There are 3 main challenges to overcome in order to workout out successfully at home.
- Environment – there can be many distractions within a non-fitness environment such as that of your family home. The risk is that your headspace is one of sidetracking ‘chore hunting’ instead of setting down to business and getting some serious training done. The key to overcoming this, much like most fitness ambitions, is developing the right mindset for action once intent has already been confirmed. The fact of the matter is that you can have an extremely accomplished workout at home…your mind will get you there if you channel your focus at the one goal of training effectively for just 30-60 minutes. The hoovering, cooking, admin, Netflix can all wait until a little longer…!
- Lack of training equipment – is this the weak link of training at home? No I don’t think so, it could potentially be used as an excuse not to train but that would be unfounded. In fact I would argue that lack of equipment can be perceived as a strength of training at home. All too often gym workouts focus on counting numbers – how many reps per set, etc, etc and miss out on the detail of quality of movement. Workouts at home with little equipment force you to concentrate on the quality of movement you are producing and in doing so can lead to an enhancement of your own biomechanics and physiology. You only need look as far as some of the calisthenics experts out there to see the truth in this.
- Space – the cramped space of your living room or hall way can be a far cry from the open spaces of the gym floor. While that is a fact I will always remember a lecture I sat in on 10 years ago when my lecturer claimed he could train someone for a marathon in a store cupboard. I have always felt inclined to agree – there have even been books since written on ‘prison fitness’ and a subculture of training in small spaces with minimal props has emerged. Ok so lets not think of your home as a prison or store cupboard…but you get the picture?
So lets discuss the solutions:
Environment – yes so your home, I’m assuming, lacks the buzz and vibe of the commercial gym floor, but you’re a mean machine with dreams and goals to chase so you wont let a tiny aesthetic detail like that get in your way! At least thats the kind of mindset you have to adopt if you want to make the kind of progress you’re dreaming of. Mindfulness practice comes in many shapes and forms – shutting off the outside world and focussing on ‘you’ for your workout, regardless of environment, is another worthy form of practice. If you can crack this nut then you are one rather large step closer to being invincible and totally awesome. Fact.
Lack of training equipment – this really is a blessing in disguise. When is the last time you stepped into a gym and focussed on the quality of movement you are producing above and beyond the size of the load you are lifting? Sadly most people get summit fever and just count the numbers each and every time…how many reps, how many kilograms, how many…how man.., sadly much gets lost with this whole approach. Slowing things down and focussing on simple mobility and stability drills is a great start to any home workout – if you have any imbalances whilst just working your bodyweight then these will be amplified when you apply load or intensity so make sure you take care of the fundamentals first. I’m a big fan of single leg balance drills to kick things off – if people cannot produce symmetry in this area then I wont progress them to the full squat (let alone a barbell loaded back squat) as their body has not ‘earned the right to progress’ that far yet. If you are massively right side dominant at your hips, for example, and you are going for heavy back squats then things aren’t going to end well. Instead try mastering your single balance drills (single leg standing, 360 degree hand taps to the floor, stand fully upright between each rep), then look at your single leg squat progressions/regressions (eccentric single leg squat to a chair taking the knee inside 90 degrees). Soon you will be pistol squatting like a pro and the envy of everyone in the gym anyway (then see your back squat PB fly through the roof!).
Space – how much space do you actually need? If you think about it, the HIIT workout you attend down your local club is designed to slot you into a small 2 by 2 metre space that can be easily replicated across the studio floor to facilitate all the other class attendees. I have hosted crowded fitness events for leading brands in which the mats on the floor were so tightly packed that the workout was more akin to a large tin of wriggling sardines (great source of Omega 3 BTW…wink wink) but everyone still had a top workout and loved every second. Again much of this comes down to atmosphere and environment which you have already overcome due to point 1 of this article. Therefore training in small spaces becomes a non-issue rather quickly. If you focus on mastering your bodyweight exercises, or even as a more advanced enthusiast go down the path of practicing calisthenics, then small spaces are your friend.
Other tips for the successful home workout…
Considering all the aforementioned here are some nuggets of advice to set you on your way:
- Start each session small and focus on stability and mobility before you progress to your working sets. I always look to get my posterior chain working with some single leg deadlifts and combine with some glute isolation exercises such as bridges or clams. Slowly build the intensity until you are ready to take on the more intense working sets.
- As you don’t have heavy weights to lift, obtain intensity through other means such as combining isometric holds with drop sets and contrast sets in that order. A good example may be this routine: Pistol squats to chair/step x 5 each side – Air squats with 10 second hold at bottom x 10 – Semi squat jumps x 10. Rest 1 minute, 3 sets. Feel the burn….
- Get some inspiration and guidance – there is some great (and some not so great) fitness advice online nowadays, but like most things you have to be careful and sift through the garbage to find the good stuff out there. Shameless plug alert (but you know it makes sense)…alongside my Online Personal Training www.LP-PT.com I’m now also starting to post workout videos on www.joinflex.tv so you can see whats happening over there. Free options – Youtube has been great up until now but just be careful and select from true coaches rather than just other fitness enthusiasts without the qualifications or coaching experience.
Now go and boss it team!