At Home Fitness: How To Stay Fit And Active
Today I want to talk about at home fitness…
And at the time of writing this, the world is gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Which means, a lot of people, and probably you, are now being cooped up in their homes while local governments and health care systems try to stem the tide and limit the impact of this unusual crisis.
It also means that many businesses where large numbers of people tend to congregate, socialize and do their daily errands are closed.
Which of course, includes gyms and fitness studios.
Social distancing measures have made it so that places like gyms become near impossible to use due to the type of activity and the density of people.
What that means is you’re now forced to expand your options when it comes to fitness and staying in shape.
But I’m here to guide you through some solutions you can use at home for effective and rewarding workouts.
After all, the gym and all the fancy machines and weights you find in it were designed out of convenience, a convenience born out of the fact that the average person today lives a relatively sedentary lifestyle.
So why not wind things back a little and train in a way that goes in line with how our bodies were originally made to move.
Even with ZERO equipment, you can get a great workout through clever use of body weight.
Here’s 5 at home fitness tips to get you started.
Tip #1 – Bodyweight Training Is The Way
As I’ve already mentioned, bodyweight training will be your new friend when it comes to at-home fitness.
I’m sure you’ve come across the idea that bodyweight training is easy and doesn’t lead to any serious results.
This is a total myth.
Firstly, control and mastery of your own body weight is the pinnacle of strength and fitness.
Being able to lift and move your own body comes before being able to lift and move external objects.
The better you are at handling and mobilizing your own physical mass, the better you will be with heavy external loads.
Bodyweight training also irons out imbalances. That’s because moving your own weight is always going to be a compound workout whereas weighted or machine enabled resistance training often leads to isolation of muscle groups.
From a functional perspective isolation leads to imbalance, the imbalance leads to less function, mobility, balance, and range of motion.
Another bonus when it comes to bodyweight training is that you are learning a skill in most cases.
Whether it’s calisthenics, animal flow, yoga or parkour, training methods that rely on bodyweight usually incorporate an interesting and engaging discipline or skill.
This means you’re not just getting a quality workout, you’re also engaging creatively while also enjoying the progression of a skill which is quite a rewarding feeling.
So what bodyweight workouts are best and how do you do them?
Well, if you have zero prior bodyweight experience, I suggest you start basic.
Simple moments like push-ups, chin-ups, and unweighted squats will be a good place to start.
Sooner or later, you will get used to the basics, now it’s time for progressive overload.
“And what is progressive overload?” you’re probably wondering.
Progressive overload is an application in an exercise where you progressively increase the level of intensity of your exercises and workouts to match your growing level of strength and endurance as you adapt to the stress.
This is easy enough with weighted workouts, you simply just increase the amount of weight you’re lifting or moving.
But when it comes to body weight, you can't just add an extra load of flesh and bone to increase the challenge.
With bodyweight, progressive overload happens by changing the angle and position of a workout.
One example is the push-up. You would naturally start with a basic flat ground push up, then progress it to a deficit push up perhaps.
A deficit pushes up will have you grabbing some elevated platform such as handle grips. This allows you to dip your chest below your hand level with each rep.
The extended stretch and range of motion gives you a deeper chest workout.
Going further, you can add an incline to your push-up plank, raising your legs higher behind you.
This increases the load you have to push until eventually, you’re doing handstand pushups.
You can increase the intensity of most bodyweight exercises in this way, by simply adjusting position, angle, and range of motion.
Ramp up your cardio.
Being stuck at home is also a good time to deload from all the heavy resistance training.
You don’t need to beast it out through a lockdown, you can totally reduce your level of hardcore strength and conditioning training and take it as an opportunity to rest and deal with injuries that you may have racked up.
This, however, doesn’t mean take a chill pill. Rather, now is the time to go all-in with cardio.
Your heart is also a muscle, and how do you train it? With cardio of course.
If you live in a block of apartments, you’re in luck.
Your staircase is your new gym.
Running stairs is one of the best and most effective cardio workouts you could think of.
Not only are you blasting your heart rate, but you are also getting some killer conditioning in your legs and joints.
If this isn’t an option for you, don’t stress, cardio can be done in a very space-efficient, equipment free way.
Burpees, mountain climbers and high knees are all great space-saving cardio options.
A burpee consists of you doing a low hop in the air, landing and going into a sprawl, which is basically a plank where you thrust your hips downwards in one rapid motion before popping back up to begin another hop.
High knees, as the name suggests, is where you run in the same spot, raising your knees to the same height as your waist with each step. It’s essentially jogging on the spot.
Lastly, mountain climbers are basically high knees but while you’re in a plank or track starting position.
Try doing each for a set amount of time, say 2 minutes. You can even create a circuit and use these exercises for a decent HIIT workout.
Just remember, if you’re going to make it a HIIT cardio workout, try not to overdo it. Overtraining is just as bad as not training enough.
If you have the budget and the access, I highly recommend getting yourself a stationary bike.
This is the best home cardio option in my opinion.
You can scale the pace and intensity all while conditioning your legs with minimal impact on the joints.
Tip #3…Get Some Home Friendly Equipment
Just as I mentioned possibly getting a stationary bike as part of your new home workout gear, you can grab other nifty bits of equipment that can serve you well as you train at home.
The key is convenience, portability and space efficiency.
The first on my list is good old resistance bands.
These versatile pieces of equipment allow you to mimic the resistance of a heavy load, all in the compact, featherweight profile of a thick rubber strip.
What also makes resistance bands unique is the way resistance is applied. With a conventional weight, resistance remains constant through each muscular contraction.
With a band, resistance increases as your contract. That means the further you push, pull or flex under banded resistance, the more tension you’re going to experience.
Another great piece of home workout equipment is the swiss ball. A swiss ball is that large inflatable ball you’ll often find in gyms. You can do so many stability drills with theses such as swiss ball pikes to activate your core.
Next up, the swiss ball’s baby cousin, the bosu ball. Imagine a swiss ball cut in half, with the open end, sealed shut with a firm, flat surface. That’s a bosu ball.
These are excellent for balance and uneven surface training which is going to count towards stability and proprioception (balance) activation.
Number four is the ab roller. This handy little contraption is basically a wheel with handle grips sticking out at each end. The goal is to grab on the handles and roll your body out as far as you can into a prone position while supporting yourself on your knees.
The next stop is the door frame pull-up bar. An excellent way to balance your training with some high-intensity pulling exercises, the generic build of the door frame pull up bar allows it to hook into most standard door frames forming a secure exercise platform.
You should also get yourself some push up handle grips. These not only allow you to gain a comfortable, firm hold while doing push up variations, they also allow you to train push-ups in deficit.
That means your chest is dipping below your hand grip level, allowing for a deeper range of motion and more activation in the chest and shoulders.
This is a great home ab workout and also activates shoulders and triceps to an extent.
Last but not least, you want to get a work out mat. You need something that can keep your sweat off the floor, and keep the floor dirt off you.
Try to get something with minimal cushioning since the instability can really mess with your form.
Now for tip #4…
So what happens if you’re stuck at home and don’t have any access to all the equipment I just mentioned?
Well, it’s time to get creative.
If you have any regular furniture in your home, then you potentially have a home workout station.
Using sturdy pieces of furniture such as chairs, sofas, dinner and coffee tables can help add an extra dimension to your home workouts.
For example, the elevated push-ups I mentioned earlier, totally doable with a coffee table as your elevated surface.
Placing two strong chairs next to each other allows you to perform tricep dips and deficit push-ups.
If you do have some home workout equipment, you can still combine it with furniture for added results.
Your resistance bands can be used in many versatile ways simply by hooking or anchoring them to appropriate pieces of furniture.
Your floor rug can be your floor mat and small appliances can take on the role typically reserved for kettlebells and dumbbells.
The possibilities are endless.
But before you get too excited about converting your living space adornments into high-intensity exercise apparatus, make sure you use only the strongest, sturdiest pieces of equipment.
You don’t want to break anything, especially yourself.
Another way you can turn your living space and the things that occupy it into sweat central is simply by cleaning it.
Yes, you heard me, cleaning your home can indeed count as good exercise, especially if you decide to do a deep spring clean.
All the movement and lifting of furniture will allow you to do a reasonable amount of work, even if it’s not the most intense and focused way to train.
And finally tup #5…
Use the Internet!
Working out is one thing, but working out properly is another.
So by now, you might have all the right equipment and a good idea about how you’re going to execute your home gym set up.
But there remains one problem, you don’t know how to exercise properly.
Sure you know how to do a push-up or a squat, but putting a group of exercises together into a functional, practical plan is a whole different skill.
So what do you do? Who do you turn to? It’s certainly not a good time to try to get a personal trainer on a house call.
But actually, it is. Virtually of course. I’m talking about online training.
There are so many ways to use the internet to get a good training program.
The most basic way to do this is to just find and stream a good workout video. There are tons of them on youtube, including some of mine.
Instagram is also a great place to get fitness tips and workout guides which you can save and watch later.
Stepping things up, you might want something a little more personal and tailored to your individual needs.
Signing up for customized online coaching is always a good option, and there are many reputable coaches out there offering results-based training and nutrition solutions while you’re couped up in your home.
During the global lockdown, one thing really started taking off, and that’s live one on one and group coaching. Whether its Zoom, Skype or Instagram live, you can jump on a call or join a live session with your favorite trainer and get a real-time guided workout experience.
You don’t need to give up on fitness just because you’re stuck at home.
Your body is made to move, and with a little willingness and creativity, you can maintain your gains and then some.
If you have any questions you feel weren’t answered in this video, please drop us a comment and we’ll get right back to you.
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