Exercising is hard. Finding the time, will, and energy to workout is a monumental task on its own, and one rarely finds all three on the same day. Now remove the gyms and add-in social distancing restrictions, and all of a sudden, that extremely difficult task to-go-exercise has become a Herculean obstacle. This guide is here to steer you along your journey as you begin the arduous path towards regularly working-out and acquiring a more informed outlook on personal fitness while at home.
Staying in shape while stuck at home is challenging; however, it is not impossible. The best way to keep the pounds off is to engage in daily cardio regularly. Go for a walk or nature hike with a family member, your dog, or a close friend. Go for a run in the local park or try a new running route you've meant to explore. Climb the stairs of your house or apartment complex. Go for a swim in a pool or lake.
There are numerous ways to stay active and engage in cardio when gyms are accessible, and the benefits are too good to miss out on. Regular cardio strengthens the heart, burns calories, boosts the metabolism, accelerates fat loss, reduces stress, improves mood, reduces arthritis pain, lowers blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, and improves the immune system. Cardio is the perfect way to get outside, soak up some sun, and stay healthy, all while maintaining social distance.
Calisthenics and Bodyweight Training
When it comes to the other forms of exercise such as weight training, engaging in these types of activities becomes much more difficult when gyms aren’t an option, and access to dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, cables, and machines is cut off. However, there are still ways to get around the roadblocks that social distancing creates for those who do not have their own set of weights at home.
The first is calisthenics and bodyweight exercises. Sit-ups, push-ups, and squats are some of the most effective ways to train the body without equipment. Focus on building up reps and doing more each day. If you can only do 10 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, and 10 squats in one sitting, then try to do 11 of each the next day. The key to growth is to push your limits every time. With bodyweight training and building muscle, pain, and soreness are to be expected. While pain and soreness are typically viewed negatively as indicators of injury, in the realm of weight training and muscle building, soreness and pain are positive signs that you are making progress and pushing yourself.
For muscles to grow, they need two things, exercise, and fuel. Exercise breaks the body down and creates micro-tears in the muscle. After a workout, it is essential to ingest protein soon after because the body then uses that protein as fuel so that it can repair those micro-tears and make the muscle bigger. While this guide may help give you, the reader, ideas for how to exercise at home, it will not guarantee you will lose pounds unless the nutrition and diet factor is also taken care of accurately.
Circuit training is an excellent way to get the most out of your at-home workout. Instead of just doing as many push-ups as you can till your body gives up, circuit training encourages the person exercising to set a limit on the number of reps per exercise and then cycle different exercises in a circuit. Let me give an example of a circuit exercise.
Rather than doing sit-ups until failure, a circuit would specify that you do 10 sit-ups. After 10 sit-ups, you do 10 push-ups, then 15 bodyweight squats, then a 30-second plank, and finally 10 triceps dips. This is the first round of the circuit. For the second round of the circuit, you repeat what you did for the first round (although you can add in variation and increase/decrease reps according to personal preference). So, then you do another 10 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats, 30-second plank, and 10 triceps dips. You can do as many rounds as you want, and the circuit concludes when you decide. Most people tend only to do 3 rounds in a circuit.
Another way to weight train at home is to get creative. Use gallon jugs of milk to substitute a kettlebell in walking lunges or bicep curls. Do pull-ups on a doorframe. Stack heavy books on your lap when you do triceps dips. Run a marathon in your backyard. Swim laps in a lake. Build a basketball hoop or a soccer net from scratch. Make up a new game with a football and your family. Experiment, explore your surroundings, and find what works best for you. If you follow this advice, you will have your ideal "No gym, no problem"-bod in no time! It doesn't matter how you move; just don't stop moving!