Gyms these days are completely stacked with gear. Every muscle you want to pound has its own machine, and most weights rooms are brimming with barbells, benches, and a full set of fixed-weight dumbbells. The quality of gear that we were exposed to on a daily basis (prior to the Covid pandemic) meant that every exercise on every training programme was pretty much handed to you on a plate.
Then, there was Coronavirus…
Now, we find ourselves stripped of the privelage that is the gym, and are consequently stuck at home for the forseeable future to help stop the spread of the virus. Now, it could be very easy to steadily slip off the Fitness Wagon and reverse all of your hard earned Gainz.
Home workouts have the potential to give you as much health-bang for your buck as your normal routine. It’s just a question of being clever, sticking the dusty hat of creativity on the noggin, and developing a training programme that is as effective as it is inventive.
Here are my top 4 tips for making the most out of your home workouts to help you get over the Lockdown Hump and march on towards your health and fitness dreams….
#1 – See It. Save It. Do It.
As a result of gyms closing, social media has become saturated with fitness professionals and PT’s (including my good self) producing tonnes of content providing everything from home HIIT sessions to live yoga classes.
The problem with all the noise? You’ll never see the results that the instructor/influencer promises, because by the time you have begun to master the exercises in that first tutorial, you will have found another workout that tickles your fancy from a shredded dude wearing a cool hat. No repetition; no progress!
It has long since been accepted in the world of fitness that any sort of progress requires one to stick to the same routine for ’round-about 2-3 weeks at the least. This is so that you can master the technique of a given set of exercises, and thus perform said workouts with enough accuracy to stimulate muscle growth and development or, as Lee Boyce puts it:
If you’re new to exercise… the body undergoes an anatomical adaptation phase where the muscles, nerves, and hormones have to get accustomed to the learning of movement patterns, getting the brain to recruit the right muscle fibers, and neuromuscular coordination…Lee Boyce, CPT – Men’s Journal
Furthermore, if you see a workout on Instagram, you can make a note of how well you perform and then log your progress every time you repeat that workout. This works best with things such as AMRAP circuits, where you are given a set time period to complete as many reps of a circuit as possible. Smash it in the diary, and watch the numbers improve over time!
If you see a decent workout, SAVE IT, and actually do it! If you felt it was an effective workout, do it again! Don’t just mindlessly scroll and crack the first workout from a topless shredded dude you see adorning your feed…
#2 – No Dumbbells? No Problem!
‘Lifting Weights’ doesn’t necessarily mean pumping a pair of pristinely polished chrome dumbbells. Any household object can be classed as ‘a weight’; although it may not come with a neat little label telling you exactly how much you are lifting, you are still giving your muscles an external force to contend with. Here are two ideas you could try out in order to up the ante of your home workouts:
Milk / Detergent Rows – use a 6-pint bottle of milk, or a larger bottle of laundry detergent for some single-arm rows.
Simply grab two equally weighted cartons and hinge at the hips so your body is nearly parallel with the floor. ‘
With your core braced and engaged for action, squeeze your back muscles to row the bottles up, being sure to keep your elbows as close to the body as possible. Do so as if in slow motion, focusing on feeling the muscles in your back work to lift the weight up, and pause at the top for a count of 2. Repeat 12-15 times.
Tin Can Raises – beans, tuna, soup; whatever you have to hand in the cupboards, grab equally-sized cans with each hand and stand nice and upright, shoulders pulled back and chest up & proud.
With straight arms, raise the cans slowly to the side of your body, making a T-shape. Hold for a count of 2, and slowly lower back to the starting position under control.
Be sure not to shrug your shoulders as you raise the cans up; here, we want to isolate the deltoids as much as possible. Shrugging will get the traps involved in the mix, which kind of defeats the aim of the exercise!
#3 – Slow It Down, Tiger!
Thanks to the popularity of 15-minute HIIT workouts doing the rounds on Youtube, Instagram, and other platforms, people are under the illusion that the only way to make fitness gains at home is to move as quickly as possible in a short space of time in order to get the heart racing and supposedly ‘get the most’ out of your workout.
Although there is some place for HIIT Training in a home workout routine, sometimes it is best to slow each individual exercise down to a point at which you look like you are doing it in slow-motion. This form of tempo training will be particularly important to include in your routine if you are used to a standard strength training programme in the gym.
By slowing, say, a bodyweight squat down to a 4/3/1 tempo (4 secs on the way down; 3 sec hold at the bottom; 1 sec on the way up), you are maximising time under tension (TUT). This means that your quads and hamstrings have to work extremely hard to control the movement, taking any sort of momentum out of the equation and thus making your muscles do 100% of the work. If you are used to squatting like a teenager dropping it like it’s hot on the dancefloor, then this might prove a wee bit tricky…
Don’t just squat slow, either; any bodyweight move that you find too easy for your liking can be slowed to a crawl and hence made 10 times harder. Plus, maximisng the TUT can help you get the most out of the comparatively small weights of milk cartons and cans.
When it comes to home-workout Gainz, slow and steady does win the race!
#4 – Break the Monotony with “Snaxercise”
I know what you’re thinking: what a genius mash-up of the words “snacks” and “exercise“…
Home workouts, particularly those which use some form of video follow-along guide, tend to be on the shorter side of things (typically 15-30mins). This is, however, with reason: bodyweight workouts are widely associated with HIIT Training, whereby short intervals of maximal work are done followed by little snippets of rest in-between. The idea behind this type of training is to maximise intensity of a workout over a short period of time, thus theoretically creating a similar training effect to that of an extended session where rest periods are longer.
If you find yourself digging these short, sharp workouts (particularly if you have multiple responsibilities at the mo’ what with WRF and schooling the kids), try spacing out a couple over the course of the day. This helps you (hopefully) keep mentally atuned your daily To-Do List by giving you more than one thing to look forward to over the course of the day!
With loads of people suffering from extreme boredom in Lockdown, it might be helpful to spread your workouts over the course of the day!
The Final Word
Home workouts are all the rage now. Including myself, many personal trainers and fitness pros have taken to facebook and instagram in order to share their own thoughts and routines that help keep people active during this crazy-ass period of our lives.
Therefore, it is very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the content out their; I for one am constantly inundated with my friends and others whom I follow on social media releasing videos of cool home workouts!
The best way to get around this is to be methodical: identify a routine/number of routines that most suit your individual goals, set aside times during the week to do your workouts, and crack on towards the Promised Land of wherever your health and fitness goals lie…
Use this time to experiment with different types of training; for example, having gotten very used to barbells and dumbbells, I have taken to mastering the art of calisthenics in lockdown. I have no doubt that, once we do get back into the gym, skills like nailing the perfect push up will prove beneficial to my training on the whole.
Home workouts aren’t something to be loathed, feared, or underestimated; with the right technique, the right programming, and the right attitude, the situation at preset ‘sans le gym’ has the potential to edge you every closer towards your goals.
HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? NEED HELP PERFECTING YOUR HOME WORKOUT ROUTINE?
I’ve got you covered!! Get in touch with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to organise a **FREE ONLINE TASTER SESSION**