At-Home Strength

in All Posts

It’s not exactly a secret that I… hate… strength… training.  I know, I know.  Women should strength train.  We need it.  Increases bone density, protects against injury, blah blah blah.  Still – I hate it.  I can run (in theory…) for miles and miles, but convincing myself to do 10 sit-ups is like pulling teeth. 


My dislike of strength training is compounded by the fact that, although I belong to a gym, I only have a 30 – 45 minute window to exercise.  Time is precious these days!  So it becomes a battle between “Do I want to lift weights?” and “Do I want to swim?”  I think it’s obvious what my choice always is…


Anyway, I’ve started doing this very simple body weight-based routine in the comfort of my home.  I chose these specifics exercises because 1) my OB-GYN said planks and bicycle crunches were good for post-pregnancy abdominal work; 2) I’m sore on a daily basis from carrying around a 8-pound baby (sad) and need to build arm strength; and 3) since I haven’t been running much this year, I need to strengthen my quads to protect against knee injuries.  As a side note, definitely check with your doctor if you’re post-pregnancy before doing any ab work.  If you do it too soon, you can destroy your muscles.  After being warned over and over again by readers about the dangers, I had not one but two OB-GYNs feel around my tummy before I felt comfortable doing crunches.


(Push-ups, bicycle crunches, straight leg lifts, abduction leg lifts, plank)


I can only repeat the workout twice in a row, but I’m hoping to work up to three repeats very soon!  And I’m stuck on modified push-ups – maybe I can graduate to real pushups soon, too.


My favorite thing about this workout?  Not only can I do it at home, but I can play with Henry while doing it.  He lays under me during the push-ups and planks (an opportunity for lots of kisses) and he does tummy time on my stomach during the leg lifts. 


Lunch was more of the same.


Brown rice stir-fry with carrots and kale.  I make the veggies ahead in big batches, and the brown rice is  frozen kind from Trader Joe’s.  A meal that looks like it takes thirty minutes comes together in five.


Cast-iron tofu.  I need to make some Perfect Baked Tofu again soon…


I’d love to hear some suggestions for strength moves that I should add to my routine!  What’s your favorite at-home move?



  • Heather July 26, 2012, 1:26 pm

    Wait until Henry is older when you are doing that. My 40lb almost 3 year old likes to sit on my back while I do push ups and planks. He is also the best drill sergeant in the world. I was doing a jump rope circuit earlier this week and all I heard was “again, mommy!” I ended up doing over 500 reps with jump rope b/c of him.

  • miss pip kelly July 26, 2012, 1:26 pm

    Can we do a skill swap? I haaaaaaate running but can happily sit up/push up and plank away for ages!

    Have you ever done Pilates – amazing for core strength and less mundane than a string of exercises!

  • Alex @ Brain, Body, Because July 26, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Planks and pushups are definitely my #1’s, followed closely by squats and lunges. I LOVE strength training. Stick with it 🙂

  • Sheryl July 26, 2012, 1:31 pm

    My friend was telling me that Nike has a free app with at-home work out moves, you pick the type of work out you want, the intensity, and the amount of time you have, and it goes through the exercises, has demos, and alerts you when it’s time for the next exercise. She showed it to me and it looked awesome!

    • Sarah @ In Sustainability and in Health July 26, 2012, 2:24 pm

      Nike Training Club! It’s awesome, but you usually need some free weights or something to lift…

      • Reenie July 26, 2012, 3:57 pm

        thx….. I just downloaded it 🙂

  • Barbara July 26, 2012, 1:35 pm

    Side planks! With crunches (or hip dips),,20564737_2,00.html

    I also have a hard time getting my strength training in – I have to pop in a DVD to be motivated 🙂

  • HS July 26, 2012, 1:38 pm

    Et tu, brute? Jumping on the Pinterest-style workout bandwagon?

  • Brie July 26, 2012, 1:39 pm

    You should try CrossFit-style at home workouts–they are so intense you don’t have time to hate them!

    My favorite is 10 rounds of 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 air squats.

    • Wendy July 26, 2012, 1:48 pm

      Agreed! If you google “crossfit bodyweight wod” you should turn up a huge pdf file with a bunch of great workouts. Also checkout for good pregnancy and postpartum modifications.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 26, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Great workout Caitlin!! I’m sure you’ll be up to multiple rounds and regular push-ups soon. I used to be terrible at push-ups but could still do the unmodified ones reasonably well. I’ve upped the number of pushups I do in my workouts a lot over the last month or so and I never thought I’d say it, but they’re actually getting easier!! Soon you’ll be doing them with Henry on your back! 😉

  • Lisa July 26, 2012, 1:53 pm

    I used to hate it too. I was a cardio junkie and thought weight lifting was too slow. I had to take a break from running for 2 months because of an injury and I started lifting weights. WOW! I’d been missing out on so much! I immediately lost 5 pounds, my body changed pretty quickly and each week I could tell I was getting stronger.

    Two years later, I am still doing it consistently and I LOVE it. It just took me some time.

  • Ashley July 26, 2012, 2:05 pm

    Thanks for the workout! I am trying to incorporate more exercise into my life in general, but crunches are really what I love!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 26, 2012, 2:06 pm

    I think at-home workouts are definitely good for people with very little free time, especially if you work from home because you can do little bits all day long.

  • Kristy Doyle July 26, 2012, 2:06 pm

    If you want to strengthen your quads, you should add some squats to your routine. Actually, Cassey at Blogilates has a really fun “Call Me Maybe” squat challenge on her YouTube channel. It’s three minutes, it’s intense and it works!

  • Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot July 26, 2012, 2:07 pm

    I just got some new at home DVD strength workouts and am really liking Jackie Warner’s! She has a bunch of 15 min circuits that you can string together on one day or do on separate days but still rotate through all the muscle groups every 3-4 days or so. I’ve also been re-falling in love with Pilates!

    I like the moves you put together for a circuit though too! Nothing that needs weights so you can do it anywhere, anytime 🙂

  • Shelly July 26, 2012, 2:09 pm

    I think yoga doubles as my favorite strength training and you can definitely do that at home. I love warrior poses for strong legs!

  • Lindsay @ Fuel My Family July 26, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I love doing different plank varities (plank jacks, twisting planks, side planks, frog planks,etc). They really are great for a post partum belly. I think my abs look better now than before I had my 2 babies and planks are one big reason! They help flatten and not just bulk the muscles up.

  • Anne Marie @Anne_Everhart July 26, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Hey Caitlin!
    I have always felt the same way about strength training, but I started doing Insanity DVDs recently and I’ve really started to enjoy it – it’s a great mix of cardio and body weight strength exercises! I think the key to enjoying it is that I need to have a routine (like following the DVD instructions) otherwise I just get tired, bored, and just feel like stopping! 🙂
    Anyway, burpees and tricep dips are my recent favorites! Good luck!

  • Megan@ The Running Doc July 26, 2012, 2:26 pm

    Tricep dips are one of my favorite at-home, body weight exercises. All you need is a chair (or edge of the couch) and you’re good to go! I also like doing lunges. Even without any extra weights lunges never cease to make my legs super sore.

  • Lindsey July 26, 2012, 2:28 pm

    I love planks!

  • Zoe July 26, 2012, 2:34 pm

    My mom always said that she had great arm muscles after having kids because she was always picking them up/carrying them around. She did say her left arm was way stronger when she started strength training. I think carrying Henry counts as an upper body workout. Just make sure you alternate which side you carry him on!

  • Amber K July 26, 2012, 3:01 pm

    Ugh, I absolutely hate strength training. People keep telling me how good it is for me, and I understand. But it’s just…torture. Ugh.

  • Deva @ Deva by Definition July 26, 2012, 3:01 pm

    I love air squats, pushups, planks, and doing leg lifts on my back with a stability ball held between my feet. Excellent ab workout (and I do have a stability ball at home).

    I lift weights because I love it – I try to alternate running with lifting, so I get a good all-over workout – especially with my wedding coming up, I want my shoulders and arms to look great!

  • Megan R July 26, 2012, 3:03 pm

    Wall sits are great for quads! You can hold Henry on your lap, or fold laundry. I do them while doing housework all the time.

  • TiffanyS July 26, 2012, 3:05 pm

    I would add some squats to your list, and some different ab moves to target the different muscles. Like v-sit holds,russian twists, and reverse crunches (lift your hips to the ceiling (killer!). I find one side is stronger from the kids always being lifted on one side. This has strained my neck a bit, so keep that in mind too.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 26, 2012, 3:17 pm

    Push ups are always a good – plus you can always modify them to be easier or harder without any equipment.

    And wall-sits – another really good one if you’re trying to strengthen your quads!

  • Amy July 26, 2012, 3:43 pm

    Push-ups were tough after having each of my kids. Very humbling that first time I attempted a full push-up and couldn’t do even one! Now I’m back to doing sets of 25 full on my toes:) I’m opposite of you in the weights/swimming. I float in a pool, that’s it, hate swimming laps! BUT I can lift weights all day long….love the empowering feeling I get after an intense BodyPump class.

  • Heidi July 26, 2012, 4:00 pm

    I use the free version of the Rip Deck app and just add in 5 or 8 lb (depending on the exercise) weights instead of using only my body weight. I like that each group of exercises is about 10-15 minutes so I can fit it in between taking care of my children and it logs your statistics for you!

  • Ginger July 26, 2012, 4:09 pm

    I can relate! I despise weight/ strength training and can never commit to a consistent work out but given the opportunity would put in 15 hours a week of cardio… I need some balance! I have been thinking about bringing in my small arm weights and starting a little living room routine since all work outs are getting increasingly challenging with the pregnancy and it will be a good idea to have something I can do around the house once baby comes. Keep up the inspiration!

  • jillian July 26, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Tone it Up, Beach Babes DVD. Sounds cheesey, but it’s very challenging and has whipped me into strength training shape. I can’t say enough good things! Well worth the $30 — it is two DVDs and 7 workouts. They keep me motivated!

  • Jessi @ doctorate housewife July 26, 2012, 4:17 pm

    I too hate the strength training I’ve started programs in the past, only to give up after a couple of weeks. So in February I started doing 10 modified pushups every morning – something I could stick to. I add 1 pushup each week and when I hit 25, I started subbing 1 real for 1 modified. The goal is to get to 25 real pushups everyday by the end of the year and to keep it up for the long term.

  • Krista July 26, 2012, 4:24 pm

    Those leg lifts are a waste of time. Try squats and lunges instead!

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt July 26, 2012, 4:50 pm

    I hate cardio but love strength training. Too bad we cannot split the workouts with each other! 😉

  • Michelle July 26, 2012, 5:01 pm

    I love the Tone It Up girls at You can buy their DVDs, but they also post a lot of free great toning workouts. After I finish I always feel sore and stronger which is a nice feeling!

  • Nicole July 26, 2012, 5:34 pm

    You need to come over to my casa for some post-baby/honeymoon body bootcamp! I heart weight training because more muscle means I get to eat more calories. Makes my chocolate addiction less detrimental to my size. And gaining strength is so motivating and empowering!

  • mariam July 26, 2012, 6:04 pm

    long time reader, first time commenter – i love your blog! i saw this today and thought you might like it:

  • Coco July 26, 2012, 6:13 pm

    I’m a big fan of at home circuits. There are so many that you can do with little to no equipment- as you build your strength back up.. you can check out home cross fit or zwow workouts.. They are short, intense and effective 🙂

  • Katie H. July 26, 2012, 6:15 pm

    After my runs, I break out my resistance band for some side-steps and leg lifts, which keep my quad and hip muscles strong, protecting my IT band. I also have quite a few equipment-free circuits that I do (especially on vacation). If you’re interested, you can find them under “Workouts” on my blog!

  • Army Amy* July 26, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Strenth work is so not my cup of tea. I definitely need quick, easy, relatively painless moves that I can complete at home. I’ll have to give this a try.*

  • Erin @ erinberries July 26, 2012, 7:43 pm

    I hate strength training too! I always hate the days that I have it planned. Argh! It hurts, makes me mad, and just sucks the whole time you are doing it. But I know that it’s worth it in the long run.

  • Hayley July 26, 2012, 7:46 pm

    I hate strength training too! I am so stubborn when it comes to working out…I just love my cardio 🙂 The one thing I will utilize is an exercise ball. I find that exercise balls allow you to do less for better results. Doing crunches on a ball makes me feel the burn after way less time than just doing them on the floor!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 26, 2012, 8:29 pm

    I like doing triceps dips and split squats using a chair!

  • Amy July 26, 2012, 10:51 pm

    I have been trying just to get in 30 push ups a day. I hate weight/body weight training but I am trying to work on it!

  • Mai July 26, 2012, 11:14 pm

    i feel the same way! i can do cardio for hours on end but cannot get myself to do an ab workout. i recently joined crossfit so there’s no excuse now haha.

  • Jess July 27, 2012, 3:04 am

    Do your push ups on the stairs, at an incline. Feet at the bottom, hands on a step. Work your way down the stairs as you get stronger. The position is the same as regular push ups, but the incline makes it easier. Then you can transition into regular push ups once you are strong enough.

    • Jess July 27, 2012, 3:09 am

      BTW, I have learned to LOVE strength training. It is my favourite workout. I get to zone out and just focus on me and the weights 😀

      Oh, and do squats. And walking lunges. Tricep dips are killer, too.

  • Kelly July 27, 2012, 8:29 am

    What about a workout DVD. Jillian Michaels makes the 30 Day Shred workout and each workout is only 20 minutes and it uses light dumbbell weights.

  • Jen July 27, 2012, 9:40 am

    The best would be incorporating the baby…maybe some squats with a baby press. As the baby gains weight you’ll be slowly adding weight and strength in each workout.

  • Kate @ life's precious moments July 27, 2012, 10:03 am

    I agree with you~ I always have to really convince myself that it is a good idea to do strength training. But if you can do it at home it is a little more manageable. I think my go to move is crunches and sit ups.

  • Julia H. @ Going Gulia July 27, 2012, 12:17 pm

    I actually like strength training…except for my abs! It’s probably a double-edged sword, though, because I give up easier when doing ab work & therefore am not getting stronger there…and getting stronger there would probably make me like doing the ab work more in the first place! Woopsie 😛

  • Allison July 30, 2012, 8:11 pm

    Hi! I am a super fan of doing at-home workouts for my strength training and I’ve recently discovered blogilates! She’s a pilates instructor who makes Youtube videos each week. She has videos targeting specific body parts and whole body workouts. I would definitely recommend checking out a few to see the kinds of moves she has because she kicks my butt every Tuesday/Thursday morning 🙂

    • Sonja August 3, 2012, 12:50 pm

      I actually clicked on this link to check it out and this girl’s great! I did some challenge-videos (where you do one move for an entire song) and she really motivates you to keep going! I’m always very impressed when people can do that in an empty room with just a video camera. + she does the entire challenge herself as well which I always think is important.

      Definitely agree with Allison about the awesomeness of these videos

Healthy Tipping Point