Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
Training at home can be challenging. Firstly, it’s way too easy to put it off because we don’t need to travel anywhere. Secondly, we’re training in an environment which we don’t or at least didn’t always associate with working out. On top of it all, they just seem to be harder to ‘feel motivated’ for and want to do.
I get it. I’ve felt the same way – especially a the start of lockdown. Some of my workouts quiet simply sucked and this made me unmotivated to even want to train. I still remember my first ever home workout on the first Monday of lockdown thinking – “is this what I have to settle for for the next 15 weeks?”
Thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two since and have identified some of the most important factors that make up an effective home workout.
1. Shorten Your Rest
If you have access to heavier weights which are a struggle to lift for you (especially in the 1-5 rep range), ignore this. However, if you only have lighter weights or no weights at all, then this first step is particularly important to you.
Take shorter rest periods than normal so you can exhaust the muscle quicker. During lockdown 1.0 I consciously tried to limit my rest periods (for the most part) to the time it took me to walk over and take a quick sip of water before returning back to the weights. Would I have liked to have rested longer? Absolutely but this would take away from the intensity of my session.
A common fault which I’d advise against is checking Instagram or texting in between rest periods. When you’re training train and limit all the distractions so you can make the most out of your session. Shortening your rest period will reduce your recovery in between sets and in turn increase the time under tension your muscles encounter. And remember – muscles are built through tension and if you can keep the tension high with limited rest, you will get more growth.
2. Lift The Weights Slower
This follows on from the above point. Your muscles don’t know the difference between a light and heavy weight. They just respond to tension. More tension = more muscular damage = more gainz!
Some practical examples of lifting slower (known as eccentric training) would be performing squats with a 5 second lowering or doing push ups with a 3 second lowering. If you were to do 12 squats or 20 push ups in this fashion, that is a total of 60 seconds of time under tension!
If you’re thinking ‘that sounds hard’ that’s because it is! Lifting slower isn’t sexy but it sure is effective. Make the light weights feel heavy by slowing down your tempo and enjoy the feeling you get.
3. Pause At The Bottom
Lifting slower isn’t the only way you can make your workouts more challenging! How about adding a pause (known as isometric training) at the bottom? A practical example of this would be doing a rear foot elevated split squat and pausing in the bottom position for 6 seconds before returning to the start position.
Or two great challenges that I’ve been doing recently:
My legs, my chest, my tricep, my shoulders were absolutely smoked after doing these two variations! And neither of them require anything except your own bodyweight!
As an added bonus, isometric training along with eccentric training are both great ways of improving your stability/control.
4. Remove A BAse of SUpport
Removing a limb can make what we perceive as basic exercises to be much much more challenging. What do I mean by this? That plank you’re performing which you feel is ‘too easy’ and ‘too boring’ – why not try lift up your right arm and/or left leg when doing it? Try it – it gets tough real quick!
Or those endless push ups you’re doing – elevate or rest one hand on a med ball or box and starting banging out a few. Again – they get humbling real quick!
5. Do More Reps EVery Week
This one might sound basic but it goes without saying – doing more reps each week (especially if you can’t add more weight) is one of the oldest rules in the book when it comes to strength training. A form of progressive overload – it has a long term compounding effect. Here’s what I mean.
Say you’re performing a dumbbell lateral raise. This week you lift 5Kg and perform 3 sets of 8 reps. But next week, you decide to add one more set. So you do 4 sets of 8 reps using the same weight. That’s 8 more reps than last week. You didn’t lift more weight, but you still did more reps. And that too is progressive overload; your body is doing more than it did before. Alternatively, if you did 3 sets of 8 reps last week, this week you could aim for 3 sets of 10 reps. Again, your body is doing more than it did before.
6. Follow A Plan
This is a follow on from the above point. How do you know if you’re doing more reps than last week? By writing down or having a plan to follow which tells you!
My worst workouts – in the gym or at home have always been the ones where I had no real plan going in. Why? Because generally you plan on doing too much and end up not doing enough of it. Because you’ve nothing written down, you are not accountable to a program. Rather, you essentially allow how you’re feeling to determine whether you do another set or that core work at the end. Essentially, your thoughts and feelings, not a structured plan dictate what you do or don’t do.
This is random training which yields random results. Write down exactly what you’re going to do and then do it. Not only will you have some structure and clarity going into your workout, you will be able to identify what you did last week so next week you can strive to be better.
For many, training at home is more of a challenge than training at the gym. A different environment, less equipment and likely less space – I get it. It can be tough.
But if you implement the above 6 tips, I promise you this weeks workout will be better than last week!
Need some assistance with designing your workouts? Why not take the guesswork and the time out of it and outsource your training to a coach who’s gotten proven results (from clients who’ve had as little as 2x5Kg Dumbbells).
Interested to learn more? Contact me today and I’d love to help you.
Adrian McDonnell -
Eat This to Tone Up & Build Muscle
Learn how to create the perfect meal with this simple 5 step guide.