Right now, many of us are working out exclusively from home to try and flatten the curve and minimize the effects of COVID-19 (or coronavirus). Some people love the simplicity of at-home workouts, but others, especially “gym rats” who prefer lifting heavy and having access to lots of equipment, are finding it difficult to make the switch to a new way of training. They may have even taken a break from the workouts altogether.
If you’re having a hard time getting motivated to workout from home, you’re in the right place. Read on to learn more about the importance of having an at-home workout routine (both during this time of physical distancing and in general). You’ll also get some great tips on creating an effective routine for yourself.
Why You Need an At-Home Workout Routine
As COVID-19 continues to spread, most people are dealing with heightened levels of stress and anxiety. When feelings of stress are elevated, having some kind of routine to follow can be very comforting.
The following are some of the key reasons to focus on creating and following routines now and in the future when other stressful events threaten to throw you off track:
Lighten Your Mental Load
During “normal,” non-pandemic times, most of us have some kind of routine that we follow each day. We wake up, eat our meals, go to work, and workout all at roughly the same time.
Now, though, we’re staying home most, if not all, of the day. Because of this, it’s easy to let structure and routine go out the window. Bringing these things back, though, especially when it comes to exercise, lightens our mental load.
Dividing the day up into chunks and following a routine gives us something to do. It also frees us up from constantly worrying or trying to figure out what we should be doing next. This, in turn, can bring about a sense of calm and allows us to feel that we’re in control of at least something in our lives, no matter how small.
Improve Your Mood
Having an at-home workout routine to follow each day can improve your mood, too.
As you likely already know, exercise is known to be a powerful tool for increasing endorphin production and staving off feelings of depression and anxiety. Now, more than ever, we need to take advantage of what we can to feel happier and have a more positive attitude.
Get More (and Better) Sleep
Consistent and high-quality sleep is essential if you want to feel your best and recover from your workouts. You also need to be getting enough deep sleep to build muscle, lose fat, and see results.
When you have a routine to follow every day, it’s easier for your body’s internal clock to function properly. You’ll be less likely to lie awake at night or have trouble getting up in the morning if you’re sticking to a schedule.
This is especially true if your schedule includes exercise. People who work out consistently tend to sleep better.
Having an at-home workout routine helps you ensure you’re prioritizing self-care, too. Along with good sleep and a healthy diet, exercising is one of the most powerful acts of self-care in which you can participate.
By making self-care a top priority during times of stress, you can increase your mind and body’s resilience. This can help to strengthen your immune system to ward off illnesses while also making you better able to cope if you do get sick.
Don’t Let Obstacles Stop Your Progress
Even when there’s not a pandemic wreaking havoc on the world, it’s still beneficial to have an at-home workout routine to which you can turn. Your gym might be open for business, but that doesn’t mean the challenges of everyday life can’t still take hold.
If you have an at-home workout routine that keeps you active even on days when you’re unable to get to the gym (let’s say you have to work late and can’t make it to the gym before it closes), you’ll have an easier time staying consistent. This will also make it easier for you to continue progressing toward your health and fitness goals.
Part of developing an Alpha mindset is being adaptable. Having a solid at-home workout routine that you can follow during times when the gym isn’t accessible will help you avoid regressing. It’ll also aid you in building up a sense of physical and (perhaps more importantly) mental toughness.
How to Create Your Ideal At-Home Workout Routine
Alright, you’re ready to pull yourself out of your workout funk and start creating an at-home workout routine to follow. If you’re new to the idea of putting together at-home workouts, here are some tips to try:
Assess Your Goals
Start by getting clear on what you want to accomplish with your at-home workouts. Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? Feel more energized?
Be honest with yourself about what’s realistic right now, too. You might not have all the equipment you need to make major muscle gains, for example, or you might have less time to exercise now that your kids are home all day. If this is the case, maybe you should shift your goal to focus on muscle maintenance instead.
Remember, don’t give up on workouts altogether just because one goal might not be realistic. Be flexible and find another that works for this season of life.
Gather Your Equipment
Next, figure out what equipment you have to work with at home. Do you have resistance bands? Dumbbells? Nothing but your bodyweight?
At-home workout equipment is hard to come by right now, but you might want to consider placing an order online for what you can find. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of equipment yet, though. There are plenty of exercises you can do with just your bodyweight (squats, push-ups, lunges, etc.).
Identify Your Ideal Split
After you’ve assessed how often and for how long you can work out, the next step is to figure out an ideal body part split.
For many people, full-body workouts a few days per week work well. They allow them to hit all the major muscle groups and don’t have to leave certain muscles totally untouched in the event that they miss a day. If you have the time to dedicate to it, though, an upper/lower or “bro split” (chest/triceps one day, back/biceps another day, legs one day, etc.) works, too.
Prioritize Compound Exercises
When you’re writing out your workouts, be sure to make compound exercises (squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, etc.) the main focus. They give you the most bang for your buck and will be the most effective when it comes to maintaining muscle mass, burning calories, and reaching your other fitness goals.
Choose the Right Sets and Reps
Pick a number of sets and a series of rep ranges that work best for your goals. Make sure they align with the equipment you have available, too. For example, if you only have light dumbbells, you’ll have to do a higher number of reps to feel the same effect that you would with a heavier pair at the gym.
Don’t Forget Rest Periods
Finally, don’t forget about the rest periods. Just because you’re working out at home with light weights (or perhaps no weights at all), that doesn’t mean rest suddenly becomes irrelevant. You still need to give your muscles time to recover if you want to avoid injuries and continue making gains.
How to Stay Consistent with At-Home Workouts
Many people have a hard time staying consistent with their at-home workouts even after they’ve taken the time to construct a solid workout plan. If this sounds like you, the following strategies will make it easier for you to become and stay consistent:
- Schedule Your Workouts: Treat your workouts like a meeting or other appointment and schedule them on your calendar; set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget about them
- Consider Splitting Them Up: If the idea of a 60-minute at-home workout feels impossible (especially if you have kids running around), try splitting your workout up into three or four smaller ones; plan out a few 15-20 minute blocks throughout the day to squeeze in some exercise, get your blood flowing, and give your brain a break
- Get Everyone Involved: You don’t have to be on your own to get in a good workout; you can have lots of fun and break a sweat by having your kids exercise with you
Don’t be afraid to experiment, either. It might take a little time for you to find an ideal workout routine with which you and everyone else in your household can get on board. Be patient, though, and remember that doing something is better than nothing.
Start Planning Your Workout Routine Today
If you didn’t have an at-home workout routine in place, now’s the time to change that. Follow the guidelines outlined above as you begin putting together your ideal at-home workout routine.
Don’t forget to check out some of our other at-home health and fitness resources as well for more inspiration. This blog post on ways to stay healthy at home is a great one to read next.