If you want to establish or improve your home-based workouts and gather a few new ideas about how to stay consistent and motivated for your workouts then you are in the right place!
Although working out from home can require a bit more self-motivation to get started there are many benefits to working out from home instead of commuting to a gym or studio.
Working out from home is the ultimate time-saver for busy people while also allowing for more personal freedom to work at your own speed, listen to your body, and adjust your workouts to fit your mood. For myself what this looks like on a day-to-day basis is a space where I can easily meditate for 5 minutes when I’m stressed or practice some relaxing foam rolling before bed. It’s also the space that I use for a quick and easy workout or to practice the specific exercises that my trainer has given me to do regularly.
I love the freedom and autonomy that working out from home allows. So, here are my top 5 tips for elevating your workouts and embracing the benefits of working out from home!
Take time to Build the Habit
This tip is so fundamental that it’s easily overlooked but it’s absolutely essential. Starting anything new requires you to adopt new routines and habits in order to establish consistency. Putting in the effort to discover your sweet spot in terms of energy level, space, and time of day that you plan to work out will lay the foundation for your success. If you find yourself struggling with this step then I highly suggest starting with a very tiny routine. Here are a few examples:
Roll out your mat and lay on it for 2 minutes per day
Drink your morning coffee on your yoga mat
Do one exercise immediately after brushing your teeth
If you discover that 5 am is you’re magic workout time, but the room you have is freezing cold at that hour, then you’ll want to either purchase a space heater or some warm stretchy pants or both! You get the picture.
Get a Yoga/Fitness Mat.
The thing that I love the most about having a yoga mat is the mental trigger and reminder for myself to do my practice. If you don’t yet have a mat then consider things like how much cushion you need or what color will help inspire you.
Small Equipment and Props
A resistance band and foam roller don’t take up much room but they can go a long way towards maximizing the benefits and enjoyment of your workouts.
Although you really don't need anything just to get started, I do like to suggest that folks purchase a few small things once they’ve established the habit and are ready to get into this a little more. A foam roller is at the top of the list (ideally a full-length one) because you can use it for both relaxing stretches, and also for strength and balance work. Especially the full-length foam rollers allow you a great amount of variety and options.
Next up I suggest finding a set of 3 resistance bands, preferably not too heavy. This could also take the form of some relatively light free weights or kettlebells.
Finally, a swiss ball, sometimes called a physioball or pilates ball is a useful thing to have. I especially like this option for folks with mobility issues or postural issues who need a little more support for their body. They are also fun and offer a great amount of variety for those interested in building more strength.
Less is more with home workout equipment in my opinion and my hope for you, dear reader, is that the habit of taking time be prioritized above purchasing things that don’t get used often enough. Start small and follow what interests you.
Next, let’s talk about what the heck you’re going to do. This can be tricky to talk about in a blog because everyone’s needs are different. Still, we can break this down. You’re body simply will not perform well or build balanced strength if you are stiff and tight. So mobility work is step one. With my history as a circus performer and yogi, I used to mix this one up with thinking of splits and big fancy flexibility goals. This is not what I’m talking about. What I am talking about is targeted mobility work that is unique to your body and the places where you have limited joint mobility. I have three different mobility sequences that I do, depending on how much time I have. 5, 15, or 30 minutes. And I’ve established the habit of doing at least 5 minutes of mobility work #everydamday. Foam rollers and stability balls are nice for this, but there’s plenty you can do without them too.
If the only thing you do at home is a quick daily mobility session you will be well on your way to better health, in my opinion.
Let’s say that you’re ready for the next step, it’s time to get your heart rate up, build strength, and/or break a sweat.
My favorite go-to program for this is a simple sequence of compound functional exercises. Translation? I’m talking about full-body exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time. Squats and deadlifts for example with or without a moderate weight load. If your body isn’t ready to tolerate something like loaded squats then there are plenty of other options, which is where the individualized strength comes in.
When I work one on one with clients a lot of the work I do involves custom programming that helps my clients build strength without injury. If you have a history of pain, poor posture, or old injuries then I highly suggest that you embrace the home workout as a space where you can listen to your body and follow an individualized program more easily. Consulting with a skilled and experienced trainer can help establish and maintain this process of customization that is so beneficial for many folks.
If you’re feeling strong, injury-free, and ready to dive in, then I would still include step #4 in your workout, and then move efficiently into compound strength training.
I would aim to find 3-6 compound exercises that you feel confident doing. Something between 5-12 reps each, depending on the difficulty, and repeat that sequence 2-5 times and you’ll be good to go. Now, there is a lot of variability to what I just laid out, but I’m just speaking in generalized terms here. This is what I help my one on one clients identify.
To wrap this up I want to touch on a few other points. I think it’s wise, especially if you’re just starting, to aim for shorter workouts. You will feel super successful if you set out to do 15-20 minutes and end up doing 30 minutes, compared to if you try for a full hour and don’t make it that far. Feeling successful is important so watch out for those perfectionist tendencies that tell you that you should have done more/better! Lastly, I’d like to send you off with the wish that you enjoy your home workouts. It’s your space, and you’re in control of what you do, so give yourself a little grace to meditate one day and lift weights the next. This will help you discover what is most in alignment with your needs.