If you read our last post about How to Keep Things Challenging While Working Out from Home you’ll know that one of the biggest factors in your success of maintaining strength and muscle at home is the effectiveness of your home workouts. But what does that mean, exactly? An effective home workout is going to be dependent upon doing the right exercises, keeping up maximum effort, and getting creative with household objects to use as added weight. In this article we’ll dive into how to really make the most of working out from home!
1. You’ve got to Challenge Yourself!
This should go without saying but in order for at-home training to be effective, you must be challenging yourself. You’ll need to find weights or stand-ins for weights that challenge the muscle you are working, and you’ll need to complete a number of reps that leaves your muscles tired, potentially to the point of failure. This means you can’t be squatting the mop for ten reps or overhead press a can of peaches and expect to make any gains.
2. It Doesn’t Need to be 24/7 Cardio
I know a lot of the workouts you’re seeing posted on Instagram these days are all about circuit training and plyometrics. And yes, they are fun, they are great ways to get your heart rate up, and they can definitely give you the mental endorphin boost that exercise offers. However, if you are trying to get or stay strong and build or maintain muscle, then all cardio all the time is not the answer. You will want to focus on progressive overload - getting stronger over time - by using heavier weight, doing more reps, doing more sets, etc. This can only be achieved by sufficiently resting and recovering between sets, meaning circuit training and flying from one exercise to the next is not the answer.
3. Switch Up Your Reps/Sets/Weight Schemes
In order to find a scheme that works best for you and encourages you to put out the most effort, you might need to try a few things out. Try setting up a workout that includes difficult bodyweight exercises for low to medium reps and going as close as you can to failure. This might look like only 1-5 reps per set for 3 sets; or, depending on how difficult the bodyweight exercises are, it might be more like 6-12 per set. Regardless, the aim here is strength and muscle growth. Similarly, try doing a workout that incorporates easier body weight exercises while squeezing the muscle (focusing on the mind-muscle connection) as hard as possible on each rep. A rep scheme here would be much higher at anywhere from 12-30 reps per set and looking for 3-5 sets. You’ll be hitting more the endurance side of things with some excellent muscle fatigue to boot. You can also get creative when it comes to adding weight. Think about filling up a backpack with books and using it for squats and lunges, a gallon water jug in place of kettlebell swings, or laundry detergent bottles for bicep curls. Just keep in mind that effort isn’t simply about how much weight you use. Any number of reps or sets that leaves your muscles burning, close to failure, and seriously struggling by your last few reps, is an effective way to stimulate muscle growth.
4. Grab Your Partner!
At-home workouts are the perfect time to master partner exercises. If you’re stuck at home with someone, put them to good use by having them help you out with assisted pistol squats, high step ups, Nordic hamstring curls, back extensions and reverse hypers off of a couch or bench, etc. Grab a towel and use your partner’s resistance for wood chops, russian twists, kneeling ab crunches, upright rows, seated rows, overhead triceps extensions and more.
5. Make Good Use of Your Time
Just because you’re out of the gym and don’t have access to heavy weight doesn’t mean this can’t be time well spent. There are many things you can focus on during this time to improve not just your fitness but your overall well-being. Take this time to improve your mobility and flexibility by incorporating mobility drills and daily stretching. Focus on healing any injuries you may have or paying attention to any lingering pain and carve out time to foam roll or use a magnesium balm. Use this time away from the gym to work on stress management techniques, self-care practices, and other ways of taking care of yourself in mind and body.