Home workouts are one of the only saviours we've got at the moment. Due to coronavirus lockdown we're unable to leave the house, so it's become all too easy to pass hours sitting, sedentary, in one place. But structuring your routine to include one exercise session per day breaks the monotony, gets you moving, and is also beneficial for your mental health.
To make sure you're maximising these home workouts, we asked three female fitness experts to share their tips and advice about how to get the most out of at-home exercise.
Make a plan and stick to it
Your usual routine has probably gone out the window as a result of lockdown; most people aren't working in their offices (or working at all) and weekends, for those not working on the frontline, have become a blur of Netflix/ stare out the window / eat / repeat.
But that doesn't mean you can't make a new routine, based around the limited confinements of your home. Kayla Itsines, creator of BBG and trainer at home workout app Sweat, says this is important for both your physical and your mental health. "For those of you who have struggled to find consistency when it comes to making time for yourself and your workouts, scheduling this time in everyday is a great way to help you prioritise your physical and mental health," says Kayla.
"I’m big on planning, so I like to sit down on a Sunday and schedule in my workouts for the week ahead. This way I know I’ve got some time set aside for my workouts everyday, and it helps hold me accountable when my motivation levels might be low." If it doesn't suit you to plan quite so far in advance, Kayla recommends sitting down each night and planning for the next day to make sure you have time allocated to get your workout in. "It is so important to make your health a priority through this time so treat your workouts like an important appointment and don’t miss them," she advises.
Once you've planned your schedule, make sure you mark it out on your calendar, suggests Stephanie Smith, PT at Orangetheory Fitness. "This also means you can cross it off on completion which is really satisfying," she adds. "Alongside this, keep a fitness journal. Keep track of your reps and times for a motivating boost."
Dedicate a 'workout spot' in your home
We don't all live in houses that have enough space for a fully-equipped home gym, but that doesn't mean you can't allocate a small space as your workout area - even if it's temporary and you 'dismantle' it after every session. "Choose one specific section in your home that you will dedicate to your workouts, whether that means rearranging some furniture or working out in your garden. This will get you in the workout mindset once you have a set up," suggests Krissy Cela, PT and founder of the Tone & Sculpt app.
PT Stephanie's home-workout corner includes "a bright mat, colourful resistance bands and a mood booster object i.e. a plant." She advises keeping the area tidy and well presented if you can leave it intact all the time. "This will help you with your motivation to use this space and having this will create that feeling of getting in the zone," says Stephanie.
There's no need to panic-buy equipment
If you've scrolled through Amazon on the hunt for kettlebells, only to find an estimated delivery date some time in 2021, don't panic! You don't need tons of equipment. Or, really, any. "Don't underestimate the power of bodyweight training. Just because you might not have equipment at home doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout," Kayla Itsines tells Cosmopolitan. "Bodyweight exercises can help you to increase your strength, power and are an effective way to maximise your workout in a short space of time as you can easily move from one exercise to the other."
Kayla's favourite kind of bodyweight exercise is plyometric - or jump - training, and it requires no extra equipment besides your body and a small space. But if you do want to bulk up your reps with a bit of weight, Kayla urges you to get creative with what you've got. "There are so many household items that are easy substitutes such as full water bottles or canned food as a replacement for dumbbells, or using a chair as a replacement for a bench or box."
Change it up
You might find a form of exercise you can do from home that works for you - but you needn't stick rigidly to it. "Use this time to try new routines," suggests trainer Krissy Cela. "Focus on full body workouts including compound exercises (exercises that work multiple muscle groups at a time) such as a squat into press or reverse lunge knee up. You can really have fun with your workout routine."
Find a workout buddy to hold you accountable
If you're planning exercise in but just aren't sticking to it, enlist the help of a friend - either someone within your household or outside it. "Whilst staying at home, finding a virtual workout buddy is a fun way to stay motivated, accountable and socially connected," says Kayla. "Find a friend or family member who is willing to commit to working out consistently and then schedule a regular virtual workout where you use FaceTime or Zoom to do it together. It’s much easier to stick to an exercise routine with the support of the people you care about."
Eliminate distractions to get in the zone
"Working out at home is convenient and great fun but also there are a lot of distractions," Kayla Itsines points out. "I recommend removing all distractions before you start your workout so you can focus 100% on your exercise routine. Turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, turn off phone notifications and put on your favourite music playlist to really get you in the zone."
Don't forget to stretch
Warming up before a workout and stretching afterwards is probably a regular part of your gym routine. So why should it be any different at home? "Stretching is so important for your muscles," reminds Krissy. "Now that you may have a little more time during your workouts, you can dedicate 10 minutes before and after your workouts to stretching out your muscles to keep them strong and flexible. You will definitely notice a difference once you get back into your usual routine."
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