These are uncertain times, but what you can be certain of is that Instagram and other social channels are overrun with people demoing bodyweight workouts you can do at home. OK, some of these may be useful, but do you really need to be told how to do a press-up, and then some jump squats?
I thought not, which is why RSNG has put together some actionable advice to help you make the home workouts that you do in your time of isolation, effective, specific to your goals and inspiring, rather than just fodder for Insta.
So, here are my new rules of home workouts, based on advice from athletes and PTs I’ve interviewed over the years, as well as some of my own 'intrepid' experiments…
Slow Things Down
Whether you're a fan of the weights room, or the group exercises classes in your gym, the name of the game seems to be to bash the work out as fast as possible. Intensity is useful, but technique can get lost in the rush.
Working out at home gives you the chance to really hone your technique, improving your proprioception, balance, and strength of the muscles surrounding and supporting your joints. After all, it pays to stay injury-free during a pandemic…
‘There’s a common assumption that home workouts, with their lack of 20kg weight plates and massive dumb-bells, can't really build lean muscle’
You Can Build Muscle At Home
There’s a common assumption that home workouts, with their lack of 20kg weight plates and massive dumb-bells, can't really build lean muscle. But that's not true, because it's not weight that causes muscle overload, it's training stimulus and time under tension.
In other words you can make an exercise harder by slowing it down (see above) in order to extend the Time Under Tension (TUT). You can also pause at the peak contraction of the move, and double or triple the time you take to lower with gravity, anything to increase the TUT during your sets.
Chances are you don't have, or want, stacks of gym equipment cluttering up your home, but that shouldn't stop you from being able to do some awesome, functional exercises – just think laterally.
Want core strength for days? Then find two low wooden blocks of equal height and use them to do L-Sits. Want to add weight to your TUT press ups? Then find a backpack and fill it with all your hoarded chickpeas/ cans of beans!
Want a sandbag for weighted carries? Then grab a 'bag for life' from that stash in your cupboards, fill it with sand, or dirt or whatever and then gaffa tape it shut – it won't be pretty but it will work!
‘Learning unfamiliar functional movements will raise your ‘physical intelligence’ scores as your your brain creates new neural pathways’
Keep Changing It Up
You know, those proliferating online home workouts might come in handy, so long as they feature exercise alternatives. This is because, after 4-6 weeks, your body adapts to the training stimulus, so you need to provide new challenges, and will need to mine other people’s workouts for ideas.
Also, most of us get bored of doing the same thing long before a month is up – give your motivation a helping hand by introducing new exercises and functional movements you’re not familiar with (like the bear crawl, for example). These will raise your ‘physical intelligence’ scores as your body learns new skills and your brain creates new neural pathways.
Lean On Your Fitness Tribe
The blanket success of Joe Wicks’ morning workouts may be predictable, but the one-size-fits everybody approach to shared, online, workouts isn’t likely to help you hit any specific goals, beyond the simplest: ‘be active’.
The iron rule of physical training is that you get specific physiological results from specific exercise stimuli. So, from the exercises you choose, to the intensity and frequency of your workouts, to your nutrition plan, each factor directly influences your results.
This means that you first need to identify your body goal and then, in the age of isolation, find others who share it and can offer you remote advice, or even buddy up with you to follow a program together. And make sure you track your progress. Use your hardwired competitive instinct to help motivate you, and you’ll soon see results – good luck!
WHAT NEXT? Want to learn a completely new skill, step by step? Then check out RSNG’s guide to nailing, or progressing your handstand ability, with hand balance coach Kyle Weiger.
Follow this article’s author on Instagram @The_Adventure_Fella
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.