A Guide to Working Out at Home

A Guide to Working Out at Home

03/23/2020
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Whether you can't find time to get to the gym everyday, or your gym is currently closed, you can still work out at home. It may not be the same, but can still be equally effective.

Whether you can't find time to get to the gym everyday, or your gym is currently closed, you can still work out at home. It may not be the same, but can still be equally effective.

I’ve been working out at home for years. I have had stints on and off where I would go to a local fitness center, but I’ve found that time is such a luxury as I now have kids and a family to take care of. Every extra minute I spend driving to and from the gym is such a loss, not to mention time I’d have to wait for equipment that I wanted to use. It just wasn’t worth it to me.

Even if you feel like you have to go to the gym to get your workout, there are times where you may have to work out at home (or else skip your workout entirely). The Coronavirus pandemic is the most obvious example of this as all gyms were shut down and there was no way to get to them. This is an extreme of course, but it highlights the need to be able to work out at home when circumstances require it. It could be that you’ve got a sick child or spouse, and thus leaving the house won’t work. It could be that you’ve got extra work that needs to be done and you need all of the time you can get. Whatever the reason, having several workout routines you can do at home are critical to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Get in the right mindset

First off, there are a handful basic fitness tools that we’d highly recommend that you have in your home. These items don’t take up a lot of space, but can really help to improve your movements and workout. These items should be able to be stored in a closet or other small area out of the way.

By having some fitness equipment at home that you can use, you can get your mind thinking that it’s time for a workout. This is especially helpful if you’re used to going to a gym - having an area with a few pieces of equipment laid out will help your brain realize it’s time to workout and focus on the task at hand. Once you’re used to your routine and know what you’re doing, the equipment may be less critical, but for starters, it’s a key piece.

Additionally, you should continue to workout at the same time, if possible, as you would if not working out at home. Once again, this will help your mind realize it’s time to actually work out. I personally find that the morning is the best time in our home to workout, but my wife prefers working out at night. In both cases, kids are sleeping. If you’ve got your kids at home, it’s probably going to be easiest to workout while they’re not getting in the way - morning, night, or nap time.

Determine a workout routine

This may be the hardest part of working out at home, but it’s also one of the more interesting parts as well. I can go to the gym and get on a treadmill, or use the dumbbells mindlessly all day long (don’t get me wrong, I use both of these items at home), but coming up with a more varied routine can be fun as well.

Body weight exercises

I love doing squats with a barbell on my back. However, it’s likely you do not have that type of equipment at home. As such, you will need to find some bodyweight exercises to get a good workout for your legs. Below is just a small list of some of my favorite bodyweight exercises:

  • Wall sits: Place your back on the wall, and squat down like your sitting on a chair. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle. Hold that for as long as you can. To increase the resistance, add some hand weights/dumbbells that you hold to your sides. This will destroy your legs if you’re not used to statically holding a position.
  • Lunges: Lunge forward, lunge backwards, lunge sideways. There are so many different variations of this you can do. Combine this with some wall sits and your legs will feel very rubbery.
  • Push ups: Wide, regular, and decline push ups. If you have push up bars, be sure to use them. Once you’re able to do 50+ pushups in a row, you can start including push ups to clapping, single hand push ups, and other variations. For many years, I only used push ups for my chest workouts. If you do hundreds of push ups during a workout (in good form), you’ll be as strong as many people in the gym lifting on the bench press.
  • Pull ups: If you don’t have somewhere to do them, then get a pull up bar. If you have a playground for the kids outside, then you could probably use that as well. There are a lot of variations of pull ups, and they will definitely lead to a strong and wide back.

The above are just some of the basic body weight exercises I enjoy. You can find many different variations online that will increase your ability to get stronger at home.

Cardio

Beyond weight training of some method, you should figure out some cardio exercises that you can incorporate into your routine as well. You don’t need to do cardio every day, and on the flip side, I would recommend not doing cardio every day unless you’re doing a shorter period of cardio in your workout routine (20-30 minutes).

My workouts consist of 2 days of cardio a week (out of 6 days of workout routines), but I’m also not a huge fan of cardio related workouts, and do them because I know they’re good for me. If you really enjoy cardio, you may choose to do a lot more.

The great thing about cardio workouts is that without a gym, there are a few really easy workouts that can be done. Both walking and running outside are great ways to get your heart pumping quickly and don’t require any actual equipment, just some shoes and clothes to run in. If you’ve never done running before, take it slow to start - if you try to do too much too fast, you are at a much higher risk of injury. Look at programs for “Couch to 5K” or for beginning running. Walking at a fast pace, especially on a hill is a great way to get your heart pumping without having to run as well. Beyond running, you can also do a biking routine if you have a bike to ride - if you don’t, then this probably isn’t viable as an option for you as bikes can be pretty expensive.

If outside activities aren’t an option (due to weather or needing to stay close to home), then there are a couple of other options. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is likely going to be your best option in this scenario. If you can still get outside and are able to run, sprinting is a killer workout. Sprint for 10-20 seconds as fast as you can, and then walk for 20-30 seconds. 20 minutes of this and you’ll be dead.

If getting outside isn’t an option, then jumping rope (assuming you have a room you can do it in) is a great workout as well. If you’ve never jumped rope (or haven’t for many years), then be prepared to be absolutely beat after doing so. It’s a lot of work. Most any plyometric (jumping) workouts are great options for indoor cardio.

Yoga

Yoga push up pose

If you love to do yoga, or want to become more flexible, then you’re in luck - yoga is very easy to incorporate in a home workout routine - you don’t need any equipment to do so (although we’d recommend at least a yoga mat). 

Yoga is a great way to become both more flexible and stronger. Yoga is a body weight type of exercise in that you do a lot of static holds in certain positions, but it also forces you to get in positions that likely will not be comfortable when you start (and even after you’ve been doing it awhile).

Yoga is one of the  toughest exercises for me - I sweat more doing an intense yoga workout than any other workouts that I do. My body, and especially my legs, feel like rubber upon completion. 

Yoga can also be a great way to put your mind at ease and remove a lot of stress. Make sure to include the breathing and meditative exercises in your yoga routine, especially at the end, to bring a nice inner peace along with your burning legs.

Classes or Programs

For a lot of people, especially if you’re just starting your fitness journey, this may be easiest. There are a lot of great routines out there that lay out exactly what exercises you need to do, and in what order. If you’re completely overwhelmed or just don’t know where to start, then finding a well laid out program is a great way to get started.

Many years ago, I started my fitness journey by doing P90X. While that program is best done with some additional equipment, it can be done with less, and there are many other great programs that don’t require any equipment at all. It made it really easy to know what to do one which days and I just turned the TV on to go. I even had a little gym across the street from me at the time, but needed to be at home due to a new child in the home, so having the ability to do it from home was easier.

If you’re just looking for some inspiration on workout ideas or need tips on how to do certain exercises, YouTube is a great resource for looking those up. These days, there are millions of videos on different exercises and full routines that you can do at home. For example, a quick search for “yoga” brought back videos from beginning to more advanced routines that you can follow.

Conclusion

There are so many different ways to get a great workout at home, even with kids. Get your mind in the right place by having a place and time where you will work out, and then plan your routine, and you can get an equally good workout at home.
 

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