Whether you need to stay home to look after your children or just don't want to spend money on an expensive gym membership, there are plenty of options for you to workout at home.
Benefits of Exercising at Home
Money is one of the biggest factors when it comes to choosing a gym membership and prices can be anywhere from £20- £100 a month, that's £1,200 a year. Save your money and train at home, if you need more kit, the chances are it’s still going to work out cheaper.
Time is another major factor when it comes to training. Whilst having no time to go to the gym may seem like a valid excuse, everyone has time to go home. Training at home means you can fit exercise into your regime as and when the opportunity arrives, even if it's broken into multiple smaller workouts.
No waiting for kit
Queuing for kit at the gym can be frustrating and a busy gym can leave your heart rate dropping whilst you feel frustrated and unmotivated waiting for the machine you need next. Training at home guarantees no-one can slip in front of you onto your kit and your heart rate stays elevated throughout your training, as you switch from one move to the next seamlessly.
No watchful eyes
Sometimes going to the gym can get you more motivated, as you don’t want to be seen putting in a poor performance. Other times people can just be frankly, annoying. Whether it’s awkward moments where you catch someone's eye doing hip thrusters, or someone who just seems to be more interested in staring at you than in their own workout. Avoid all the annoying people and workout at home.
Fueling your motor a) isn't cheap and b) isn’t great for the environment, so kill two birds with one stone and train at home instead. You can spend the extra time you saved driving throwing in a few extra sets to your workout instead.
If your gym doesn’t have a creche it can be hard to find someone to watch your children while you go workout. Working at home means you can workout and still play parent, granted you may have to stop every now and then, but it’s worth it. Your children seeing you staying active also encourages them to join in and move more, with obesity being such a huge risk in the UK it's great to encourage your kids and set the right example.
It's You vs You
We hear this all the time in gym motivational talks, but when it boils down to training at home, it really is you vs you. There’s no-one but you to answer to, so it’s time to really go for it. No one will see how sweaty you get so you can push that extra bit harder, knowing your showers only around the corner.
Training at home is more hygienic, providing your not a real mucky pup. Despite gyms being cleaned, the gym environment breeds germs. The perfect environment for bacteria to spread is the warm moist environment of the gym. The list of bacteria most gyms carry is longer than my arm, so we’re not going to go into it with too much detail. Just the sheer volume of people handling the same kit you are can lead to spreading bacteria. Even if your house is messy, at least it’s your mess.
Downsides to working out at home
Lack of Equipment
Its nice to have the variety of different equipment and when you first start you may not have much kit. Technically, most of it isn’t really needed, but it’s nice to shake things up every now and again. After training at home for a while, most people will find their collection grows and what started as a set of resistance bands soon becomes a set of resistance bands, a dumbbell tree, a chin up bar, a punchbag, a TRX ….
No One to motivate you
Some days even the best athletes lack motivation, it happens. Getting yourself to the gym can often be the hardest part, but once you're there you’ve got to do something with yourself or you’ll look lazy and the PT’s will soon be over to give you an extra earful of motivation. When your at home, there’s no-one but you and maybe the voice on a DVD to motivate you so it can be hard to get in the right mindset.
No spotter or trainer
Without a trainer or a spotter you are more susceptible to injury, from either executing the move wrong or lifting heavier than you can handle on your own. Having people around you can be really beneficial from a safety perspective, especially if you're lifting.
Lacks social aspect
We’re social creatures and training at home lacks the social aspect of going to the gym. If when you go to the gym you spend more time exercising your mouth than other muscles however, this could be a good thing!
Tips for working out at home
Working out at time is one of the biggest culprits for getting distracted during your workout. Zone in. From telephone calls to the front door to pets or children, home workouts are at risk of interruption. Your best bet is to remove all the distractions before you work out. Switch your phone to do not disturb, put your pets in another room and remove your children. Kidding. Just warn them what mummy/daddy is getting up to so that they know you’re busy, give them something which will keep them occupied for long enough for you to work out or let them join in.
Create adequate space
When you're short on time it can be easy to just try and get your workout in without clearing the room you actually need to move. If you can, try to dedicate a space as specifically your workout zone, this will make it more official, as well as avoid you kicking and breaking something. Make sure any equipment you have and might need is stored here. The last thing you want is to be hunting around for kit at the crucial moment.
Try to schedule your workout into the day, be more specific than just “when I get home from work”. Try more “I get home at 6, so I’m going to do some chores and then workout at 6.30pm”. Set an alarm for this time, so whatever you’re doing, you’ll get a reminder and be more likely to keep your workout date.
Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you should be working out in your PJs, especially if you're a woman. Training without support for your breasts can damage tissue. Wearing the right activewear supports your training and will enhance your efforts. Check out the Sundried collection.
Consistency is key
As with any form of training, the key to success is consistency. One home workout routine won’t make a difference, nor will one healthy meal. In order to get fit, you need to be consistent with your training, whether that’s at home or the gym. We are what we repeatedly do, so try to incorporate your workout into your routine so it becomes a natural habit.
Plan your workout in advance
Plan your workout in advance so you know what’s coming and aren't left guessing what to do next. Whether you're following a written routine, dvd or app make sure you know what moves are on the agenda so you don’t waste any time wondering, what’s next?
Comes at a price: Motivation. With the fridge, your tv and sofa all within walking distance, it can be hard to find the motivation to really go for it. You have to stay motivated or your gym equipment will gather dust and become nothing more than extra clutter in your home.
It's becoming more common for people to work through their lunch break, but this time is precious and you could use it to make a real difference to your health. Instead of staying at your desk, you could burn up to 300 calories doing a quick HIIT workout on your lunch break!
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a training method which involves short bursts of all-out effort exercises followed by short rest periods. The aim is to maximise your calorie burn during a short amount of time by cranking your heart rate up with tough exercises. During HIIT you should be aiming for your heart rate to be in Zone 4 or even Zone 5, breaking the anaerobic threshold.
How does HIIT work?
The reason HIIT works so effectively is that it causes what we call an ‘after burn’ effect. When you do HIIT, the intensity of the exercise causes an increased need for oxygen so we end up with an oxygen shortage. This means your body has to find more oxygen in order to recover, known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This, in turn, boosts your metabolism and burns more calories.
How long do I need to do HIIT?
A HIIT workout doesn't need to last hours because of the intensity, so they're perfect if you're short on time. Typically, a HIIT workout will last around 20-45 minutes to give your body a chance to burn enough calories for it to be worthwhile.
Lunchtime HIIT workout routine
What’s great about HIIT is it can be done using just your body weight, which means all you need is a little bit of space. If your office is cramped, why not take this circuit outside? It’s intense enough that it will soon warm you up if it’s cold!
Before commencing a HIIT workout, be sure to warm up for 3-5 minutes. This can involve anything from jumping on the spot to star jumps, anything that will raise your heart rate and warm your muscles up so they are limber and protected from injury.
Top Tip: A lot of HIIT body weight circuits contain lots of exercises which put strain on the wrists such as planks, push-ups and mountain climbers. Be sure to prepare your joints by circling your wrists back and forth before you get stuck in.
For each of the following exercises, try 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest and then repeat from the top:
- Mountain Climbers
- Push Ups
- Jumping Lunges
- High Knees
- Heel Flicks
- Frog Jumps
- Plank Up Downs
- Shadow Boxing Sit Ups
This move fires up your abs whilst keeping your heart rate high. Assume a standard push-up position and run each leg in towards your chest as though you were running off the ground as fast as you can.
Another great all over exercise, push ups can be intensified by lifting a leg, or eased up by coming down to your knees. The trick with push ups is to make sure that despite doing as many as you can at speed, you still make the full range of motion – it should look like your nose is near touching the floor.
Adding plyometrics to any move makes it far more of a challenge. Assume your lunge position sinking nice and low, then as you extend through the legs jumps as high as you can and switch legs, so you are alternating the leg you lunge off, land in a lunging position with the other leg now leading the way. These are sure to set your quads on fire, but keep pushing through and use your arms to help drive you up.
Jog on the spot bringing your knees up as high as you can in front of you, tilt your pelvis forward and lean back slightly to get more abdominal activation.
Now reverse! Jog on the spot flicking your heels up to your bottom as fast as you can to keep that heart rate up.
Start with your legs together and feet facing out, squat down allowing your knees to turn out and then explode up straightening the legs before returning to start.
Start in a slight squat, so your legs are loaded with power, then jump sideways to the left and land on your left leg, with your right leg lifted off the ground. Now jump leading with your right leg and land on the right leg, with your left leg away from the floor. Use your arms to propel you further, opposite arm to opposite leg.
Plank Up Downs
Start in a plank off your hands, keeping your bum down and shoulder blades squeezed together to ensure your spine stays in neutral alignment. Bring you right hand down to an elbow plank position and then follow it with the left, now bring the right arm back up to a hand plank and follow it with the left. Avoid looking up as it puts extra strain on the neck.
Shadow Boxing Sit Ups
Lie on you back with your knees bent ready for a sit up, but this time as you brace your abs and bring your upper body up, throw a jab and a cross, punching towards the opposite knee. This adds some extra oblique engagement and makes the exercise a little bit more of a challenge. Breathe out as you lift up and punch.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
As well as the obvious benefits of keeping you busy during your lunch break and generally more active, HIIT also boasts these benefits:
- Training anaerobically increases your VO2 max.
- HIIT is anabolic, meaning you lose weight from fat and not muscle.
- HIIT increases Human Growth Hormone by up to 450% during the first 24 hours after your workout, which repairs damaged tissue and helps build muscle and burn fat.
- Evidence suggests HIIT can actually help suppress your appetite. Research in The International Journal of Obesity found those who participated in HIIT style exercise consumed on average 200 calories less and had lower levels of ghrelin which is your hunger hormone.
So next time your lunch hour strikes, why not grab your colleagues and challenge them to this anytime, anyplace workout. Don’t forget to pack your deodorant!
Workout at work, How to workout at work, Lunchtime workout routine, HIIT workout routine, What are the benefits of HIIT, How long do I need to do HIIT?
Doing cardiovascular exercise is proven to improve your lung capacity, heart health, as well as aiding weight loss. Many people do not enjoy doing cardio and some don't do it at all. But which is the best type for you?
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)
Low Intensity cardio is accessible to most people as you do not need a high level of fitness to begin with and you can easily incorporate it into daily life by going for a walk. Low intensity cardio exercises include things like walking, climbing stairs, or going for a gentle bike ride. These types of exercises are low impact and typically performed at around 40% of your maximum heart rate, which makes them easy to recover from and therefore can be performed on a regular basis. You probably won't break a sweat doing this type of cardio so you could do it on your lunch break at work. Bodybuilders often prefer this type of cardio as it is less likely to break down muscle tissue but can still help you drop body fat.
Benefits of LISS:
- It is low impact so you can still do it if you have a minor injury or have limited mobility.
- You won't break a sweat so you can fit it into your daily routine without having to plan around it.
- It doesn't break down muscle tissue so you can still improve your strength while dropping body fat.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training sees you working very near 100% of your maximum effort for short bursts with short rests in between. This type of training can help to improve your VO2 and cardiovascular fitness very quickly and is proven to aid weight loss. This type of cardio is not suitable for those who are pregnant or those who have injuries. You need a fairly high level of fitness to start with otherwise you will end up feeling very sick!
Benefits of High Intensity Cardio:
- Boosts Metabolism for up to 24 hours.
- Increases VO2 max.
- Shorter workouts are great for those who lack a lot of free time to train.
- Increased Lactate Threshold. Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles increases.
Do you have to do cardio to burn fat?
The only way you can lose weight is by eating a calorie deficit. This means burning more calories than you are eating. While you don't need to do cardio to burn fat, it certainly helps! There are so many other benefits to doing cardio other than just weight loss, so it is definitely an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
EHOH stands for Every Hour On the Hour and is an emerging fitness trend developed to combat the dangers of sitting at work and living a sedentary lifestyle.
How does EHOH work?
The average working day is 8 hours long with a one-hour lunch break. EHOH proposes that you split your one-hour lunch break into 3 10-minute breaks and 1 half-hour break so that you can get away from your desk more often and combat the health risks associated with sitting for too long. Although EHOH stands for Every Hour On the Hour, you can take your 10-minute breaks whenever suits you best. It's advisable to take a 10-minute break each hour in the morning and then the longer half-hour break in the afternoon when you need to eat lunch.
Benefits of EHOH
We all know exercise is great for your mind and body and the health benefits are almost endless, but exercising during your working day can actually improve your performance at work as well. A study by the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that incorporating just 2.5 hours of exercise per week into the workday led to a noticeable reduction in absences.
5 Reasons To Do EHOH
- If you are more active you are less likely to go sick meaning fewer absences.
- Active people have more energy. Regular exercise increases energy throughout the day, meaning more energy to put in good quality work and be productive in the office.
- You will have more self-confidence. Confidence is empowering and will encourage you to push yourself and achieve more in your career.
- You will inspire your colleagues to become healthier.
- Fit people take on more leadership roles because of the many positive benefits of a lifestyle. A fit individual tends to make a good leader.
Functional training is all about movements not muscles. Instead of focusing on a muscle in isolation, functional training looks at how the muscles work together to improve the way we “function” in everyday movement.
What is Functional Movement?
Author, speaker, and pro trainer Nick Tuminello explains what is meant by functional movement. “Many personal trainers define “functional training” as exercises using three-dimensional movements or standing on unstable surfaces. Many strength coaches feel that “functional training” has to do with just getting stronger in the basic lifts. Many physical therapists and corrective exercise-oriented trainers think that “functional training” is about regaining your muscle balance and fundamental movement ability before you begin doing either 3D exercises or the basic lifts.”
In truth, functional training is a combination of all these skills. Functional training is training to improve for a purpose. What this means is that functional training will differ slightly for every individual, however there are principles of movement which mimic the way the body is built to move, and these tend to apply to almost everyone.
Functional Movement Patterns
Exercise, at its very simplest, is just movement. These movements are primal; our bodies are designed to move. There are 7 basic movement patterns, which most exercises will fall into. Practising exercises which develop and master these movement patterns will build functional strength which can be transferred into all other aspects of your life, from sport to daily function. If you watch a child, they will naturally learn these moves as they develop their range of movement.
The squat is one of our most primal movements, we are designed to be able to move in this position, which is why you will see many toddlers playing in a squat.
To complete a squat, your head should remain facing forward to keep your spine in a neutral position and you should sink your weight back into your heels and lower towards the floor. There are many arguments as to how low you should go. Your range of motion will depend on your flexibility, but it can (and should) be worked on.
The lunge is a single leg exercise, where one leg takes the lead and the second leg bends as it remains stationary. Originally we’d use this movement for functions such as stepping over obstacles or as we threw a spear to catch our dinner. Now the move is popular for building leg strength as well as to improve sports performance.
When lunging, you should keep your front knee tracking over your foot, but not in front of it. Hold your head high and make sure your back stays straight (try sticking your chest out if your shoulders arch).
The push range of movement requires you to move something away from your body, or move your body away from a force, ie the ground. We have two primary pushing movements, the vertical and horizontal push. A vertical push lifts something above your head and a horizontal press pushes it forward.
The top tip for correcting your push up is to keep your back straight and not let your chest drop; you can do this by squeezing your shoulder blades together. If you can’t keep straight, drop to your knees to make the exercise easier.
Pushups - Indoors or outdoors. Take them anywhere.
Pulling is the opposite movement to a push, bringing an object towards you. Much like with the push up we have two pulling motions, horizontal and vertical.
An example of the pull motion is a pull up. If you can’t do a full pull up you can start with negatives and work your way up.
This is where our third plane of motion gets involved and the movements become more functional. Here we involve the transverse plane.
If you think about lunging down and reaching across your body, or throwing a ball, running, or even walking, most human movement has some element of a rotation involved.
You bend your torso by hinging at the hips. This is one of the most commonly used movements; think of how many times you may bend throughout the day, to open a drawer, pick up your bag, tie your shoes.
Taking the weight through your hips, glutes, and legs is the key to lifting weight in a bent over position. This is done by keeping your low back in a neutral, to slightly arched position, as you bend over to lift an object off the ground.
Arch your back and you're prone to all sorts of injuries, in particular a herniated disk. Ouch.
Walking, jogging, running and sprinting all require a combination of movement patterns which we define as gait. This covers all our movement patterns required to keep the body in motion.
In order for our bodies to move in these particular ranges of motion, our muscles have to work together to create movement. Where bodybuilding isolates muscle groups, functional training brings them together in what we call muscle slings.
Anterior Oblique System:
External and internal oblique with the opposing leg’s adductors and intervening anterior abdominal fascia.
Posterior Oblique System:
The lat and opposing gluteus maximus.
Deep Longitudinal System:
Erectors, the innervating fascia and biceps femoris.
Glute medius and minimus and the opposing adductors of the thigh.
The systems tell us which muscles work together, and help us to analyses how to notice gaps in the sling to develop improved movement.
Anterior Oblique System
The obliques help provide stability and mobility in gait. They are both important in providing that initial stability during the stance phase of gait (running etc.) and then contribute to pulling the leg through during the swing phase. This system is important in helping the body create more stability as speed increases in activities such as sprinting, but also as important as the body tries to decelerate during change of direction.
Posterior Oblique System
This is most commonly used during gait movements where the glute max of one hip works with the lat of the opposing side to create tension in the thoracolumbar fascia. The action of these muscles along with the fascial system is thought to fight the rotation of the pelvis that would occur during gait as well as store energy to create more efficient movement.
Deep Longitudinal System
This system uses both the thoracolumbar fascia and paraspinal system to create kinetic energy above the pelvis, while the biceps femoris acts as a relay between the pelvis and leg. What is also important to note is the relationship between the biceps femoris and anterior tibialis, which creates stability and helps build as well as release kinetic energy to help more efficient movement.
The lateral system provides lateral stability. The lateral system is often used to create stability in the pelvis during walking, stepping, etc.
Squats - a pulse-raising exercise you can do anywhere
Functional Training is training for life
If you haven’t tried functional movements or training slings, try adding moves which challenge these areas into your routine to improve your training.