How to Write Better Home Workouts

Stop repeating movements and getting tired, get strong instead.

Just about everyone you know did or is still doing home workouts. The problem is, not all workouts are the same and if you are programming them yourself, you can write better home workouts following a few steps.

All home workouts seem to be a combination of 5-10 various bodyweight exercises arranged in random ways to get you tired for 20 minutes and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

better home workoutsSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Unfortunately, the truth is if you’ve been doing them for a few months in a row, then you are probably getting very bored. And worse, not getting the stimulus you could be getting.

Here’s the thing: random workouts are only good for one thing, and that’s finding a weakness you weren’t aware of, random workouts are not about fixing it.

If you want to fix your weaknesses, you need a thoughtful, focused progression on those weaknesses to make them strengths, along with work to continue making sure your strengths stay strengths.


Here’s how you can write better home workouts to actually achieve your goals:

  1. Write out 6 exercises: 2 upper body, 2 lower body, and 2 core. One of each should be a strength of yours, and one should be a weakness.
  2. Test your max reps for each movement. Push it to failure so we can establish a baseline. If the movement is a hold, like a plank, then establish a max time hold.
  3. Slowly increase the volume of those exercises over a 6-week period, then re-test, and re-evaluate your choice of movements for the next 6 weeks, rinse, and repeat.

We can create a progression in any movement in four different ways.

  • Tempo
  • Reps and Sets
  • Weight
  • Workload

Let’s dig a bit deeper.


Creating a progression for tempo simply means making the movement either slower or pausing at a challenging point for a period of time. This means we can perform 5×5 of Bulgarian Split Squat on each leg for week 1, then on week 2 perform the same amount of reps, with a 2-second tempo down, 2-second pause, and a 2-second tempo up.

Week three would be 4 seconds, and so on. This will slowly increase time under tension for a movement, without adding more reps, which can be a great way to build muscle and tendon strength, as well as preventing pain or injury in joints.


Let’s use the same exercise to create a progression for reps and sets. Say week one we do 5×5 on each leg. Week two we could do 5×8, then 5×10, then 5×12, then 5×15.

I have not found there to be much of a benefit beyond doing sets of 15, as in your CrossFit workouts, there are few times where you’ll need to do more than 15 reps unbroken. Building up to 15 rep sets really helps with increasing muscle endurance, which transfers over to CrossFit style training very well.

8 Simple CrossFit Workouts for Training at Home With Minimal Equipment


The next progression obviously can’t be done if you don’t have access to equipment, but if you do, give it a try.

Using the same exercise and rep scheme, this time instead of adding reps or tempo, we would progressively add weight each week. On week 1 we would do 5×5 on each leg, then in week 2 we could do 5×5 while holding a 5kg plate, then week 3 a 10kg plate, and so on.

This is a very standard progression style found in most strength training programs and works very well for a long time. If you haven’t yet, try running a program like this for the squat or press.


The last progression involves monitoring the amount of time it takes to complete your work. This can be done in several ways. For example, we could do the 5×5 for each leg and it takes 10 minutes, then on week 2 we could try to accomplish that in 8 minutes, then 7 minutes. The further you get into this progression, the harder it will be to decrease the time, so even finishing it 10 seconds faster can still be an accomplishment.

Another way to do this would be to monitor your rest times and progress them each week. That would look like 5×5 with 2 mins rest between each set on week 1, then 1:45 rest on week 2, then 1:30 rest on week 3 and so on.

This is also highly specific to CrossFit-style training, as we can effectively accomplish the same amount of work in less and less time.


Tying it all together in a program is easy, as you would just need select a style of progression, select your 6 exercises, and write up a short 20 minute workout that actually trains you towards your goal.

In the beginning, reps and sets don’t matter too much, as long as you select something that feels moderate. You wouldn’t want to select the hardest possible rep scheme on week 1, as you’ll then have to build on that for 6 weeks.

Instead, choose something moderate (erring on the side of too easy) and leave room to build!

Brian Chambers, the owner of Big Bend Strength and Conditioning, offers online coaching here. Clients get a custom progression written with their goals, equipment, and time availability in mind.

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