As of this writing in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, tens of millions of people in the United States alone are finding themselves ordered to stay at home. Many types of businesses are closed, including gyms and fitness clubs. So, what are you supposed to do if 2020 was going to be your year to finally get fit?
The good news is, being stuck in the house is no barrier to getting fit! This can be your chance to keep your fitness or weight loss goals on track with some of the healthiest forms of exercise available. From yoga and bodyweight exercises to walking or even running in the great outdoors (at appropriate distances from others, of course) you have a chance to get in touch with your health right at home.
Staying Fit During the Coronavirus Outbreak
It can be hard to start an at-home workout routine. Often people feel like they are the only ones trying to get healthy. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, now you know that millions of people just like you are having to learn how to get fit at home!
If it feels like a drag to start a new workout routine, remember that nothing helps that more than having someone to suffer with. If you have someone you live with who is looking to get fit, too, starting a routine together will help you both. Even if you live alone, you may be able to pair up with a friend or relative who is stuck in their home and challenge each other, checking in regularly via phone, text, or your favorite video chat program.
An inescapable component in any workout routine is nutrition. This is true for anyone, but even more so for people who have undergone any kind of procedure or surgery for weight loss. The good news is, with so many people stuck at home and restaurants closed, this could be a great time to dive deeper into healthier eating habits. Cooking at home takes time many of us don’t normally have, but with restaurants closing down, many people don’t have a choice but to learn how to make better food at home.
This article is going to get you started with a great overview of how to plan and structure a workout. If there are a few terms you don’t know, don’t worry. The internet is full of more detailed explanations of individual exercises, and with so many people stuck at home, more are being added every day.
The Benefits of Home Exercise
Just like working out in the great outdoors, in a gym a full-featured workout program is going to help you get your cardio workout by getting your heart rate up. It will also add a strength training component. You may not think so, but you don’t need an entire gym full of weights to start building muscle and dropping pounds. A well-planned home exercise program will have you well on your way to building lean muscle mass and helping to increase your metabolism to help with weight loss.
In these times, perhaps one of the more important and overlooked effects of a home workout program is the mental benefits that come with it. Keeping your attitude up and head clear while you are stuck at home can be difficult. Exercising, even at home, has been shown to improve mental clarity and mood, which can be very important in uncertain times.
Getting Started With a Workout Routine
One of the most important things to remember is to keep your workout balanced. When you are working out in a gym or working with a physical trainer, you have someone watching over you to make sure you are working out your entire body. This is important because only working out some muscles and not others can eventually lead to muscle imbalance and possible joint injuries.
With any workout program it is important that you start slowly. Getting yourself injured by taking on too much too fast will only set you back. Making sure you are beginning slowly, doing simple exercises, and working up slowly from there, is the best approach. As you get stronger, you can introduce more and more exercises to vary your workout routine.
Form is essential in any workout. Doing an exercise wrong can put you at risk of injury, especially when you are doing any kind of strength training. If you are in a gym, you might have the benefit of a workout partner, fitness class instructor, or personal trainer to help you maintain good form. At home this can be harder. If you can, have someone you live with help you ensure you are keeping your posture and form right while you exercise, especially as you are learning new exercises. This is particularly important to avoid knee and shoulder injuries, which can easily sideline you from a lot of bodyweight exercises.
Structure of a Home Workout
Just like at the gym, you need to add all the parts of a workout to get good exercise and avoid potential injury. Below is a quick list of the components of a well-rounded workout routine that need to be included.
- A warm-up period
- Cardio exercises to burn calories
- Strength-training workout to build muscle
- Flexibility exercises and stretching
- Cooldown exercises
Going for a quick jog, spending a few minutes on the treadmill, or hitting the stationary bike are all great ways to warm up. If none of these are an option for you, following along to an easy aerobics or yoga video online can be a good place to start.
Other than the warmup and cooldown, it is not necessary to do every individual exercise every day. In fact, alternating cardio and strength-training days can help you balance your workout and avoid over-stressing some muscles.
Basic Beginner At-Home Exercises
A well-rounded workout routine at home is going to include both cardio and strength training. For cardio, everything from aerobic workout videos to jumping rope or going for a run (in those areas where that is still allowed) is a great start. Where most people might struggle is knowing how to start on the strength training component.
Below are some exercises that can get you off and running in your new at-home workout routine. For all the exercises, the number of repetitions, or reps, you do is not as important as making sure you are keeping good form. If you can only do a few at the start, don’t sweat it! It is better to slowly and consistently work up to more reps, and work up a good sweat, as time goes on.
- Start in a modified plank position with your hands under your shoulders and your knees on the floor.
- Keeping a straight line from the top of your head through your back and knees. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your upper body.
- Push yourself back to the starting position.
- Spread your stance with one foot out in front of you and the other behind. Your front foot should be flat on the floor and your back foot extended with only your toes on the ground.
- Bend both knees and lower yourself down. At the lowest point, your front leg should form a right angle with your thigh parallel to the floor. Be sure your front knee does not creep forward over your toes, as this can lead to knee pain.
- Raise yourself to the starting position. Repeat for several reps, then switch legs.
- Starting on the floor on all fours, place your hands directly under your shoulders and keep your back flat.
- Keeping your back flat and hips level, raise your right leg as you push your heel straight out behind you. Keep your toes pointed down at the floor.
- Hold for a second and then return your leg to the starting position. Repeat for several reps.
- Change legs and repeat on the other side.
Plank to Downward Dog
- Begin in a high-plank position with your feet hip distance apart and your hands directly under your shoulders. Your back should form a straight line from your head all the way down to your toes. Be sure to keep your shoulders broad and try to spread the weight out through your fingers rather than letting your wrists sink into the ground.
- Keeping your core tight, slowly move your hips back and up as you drop your head down. If you are keeping your form right, your body should form a triangle with the ground, bending only at the hips.
- Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat.
Each of these exercises can be modified to make them a little more difficult if you find they are too easy. The donkey kick can be turned into a bird dog by raising the arm opposite your raised leg. Adding a pushup between each downward dog will rapidly increase the intensity of your core and upper body workout.
There are, of course, many, many more exercises you can do. The varieties of upper and lower body workouts available to target everything from glutes and thighs to core, back, and shoulders are nearly endless. The wider variety of exercises you include in your routine, the better your workout will be and the less chance you will get bored, which can kill your motivation.
Modifying Exercises for At-Home Workouts
You don’t need a full gym worth of equipment to get a great workout. Having a few dumbbells around can help, but even if you don’t have these, all you need is a little imagination. For people just beginning a workout routine or for older individuals, adding some weight to shoulder exercises might be as simple as grabbing a can of soup.
If you don’t have access to dumbbells or other weights, resistance bands are a great alternative. Properly fixing these bands to a doorknob or railing can offer a wide range of exercises, particularly for strengthening and stabilizing the shoulders.
If you are starting to need a little more weight doing lunges or squats, a few books or other heavy objects packed in a backpack can be enough to begin with. Either wear the backpack like you are going out for a hike for lunges or hold it by the straps in front of your chest the way you would hold a kettlebell for a goblet squat.
For exercises like bench dips or tricep extensions that would normally require a bench at the gym, you can sometimes use the edge of a chair. Just be sure that if you do, the chair is stable enough and will not tip over.
If you have downstairs neighbors, they may not appreciate you jumping around at all hours, but you can still get much of your workout in without disturbing them. Plyometrics like jump-squats or a full burpee may cause a lot of noise, but doing those burpees with only a little hop at the end will certainly still get your heart rate up.
The most important things to remember are to be safe and use your imagination. If there is simply no way to adapt a particular exercise to fit your needs, your body, or your environment, there are likely many more options you can rely on.
Important Tips to Remember About Home Workouts
It can’t be emphasized enough: start slow! Normally you should never begin a workout program of any kind, especially if you are over 50 or have a history of cardiovascular disease, without consulting your physician. This may or may not be possible for some people as healthcare facilities are currently overloaded.
Even if you do get a chance to talk to your doctor, you should be extremely careful when starting your workout routine or adding new exercises. A trip to the hospital right now, even for a minor injury, is something that should be avoided at all costs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that working out, whether at home or in a gym, is something you need to be careful with if you have had any form of gastric bypass, ESG, or other surgery or procedure for weight loss. You need to be very careful about the nutritional content of your food, especially if you are going to be burning more calories from a new workout program.
At NEW You Weight Loss, we are here for you during the COVID-19 outbreak and long afterward. This is an extraordinary time, but there are opportunities in the midst of challenges. From starting a new workout routine to get you in touch with your own body to finally having the time to try out some new healthy recipes, this can be a time where your health comes first.