Most at-home workouts kinda suck. How do we know this? Because success leaves clues, but so does stupidity. You'll know an at-home workout falls short on the training spectrum when:

  • There's an overemphasis on sweating.
  • It consists primarily of burpees and other plyometric exercises most people usually suck at.
  • It contains a hundred different types of sit-ups.

Gym or no gym, equipment or no equipment, the underlying principles of building muscle still apply to your body. When constructing at-home workouts, apply these principles to create an effective routine.

Principle 1: Your muscles respond to force.

Your muscles don't speak Spanish. They don't even speak English. The language they speak and respond to is force. Tools you can apply to your workouts to create force and tension include:

  • Isometrics (yielding and overcoming)
  • Eccentrics
  • Resistance bands

Principle 2: Your muscles need overload.

If you want to build (or keep) muscle, you're going to have to make your body work harder than it has in the past to create an adaptive response.

Principle 3: Your muscles crave variety.

You've heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Why would building muscle be any different?

Principle 4: Your muscles need consistency to grow.

While you need a healthy dose of variety and intensity, none of this will work unless you put in the work consistently.

Here's what to add to your training that'll help you check all the boxes above and build muscle even when you can't be at the gym.

The Upper Body Workout

You'll need one resistance band and some floor space. That's it.

Bands can place constant tension on the muscle throughout the entire range of motion of an exercise, and the tension will increase as you reach the final portion of the movement. This makes the effect on your muscles greater than standard cable systems since they're forced to work harder as they reach the finish line.

Recommendation: Watch the videos, practice each exercise, and then do them back-to-back in circuit style for a few rounds.

1. Kneeling Band Pull-Apart

  • Lock your arms at shoulder height.
  • Keep your ribs down to engage your core.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Return slowly, keeping tension on the band.

Do 15 reps and immediately move on to the next exercise.

2. Slingshot Push-Up

  • Follow video instructions to set up slingshot-style band.
  • Position the band on the upper forearms – just below your elbows.
  • Get in push-up position.
  • Place your hands wide enough so band pulls your arms in together.
  • Go down to full depth with the band hitting mid-chest.
  • Lock out your arms at the top.

Do 10-15 reps and move to the next exercise.

3. High Band Row

  • Sit with your legs locked out in front of you.
  • Loop the band around your feet.
  • Keep your chest upright and pull with your elbows at shoulder height.

Do 10-15 reps and immediately move on to the next exercise.

4. Pec-Poppin' Push-Up

  • "Drag" your hands in towards each other without moving them.
  • Hold at the top and squeeze the pecs for three seconds.

Do 10 reps and move on to the next exercise.

5. Face Pull

  • Loop the band around your feet.
  • Lay on your back.
  • Lock your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  • Pull your arms to a 90-degree position next to your head.
  • Return slowly, keeping tension on the band and upper back.

Do 10-15 reps and do the next exercise.

6. Banded Close Grip Push-Up

  • Loop the band around your thumbs and upper back/shoulders.
  • Make sure your elbows are outside of the band.
  • Keep your elbows tucked in close throughout the entire range of motion.

Do 10-15 reps and immediately move to the next exercise.

7. Underhand Pull-Apart

  • Bend your arms at 90 degrees with an underhand grip.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout entire ROM.
  • Pull the band apart and squeeze your upper back.
  • Return slowly, keeping tension in band and upper back.

Do 10-15 reps and hit the next exercise.

8. Front Delt Raise

  • Loop the band around your foot.
  • Step back with that foot and keep your leg locked.
  • Hinge forward so your torso is at the same angle as your rear leg.
  • Keep your arm locked and raise until it hits shoulder height.

Do 10-15 reps and move to the next exercise.

9. Isometric Biceps Curl

  • Loop the band around one foot, grabbing both ends of the band.
  • Have arms slightly in front of your torso.
  • Curl band up until arms are at 90 degrees.
  • Squeeze as hard as you possibly can for 10-15 seconds.

After the hold, rest for a minute before starting all over again with the first exercise.

Upper Body: Putting It All Together

This is just a suggestion. You can use these exercises in any order or set/rep scheme you like.

Do each exercise back to back:

  • Kneeling Band Pull-Apart: 10-15 reps
  • Slingshot Push-Up: 10-15 reps
  • High Band Row: 10-15 reps
  • Pec-Poppin' Push-Up: 10 reps
  • Face Pull: 10-15 reps
  • Banded Close Grip Push-Up: 10-15 reps
  • Underhand Pull-Apart: 10-15 reps
  • Front Delt Raise: 10-15 reps
  • Isometric Biceps Curl: 10-15 second hold

Rest for 60 seconds after all have been completed. Repeat for a total of three rounds.

And now on to the lower body.

The Lower Body Workout

You might think the only way to build your legs is squatting with a bar on your back. You might think the only way to get stronger is to slap on a bunch of plates and deadlift until you can't see straight. Not so.

You can challenge your lower body with a band, just like what we talked about for the upper body.

Recommendation: For this workout, superset the exercises except the split lunge, where you'll be alternating between legs.

Here's the workout:

A1. Good Morning

  • Keep a slight bend in the knee.
  • Push your hips back.
  • Squeeze your armpits together as you hinge forward.
  • Squeeze your glutes and push your hips through to full extension.

Do 10 reps, then immediately move on to A2.

A2. Close-Stance Wall Glide Squat

  • Get your feet inside hip-width and toes pointed straight.
  • Get your back and hands against the wall.
  • Drop your butt to the floor, keeping your feet flat.
  • Keep tension in the quads.
  • Squat up to full extension.

Do 15 reps and rest 30-60 seconds before doing A1 again. Do this superset 3 times.

B1. Eccentric Isometric RDL

  • Keep a slight bend in the knees.
  • Squeeze your armpits together.
  • Push your hips back.
  • Pull your hips up to the ceiling and pull your chest toward the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes and come back up to full extension.

Do 8 reps, then immediately move on to B2.

B2. Hamstring Walkout

  • Press your hips up to full extension.
  • Flex your feet.
  • Push your hands through the floor.
  • March out one foot at a time as far as you can while keeping your hips up.
  • March back one foot at a time, keeping tension in your hamstrings.

Do 10 reps and rest 30-60 seconds before starting B1 again. Do this superset 3 times.

C. Split Lunge

  • Bring your back heel off the floor.
  • Straighten your back leg.
  • Tilt forward at the hips so your chest is above your lead knee.
  • Drop your back knee to the floor and drive through your front heel.

Do 10-15 reps, immediately switch legs, and do it again. Rest 30-60 seconds then do it again for 3 total sets.

D1. Banded Hip Bridge

  • Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a band over pelvis.
  • Get your feet slightly angled out at shoulder-width apart.
  • Lock your arms out and place them at your sides.
  • Extend your hips up toward the ceiling and push your hands down to the floor simultaneously.

Do 10-15 reps, then immediately move on to D2.

D2. Eccentric Loaded Single Leg Hamstring Curl

  • Extend your hips up off the floor.
  • Elevate one foot with your knee bent.
  • Slowly straighten the leg that's on the floor, keeping your hips up.
  • Keep tension in the hamstring.
  • Bring the other foot down to the floor and repeat the process

Do 5-10 reps. Rest 30-60 seconds before starting D1 again. Do this superset 3 times.

Lower Body: Putting It All Together

Like the upper body workout, this is just a suggestion.

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Good Morning 3 10  
A2 Close-Stance Wall Glide Squat 3 15 1 min.
B1 Eccentric Isometric RDL 3 8  
B2 Hamstring Walkout 3 10 1 min.
C Split Lunge 3 10-15/side 30 sec.
D1 Banded Hip Bridge 3 10  
D2 Eccentric Loaded Single Leg Hamstring Curl 3 5-10 1 min.

Related:  14 Band Exercises For Bigger Lifts

Related:  7 Advanced Home Exercises