If you are sitting there thinking you need a gym to be fit and healthy, then I am about to blow your mind. If you are sitting there knowing home workouts can work, but don’t know where to start, then again, I will blow your mind (or slightly singe it, like the top you forgot to change the iron setting for – Jenny!).
OK, so this is nothing revolutionary, you’ve all heard of exercising at home. What with those trendy workout videos of the 80’s, I would imagine everyone over 40 has done one of those! So why do some of us persist on using the excuse of gym membership being expensive, inconvenient or taking too much time as a reason not to exercise?
We are fooling ourselves, clinging to our reasons as to why we haven’t done something for so long, when we know we should have. It’s similar to veganism. Why do so many people, when you come down to it, agree it’s a great thing for your health, for the environment and for the animals, and yet still eat meat?? It’s because we don’t want to face up to the fact what we have been doing for a long time is not great. We don’t like to admit we were wrong!
Let’s try this, take a second to admit you can easily fit a home workout into your routine. If it means 30 minutes less of scrolling through Facebook, or 30 minutes less of Netflix a night, the benefits will totally outweigh what you might have to sacrifice.
Now, I’m not going to claim you can get a body like Arnie from working out at home (unless you’re filthy rich and got a fully equipped gym), but you can gain muscle, lose fat and get fitter at home. I do a home workout once a week - it’s so easy to do in the sense that it takes barely any time, and you can do it in your boxers (remember to close the curtains though to not give your neighbours a fright).
Do you need equipment?
No, you don’t need equipment, but this blog post is focused on an at-home workout for those who have bought, or are willing to buy, some dumbbells or a barbell. For me, I have a barbell, some resistance bands and a yoga mat to assist with my workout which cost about £30 ($37), £10 ($13) and £10 ($13) respectively. Whilst I would recommend this, by no means is this required. You have your body which you can use for resistance (and for people like me, that’s a pretty heavy weight in itself!) and I will cover bodyweight exercises in another blog post soon!
How to prep for home workout?
The first thing to do is make sure you have space enough that you’re not going to injure you, your workout partner (cats count as workout partners!) or any of your lovely possessions. Spread that mat out and prime the weights and resistance bands if applicable. Then do some stretches – it is important to make sure you stretch and do some mobility movements before attempting the workout.
The choice is yours. You can either do a full body workout, or you can do multiple exercises on the same muscles. If you are planning to workout at home only, but also regularly, then I would recommend the latter. If you are going to be doing your normal gym routine as well as a once weekly full body workout, like me, then I would suggest full body. Or indeed if you are are only going to be doing one or two workouts a week, then I would recommend full body workout. I’ll give you some exercise ideas below to help you with your home-workout.
Press ups (chest & triceps)
Just because you have a barbell, doesn’t mean you have to use it for every exercise! Press-ups are probably the best known exercise, yet also the most under-utilised. A lot of people think of the conventional press up, which they can either do very little of or too many of, making it a less effective exercise. However, you can do variations depending on your ability. If you cannot do a conventional press up, then you can either do it from your knees, or if that is too hard, you can start off by doing your press ups against a wall. That way you can choose your resistance level. If you can already easily do too many conventional press ups (show off!), then you can widen or shorten the space between your hands and vary the movement. If you slow down the movement for the entirety, or slow down the lowering and then explosive up, you’ll find it a lot harder than just pumping them out. The wider the grip, the more it works your back as well, the narrower the grip, the more it works your triceps.
Barbell Squats (legs)
Put the barbell on your back and make sure it’s rested nicely. If you don’t need added weight, then just use your body-weight. Again, you can do these at any level. If you are a beginner, you can use a high chair and sit in and out of it, without lifting yourself off with your arms. To increase difficulty, lower the chair or use no chair. If you want to make it even harder, then slow down the movement, or add in pauses to the squat half way up and half way down. If you are finding it far too easy, then you can do pistol squats (one legged squats, which look pretty damn impressive, but please don’t try this if your balance is off or you haven’t mastered normal squats yet).
Military Press (shoulders)
With the barbell, make sure you get it rested on the top of your chest, and keep the wrists straight. Then push it up towards the sky. Don’t over extend your arms, just get to near lock-out and bring back down and repeat. The point of military press is to not push from your legs at all, isolating the shoulders.
Bicep curls (biceps)
Another classic. Hold the barbell about shoulder width apart and – keeping the tops of your arms still and close to your body, pivot at the elbow and bring the barbell up towards your chin. Try to avoid swinging your arms on this exercise!
Tricep Extension (triceps)
Again, using the barbell, about half shoulder width apart, hold it above your head. Keep the tops of the arms straight up and pivot at the elbow. Bring the barbell behind your head, and then lift it back up. Be careful with this, make sure it isn’t so heavy that you can’t bring it back up! Also, if you’re hitting your head whilst doing it, you are definitely doing it wrong!
Zig Zags (abs)
These you may not find online – I think I made them up, but they are a variation of leg raises. Like leg raises, start on your back, with your legs raised 6 inches off the ground. Then to mix it up a bit you do a zig zag. So, bring your legs to the right at the same height, then go diagonally up 6 inches to the left. At the same height (12 inches off ground) move your legs to the right, then diagonally down to the left, then whilst 6 inches off the ground go to the right. Then reverse this exact same motion, and keep doing that until you can do no more!
Bent over rows (back)
A lovely one. Hold the barbell in front of you with your grip at shoulder width. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, but bent over at about 30 degrees, then pull the barbell toward mid chest. Make sure you’re pulling it by drawing the shoulder blades together, not with the biceps. Do it in a controlled motion.
Deadlifts (lower back, upper back and legs)
One of my favourites, but also least favourite. With a light weight, its not too bad, its when you’re trying for that one rep max that its both mentally and physically challenging. This one is very important to get the form right. Make sure you keep your core tensed all the way through, keep your back straight, and get your bum down low. Then pick up the barbell, making sure to not round your back, and pushing up through your feet, not pulling up from your back.
These are just a few of my favourite home workout exercises, and hopefully can become your favourites too! It’s a love hate relationship you’ll have with them. Once you’ve finished your workout, you’ll love it. When you’re doing it, maybe not so much!