My top tips for home workouts
Transferring your gym routine into your home is difficult. If you are fortunate enough to have a garage or a spare room equipped for weight training then that is fantastic. But for many of us, we have to make do with much smaller spaces and limited equipment. I have been sticking closely to my regular workout split at home and throughout all this time I have learned a lot about what to do and what to avoid for a smooth-running and safe workout. One of the biggest barriers in achieving a satisfactory workout is not having the mental committment; your heart isn't in it and you're losing motivation by the minute. This occurs when their are too may obstacles in training, like having little space, not being able to access the standard gym equipment, or having to learn a bunch of new exercises. While these emotions are perfectly valid and acceptable, they can be mitigated by making some adjustments that ease the mental strain of structuring a workout. Following these tips should help you achieve your full potential at home.
Find the largest space at home where you can be left alone
If it takes rearranging your furniture, or having a clearout of old useless stuff laying around the bedroom, I would highly advise clearing the largest space you can. For me, I have this little 5ft x 3 ft rectangle to work with in my bedroom, but I also do some seated exercises on my bed, and I work around furniture to the best of my ability. Depending on what exercises you like to do, I would test out the area with some basic movements. See if there's enough space for a full squat or lunge- can you lie down and do ab routines? Can you hold your arms out at full length on either side? Even if you are still limited after moving some stuff around, that's perfectly fine. There are hundreds of exercises to pick and choose from which take up varying volumes of space, simply choose the exercises that work best with your environment. It would be best if this space is free from any interruptions; flatmates, family, and pets can disrupt the flow of your exercises and slow down the workout altogether. Having a clear, empty space will leave your mind free to focus on mind-muscle connection and keeping good form.
Invest in some reliable equipment
I've reiterated this in quite a few posts now, but that's because they have so many uses and can enhance any exercise- get yourself some resistance bands. Bands are inexpensive, often good quality, and highly versatile. With a bit of research, you can find ways to target every muscle group with bands. They make a fantastic alternative to using weights, which can be very helpful if you don't have a good set of weights at home. One way I like to use bands is to put a couple of the strongest resistance levels around my knees before executing goblet squats; this helps me to keep my knees from caving in, engaging my glutes, and challenging my body more. I also like to keep longer resitace bands around. These are a little more expensive as they are much larger, but they have just as many uses as the smaller ones.
I was very lucky to receive some old (but reliable!) adjustable dumbbells that had been laying around in my dad's garage. These are very suitable for home workouts as their weight can be adjusted via the screw mechanism on either side, saving space. Like the bands, dumbbells can be used for any muscle group and are very safe to use as long as you keep good form and handle the heavier weights with care. My only misgivings are how I can only go as heavy as 20kg per dumbbell before I run out of space on the screw mechanism, but perhaps I just need to find some heavier plates. There are a variety of weight increments that you can buy, so you load either 2.5kg or up to 20kg on the same handle- perfect for different strength levels. However, if you like supersets with different levels of load, you may need to invest in a couple ore handles.
Yoga mats are great for mainly abdominal/core workouts, stretching, and recovery exercises. The mats at your gym are likely to have thicker padding, but over time you should get used to the yoga mat. Having a comfortable setup is likely to encourage you to persist with the exercises, while working on a hard floor makes giving up more tempting. These should be fairly cheap and all share similar properties.
There is also some equipment that is effective with more specific exercises like an ankle cuff for lower body exercises, or a device that lets you attach a long resitance band to the top of a door for pulldowns and pec flies and more. I would suggest having a browse on some sports sites or Amazon.com if you're interested in building your own mini-gym at home.
Keep good habits
Just because you're in lockdown does not mean you should stop practicing basic selfcare. Maintaining your usual habits, and perhaps trying some new ones, can be extremly effective for your physical and emotional health. These are the habits that I would advise:
- Stay hydrated
This is extremly easy and you can do it whatever way you wish; flavour your water or try juices, smoothies, fruit, and vegetables to keep your water intake high
- Create a workout plan that is realistic for you
Whether you like to train once per week or six times per week, the best results will follow a consistent and anjoyable routine.
- Prioritise recovery
I like to stretch with yoga routines most evenings. This aids recovery, helps circulation, and increases my flexibility, allowing myself to move better in general. There are also mobility drills that prepare my body for heavy lifting, as well as warmup routines to prevent injury.
- Eat for the present and the future
If you're craving something a higher in calories, eat it. If you want a food that doesn't fit your macro goals- eat it. If you have something to celebrate and have the chance to indulge- eat it! We are all a little too hard on ourseleves at times, especially in the fitness indusrty, so relax a little and enjoy the amazing food that the world has to offer. At the same time, be mindful of your nutrition in the bigger picture. Stick to your nutrition goals for the majority of the time and do what would make your future self happy.
- Keep up with your religious practices if you have a faith
Personally, I am agnostic, so I don't prescribe to any religion. But if you do, staying close to your faith can inspire guidance and clarity. In difficult times like this, staying faithful can make a huge difference.
- Maintain your sleep schedule
Your brain and body work optimally when you have consistent sleeping and waking times. This is all to do with your body's internal clock that is regulated by light; establish sleeping and waking times that remain constant for each day of the week, minimalise light sources prior to sleep, and open your curtains when you wake up each day. This will improve your cognitive functioning and physically performance both immediately and in the long run.