The local gyms are on lockdown, you’re working from home, and you’ve decided that you’d like to stay in shape? Well, first of all, don’t worry! Creating a home workout routine is not as difficult as it sounds. And second of all, congratulations! Taking charge of your health is the route to a longer, happier life.
The million dollar question: can you really get a good workout at home?
Working from home comes with a lot of benefits. For a start, there’s no more lengthy commute. That means no more running to catch the train. No more cycling in rush-hour traffic. No walks in the rain from the bus stop to the office. The downside, of course, is that when your commute consists of the walk from your bedroom to your living room, you lose out on these little opportunities to get exercise. But let’s be clear, working from home doesn’t just save you time. Stressful office environments and hectic commutes have been shown to raise cortisol. This results in a severe drop in your energy levels throughout the day. The extra time and energy saved by working from home can be utilised for one hell of a home workout!
First things first
You might have been put off working out from home because you assumed you’d need lots of expensive equipment. But that simply isn’t true. In reality, you need little more than comfortable clothes, a suitable space and an idea of what exercises to do.
What to wear
There’s a science to the concept of dressing like the person you want to become. New workout clothes can definitely give you some motivation to work out. However, new clothes are absolutely NOT necessary to start working out from home. One of the main benefits of doing your workout in the privacy of your own home is that you can wear whatever you damn well want. Naked yoga? Yes please. Starjumps in your undies? Why not? A few quick workout sets in your PJs? Sure! All outfits are totally welcomed in your home workout routine! That being said, if you want to dress like Serena Williams on game day, don’t let us stop you!
How to set up your workout space
The amount of space you’ll use is going to be defined by the amount of space that you have. If you have a garden, or a big open space in your house – great! If you’re living squashed up between your parents-in-law and your pets, no problem! Working out dosn’t have to take up much space. You can even workout at your desk if you wanted to.
The ideal space for working out is somewhere that you feel comfortable. We understand that in lockdown, privacy is something of a luxury. But if you can find a room where you’ll be undisturbed for an hour or so, that would be ideal.
Although it’s not necessary, there are some inexpensive items that can be really fun to add into your workouts.
Resistance bands have built a name for themselves as the ultimate ‘booty builders.’ Search for them on Instagram for examples of this! But they’re not just useful for building glutes. They can be used to add resistance to a wide range of exercises. Perfect for people who already have a good workout routine in place. They’re also great for digital nomads as they are much easier to carry around than dumbbells and other weights.
If you’d like to work specifically on your core, then grab a ball and start working on your balance. Balls provide an unstable surface for exercises, forcing you to involve your core for stability. Any ball, big or small, that you might have around the house can be useful for this.
Although a yoga mat isn’t essential to yoga, it certainly does make it a little softer on your knees and wrists. It also stops you from getting covered in the dust on your floor! Even if you’re not planning on doing any yoga, a mat can be good for stretching on at the end of a workout.
Dumbbell weights or Kettlebells
Similar to resistance bands, dumbbell/ kettlebell weights will increase the difficulty of an exercise by adding extra weight.
Foam rolling feels a bit like getting a massage. It rolls out your fascia and releases muscle tension. If you’re working out regularly, foam rolling is a great way to reduce muscle tightness.
Home workouts: Getting started
Performing exercises using your own body as a weight is a simple, safe, and effective way to workout from home. Bodyweight exercises are great for beginners and easy to modify for those who want a stronger workout. Using bodyweight rather than free weights tends to improve body mobility, combining both cardio and strength training. So it’s the perfect way to get started when working out from home!
Plan your exercises
It’s a good thing to plan ahead. That way, when you begin working out, you won’t be stopping to figure out what to do next. A good fitness plan is your roadmap to success. It also means you can track your progress and gradually increase the difficulty level over time.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to aim for a wide range of motion across various muscle groups. For inspiration, we recommend reading though Self Magazine’s No Equipment Needed Body Weight Exercises article. Also take a look at GQ’s Best Workouts with no Equipment. And when you’re done with that, browse through this great visual library of 50 equipment free workouts. If you’re unsure about form or you’re completely new to working out, it also helps to get some video inspiration. For a fast dynamic workout, then Madfit’s 20 minute full body workout will get your heart pounding.
Once you’ve decided on what exercises you’d like to incorporate into your workout, you’ll need to put them all together. First, decide on how many of each exercise you’ll do (known as sets) and how many times you’ll perform the exercises for each set (known as reps).
If ‘sets’ and ‘reps’ sound too confusing, you can also just time yourself doing each exercise – 45 or 30 seconds of squat jumps, for example, would be a good place to start. Ideally you would then combine these squat jumps with a few other exercises, repeating this three or four times.
Warm up and dynamic stretch
Warming up is essential to preventing injuries! Dynamic stretches are a useful way to warm up whilst preparing your muscles and joints for the excerises you are about to do. There are lots of useful vidoes on Youtube to give you warm up and dynamic stretch inspiration. We love this super-fun dance-based warm up by Personal Trainer Tanya Young.
Once you’re all warmed up, you’re ready to get started. Here’s an example of a full-body workout:
Mountain climbers: 45 seconds
Squat jumps: 45 seconds
Reverse lunges: 45 seconds
Push ups: 45 seconds
Walkouts 45 seconds
Repeat 3 times, resting for 10 seconds in between each exercise and for 30 seconds at the end of each set.
Stretch and cool down
Stretching your body after a home workout prevents lactic acid build up, which can give you stiff achey muscles. This is a time to wind-down and bring your heart rate back to a rested state, so there’s no need to do a dynamic stretch after your workout. Instead, try some static stretches. If you’re not sure about how and what to stretch, start with doing a full body stretch. For inspiration, take a look at Very Well Fit’s Full Body Stretches or try this ten minute basic yoga cool down.
Make sure you drink water throughout your workout, and plenty afterwards as well to aid muscle recovery and replenish lost liquid.
How often should you work out?
Anything between 30 minutes and an hour a day is a good call, but don’t expect to go from zero to hero right away. For beginners, it’s best to slowly build up. Working out 2-3 times a week might be more than enough for you. Just make sure that on your non-workout days you take time to get up from your desk, stretch, and get out of the house for a walk. Moving your body daily is essential to your health, and it will stop your muscles from stiffening up between workouts.
Different home workout styles to play around with
Cardio is any aerobic exercise ranging from low to high intensity, such as running, swimming, walking, and spinning. The easiest way to do cardio exercise is to get outside and go for a jog or quick power walk. If getting away from your home office to do this is an option – great! Get away from the desk and take some time out of the house. However, depending on your current pandemic restrictions, you may be limited to doing your cardio workouts at home. So we’ve got some great suggestions for you.
Find a space in your house that you can jump around without the floor and walls shaking, and then prepare to get your heart pumping! If you like to follow along to videos, check out Bowflex’s 6 cardio exercises you can do from home. Short on time? Perhaps you just want to get up from your desk for a quick cardio blast break? Then try this 5 minute cardio workout for a quick burst of energy. However, if you prefer to make up your own workout, you could also try combining some of the following at-home cardio exercises into sets:
- Squat jumps
- Jumping jacks
- Running in place
- Running up and down the stairs
High intensity Interval Training (more commonly known as HIIT) Combines quick bursts of high intensity training with less intense recovery or rest periods. The benefits of HIIT are that it burns larger amounts of calories than regular cardio. It can also be done anywhere without any equipment – making it perfect for home workouts!
The good thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t take too long. Your body is usually working at such a high intensity level that it’s hard to keep it going past 30 minutes, so this is a great way to sneak in a good home workout in your lunch break! Step away from your desk, find a space where you won’t knock anything over, and check out Natasha Oceane’s Fat Burning 15 minute HIIT.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and pilates are both great ways to get a full-body workout, combining stretching, cardio and bodyweight training for a more holistic approach to fitness. There are so many incredible online resources to get you started into yoga. Yoga with Adrienne is a good place to start for beginners. She has hundreds of different free yoga classes on her channel and is a well-established internet favourite when it comes to yoga. Yoga Upload is another popular Youtuber, who offers a range of free classes. She specialises in Vinyasa Flow and has some classes specific to pre and post natal women. For some playful and fun pilates classes, check out Jessica Valent’s youtube channel, and also Popsugar Fitness’s 25 minute Pilates workout.
Tips for home workout success
Motivating yourself to workout at home can be tough. This is especially true if you’re used to taking group classes or hitting the gym with friends. Without the social element to working out, it can be easy to slack off. So we’ve got some great ideas of tips and tricks that will keep you motivated.
Use a workout app or website
There are some incredible apps out there to help you work out. Some of these apps include step by step instructions, trainer-style feedback, and tracking options that will make workouts more fun and much less complicated! Check out this list of our favourites:
Create the ultimate workout playlist
The part of the day where you work out is a little slice of time just for you. Make it more enjoyable by creating an awesome playlist to listen to whilst you are training. Whatever music gets you fired up, add it to your workout playlist. And, If you haven’t already, check out our recommended podcasts for remote workers. Podcasts make a great alternative to listening to music – perfect for longer endurance style workouts where you need a good distraction!
Get more social
Invite a friend to workout with you, sharing an online yoga class or working out together through Skype or Zoom. Being accountable to someone keeps you on track.
Factor your workouts into your routine
Set a specific time each day to do your workouts. Regularity and consistency are the steps to success!
We hope that our list and resources showed you that working out at home isn’t all that daunting! Get creative with what you do and stick to a regular routine. You will not only start to enjoy your workouts, but they will quickly develop into a habit that will guide you towards a healthier, happier life.