5 keys to great home workouts

Is it me or is it starting to feel like groundhog day?

It's mid-afternoon on Wednesday or Thursday (I think) in the fourth week of the third national lockdown.


I'm sitting at my dining table working on my laptop and looking across at my kitchen, the biggest bit of empty floor space in the house, and the spot that in which before dinner I need to get out my exercise mat and smash out a lower body strength session.

And you know what, the psyche is alluding me.


I get the feeling a lot of you guys may have lost interest and enthusiasm for home workouts.


So I'm going to share five steps I take to make sure myself, my clients and now you, find that drive to exercise and stay consistent in your training when stuck at home.

(or if you are from the future when you CHOOSE to stay at home)

1. The game plan


What is it you want to achieve by working out today?


Is this part of a long term strength goal, acting as a substitute for going to a gym.


Or are you on a quest get fitter with bodyweight training?


Is it that you just enjoy working out (yes that counts as a goal) and you love the feeling you get after sweating it out for half an hour, regardless of the specific purpose of the session.


Finding your 'why' and visualising what it is you're working towards could be all the motivation you need to get up off the couch.


For those who are working towards specific performance-related goals, here are a few top tips;

  • Have a reason behind every exercise you do. Pick exercises that contribute to improving your weak links, and will help you towards your specific goals.

  • Variety is fun, but consistency makes progress. Once you've designed or found a good workout or program, stick with it for at least 4 weeks. The only changes being increasing the resistance level to achieve progressive overload.



2. Environment


With many of us spending nearly all our time inside at the moment, your home is probably looking a bit 'lived in'.


I've seen a lot of recommendations suggesting making a workout space in your home that's just for training. If you have the room for this that's great, however, I am aware not everyone has that much free space in their house.


And even if you do, you still have to get from wherever you were relaxing or working to your workout space. So it pays to make sure your home is a pleasant environment to be in.


So before you get into workout mode, crack open a window, do the washing up and clear any cluttered surfaces. Have any home equipment accessible, and floor space clean and tidy.


This stuff may sound like a no brainer, but trust me it makes a huge difference to your motivation to train and your general mental wellbeing.


Having other people in your space can be a blessing or a curse. If you have a family member who is also keen to train that's cool, but if your finding your loved ones being a distraction, let them know what you need to focus and politely excuse your self (or excuse them to another room).



3. Schedule your training time


Whatever your situation having a structure to your day is important to help you focus when you need to, and then relax properly when the time comes.


It's easy to put off training if you're at home because you have the whole day ahead of you. But as you have probably realised, the days can go quickly and it's easy to get distracted with other things.

If possible, find a time of day that works for your energy levels and schedule, and try sticking to this as your workout time.


Personally, I can go for a run as soon as I'm up, but a strength session always goes better when I've got a meal or two in my belly. By the afternoon I find it easier to get into my workflow, so for me, late morning is the best time for a workout at home.

4. Get psyched and warm-up


What we wear has a big effect on how we feel. Chances are your not going to be raring to go while sitting in your pyjamas.


So the first step is to get your workout clothes on.

And I mean workout clothes, not the same leggings you've been wearing all day for the past week.


If you normally pad about the house in your socks, having a clean pair of trainers to put on will help make that distinction between workout time and chill.


With home workouts, I think the warm-up is often overlooked.


Just because your not in the gym shifting barbells don't mean what you're doing isn't going to be hard work. It's important to take 5 or 10 minutes to prepare for your session, this could mean some pulse-raising exercises, time spent your foam roller or doing mobility drills, or doing a couple of sets at an easier resistance than your working sets.


The warm-up is also time for you to mentally prepare and focus on the effort to come, so it's well worth taking the time.

5. Forget the all or nothing approach


I know I'm guilty of this.

Using phrases like 'getting back on it' and 'fallen off the bandwagon'.

This is a very polarised approach to exercise and nutrition, the idea that either you are healthy and training well, or you're not.

If you feel like your not making healthy exercise and food choices, rather than attempting to change 50 things at once and 'get back on it', just pick a couple and focus your energy on making those changes into habits.


For example, you could plan to do 5 minutes of mobility work or foam rollering every other morning, and remember to have a high protein snack or shake every day.


If you were to forget to do either of those a couple of times, it's not the end of the world, and all your previous efforts haven't been undone.


All those pro athletes didn't get to where they are overnight. It took time, a lot of learning, and a lot of mistakes. They built healthy habits up one after another over many years.