2020 is proving to be a challenging year and as the world retreats indoors the closure of gyms and studios leaves many of us without our regular exercise outlet. For once, finding time for exercise may no longer be a barrier but finding the motivation to workout is another story and many of us may be worried about losing our current fitness or mental wellbeing.
Exercise is a form of self-care and it doesn’t have to be hard, sweaty or involve equipment to be effective. Below I share some of my fitness tips and strategies for creating a successful at home workout regime.
1. Listen to Your Emotions and Body
The world is going through a crisis, plans have changed, lives turned upside down and our emotions and energy are all over the place. Yes exercise has amazing benefits for the mind and body, but we all have days where we just don’t feel up for it and that is more than OK. Avoid putting expectations on yourself to achieve incredible fitness goals during this time and simply move in a way that makes you feel amazing!
Maybe you’re smashing the workouts, good for you! Just don’t forget about recovery. Make sure to break up the week with a rest day or two and make stretching and foam rolling a daily practice. If you’re sore, try a split program and for god’s sake don’t train when your muscles are already in agony!
2. Know The Benefits
You’re probably well aware that exercise is a key factor of good health, but keeping the ‘why’ at the forefront of your mind will help with motivation.
The Exercise Effect:
- Eases anxiety and depression by releasing cortisol the stress hormone.
- Improves mood and brain function through the realising of endorphins (happy hormones).
- Boosts immunity and gut health.
- Keeps our bones strong, joints healthy and muscles active.
- Improves sleep, energy and metabolic function.
3. Switching From Gym To Home
if you’ve always hated running, chances are you’re not going to start enjoying it in isolation. If you love strength training, read up on calisthenics. The below tips will help you transform your gym routine into a home routine and keep you on track with your fitness goals.
No access to a cross trainer or spin bike? Don’t sweat it, try jogging, power walking and high intensity body weight workouts (H.I.I.T). Hate jogging for more than 5 minutes? Break it up with walking intervals or find some stairs and do a few cheeky laps. As for body weight workouts, the resources are endless, and they don’t all involve burpees and horrible jumping lunges. Any exercise that gets your heart rate up has fantastic benefits for your overall health and you’re guaranteed to feel amazing afterwards. I will post an example of a H.I.I.T body weight workout at the end of this post.
Life may not feel the same without our beloved weights, but don’t lose hope, the gains will not be lost! Lifting house-hold objects and body weight resistance training can 100% be effective for building and maintaining strength and muscle mass. Give these resistance training methods a go to spice up your workouts.
Isometric Holds: No moving required here, the muscles work by exerting tension in a static position. A great form of exercise for maintaining strength and building stability, examples include a wall sit or plank hold. Or my personal favourite shoulder burner: a front raise hold.
Time Under Tension (TUT): A muscle building favourite for many body builders TUT is simply increasing the duration of time the muscle is under stain for. Fatigue is increased and more muscle fibres recruited by slowing down repetitions or adding static holds throughout the exercise. This could look like, lowering into a squat for 5 seconds. Holding for 3 seconds at bottom range, then rising for 5 seconds. Sounds harder than your average squat yeah? Increasing TUT is an effective way to get more out of each rep whether you’re using equipment or performing a body weight exercise.
High Reps: A recent study by McMaster University in Ontario found that lifting relatively light weights for 20-25 reps is just as efficient at building muscle strength and size as lifting heavier weights with a more traditional 8-12 rep approach. Using lighter weights and high reps is also beneficial for individuals with joint issues or who are recovering from injury. For muscle gains fatigue is key. It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting 5 or 50 kilo’s repeat the exercise as many times you need to FEEL THE BURN or cannot repeat another rep.
Limited Range Movements: Once that burn starts to kick in, take it up a notch with some limited range reps. This could include doing half-bicep curls or adding a bottom range pulse to your push-ups or squats.
Ahh how I miss my Yoga studio, good news is there is plenty of free online resources around. Stretch your way through YouTube, Alo Yoga Videos and Livestreams from local studios. I’m a big fan of Briohny Smith’s videos check her out at
4. Create A Routine
Once you’ve established what sort of exercise you enjoy, make a plan or goal for the week ahead. Work out how much free time you have for exercise and if you’re working from home, establish a time of day that will fit your schedule.
Creating a realistic and structured plan will help you stay accountable and boost intrinsic motivation. Make sure to include exercise variety, rest days and recovery practices throughout. You could chose to write down a plan for each day, or set movement goals for the week and tick them off as you go. This could look like:
- Strength Workout 1 XPW
- Cardio Workout 2 X P/W
- Yoga or Stretch Session 1 X P/W
- 10-30 Minute Walk 2-7 X P/W
5. Make It Fun & Social
Keep active with your family and house-mates! Head outside for a run together, find an online partner workout or my personal favourite get some boxing gloves and pads and lay into each other (safely, with correct punching technique of course).
6. Safety & Variety
If you are new to the whole exercise thing I have two words for you: Online Resources.
Many personal trainers (myself included) are offering online coaching and programs to help keep you active during this pandemic. Likewise there is an infinite amount of workout videos on Youtube and social media. If you’re trying a new exercise or get your hands on some new equipment please watch a professional demonstration before throwing yourself at it. Even the most trained athletes require coaching with technique.
Keep your training interesting and your fitness well rounded by including various styles of exercise. Gain inspiration from your friends and search around your house for what could be utilised in a workout. Throw on your favourite music and dance for a warm-up.
Happy Training Everyone!