How to Build a Home Workout

So you have decided you want to do a home workout. You’ve built up the motivation, you’ve put it into your schedule, you are ready! But wait. Where in the world do you even start? You only have that one set of 5lb dumbbells and a yoga mat.

Or, let’s say you are someone who spent a lot of time in the gym building up strength, and now you are in a situation where you have to work out at home, but you are worried about losing the gains you had made.

I am here to tell you how to build yourself a work out routine, regardless of the equipment you have.

Photo by Sebastian Pociecha

The Order is Important

Here is a trainer secret for you: the order of the types of movements you do in your workout is important. I am not going to go through the full template of what order you should go in as I don’t think that’s going to benefit you for a home workout. There are a few things I want you to keep in mind though:

  • Always start with a light cardio warm up for no longer than 10 minutes.
  • Always do your flexibility training/stretching AFTER your strength training.
  • If you are going to do a cardio and strength workout in the same workout time, always put cardio AFTER strength.
  • Do your multi-joint/compound movements BEFORE your single-joint movements (e.g., do your squats before your calf raises).

There are reasons these are the general recommendations. It’s based on science, how our metabolisms function, and how our bodies respond to the stress of a workout. I’m not going to get into the specifics (unless someone for whatever reasons wants that), but just know, this is the best way to approach any workout.

Your Body is Your Best Friend

Photo by Jonathan Borba

When it comes to home workouts, your body is your best piece of equipment. It is always with you, and it can always challenge you.

Bodyweight exercises are actually recommended to do periodically, even for seasoned lifters in the gym. Why is that? A few reasons.

Bodyweight exercises are constant resistance weight training. This means that the weight you are lifting always stays the same, regardless of you changing leverage throughout the movement. Do you know what else is an example of constant resistance? Free weights (e.g., barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell). Push-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks, etc. all fall into this category. In general, bodyweight fitness falls under the “calisthenics” umbrella of training. Calisthenics are versatile. You can use them for strength, to improve endurance, sport specific skills, etc.

Bodyweight exercises can help improve your muscle stability as well. And, you can still “overload” your muscles while doing it. If your bodyweight is heavy enough, it delivers overload to your muscles. This does not mean the bigger you are the more of an advantage you have, though it can. It depends on your starting strength when you begin performing bodyweight exercises. For example, most people will fatigue quickly when performing push-ups. If you are someone who can do 20 push ups without fatiguing, first of all, how? Secondly, that means you can either do more reps or add in another set. Which brings me to my next point.

Time Under Tension

Photo by Luke Chesser

The most important factor when considering a home workout (or any work out for that matter) is “time under tension.” This means that your muscles respond based on the amount of tension they are under and for how long. If you are a seasoned lifter, trying to design a home workout that will give you the same amount of tension (i.e., weight) is going to be challenging, and in fact, may simply not be possible. What you can control is the TIME that your muscles are under tension.

The easiest way to do this is by adding sets and/or adding reps. For example, I was able to deadlift 215lbs on my 4th set before the gyms started closing. I have a 34lb Body Bar at home. 34lbs is only roughly 16% of my deadlift PR. I have been doing 8 sets of 10-12 reps in order to come even close to the same training load, but it is possible.

Doing something is going to be better than nothing. If you do nothing, you will lose your strength gains. If you do something, you may still lose some, but it won’t be nearly as much. If you keep up with some kind of training, your strength will come back fairly quickly.

Get Creative

Photo by Esther Driehaus

This is a time for you to get creative. How can you make equipment with no equipment? What can you do to create muscle tension? What kind of workouts are fun for you right now? This is a time for you to play and experiment. If you have been wanting to try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), now would be a great time to do it. You don’t need equipment to perform HIIT, and you also don’t need a lot of time!

You are going to have to let go of what you think your training should look like right now. Let yourself have fun and find creative ways to work out. For example, if you are someone who had been doing work with sandbags or slam balls, you can stuff a duffel bag with clothes and do similar workouts that way! Things of that nature can be done with items most people have sitting in their homes right now. I may make a separate post on this in the future to give you some ideas.

Final Thoughts

The key to building a home workout is not putting pressure on yourself and letting yourself have fun with it. If you have equipment at home already, that’s great! Follow the order guidelines to build yourself a sufficient home workout. If you don’t have any equipment, remember that you have your body and remember you can create something out of everyday household items.

If you still aren’t certain, know that I can create a personalized guide for you and will have some pre-made guides for sale in the upcoming weeks. Contact me if you would like more information or head on over to my Services page!

Stay healthy, friends.

-Kaitlin

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