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Is your home workout effective?

With gyms and our favorite fitness establishments closed, millions of fitness fanatics have have turned to creative home exercises to get their workouts in. Any physical activity is always a good thing, but there are definitely some challenges when it comes to working out in the confines of your own home. The biggest and most obvious problem is lack of equipment. Recreating exercises that are easily done with gym equipment is a huge challenge and requires some creativity and ingenuity. Some popular strategies include trading in the barbell for heavy backpacks, and the leg press for your couch.

Both of those examples lead us to the second biggest issue with home workouts - the absence of weights. Even if do trade your machine-based exercises for body-weight or household items as alternatives, the inability to load sufficient weight on your muscles if going to significantly decrease the effectiveness of your workouts.

So what the heck do you do?

Here are some strategies to increase the effectiveness of your workouts to help you reach your fitness goals.

  1. Increase the number of reps and go until near failure. For example, grab that bag of groceries and start your bicep curls. Instead of going into the workout with the number of reps already determined - keep curling until you feel like you could only squeeze out 2 or 3 more. That’s the rep count you’ll want to work with for all of your sets.

  2. Increase the amount of sets. Remember, it’s about challenging yourself. If you usually do 3 sets of squats at moderate weight, try not only increasing your rep count per set, but also the total amount of sets you do. Decreasing the rest time between sets can also help make your workout more difficult.

  3. Find alternative ways to make an exercise more challenging. You don’t always have to add more weight to build muscle and strength. Try increasing the range of motion of your exercise, adding a pause or pulses, or using a combination of weights and resistance bands. For example, take your home front-squats to the next level by loading a backpack full of books for the weight, adding a resistance band around your knees, getting your butt down to slightly lower than 90 degrees at the bottom of your squat, and adding a 2-second pause before coming back up.

  4. Be cognizant of the activity you’re doing outside of your workouts. Staying active under quarantine can be hard. When you’re confined to your home it’s easy to veg out and spend hours sedentary. Try to create new habits during these times to keep your overall activity level up, even when you’re not exercising. Try taking walks in the mornings, make it a point to take the stairs instead of the elevators or escalators, learn a new TikTok dance, or incorporate stretching or yoga into your daily routine.

  5. Don’t disregard your mental health. Stress can have a massive impact on your health goals. When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are increased and your metabolism decreases. Not only can stress promote weight gain, it can also affect where you put on weight. The current situation is stressful for everyone - it has significantly impacted all aspects of life. Make sure you’re addressing your anxieties and stress head on and keeping your mental and emotional health as a main priority.

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