How to make at-home fitness work for you.
Exercise should be a part of your everyday life. I meet so many women who want to implement an exercise program but struggle to train on their own or at home so I’ve put together my top tips for getting started, building and maintaining motivation for at-home workout success.
There are times in your life when getting to a gym or finding a class or Trainer to train with are nigh on impossible. Or at least, just very, very difficult. Study,work, babies and children all appear to conspire against you. But this is life and unfortunately, there will always be high priority events or projects jostling for your time and attention.
Working out at a gym or in a boot camp can put us in contact with others who have similar goals and like similar things — and having a social event to attend with people you like makes exercise so much easier. It’s also great to have the accountability of working out with a group of people that miss you when you don’t show or a Trainer who is invested in you. What happens when you don’t have access to fitness classes for one reason or another? Or your Trainer? How do you learn to work around it and get what you need?
Working out by yourself and doing things on your own can be damn hard. Not impossible, but harder.
So, knowing it’s going to be harder in some respects, why would you workout on your own at home ? There are many reasons but introducing a resistance program you can do at home is incredibly time efficient and effective. You boost your basal metabolic rate, reshape and define your body plus reduce stress and anxiety without travel, membership dramas, or fuss.
A lot of women feel lost outside group exercise classes. And contrary to popular opinion, you’re not only completely capable of lifting weights, but resistance training actually makes it easier to define and shape your physique. Weights are more time efficient and effective in sculpting your body than cardio or diet alone.
Your home workout space setup need only be simple because you don’t need that much to get started.
My recommendations and the basics for at home fitness
Having the idea to train at home and then making a success of it for yourself, however, takes a little bit of preparation. Don’t make it harder on yourself or set yourself up for failure by skipping preparation. The information below is supported by research and I know these tips work because I train at home too. I have a chronically ill child who requires full-time care so I also have to work around someone else’s needs and multiple home/work commitments. I simply don’t have the luxury of leaving the house regularly (my hubby works shifts) or getting away for too long. No drama, I workout at home (in the garage because I’m glam like that).
Find a way to make these ideas your own and implement as many of them as you can. I want to remind you of the two things that fit people do that if you do too, will create success for you too:
1. Be consistent. Don’t skip workouts or training. Get it done. You don’t need to thrash yourself, go hard all the time or punish your body. A simple 30-minute weights regime will help you change your physique and improve your health. And regular habits become something you just do without thinking, regardless of whether you ‘feel’ like training or not.
2. Eat well. Not a fad diet. Eat for gains (lean muscle — read about it here and why you need to do this). I ALWAYS prepare food the day I shop and before I put it in the fridge. I do a fridge salad (undressed — the salad that is, not me), crudites and a fruit salad. It tides me over for around 3 days (I do it twice a week). Because I’m at home, every time I’m bored or tired (yeah, it happens) I open the fridge and see something prepared that is easier to eat than junk — which I DON’T keep in the house.
Want to know how to get and stay feeling motivated to train at home? My top 5 tips.
1. Put training into your daily agenda and schedule
You will find it easier to maintain a habit if it’s a regular occurrence — same time, every day. Skipping a day leads to two days off, then three and before you know it, two weeks have passed, and you haven’t done any training.
Training daily doesn’t mean you need to lift weights 7 days a week. Your circumstances may be such that you do just 10 mins after the baby goes down x 2 days each week, and some stretching or cardio the other days.
Or you may want to follow a three-day split program for weights and walk the other 4. Make moving in some way a daily habit — like showering. Or teeth brushing. They are part of your non-negotiable self-care regime.
And daily repetition will make it a natural part of your everyday rhythm. I find phone reminders that set off an alarm useful to remind me to train at the same time each day. A little bit of a jolt and a message (I set myself a quote) to reinforce that I want these results and have planned to put in the work (so go do it).
2. Connect with others
You aren’t alone.
Belonging to a physical group is awesome, but there are other means of connecting thanks to social media. In fact, these online groups are better because we can be reached anytime — not just for a few hours per week like a trainer. I think we see such amazing results from online programs because of the access to support and information — your Trainer and other women in your situation are just a click away. You have access to a wide range of advice and solutions plus support.
It’s possible to get your workouts online. Or to share a training session with friends via apps like Skype.
3. Track your progress
You will not see the small changes in your own body. You won’t remember what weights you’re lifting. I know. I see clients make the same mistakes all the time. You must track your workouts, your measurements and what you’re doing in your training sessions. If you don’t, you won’t see the progress and when you don’t think you see progress, you stop training.
I recommend My Fitness Pal — there’s both a free site and an app that sync to make tracking easier. We have our own an app for training in our online program that records your vitals and your workout achievements – finding something like this really helps.
Even just being able to see the hard work you’ve put in, helps you to realise your achievements. Tracking your measurements and watching them decrease or your strength improving will provide a psychological boost to keep you motivated — your brain loves it when you do the right thing.
4. Have a fantastic, exciting goal. And lots of smaller ones.
A weekly goal, regardless of how simple it is, helps you to use achievement to keep engaged and motivated — it’s a basic psychological tool you can use to your advantage.
The aim is to set yourself an easy, achievable task. It could be to do a weights program consisting of 3 exercises, 3 times per week. These are short workouts that won’t make you too sore or tired but help you to create that healthy habit when you begin. On alternating days, you can walk or use the treadmill. Don’t do too much too quickly — it’s overwhelming and will have the opposite effect than what’s required. Key point: Your brain won’t know you set yourself a simple task — it only cares that you did it.
Training needs to be sustainable for it to work long term. Yes, the workouts are important. But so is your recovery — this is when your build the lean muscle and you can’t do that if you’re always training. For the record, some of my most successful clients only train 2–3 times per week but they do this every single week. And they increase their activity levels in between sessions. We continue to stimulate the muscle each session to keep them progressing, challenged and engaged but I don’t flog them to within an inch of their life. It’s unnecessary. So ease up on yourself.
Schedule in workouts and CHECK them off so your brain knows you’ve completed your tasks. It will release dopamine which makes you feel good and then your brain gets busy to encourage you to do it again tomorrow (motivation).
If you add your workout success to that the food preparation success mentioned previously, you’ll start receiving all these little rewards from your brain for doing what you need to do to get where you want to go. It loves it when you succeed. Exciting isn’t it?
Need a short term goal? Commit to a race or an event and then publicly declare your participation. This is a tangible way to stay motivated.
5. Acknowledge your awesomeness and reward yourself regularly.
Firstly, food is not a reward. Nor is it bad. It should be an enjoyable part of your life and not something you use to congratulate yourself with after effort. And rewarding yourself doesn’t even have to cost — you could have a bubble bath. Or give yourself permission to read a book one afternoon. You could treat yourself to a new hairstyle. Or a massage. Or new gear.
Make it something that it’s meaningful to you or something you particularly want or enjoy. I have a client who puts $1 in a jar each time she trains and she gets to spend it on whatever she wants, whenever she wants (she usually waits until she has $100).
Take the time to acknowledge your hard work. And share it with us in the forums — I really love to hear women recognising their achievements.
Learn from all the success stories out there.
Yes, you can definitely achieve your goals. Use others experience to avoid mistakes that may derail you.
And yes, working out alone at home can be hard at times. But hard isn’t impossible and there’s always a work around and a way to make things happen. Let’s get on with it, then!