Have you tried exercising in the day before you get down to work? This works even if you have to get out of the house to go to work. As contradictory as it may seem, getting in some kind of a workout gives you more energy. It makes you more alert.
Even if you come back tired from a day’s work, a workout can actually give you more energy, even though you might think you do not have the energy to exercise.
So get in some exercise in the morning. It’s good for you anyway regardless of how it effects your work performance. Something that is good for your mental and physical health is bound to have a positive impact on your aspects of life as well.
There is a science behind all this of course. There are scientific reasons why exercising boosts your energy levels and makes you more alert. Runners get a high, so do people after getting in a good workout at the gym. That is because the body releases certain chemicals in the process that have this boosting effect. You can do a search online as to how exercising bring about all these changes to learn the details.
Getting out vs exercising indoors
This is a debate with many. The usual consensus used to be that it is great to get in the outdoors as it has multifold benefits, just being with nature. The impact is duo-fold for both the mind and body. However, if you cannot get out for some reasons, working out at home is a great option as well.
Advantage Of Exercising At Home
#1 | It’s convenient and a time saver
One of the biggest advantage of working out at home is that it is a great time saver and possibly a money saver as well. Workouts at home can be quick with very little to no requirement for special exercise equipment. All you need to own is the motivation.
I have always been a great proponent of working out at home. I feel you save time, and are in a comfort zone. You can workout in so many different ways, changing things up around every few days. The only caveat is that you have to know how to do the exercises in the right way. This requires that you should have learnt them from a trainer at some point of time. Today, there is so much online coaching also available when it comes to fitness and workouts.
#2 | The outdoor exercise can easily be simulated indoors
Don’t get me wrong. I love the outdoors and have enjoyed cycling and some light running as well. I feel that cycling is one of the best ways to exercise. It’s low impact, can be done in different ways to get different benefits, and works great for strength, stamina and muscle building.
But, where I live, cycling mostly involves loading the bike in the car and going to a cycle track. Otherwise, it is usually too crowded to cycle comfortably. There are some beautiful parks around which are a joy to visit in the mornings. They stay a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the city even in peak summers because of all the trees. One of them is an extension of a large botanical research institute and full of lush varieties of flora and fauna.
#3 | Indoor workouts are easier to sustain
So if you have an outdoor exercise routine that you follow everyday, or 3 to 4 times a week, then it’s great. Otherwise, you need a form of exercise that you can sustain. By that I mean a regime of exercise that you can maintain on a regular basis, that is not easy to disrupt. I know too many people who insist that they cannot work out at home. They need to go somewhere first. Because of this simple shortcoming, their workouts are very erratic and irregular, at best.
#4 | Indoor exercises are fairly independent of weather and seasons
I had a friend who for years I tried to convince to start working out from home. But she insisted that she will start going to the club for swimming as soon as the weather became warmer.
When the swimming season did start, she must have made it to the club less than 5 times. This literally happened for years on end. Till recently when she finally started started doing weights at home and started loving it.
#5 | Adding variations and exercises is easier
When my friend did finally take up lifting weights at home, she loved the results she saw in her physique as well as the sheer convenience of working out whenever it suited her schedule. Of course, this kind of a thing doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people who wait for the swimming season to begin, also go to swimming diligently once it does.
But you need to know if that is you. Which is why it’s so great to have a workout that you can execute at home. And you can do just about any kind of training at home, be in yoga or high intensity programs, without any expensive equipment.
The All Elusive Motivation for Working Out
But like I said earlier, you have to learn first. One of the reasons why newbies prefer going to the gym to begin with is because they expect to receive expert guidance and training. However, there is something to be said about that as well.
I know people who have signed up for numerous fitness programs, from regular weight training to whatever the latest fitnesses fad happens to be such as Tabata. (I’m not ever sure I am spelling that correctly).
And yet they are as helpless about doing a self and individual workout as they were on day one. They have absorbed nothing and lack the motivation to do it on their own.
I can understand the motivation bit. Some people really enjoy the physical activity they do. They really look forward to their morning cycle runs or their gym sessions.
For others it is an arduous task they have to get in their day’s schedule. For these people self motivation is often missing and formal places of physical training with instructors to go along, aim to fill in somewhat.
A Gym Membership Is Not Always The Right Option
Many people also make the mostly erroneous mistake of taking up a paid membership at a gym, sport or fitness club with the impression that this will compel them to be regular with exercising. I cannot tell you the number of gym memberships I have seen go to waste.
This fact, infant, is a part of the modus operandi of most gyms and fitness clubs today. No ones takes a monthly membership fee anymore. They want to sign you up for their annual plans, which they tempt you with huge discounts over the monthly rate. Usually the temptation is too good to resist for most people.
They want you to believe that you are going to do this diligently and they want you to save money because frankly, most good gyms charge exorbitant amounts of money. So the annual packages with large discounts come as a relief, even a source of excitement, to most. But the excitement is short-lived and most people fall behind on their workout regime soon after signing up.
The gym businesses know better. If you were a monthly paying customer, you would stop paying them the month you did not go. But you have already paid them for the whole year, so they don’t mind if you do not show up. In fact, they count on this. More than 50% of most gym memberships come under this “no show” category. If everyone showed up on any given day, they probably wouldn’t have the space for them.
The Best Ways To Workout At Home
There are many ways to workout at home. If you envision lots of equipment for a workout, you are very much missing the point. At the heart of it, exercising is basic. Nothing fancy about it. If you can walk, walk. Able to run, then run. If you can cycle, go for it. These are activities that are available to you anytime if you are blessed and able.
Hang on a minute, doesn’t this sound like working outdoors? Not at all. Do spot running. Do high knees. Walk really fast in your house or outside within the compound. Get on your back on mat and start pedalling in the air even before you get out of bed.
Besides working out from home is more about being able to workout without having to rely on any particular place or complicated equipment. Even if you are going cycling, in my opinion, that qualifies as working from home as well, in a wider sense of the phrase.
So let’s add some simple fitness equipment to all this. This will open up even more possibilities for you.
Things you need to exercise from home
Floor Mat | Exercise Mat | Yoga Mat
A floor mat, which is most commonly known as a yoga mat or an exercise mat. The difference between the two is that yoga mats, although they come in varying thickness, are thinner than an exercise mat. An exercise mat is usually a thicker sheet of foam.
The reason why yoga mats are thinner is that you need stability while doing most of the poses. The challenging ones such as balancing on one foot, your hands or even your head require your body to get stable. This can be achieved on thinner and firmer yoga mats as opposed to the thicker ones that compress under weight.
Once you have a yoga/exercise mat, a new dimension of exercising opens up for you, that is, the floor! You can do everything from dumbbell flies to relaxing stretches and everything in between. So yes, one of the first things I recommend you get is a yoga mat. I also recommend a yoga mat over a thicker exercise mat because in case you need more cushioning you can spread a thick towel over it. You can make a yoga mat plusher but you can’t make an exercise mat firmer.
I highly recommend this contraptions. Exercise bands are a must have for home workouts. They allow you to duplicate almost all kinds of exercises that you would perform in a gym. Just for a simple band you can simulate all kinds of body movements with resistance. Resistance to movement is the key factor in building strength and muscle.
Bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups and even walking and running use gravity as resistance to body movement. Weights are used to add to the gravitational force and to add resistance to other kinds of body movements and exercises. Exercise bands are an ideal method for adding resistance to your exercises because they are so lightweight, compact, cheap and not cumbersome like buying different kinds of weights.
They are easier on the joints. One of the most important feature of a stretch band is the varying levels of resistant it offers throughout the movement of the exercise. Unlike a dumbbell stretch band is easier to pull initially and offers more and more resistance as you pull it further.
This means that your muscles and joints undergo less stress in the beginning of the moment which is the point usually where most injuries and muscle pulls happen. Like dumbbells you get exercise bands for different levels of resistance, depending upon the exercise and the level of advancement in your workouts.
This is a very useful accessory for doing push-ups. Instead of putting your hands flat on the ground you put them on the handles on the floor and grip those instead. I feel that they give you a better position while doing push-ups and put your wrists in a better place directly underneath and in a straight line with the rest of of your body. They also allow your arms to get into a better position in relation to the overall body movement.
They are an expensive accessory if you wanted to get into doing push-ups and I recommend that everyone does attempt doing push-ups. Push-ups are a great upper body workout that target large set of muscles in a single exercise.
This kind of an exercise that utilises a large group of muscles is called a compound exercise.
Pullups is another example of a compound exercise as it uses your back, shoulder and arm muscles altogether. Compound exercises are very effective in building muscle and strength and are highly recommended by all experts. They are also time savers. Do 3 compound exercises like squats, push-ups and pull-ups and you have complete a whole body workout.
Muscle building used to place a lot of emphasis on isolating and targeting specific groups of muscles though exercises like the preacher curls that only work the biceps and take off all strain from your shoulders and back. Recent studies show that one of the best way to build large biceps is pull-ups. The regular kind with the palms facing away from you. And they have the same impact on your back and shoulder muscles at the same time.
HIIT workouts rely a lot on compound exercises mixed with other body weight exercises because compound exercises can be intense which is what is required for a High Intensity Interval Training workout. We will talk about how to do HIIT workouts at home in a bit.
You should definitely aim be able to do a few pull-ups. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do even one right now. There are some very straightforward ways to get there. One of the most suggested method to begin is by doing something called a negative pull up.
In a negative pull up you don’t pull yourself up. You stand on a chair or stool high enough to enable you to hang on the bar and then gradually let yourself down to the ground using your arms.
So you start in the top position and practice letting yourself down. This is easier than pulling yourself up. You gradually build up strength in doing this and when you are able to do several negative pullups the odds are that you have built up enough strength to do at least one full pull up.
A Foam Roller.
This is a great device to give oneself a self massage by rolling it underneath you. It is also a form of exercise and you can use it in a variety of interesting ways.
Exercise gloves and braces.
The gloves helps you keep a better grip on things specially if you are lifting weights. The braces can give you extra support and prevent injury in whatever you feel is your weak area. Runners often wear knee braces to mitigate jerks. Other kinds of braces include wrist, forearm etc..
Kettle ball and dumbbells.
A couple of dumbbells are a great addition to the arsenal mainly because some form of weight training helps sculpt and target certain muscle groups. You don’t need them but if you enjoy doing weights then by all means get a set as per your requirements.
Dumbbells and weights allow you to increment the intensity of your workout in a precise and linear manner which is great to develop additional strength and muscle.
What kind of a workout to do at home
Over the years I have gathered basic knowledge of several kinds of accounts. All these come from the foundation of having learnt from a trained instructor in the beginning. The first time I went to a gym there was a coach to instruct me. The first time I did yoga, a teacher came home.
After you have the right foundation and the basics right you can continue to learn many things in the same and associated fields. This is true for any kind of education, isn’t it? A lot of new information about health, diets and workouts keeps coming in. What people thought and knew about exercising has evolved to a large extent.
For example the debate over lifting heavy vs doing high number of repetitions has come to unexpected conclusions. The most recent studies now suggest that there is no great difference in the gains made in either case. The idea is to get the muscle to a certain amount of fatigue level, and then give it enough rest and nutrients to grow.
The exceptions to these changes in workout theories are perhaps the Asian traditions like yoga and -chi. These schools of thought and knowledge are already thousands of years old. They imbibe a more holistic approach to well-being.
If anything people or forgetting and not being taught of the true essence of these practises. They are not just workouts for the body. They cater equally to the spirit/energy dimensions within and around you.
These Asians traditions are ancient and developed by masterful humans who manage to gain access to such realms of physical and spiritual existence, as is not possible for most people. They were exceptional masters in every sense. For that reason there isn’t anyone today to add to this body of knowledge.
Many teachers today do modify some routines to suit the times and different cultures. For example, for most people yoga means a kind of physical workout involving getting into difficult and different poses. This is mainly how it was introduced to the Western Hemisphere by some pioneers from India.
Whereas in the true sense of the word, yoga means the very state of being that puts you in touch with your inner self.
But I am digressing from the topic. You want to know what kind of workouts are best to do from your home. What I’m trying to tell you is that the first thing to bear in mind is that no matter what you choose you must first make sure that you get the right instructions.
Best Workouts You Can Do From Home
So what kind of workout is a good option from home? The most important thing I want you to understand right from the beginning is that exercising is really a fluid thing. Any time you do an activity above a certain threshold of intensity its exercise. The reason that different kinds of exercise routines exist is mainly for the following reasons:
- Different kinds of exercises to reach different goals such as cardio fitness, body sculpting, muscle building, flexibility, strength building et cetera.
- Exercise routines are created in order to have a uniform system that can be taught to everyone.
- Fixed exercise routines are more quantifiable and scalable. Therefore, the intensity can be adjusted and the progress can be measured.
Before we get to the different kinds of exercises, the most important thing is to create a time slot in your routine for the exercise. As long as you get up and start doing the exercise it doesn’t quite matter what you do. If you are like me you will end up mixing up a lot of different things and routines.
Yoga is great for getting warmed up or four days of mindful exercise. Definitely learn some basic yoga. It’s an amazing discipline for so many reasons. It’s a mindful way to exercise while being good for your joints, muscles and overall limberness of the body.
Yoga can be very holistic where a good teacher can prescribe the right postures or asanas to elevate health problems as well. Balance and breath are an integral part of yoga practice. A form of yoga called Hatha yoga also emphasises on strength building.
Body weight and other forms of exercise
Get a few get a few basic movements under your belt like different ways to do planks, push-ups, pullups, squats, sidekicks and front kicks and all the various exercises you can do with the stretch pants. Muscle and strength building involves using resistance.
So bodyweight exercises, dumbbells and exercise bands are the way to go. Of course you are going to have to learn the movements first. Refer to what I have already said about learning how to perform various exercise regimes in the right way.
Cycling is one of the most complete forms of exercise according to me. It is super effective for a cardio workout and also building the muscles in the lower part of your body i.e. your legs, hips and the glutes. But I distinctly feel that it impacts the whole body by working the muscles in your shoulders, arms and chest as well.
A lot depends on how you ride. If you want to build muscle and stamina, cycle like you are doing a HIIT workout. Cycle with intensity in short bursts, much like sprinting. Do sets of this with riding easy in between. You will see what a tremendous this has on your muscles and fitness level. Another advantage of cycling in short intensive bursts is that you reduce the number of times you have to pedal.
This is good because cycling involves putting the knee joints through the same repetitive movements over and over again. By reducing the number of times you pedal, you are reducing the potential for wear and tear on your knees.
Cycling is low impact. Cycling is easier on the knees than running because when you sit on it, you take your body weight off your legs. Cycling burns a lot of calories.
So looking for a flat stomach? Try cycling. As compared to running or walking, one can usually cover a great more distance on a cycle. That makes it more enjoyable if you are looking to explore places or go distances.
Running And Sprinting
Running is perhaps the most effective form of doing cardio exercise. It’s gets you into the cardio zone pretty quick and to run for any substantial distance, you have to be in good shape. Of course, the intensity with which people run differs a lot.
People who can jog for 15 miles can perhaps only sprint for 200 meters. I personally prefer increasing intensity over distance.
Sprinting has a few advantages. It has all the benefits of a HIIT workout. You take less time, but work towards a higher fitness level. Sprinting builds muscle mass because you are pushing the power of legs and using force.
Running doesn’t work towards building muscle mass as well as sprinting does because muscle building requires intensity and resistance. You workout more muscle groups the faster you run.
If you mix it up with running on inclines and declines you will workout even more parts of your body including your quads, hamstrings, calves, hips, glues and even your core. Just be sure to mitigate the possibility of impact on your joints like knees and ankles. How? By running on soft surface when possible and wearing the right shoes.
The Right Method Of Running
The most important thing about running is to actually learn how to run. Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to run.
The main thing about running the right way is to always hit the ground with your balls of your feet or even the middle, but never with your heels. The easiest way to learn the right way of running is to try and run barefoot for a bit. You will see that your foot placement changes automatically.
People hit the ground with their heels when they wear shoes. That is how you will see most people walking on the treadmill.
But tell them to take their shoes off and the foot placement will change right away. They will immediately land on the balls of their feet or on the mid-sole. This is the natural way of running as it mitigates the impact on your ankle and knees.
Hitting the ground with your heels sends the shock straight up from your foot to the knees in a straight line.
But landing on your balls cushions the impact with the hinge movement of the ankle. Only because of super cushioned shoes people can run while landing on their heels, but this is inherently incorrect. People who get into running barefoot loathe to wearing running shoes.
There is a different kind of connect and benefit to having your barefeet impacting the ground. You may have experienced some of this while walking barefoot on the grass, on the beach or even the floor in your house. It feel wholesome.
Of course, there are challenges to running barefoot outdoors like presence of stones and debris and potential of hurting your foot. But a lot of people run barefoot on the beach.
Footwear companies have taken quiet a bit of a turn from their approach of luring people in with more and better cushioning, like air cushion and what not. Now they also offer ‘real feel’ footwear which just provides minimal covering for the sole to give the runner protection from the surface underneath, but are otherwise meant to simulate running barefoot as much as possible.
Weightlifting At Home
Weightlifting is a great addition to any exercise regime. The way weightlifting is perceived and executed has changed dramatically over time. People used to associate weightlifting with muscle building alone.
Also, cardio and weights lifting were thought to be mutually exclusive workouts and supposed to be done separately. This was somewhat true in so far as how the practice of weightlifting was performed.
Today we know the following things. Weights are a great way to build and maintain your strength and muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass gets important even as you age because you start losing it faster as you get older. Muscles, together with your tendons and tissues provide strength and mobility. Working with weights increases bone density. That’s just how it works.
Put your limbs to weight resistance often and the bones grow stronger. This fact is even more important for women who lose more body density comparatively as they age. So unlike some common notions weightlifting is very much for women as well. Weights helps you target very specific muscle groups, build strength in all areas and helps sculpt your body to your desired sense of aesthetics.
Just as importantly weightlifting today is not devoid of cardio benefits. Many routines now exist that include benefits of muscle fitness as well as cardio workout in the same exercise. The high intensity interval training workout is one just example. Lifting heavy or increasing frequency and intensity gives cardio benefits to weightlifting.
It doesn’t get better than this. If you get into a pool you can give your body every kind of exercise it needs from mobility and stamina to muscle building. Not only that but some of the best physiotherapy routines are also water-based.
Swimming is zero impact. The varied motion means that you workout muscles you probably didn’t even know you had. The only issue I find is that of intensity. It’s the same thing as cycling though not exactly.
I have seen very few people swimming to exert themselves. Too many people are having fun in the water or swimming leisurely. Laze around later. Warm up when you get into the pool and do your laps like it’s an exercise.
Push your arms and kick those legs. Work hard. You will see a wonderful development in your fitness level and physique. If you do this properly you need not do any other form of exercise. You do not need any other exercise equipment.
How to do a cardio workout at home
The right concoction of an exercise routine includes cardio work as well. So how do you do cardio workout at home? The options running through your head right now probably include cycling, swimming, running and if you have one, getting on a treadmill. And if you are at home, getting up on a treadmill or exercycle.
What you will probably not think about is that you just standing up and hopping in one place, or doing spot running, throwing a few kicks and punching quickly in the air to constitute cardio exercises.
You see, a cardio workout is about getting your pulse, heart rate above a certain number. All the movements I have mentioned above will get you there in pretty quick time. In fact, most people will not be able to do spot running or skipping a rope for even five minutes to begin with.
So do you think doing cardio exercises at home is complicated? It’s not. But many don’t accept the simplicity of the solution because fancy arrangements inspire people. Or so they think. They need a treadmill or exercycle worth thousands of dollars before they feel the urge to do some cardio workout. I’ll tell you this now.
Yes, it’s true that good equipment inspires workouts and makes them more streamlined. But at the end of the day don’t be dependent on certain apparatus to do your workout. There is loads of stuff you can do any place and any time.
In fact if you are dependent on devices and apparatus for your drive to work out you are probably sitting yourself up for failure in the long run. The quicker you stop associating exercise with equipment the better. Your workouts will become easier and more frequent, specially if you are attempting to exercise from home.
High-intensity interval training
Since we are on the subject of cardio training we absolutely have to mention high intensity interval training also known as HIIT workouts. These are nothing short of revolutionary in terms of the way the changed how people thought workouts had to be done. They are tremendous at generating cardio fitness, muscle strength and weight loss.
And here’s the kicker, HIIT workout takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish and requires no equipment at all. You can literally get up any time in the day and to a high intensity interval training workout. Well, I recommend taking more than just 10 minutes because warmup and cooldown is very important for a good workout.
However, although it’s only 7 to 10 minutes of your time you should know that a high intensity interval training workout only works if you operate at peak intensity throughout that duration.
There is hardly any game between exercises in the hit circuit and for 7 to 10 minutes you are giving it all you’ve got. If you’re doing high-intensity interval training for the first time we should take it slow to see how it feels. Instructions for doing a HIIT workout do say that the intensity of the workout should be such that it feels slightly uncomfortable.
Read up on it some more to learn about the benefits and try to reap those advantages. While they last for less than 10 minutes there effect on your metabolism acts for hours after you have finished which is why they are so effective at calorie burning as well.
Download the seven minute app on your phone to see the kind of exercises you can do in a HIIT workout.
Convert any exercise into a HIIT workout
Although you can do although you can convert any kind of an exercise into a HIIT workout such as swimming, cycling, running, skipping, weightlifting et cetera, the idea is to work in short intensive bursts and doing multiple sets with very little rest in between. For example sprinting for 20 seconds with 15 second intervals of walking in between.
Exercising should not be complicated. Kick a ball around in the yard, practice doing the shuttle dance, do some shadow boxing, get up and sit on a chair 10 times and repeat for three sets. If you have stairs to or in your house do a few sets of climbing them.
HIIT workouts are something you can interspersed on certain days with other kinds of workouts such as yoga.
I say this because recovery is an important factor specially if you are doing intense workouts. Different people might need a different duration to recover. If you are no longer in your 20s your body probably needs longer to recover from an intense training workout unless you are an athlete. So giving your high density training workouts an interval of a day or two as a good idea.
Hypertrophy or muscle building also requires that you give your muscles rest for them to be able to grow. That’s why gym goers work on different sets of muscles on different days. This is good practice in general even if you are not looking at muscle building. It goes a long way in preventing injuries.
Play a sport? Well, that’s it then!
If you play at any active sport like tennis, badminton, basketball, cycling, squash and swimming, you’re all covered. Even though this article is about how to work out and exercise from home I feel I need to make a mention of this.
Playing an active sport does wonders for your stamina and cardio fitness. The workout your body in a very different way and target muscles you didn’t even know you had because of the very fluid and varied movements involved.
I would just like to point out something that a sport like running will strengthen your legs but can ignore the muscle fitness of the upper body. So if you run also make it a practice to pump some push-ups every time you finish. Do some weights and or play another sport to target your upper body as well.
Limitations Of Online Exercise Classes And Training
The good news is that a lot of training helps coaches and teachers is now available online through videos and live sessions. But here is the caveat about learning online. The teacher might be able to impart instructions but at the same time there is no guarantee that you are implementing it correctly at home.
The teacher has no way of checking and correcting you even in a live session unless you book one-on-one exclusive sessions which would come along with very prohibitive expenses. Something akin to hiring a personal trainer.
It’s different in a real world class where the trainer can check and correct several students at the same time.
Some people are quick at picking up exercises whereas some are not. The ones that are, are usually the ones who have some experience with workouts and also a basic general understanding of how things work such as which movement triggers which groups of muscles. Online training will work best for these people.
If you have difficulty picking up the workout routine online you can have someone at home help you and give you a feedback if you are doing the movement correctly as is being demonstrated by the online teacher.