There are some fantastic ways to stay fit whilst the gyms remain closed, and even when they do reopen, for you to continue to incorporate in home workouts.
But how do you stay motivated working out at home if you’re used to the buzz of the gym?
Here personal trainer Max Green answers some questions on how you can successfully overcome these home workout challenges:
What are some ‘quick wins’ for motivation and general daily health?
One of the best habits you can develop is walking daily. Walking is free and easy to do, it’s great for general physical health but also your mental health, which is particularly important during those darker months.
Walking outside is important as it increases the exposure you will get to sunlight. Even though it might not be sunny, getting outside will still help to improve your mood and also your sleep. Light exposure helps to synchronise your body’s internal sleep-wake cycle (try and get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night if you can). I’d recommend trying to get outside for a walk for at least 30 minutes every day.
Another benefit of walking is it increases blood flow to the brain, which helps to deliver more nutrients and oxygen, helping you to perform better.
As well as walking, simply aiming to move as much as possible is also important. Try to take regular breaks away from your desk (at least getting up every 30 minutes to one hour), and also focus on stretching your hips, back, neck and chest – which can all get quite restricted when you’re sitting down for long periods of time.
A good diet will help to keep you healthy and motivated, aim to get plenty of nutrient-dense, whole foods in your diet like fruit, vegetables, grains etc., and stay hydrated throughout the day.
How can you achieve a gym-level exercise without the gym-style equipment?
There are still plenty of ways to have challenging and effective workouts at home, so that you can still make progress with your fitness and physique goals without the gyms being open.
In terms of gaining muscle, one of the old training myths was the need to hit a certain number of repsto grow muscle, eg six to 12. The research now shows that anywhere between five to 30 reps can stimulate muscle growth, as long as you’re still challenging yourself and taking the exercise close to failure, where you can’t do any more repetitions – ensuring that you are keeping your workout safe and effective.
You can also fill up bags with heavy objects like filled water bottles, books, tins etc to create makeshift dumbbells. Even without weights, there are techniques to make bodyweight exercises more challenging so that you can be pushing yourself within that ideal rep range:
- Slowing down the tempo of your exercises, e.g. three to five seconds on the way down.
- Incorporate pauses at the most challenging part of the movement, e.g. pausing at the bottom of a press-up or squat position before coming back up.
- Perform supersets for the same muscle group, where you’d do two different exercises back to back with no rest in-between. e.g. a set of squats immediately followed by a set of lunges.
- Isometric pre-exhaustions: an isometric hold is when you just hold a static position. Doing a series of isometric holds for the same muscles makes the second exercise much more challenging because it’s already fatigued from the hold. e.g. holding a static wall sit position for 30 seconds to one minute before doing a set of squats straight after.
- Take shorter rest periods, like only having 30 seconds between sets.
You also don’t need any equipment at all in order to train your cardiovascular fitness. High-intensity interval training and circuits can be extremely challenging with just your own bodyweight. They can also be done indoors, which is definitely a benefit during winter.
What is a good way to build routine?
Having a routine is important for helping to make something a habit. If something becomes a habit, then you no longer have to rely on motivation to do it. To help establish a consistent routine, you need to have a structured plan where you know what days and times you’re going to perform the habit you’re trying to develop, as well as knowing ahead of time what you’re going to do in each session. This helps to avoid procrastination and allows you to just focus on getting it done, rather than making last minute decisions.
You also want to make the habit you’re trying to perform as ‘frictionless’ as possible. For exercise, this might mean getting your workout clothes on beforehand and making sure your equipment is set up. You’re trying to remove any friction that might make it more difficult to start your habit.
What are good ways to keep up with your workouts and stop yourself finishing half way through?
Ideally, have a dedicated space where you always workout at home. This way, your brain associates this space with working out. That’s also why it’s sometimes difficult to workout at home in spaces like your living room, because your brain typically associates this area with relaxation.
Limit distractions as best as you can. Don’t have the TV on in the background, use your phone or attempt to do work during rest periods. Be fully focused on the task at hand so that you can get your workout done, and then relax after. Music playing through headphones is a great way to stay focused. It’s also useful to time your rest periods with a stopwatch so that you keep on track and don’t get distracted.
Where do you find inspiration?
My main inspiration for working out is because it makes me feel good.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical health, but also your mental health. It helps to improve your mood and cope with stress. I make exercise a priority and remind myself how much better I’ll feel afterwards on the days where I might not feel like training.
Why do you think the Versaclimber is a great example of a good home workout and motivational piece of equipment?
The Versaclimber is a great piece of equipment for many reasons. It’s very challenging and effective, so you can have a tough, full body workout in a short space of time.
I also find the Versaclimber more fun than other forms of exercise like running or cycling. Running is very high impact and can cause joint issues for some people, whereas the Versaclimber is low impact and joint friendly.
The Versaclimber can be used indoors and doesn’t take up much space, so it’s an ideal piece of equipment for home workouts.
How have home workouts adapted during lockdowns?
When we first went into lockdown and it was announced that gyms were closing, many people were worried that they would regress with their fitness and physique goals without access to the gym. I think by now we’ve all learnt that you can still have challenging and effective workouts at home, so there’s no reason you can’t still be progressing towards your fitness goals.
We’ve all had to adapt and be creative with our home workouts, trying different training techniques or pieces of equipment, but hopefully realised that you don’t need to train the exact same way you might have been in the gym to still make progress.
YouTube workouts or live workouts on Facebook/Instagram were very popular to begin with. They can certainly help motivate people to exercise, and doing any form of exercise is still better than none, but after a while I feel like people realised they’re better off with a more structured training program.
Rather than doing a completely different workout online each time, it’s more effective to have a structured program where you perform similar workouts and exercises for several weeks and months in a row, allowing you to keep improving on those workouts.
Progressive overload is a fundamental training principle for getting results. It involves continually forcing the body to adapt and gain muscle, get stronger and improve endurance. This can be done by adding reps, weights, sets, and decreasing rest periods. It’s much harder to achieve progressive overload in your training if you’re doing completely different things during every workout.
Max’s final thought on staying motivated and getting fit?
One of the most essential and overlooked components for success is adherence. If your training programme/nutrition is the car, adherence is the driver. Without adherence, it doesn’t matter how good the car is – it isn’t going to get anywhere, you need a good drive to get the best results
Rather than just trying to copy someone else’s training program or diet, find what’s enjoyable and sustainable for you so that you can actually stick to it.
To find out more about Max Green and how he can help you to stay motivated as well as transform your body to feel more confident without fad diets and endless hours of training, follow him on Instagram.