Exercising at home has always been the alternative that people have often discussed but no one actually took up. This is because when it came to choosing between home gyms and local community centres, despite the convenience, accessibility and reliability of a home gym, most people still preferred to visit their local gym. Nowadays with public facilities constantly being shut down left and right, finding an alternative to the status quo has become more important than ever.
A TD Ameritrade survey at the end of 2020 discovered that a mere 59% of Americans plan to renew their gym memberships post-pandemic. We can imagine that things aren’t much different here north of the border. What the current pandemic has taught us is that it has robbed our gyms of what made them the places we were always drawn to.
Bringing the Gym Atmosphere Home
The main reasons that people choose to go to a local gym instead of bringing the workout home is the social atmosphere. Sure, people might say that they’re going to the gym to work on their fitness regime yet for many of us, that’s only partially the truth. The other part is an opportunity to catch up with friends and acquaintances.
That social environment also translates into more extended and effective workouts. A Strava 2018 Year In Sport report revealed that when working out in groups, individuals tended to run and cycle 21% further and work out 10% longer.
This is because we’re hardwired to respond to the stimulus around us. It’s for this same reason that it may be so difficult to get work done while others in your household are watching a movie and when you find yourself surrounded by hard working coworkers in the office, you get your work done in a pinch.
Here are some steps you can take to bring out the good and throw out the bad to make your home the ideal exercise environment:
Bring A Friend: Having a companion alongside you, whether it’s a close friend, spouse or even kids working out together lets you enjoy your workout more, have some much needed bonding time and makes your workout more effective.
Set Up A Strict Schedule: Having a rigorous and repetitive schedule ensures that you become used to your workout regime and don’t start making excuses to slack off. There’s no need to be embarrassed, we all do it.
Invest in A Fitness Workout App: Spend your money on a fitness app with hundreds of pre-programmed lesson plans from top fitness coaches as well as some live workout sessions for a monthly subscription fee to bring the professional experience to your doorstep.
Fitness Stations: Arrange your workout environment into separate sections with each one corresponding to a different type of workout/ different muscle groups. This means putting the heavy weights together in one section while keeping the jump rope and treadmill in another.
Diversity Is Key
When it comes to developing a workout routine, especially for beginners, it’s incredibly important to assess your starting fitness level. It may be suggested to simply start off with lower to medium intensity workouts and forego the heavy weights until it’s safe to do so.
These low to medium intensity workouts tend to be drawn out over a longer period of time. They also build on a person’s physical endurance as well as cardiovascular and respiratory health to not only improve your fitness and decrease your risk of future injury but also comes with a myriad of health benefits such as decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, heart attack and stroke. This is called “aerobic” exercise.
Only after achieving a base level of fitness from these aerobic exercises can you transition to briefer but more high intensity workouts of the heavy weight’s variety, dubbed “anaerobic” exercise.
All of these workouts, whether aerobic or anaerobic must be geared towards a full body workout. A full body workout is a balanced workout regime that seeks to work on all 7 of your major muscle groups: shoulders(deltoids), chest (pectorals), legs(quads), calves, arms (biceps/triceps), back (dorsal) and abdominals.
Focusing Too Much on a Particular Muscle Group
Focusing on a particular muscle group while neglecting others may seem like a plausible option after looking at professional athletes and bodybuilders yet their workout regime involves non-stop high intensity training for at least 3 hours a day 7 days a week.
For those of us with less experience and more restricted scheduling, focusing on one muscle group or side may result in a condition known as muscle imbalance. Muscle imbalance can lead to physical issues such as limited mobility, aching pains and an increased risk of injury.
Which Exercises Are Most Effective?
In order to avoid the ill effects of an imbalanced exercise regime while also reaping the benefits of exercising indoors, here are some of the most popular full body exercises:
Push ups: The simplest yet most effective, push ups work on a wide range of your muscles all over your upper body such as your biceps, triceps, chest, and abdominals.
Squats: These are your key to building up a strong base. Working out your lower body might be neglected by amateur weightlifters but ultimately is just as important. Squats impact muscles ranging from hips and hamstrings to glutes.
Lunges: This simple exercise extensively works out your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Holding dumbbells while lunging makes this exercise even more effective.
Burpees: If you’ve reached a high enough base fitness level and are able, burpees are the real deal. Combining the effect of the push up and squat, this exercise meets all of your muscle demands with high intensity training.
These more aerobic based exercises are the perfect way to start off your workout. There’s also always room for jogging and jumping rope to warm up to get your blood flowing and ready for weight training. In terms of weight-based exercises, you can transition to:
Deadlift: This effective strength building exercise involves you lifting a bar off the ground to the level of your hips before being placed back on the ground while keeping your torso perpendicular to the floor. This works out your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, and forearms.
Bench Press: One of the most famous weight training exercises is the bench press. It can be performed with either a bar or two dumbbells and works out your pectorals, upper back, biceps, triceps and even core.
Row: A less well known alternative is the row which can be described as a reverse bench press. Most effective in building muscle in your arms, shoulders and back, it involves taking a weight (i.e. Dumbbell or bar) and in the case of the dumbbell, positioning one knee on an adjacent chair and bringing the dumbbell up to your chest level.
The Ideal Number of Reps and Sets
Starting off with 10 reps and 3 sets is a standard for beginner weight lifters by giving your body enough time to rest while also lengthening the exercise enough to help you build extra muscle. After you feel that you’ve mastered this and have no difficulty completing the 10 rep and 3 set routine for the exercise, decrease the number of reps but increase sets. Remember, what builds muscle most effectively aren’t bursts of energy but sustained tension.
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