How to Get a Full-Body Strength Training Workout at Home – Part 1

Strength training can be done in the comfort of your home using common household items. SPD’s senior physiotherapist Natarajan Elamaran shares some tips and exercises that you can include in [...]

Strength training, also known as weight or resistance training, is an important part of fitness routine as it helps to make us stronger. Strength training can be done almost anywhere, including in the comfort of your home using common household items. To help you get started with your strength training routine at home, SPD’s senior physiotherapist Natarajan Elamaran shares some tips and exercises that you can include in your workout plan.

Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training offers many benefits for individuals of all ages, including the elderly. The benefits associated with strength training are:

  • Increase lean body mass
  • Increase metabolic rate
  • Increase bone density
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Regaining lost muscle tissue that commonly occurs with aging

The loss of skeletal muscle often results in losing strength to perform basic activities such as standing from a seated position, grooming oneself, or preparing a meal. It is also the main contributing factor to the reduction of resting metabolic rate leading to obesity.

Before you begin your workout, here are some safety guidelines.


General safety guidelines

  • Wear comfortable workout attire.
  • Choose your exercises based on your current strength level (for example, low, moderate and high level).
  • Make sure you warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes before and after exercising respectively. You can walk or jog on the spot, or do simple movements that work your legs, arms, and other major muscle groups.
  • Some soreness in the muscle can be expected but stop the exercise if you feel pain in your joints. Listen to your body.
  • Maintain a good posture during all exercises.
  • Do not hold your breath while exercising. Exhale during exertion and inhale during relaxation.
  • Start with low level intensity or fewer repetitions, then gradually progress to moderate to high level intensity or with heavier weights.
  • Aim for 10 to 12 repetitions per set and do 2-3 sets for each exercise.
  • You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other exercise routine. This is particularly important if you (or your family) have pre-existing medical conditions.


To Begin

Look for a place in your home where you can exercise comfortably. Ensure you have enough space to move freely.

To turn your home into a home gym, all you need is some creativity. Instead of barbells, ropes and dumbbells, you can use household items as weights in your workout. Here is a list of common household items that you can use:

  • Wall, chairs and tables
  • Water / plastic milk jugs or laundry detergent bottles
  • Backpack with books or canned food
  • Suitcases, buckets and grocery bags



1. Wall squat or squat with chair support – Low level intensity

Wall squat and squat with chair support

Aim: To strengthen the leg muscles

Instructions (wall squat):

  • Stand straight against a wall with your head and back touching the wall.
  • Position your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart and about 20 cm away from the wall. Rest your arms at your sides.
  • Bend your knees while sliding your back down the wall and lower into a squat position.
  • Return to starting position by straightening your knees and standing straight again.
  • Ensure that your knees stay in line with your feet and your weight is equally borne on both legs

Other squat variations for moderate to high level intensities:


Moderate level intensity (Single leg squat)

Single leg squat

High level intensity (with stuffed bag)

Squat with bag and squat with bag in one hand

2. Heel raise with backpack

Hee; raise on backpack on floor, stairs and one foot

Aim: To strengthen the calf muscles

Instructions (with backpack):

  • Fill a sturdy backpack with books or canned food before carrying it on your back.
  • Stand at the bottom step of the staircase with your heels hanging over the edge and your weight on your toes.
  • Rise onto your tiptoes and slowly lower yourself back down to flat-footed.
  • This exercise can be done without stairs or backpack just by resting your weight on your toes.


3. Wall push-ups

Low level intensity

Aim: To strengthen the muscles at the front of your shoulder, chest and elbows.

Instructions (wall push-up):

  • Stand and lean forward with your hands on the wall.
  • Keep your back flat and tighten your core, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest is close to the wall.
  • Push your body back up to the starting position.


Other push-up variants for moderate to high level intensities:

Table push-up and floor push-up


Cool down 

Finish your workout by cooling down for about 5 to 10 minutes. This allows your breathing and heart rate to ease into a resting state. You can cool down by walking on the spot and doing gentle stretches in a standing position.


Look out for more exercises in the second part of the article here.


Amanda Capritto/CNET, 2020, Exercise with these household objects for a full-body workout during quarantine, reviewed on 10 July 2020,

Exercise booklet, reviewed on 12 July 2020,

Eldergym, Fitness for senior at home, reviewed on 11 July 2020,