In the era of social distancing, gyms have become—for all practical purposes—out of the question.
As of this writing most gyms are closed, but even once they’ve opened, many will have quotas that will limit the number of customers allowed in at a time, and even if you can get into your gym, you might choose not to due to safety considerations. So home workouts it is—at least for the time being. And maybe you’ve been performing your exercise routine at home all along, and this isn’t much of a change. In any case, you want to get the most out
Change Your Pace
One of the easiest ways you can make your workout more effective is by either speeding things up or slowing things down.
The benefits of moving faster are pretty obvious—you work your body harder and burn more calories. But slowing down can be helpful too. When you go through a motion, whether it’s a pushup, squat, or anything else, you increase the time your muscles are under tension, thereby forcing them to work harder.
Get Some Gear
The first and perhaps most obvious recommendation involves getting some exercise equipment. But that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank bringing home the whole gym. You really only need a few key pieces of gear. Weights of some sort are essential. A pair of dumbbells will do, but you should probably get two sets—one lighter and one heavier—which will expand your workout options. I’ve found that a great, cost-effective alternative is to simply fill a few different sized water bottles with sand.A few other pieces of equipment that can bolster your routine are resistance bands, a yoga mat, a jump rope, and an adjustable workout bench.
Always Go to Failure
When you’re lifting in the gym, the mere act of increasing the amount of weight will progressively overload your muscles, which is essential to building strength. But when you’re performing bodyweight exercises, this becomes more challenging.
The solution is to always perform every set until failure, which means you go until you literally can’t anymore. Between each set, be sure to give yourself at least 90 seconds of recovery time, then hit it again until failure. While you’ll likely perform less repetitions with each progressive set within a single workout, over time you’ll find that it takes you longer and longer to reach your failure point. That means you’re getting stronger.
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and studies have shown that it can be one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A HIIT cycle works like this: perform a motion as fast as you possibly can for a short burst of 10-30 seconds, rest for a brief amount of time, then give it your all again for 10-30 seconds. Repeat.
This can mean performing a single activity like sprints, burpees, or squats in a series of short, fast sets, or you can go through what’s called a HIIT “circuit” that takes you through several exercises, for example: 20 squats followed by 20 pushups then 20 crunches, rest for 20 seconds, then repeat for 5-10 rounds. If you’re doing it right, HIIT should leave you absolutely exhausted.
Make a Dedicated Time and Space
Perhaps the most challenging part of working out at home involves the fact that it’s so easy to become distracted. At the gym you’re there for one reason, so you get on with it. But at home you have kids, work, phone notifications, and a million other things that zap your focus.
Set a time for your workout every day so that it becomes a routine. Inform your family that you’re not to be bothered during this time, and switch your phone to airplane mode so that you won’t get interrupted.
It also helps to create a space that is specifically for your workout. Whether it’s a corner of your apartment or an entire room in your house, it’s the place where you know that the moment you enter it, you’re in your own little gym.
All of this is to help provide you with a fitness mindset, and there are a number of other tricks and mental cues that can help to this end. I find that by changing into my workout clothes and by having the same water bottle I use at the gym on hand, I’m much more likely to view my at-home workout as an authentic fitness session.
For you that might mean wearing the headphones you usually use at the gym, even though you have a stereo. Or maybe your training shoes, even though you’re indoors. You get the point. It’s all a matter of bringing the same mindset you normally take to the gym into your own home.