishler is certainly worth a shot, but Cole Chance is the connoisseur's pick, offering simple, useful routines and form advice alongside anatomical insight and just the occasional hint of dry humour.

She also offers deeper tutorials on movements such as the crow pose or wild thing pose, so you will hopefully go back to your regular class ready to show off.

The only downside? Being interrupted by cryptocurrency ads just when you are getting in the zone.

CROSSFIT.COM

You've heard of CrossFit, of course - because the first rule of CrossFit is you have to talk about CrossFit - but with workouts increasingly involving rowing machines, barbells and shuttle runs, they are not always small-space suitable.

Fortunately, the main site now offers an entry-level home alternative on training days - you will still need some outsize water jugs - while spin-off sites such as WODwell.com allow you to search for workouts that use specific items of kit (kettlebells, say) or just your own bodyweight.

The Hero WODs, named after deceased members of the uniformed services, are the toughest of all - worth a shot if you fancy a challenge, but make sure you do the approved warm-up first.

MOVNAT

"Etre fort pour etre utile" - be strong to be useful - was the philosophy of the pioneering French physical educator Georges Hebert, the spiritual forefather of MovNat.

It is something the modern iteration of his "methode naturelle" certainly encourages.

MovNat encourages instinctive, adaptable movement, with gimmicky animal-style drills ignored in favour of the sort of crawling, rolling and leaping we bipeds find most efficient - and core skills such as efficient breathing, carrying and getting up off the ground covered before vaulting, climbing or heavy lifting.

Some content is paid-for, but a free e-book gives you plenty of ground to cover before you will need to reach for your wallet.

DEWEY NIELSEN

Mobility expert Nielsen - active on YouTube and Instagram - is a specialist in snackable workouts, serving up short drills and skill practice soundtracked by soothing folk music. Your knees will twinge at some of his more advanced progressions - but moves such as the "house cleaning" drill and his squat series are the perfect antidote to three hours on the sofa playing Fifa, while his advanced quadrupedal patterns offer something to do with your eight-year-old when she's bouncing off the walls after a week in the house.

It is also worth checking out his "valslide" series - use duster cloths or old socks for a more affordable version.

REDEFINING STRENGTH

There are a lot of paid programmes on Cori Lefkowith's relentlessly enthusiastic website, but drill a bit deeper than the homepage and she has put together some of the best free resources online.

Even if you are not interested in outgrowing all your jeans, her bodyweight glute exercise series will get those all-important rear engines firing, making you more efficient in everything from squats to running. And if you are not averse to working up a sweat, she has got high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts lasting from five minutes to 30.

ATHLEAN-X

The presentation is not going to be for everyone - do you really want a shirtless American promising you "pec-pulsing" moves on a grey March morning? - but get past the exclamation marks, and the terrifyingly ripped Jeff Cavaliere is a very informative coach, drawing on a background in physical therapy and athletics to offer science-backed training that doesn't skimp on the tough stuff.

Whizz through his Master Tip series to learn about the mistakes most people make in their training, then head to his bodyweight workouts to put it all into practice.

Be honest, the first thing you click will be Abs Like Stallone!

BEAST SKILLS

Need a serious project to take your mind off things in self-isolation? Want to go back to work able to crank out a one-armed pull-up, or do a handstand while teetering on a chair?

Beast Skills offers up the toughest challenges on this list, but breaks them down into entirely manageable progressions, theoretically allowing you to go from never-worked-out-indolence to your first muscle-up in... well, however long this all takes.

This might be the time to invest in a set of gymnastics rings - it will drastically increase your options, and might improve your shoulder health.

THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 22, 2020, with the headline 10 best online home workouts. Subscribe