Just because you can’t make it to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout.
Yes you can still KEEP MOVING if your gym is shut down and you are practicing social distancing. In fact, getting exercise, lowering your stress, and eating healthy are all great ways to help your immune systems.
You don’t need an expensive home gym or even any equipment at all to still get a good workout. Even 30 minutes a day can have a huge impact on your mental health and keep your body healthy and strong.
So whether you’re used to going to the gym and are looking for an at-home alternative, or if you don’t regularly exercise but find yourself at home more than usual and want something to help physically and mentally, try these tips to get started with your own workouts at home!
1. Get a list and a timer
To get the most out of your home workouts, all you need is a list and a timer.
The list and the timer can be your best friend when it comes to home workouts. Often the hardest part about working out at home is staying focused and making yourself go through a full workout. It’s easy to get distracted by other things that need doing, or feel like you broke a sweat so that counts. If you have to sit there thinking, “Well what other exercises should I do?” you will inevitably waste time, do fewer, and probably stop early.
So before you start, write out a list of all the moves you intend to do and determine ahead of time the number of reps, sets, or time period for each one. Then stick to that!
One of my favorite formats is to make a list of about ten to twenty exercises, varying between strength and cardio, and set a one-minute timer. For each exercise, I do as many as I can in that one minute. Then, as quickly as I can, I reset the timer and go on to the next one, crossing off the exercises on my list until I’m done. With a little extra time interspersed to catch my breath, a warmup and a cool down, I can have an intense home workout in under 30 minutes! Add a good stretch at the end and you’re golden.
Want an extra challenge? Write down how many reps you do of each exercise in that minute, then repeat the same routine in a day or two and beat your numbers!
2. Work through the muscle groups
But how do you know what to do? Especially if you are used to taking your cues from an exercise class instructor or simply the machines at the gym, it can feel overwhelming to pick what exercises to do for a workout.
A good go-to is to start at the bottom and work your way up, and be sure to hit front and back of the body: legs (so calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes), torso (abdominals, lower back, upper back, chest), and arms (biceps, triceps, shoulders).
If you don’t already know exercises for each of those muscle groups, scroll to the bottom for some moves you might recognize and don’t hesitate to look up videos on ones you don't!
3. Mix it up
Don’t do the same thing every day! Not only will you get bored, but you can cause an overuse injury.
Maybe break up your week so you focus on strength Monday/Wednesday/Friday and cardio Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. Or have a pull day (where you use your pulling muscles) and a push day (where you use your pushing muscles). Maybe one day you follow a 30 minute online video workout and the next you go for a long walk with your family.
Try new things. Find an online dance lesson video, or start a squat and pushup challenge in your family, or run sprints in the backyard.
Keep it fresh and fun and you’ll find yourself keeping it going even after things go back to normal.
4. Stay safe
Be aware of your new surroundings when exercising at home. If you are in your backyard, watch out for holes and ditches. Be sure to clear the floor of toys or slippery rugs if you are inside. If your pet isn’t used to seeing you exercising, maybe have a family member hold on to it or put it in another room so it doesn’t trip you in a desire to join the fun.
Also be careful trying new exercise you saw online unless you have someone around (who knows what to look for) to do a form check, or perhaps a mirror to watch yourself. That doesn’t mean don’t learn new things, but maybe find a video that breaks down the move in parts and gives tips to avoid injury.
Even if it’s a move you’ve done before but only on a machine or only with a coach, it’s a great idea to find a video that walks you through the form until you are really comfortable doing it on your own.
Bottom line: keep moving, but make safety a priority!
5. Try these moves
Here are some fantastic no-equipment-needed exercises to pick from and mix up for a great full-body workout.
Squats of any variety (mix it up with squat pulses or sumo squats, or try holding something heavy)
High knee raises
Imaginary (or real) jump rope
Lunges of any variety
Tricep dips off a chair
Planks of any variety (side-planks, reverse planks, mountain climbers)
You can modify or intensify all of these: take it slower as you need, or add a jump, more speed, or intensity as needed. It all depends on your level. Know your body, but also challenge it. It’s supposed to be hard—that’s what makes you stronger.
So don’t let social distancing get you down. Make this your healthiest season yet and keep moving!