Over 40? What’s Best. Gym Workouts Or Exercising From Home?

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Written by Penny Cooper

When you are in the over 40’s bracket you are faced with a number of choices when it comes to working out. You can hit the gym or you can devise your own workout regime from the comfort of your own home.

Exercising At Home Or Training Down The Gym?

One will no doubt suit you a little more than the other. Let’s get a few things straight before we continue. Just because you are over 40 doesn’t mean you have to give up. These can be the best years of your life to really focus on self-improvement.

Over 50? It’s never to late to get fit.

If you are undecided and you don’t know what’s best for you then hopefully reading the below tips will help. Let’s see whether working out from home or working out at the gym or even a mixture of both is the way forward for your path to self-improvement and a healthier you.

Exercising at home

Luxury home gym

If you choose to exercise from home there are a plethora of different routines you can try out. Exercising from home can be super convenient and pretty fulfilling. You don’t even need equipment and still enjoy a range of different activities.

What can you do without equipment?

Firstly, it’s important to uncover what you can do at home without any equipment, space and ultimately a budget. Fitness doesn’t have to be expensive and working out from home can be effective and beneficial. Here are just some of the things you can do from home…

Press ups at home
Bodyweight exercises

To complete bodyweight exercises you only need a small space and a decent routine. An example of a full-body, bodyweight circuit looks like this:

  • 10 squats
  • 10 sit-ups
  • 10 press-ups
  • 30-second plank

Rest for 1 minute then complete the circuit again until you have completed it 5 times.

YouTube videos

There is simply nothing you cannot access via YouTube. A quick search of ‘home workouts’ will be all you need. You can find any routine you want from abs to legs to complete within any time frame you desire. Try searching for things like 15-minute abs from home or bodyweight leg exercises. One of our favorites is Fitness Blender.


 Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise, which engages your muscles and your mind. Yoga is a wonderful way to help reduce cortisol levels, which in turn strengthens your immune system and helps reduce stress and anxiety.

The great outdoors

It costs nothing to get out and enjoy some stunning nature. Get yourself outside and get some fresh air into your lungs. You can go walking, running or take the old bicycle out for a spin. As long as you are moving, you are exercising and burning calories.

In fact there are a lot of benefits to simply walking regularly.

What can you do with fitness equipment?

If you want to invest in some equipment the best things you can spend your money on are some pieces that will add resistance to your workouts.


A pair of dumbbells or a range of them, if you can afford it to vary and progress the weights, will make a fantastic investment. (See dumbbells review and buyer’s guide)

For a full-body workout with a pair of dumbbells you can perform this circuit:

  • Dumbbell static lunge x 12
  • Dumbbell shoulder press x 12
  • Dumbbell rows x 12 (each arm)
  • Dumbbell curls
  • Dumbbell triceps extension

Exercise bands

These are nice and cheap and depending on the thickness of the bands you purchase they can be pretty tough, meaning your muscles will get a seriously good workout.

Fitness or Exercise Balls (swiss)Although it would be highly recommended to get hold of an Exercise Ball otherwise known as Fitness or Swiss Ball.

These large air-filled sturdy balls have huge benefits, especially for midlife exercisers. Working out on the ball as opposed to the hard flat floor surface means the body core responds to the ball’s innate instability and so makes continuous adjustments to remain balanced.

This, in turn, engages more muscles, in particular, the back muscles and so they become stronger over time. The abdominal muscles and back muscles are the focus of exercise ball fitness programs.

Benefits of exercising at home

In your own sweet time

A big plus of working out from home is that time is no issue. You haven’t got the worry of the gym closing or meeting a friend on time etc. As soon as it’s convenient and when time permits, you can enjoy a good workout with no strings attached. You might want to go for a run or do some yoga in your living room. Whatever takes your fancy, you can simply get stuck in.


You can probably enjoy a lot more diversity than you realized with your home workouts. In fact, the possibilities are endless! You can enjoy workout DVDs and live stream classes which means you can take part in exercise classes from the comfort of your own home!

You can take advantage of your games console such as a Wii Fit and enjoy dancing or a range of other sports. If you don’t want to stay indoors you can venture outside for a bike or a run.

All you need is a pair of dumbbells – This is true. For any resistance session, all you really need is a pair of dumbbells.

With a pair of dumbbells, you can work out any body part from back to legs. A resistance session will tone your muscles and help you to lose fat.


Potential drawbacks of exercising from home


The home atmosphere is full of distractions ready to tear you away from your exercise regime in an instant. Also, if you are at home it’s simply too easy to tell yourself ‘oh that will do’ and giving up.

Lack of motivation

Remaining in the same environment can seriously inhibit your motivation. Seeing the same things and the same scenery won’t do a great deal for your get up and go. A change of setting can work wonders for your brain.


Often, exercising can be excellent for your social life. Going to classes and the gym can allow you to meet up with friends and meet new people. If you are stuck at home all the time it can be a little bit boring.

Lack of equipment & space

If you want to focus on strength and resistance training you will have to purchase your own equipment of the highest standard you can afford. A pair of dumbbells is a must.

If you haven’t got the space such as a garage or outer house it can prove to be inconvenient at the least. You sure don’t want to upset the neighbors now do you by crashing weights down after watching your daily soaps?

Ultimately, both choices actually provide you with far more options than you may have realized and neither one could ever be deemed as being “incorrect.”

In order to gauge which method is ultimately going to work better for you, you’ve got to be entirely honest with yourself in regard to your current situation.

If you know you need constant variety, fresh, exciting new faces and an incredibly dynamic setting then the chances are high that the gym is undoubtedly going to be the right place for you.

Exercising at the gym

Resistance training

If you choose to exercise at the gym then you have the world at your feet. A gym can offer you everything from free weights and resistance machines to exercise classes and guidance from professionals.

If you enjoy resistance exercise, you can enjoy training splits so you can train a different body part each time you go.

For more on strength training.

Gym equipment

Because gym equipment is constantly evolving and every gym has a different array of equipment below is a list containing the most common machines you can use for different body parts.


  • Leg press
  • Squat wrack
  • Loaded barbells for lunges
  • Sissy squat
  • Leg extension
  • Hamstring curl


  • Chest press
  • Pec dec (chest fly)
  • Decline chest press


  • Bicep curl machine
  • Triceps dip machine
  • Triceps extension
  • Overhead extension machine


  • Shoulder press
  • Military press (squat wrack)
  • Delt raise
  • Cable lat raise


  • Low row
  • Assisted pull up machine
  • Lat pulldown
  • Straight-arm pushdown

Of course, this list isn’t representative of the only resistance machines available to you in the gym, but it represents what is usually found in any good gym. If you want to train a specific body part, choose between 4-6 different exercises if you can.

3 sets of 10 reps is a good starting point. From this range, you can build it up over time to higher reps, more sets and heavier weights.

Free weights

You can also enjoy a wide range of free weights in the gym to help you sculpt your body and shed some fat.

LAdy with dumbbells

There are a number of advantages to incorporating dumbbell exercises into your resistance routine. Firstly, on top of exercising your main muscles, dumbbell exercises will also require the input from various stabilizing muscles as well giving you better coverage and a better all-round workout.

With dumbbells and free weights, you can focus on isolating the muscles completely making them an excellent choice for rehabilitation and injury recovery.

Dumbbell exercises are also great for working each limb independently, thus ironing out any muscular imbalances and ensuring that your skeletal structure is sound.

Benefits of Exercising at the Gym

A chance to meet new people

The gym environment is a buzzing hub of social activity. It’s the perfect place to venture with a friend. If you don’t know anyone at the gym or you have no one to go with, don’t worry. You will be able to meet like-minded people once you are there.

Gym class

Classes are also a super way to mix with new people and have some fun with your exercise.

A wide array of equipment

Getting down the gym will allow you to use the plentiful different machines they have available. With so many machines at your disposal, you can train all of your different body parts, some of which you may neglect a little if you exercise from home.

With so many different pieces of equipment including cardio and resistance machines, you can enjoy varied workouts and you can mix up your cardio sessions instead of using the same old treadmill you have at home.

Excellent for motivation

One of the wonderful things about going to train in a gym or fitness center is that it gives you an often much-needed change of scenery which will do wonders for your motivation and your mind.

The problem many people encounter when trying to exercise at home is just the fact that they are at home and it’s far too easy to get distracted.

You have to travel to the gym especially, meaning you have to set yourself a dedicated time to workout. You’ve committed already just by turning up. The atmosphere will keep you pushing through and the change of environment and faces will do you the world of good.

Potential drawbacks of exercising at the gym

Can be costly

Sometimes if you want to train at a gym you can end up being tied into a contract. Contracts can be costly and circumstances mean this isn’t always the most suitable thing for you and therefore not something you want to commit to.


If you have a busy life or a house full then getting away and having to travel to the gym can be extremely inconvenient. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day for it.

Can be intimidating

Entering a gym can be a little daunting, especially when most gyms have a majority of their audience between the ages of 25-35. If you have rarely been to the gym before or you lack the confidence the gym can feel a bit overwhelming, which makes it easy to stay at home, in your comfort zone – but it’s worth giving it a go as everyone is new to the environment sometimes.

On balance, if your schedule is absolutely insane and you know that managing to get out and go somewhere is going to be almost impossible, then working out at home will likely suit your schedule more.

Equally, you might simply feel a little underconfident, in which case a private setting is definitely going to make you feel far more at ease and keep you cemented in place on the winning path.

So Home or Gym?

In truth, either choice can be entirely tailored to your needs too – it’s totally up to you how you choose to perform home or even gym-based exercise. There’s no set of defined rules for taking part in physical activity within either scenario, and you can ultimately decide where and how you exercise, what you work on, what you use and whom you do it with.

These elements can easily be applied to either a home or gym-based environment. The exercise world is truly your oyster! You could even try a combination of the pair to maximize your results.

Over 40 doesn’t mean that there are fewer choices and fewer options. When it comes to exercise and fitness and there are plentiful benefits to working out from home or from the gym.

The most important thing is that you do what you can. Get moving and as long as you are moving, you’re burning calories. As long as you’re burning calories and strengthening those muscles you’re winning!

What’s your winning exercise regime?

Photo of author
Penny is a Personal Trainer currently training as a wellness coach. She gained a BA in English at Edinburgh University. Redundancy from retail management hastened a move to helping people get fit and writing about all things fitness in middle age.

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