At-Home Workouts: What to Do and Where to Start
Whether or not you’ve started a keto diet, chances are that getting fitter and healthier is one of your top goals throughout the year. And working out at home is now more of a possibility than ever. But can at-home workouts provide similar fitness levels and results as gym workouts?
The answer is a resounding yes. It’s possible to get fit and achieve your weight loss goals from the comfort of your living room.
With at-home workouts, you can break a sweat with cardio, build muscle with strength training, challenge yourself with HIIT, or tone up with body weight exercises.
Read on for ideas on how you can get in better shape doing at-home workouts that allow you to:
- Skip expensive gym memberships
- Save travel time to and from the gym
- Work out in whatever clothes you want
- Avoid going out in inclement weather
- Exercise without the “all eyes on you” feeling of the gym
- Challenge yourself with your own workout plan
Types of At-Home Workouts to Mix and Match
It’s important to note that the workout you consistently do is 100% more effective than the better-sounding workout you don’t do. Intentions count for nothing in your fitness game, so consistency is king.
If cardio is your jam, you can find plenty to do at home — even if you don’t want to invest in a stationary bike, elliptical, or rower.
Several popular TV subscription services such as Daily Burn, Sweatflix, and BeachBody On Demand offer a steady variety of cardio workouts. You can also find a plethora of free videos on YouTube and other sites.
Another free resource is your local library where you may find a decent variety of DVDs to borrow. Libraries are linked together, so if there’s a title you want that isn’t on the shelf at your local branch, they may be able to get it for you from another location.
With at-home cardio workouts, no equipment is required other than perhaps a yoga mat, towel, or soft rug.
You might think hardcore strength training can only happen at the gym. While that’s one place to have a great workout, you can get similar results at home.
Sure, it takes some equipment, but you don’t have to fill your living room with weight machines. You can go old-school and pump iron, which takes up less room than you might think. A few stacks of weight plates, a pair of dumbbells, and a barbell are all you need for a full-body workout.
If you’re creative and short on space, you can even get by without a bench. Use a fitness ball for inclines, then easily store it out of sight when you’re finished.
Many strength trainers use a split system in which they work upper body one day and lower body the next. Often, the third day is for an ab workout, cardio, or specialized sports training — then repeat as desired for the remaining days. On a split system, it’s easy to remember what you’re doing on which day, and there’s flexibility in what body part movements you choose from workout to workout.
There’s a growing trend toward doing full-body workouts every other day, which is a viable option if you’re unable to exercise every day[*].
For example, if you can only do your workout two days per week, using a conventional split system would mean upper and lower body are each worked only one time.
A total body workout twice a week hits everything two times, increasing the value of your time spent.
Whether you plan for two workouts per week or more, the key is to stay consistent and realize that progress takes time — nothing happens overnight. Once you start seeing results, you’ll likely be even more motivated and that, in turn, will help propel you forward.
The beauty of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is how versatile and progressive it is. You might think you can’t make continual fitness gains with just 10 minutes per day, but that’s not true.
For example, say you’re doing two-minute intervals. The amount of work you can do in those two minutes is going to steadily increase with time — even when you factor in some less than stellar days.
After you reach your max (which is further down the road than you think), you can continue to increase your fitness by perfecting your form. Using the proper form increases your difficulty on any given exercise. When you plateau (meaning no more growth or progress), you can incorporate more challenging versions of your exercises.
You can easily customize your HIIT workouts because you can fill your intervals with a variety of exercises. Split your workout routine on different days, and alternate between upper and lower body. You can incorporate as many whole-body movements into one day as you can.
Whole-body movements include planks, mountain climbers, burpees, and even jumping jacks.
In a HIIT workout, you’ll do your intervals with as much intensity as you can muster. A sample beginner HIIT workout might be something as basic as:
- 2 minutes of push-ups
- 30 seconds of rest
- 2 minutes of lunges
- 30 seconds of rest
- 2 minutes of chair dips
- 30 seconds of rest
- 2 minutes of bicycle crunches
- 30 seconds of rest
You get a good workout — in only 10 minutes — and you can easily track your progress from week to week.
Don’t worry if you can’t do many of each interval in the beginning. Your skill and strength will steadily grow if you keep at it. For example, if you can only do two push-ups on your first day, that’s fine. Do two push-ups (and then rest for a few seconds) as many times as you can in two minutes. Don’t be discouraged; you’ll be surprised at how fast your ability grows.
Body Weight Exercise
What your parents knew as calisthenics, you may know as body weight exercise. In the last decade or so, body weight exercise has become much more creative than in years past. With the new moniker comes inventive, fun exercises that can keep you engaged.
You’ll see a lot of body weight exercises in HIIT workouts, but you don’t have to lock yourself down into intervals or all-out intensity. You also don’t have to limit your body weight workouts to your living room or garage if you don’t want to.
Go to the park or a grade school that allows public use of the play area after the school day is over. Having a change of scenery breaks up the monotony — and adds an element of fun. Try the parallel bars, monkey bars, and the rings to get your workout in for the day.
For ideas and motivation, consider joining body weight exercise groups online. You can share stories, learn tips, and encourage one another.
It can be dynamic to do yoga with a bunch of strangers, or it can be painfully awkward. At home, you can do your favorite flavor of yoga without stressing about what body parts you might be revealing or whether your workout wear is on point.
Yoga isn’t high-impact like some of the previously mentioned workouts, but research shows that it’s as good as stretching-strengthening exercises[*]. It’s also a solid option for those who need low-impact exercise due to health conditions such as hormonal imbalances, endocrine disorders, or previous injuries.
There are a dizzying number of yoga apps that you can download on your smartphone or tablet. The bonus of using an app to guide your yoga poses is that you can put your phone down just inches from your face, so you can clearly see the poses. No trying to keep a book open or straining your neck to see the TV.
Why Exercise Is Important
Increasing your exercise, while on the keto diet, helps to burn through your glycogen stores (stored glucose) so you can get into ketosis[*].
Once your glycogen is used up — and you aren’t refilling it by eating carbs — your body will move on to burning fat for energy.
Regular exercise provides other benefits, such as:
- Elevating your insulin sensitivity (a good thing)[*]
- Lengthening your telomeres which may extend lifespan[*]
- Increasing the rate at which you burn fat[*]
Where to Start Your At-Home Workout
OK, you’ve decided to give at-home workouts a go, but how do you decide where to begin? Fortunately, there’s a simple answer to that.
Start with movements that will show you the fastest, most significant return for your time investment. That means putting your largest muscle groups to work first, such as your quadriceps, glutes, and abdominals. Keeping these big muscles busy will jump-start your fat-burning furnace, so you can be encouraged by your early results[*][*].
Although it’s important to remember that immediate results aren’t realistic, seeing some progress will build momentum for your new habit and keep you hungry for further success.
Once you’re able to add more movements, you can pepper in exercises for your smaller body parts.
Eventually, you’ll start to plateau. When that happens, you can tighten up your form or make your existing movements more challenging.
For example, instead of doing regular squats, you can do one-leg squats, pistol squats, or pulsing squats. In pulsing squats, you do your basic squat but don’t return to the starting position. You stay in the down position and pump about halfway up for the duration of the movement.
Simple adjustments will increase your difficulty and keep you blasting past plateaus.
Give Yourself a Pre-Workout Protein Boost
While on the keto diet, you may find yourself a little low on energy for workouts, but that’s not the only reason you may want to take a protein supplement.
Protein helps with weight loss and decreased body fat in part due to its increased thermal effect — which means you’ll burn calories in order to digest and metabolize it[*][*].
Compared to other diets that are lower in protein, a high-protein diet has been shown to increase satiety while decreasing appetite[*].
Supplementing with protein also helps you meet your macros, which can be a challenge for beginners on the keto diet.
Get Ready to Blast Fat With At-Home Workouts
As you can see, you aren’t limited to using weights or pricey exercise machines when working out at home.
You can burn calories, change your body composition, and have as much fun with your at-home workouts as you can at the gym. (Maybe even more.) It’s less expensive, saves time, and gives you the freedom to explore new modes of exercise.
You can incorporate plenty of variety into your workouts every week by mixing and matching your workout types. Perhaps you want to do two days per week of strength training and then fill out the rest of your week with cardio, HIIT, or body weight training.
Changing things up helps to keep your workouts fresh without losing momentum. You have ultimate freedom over your workout routines and can tailor them around your schedule, needs, and fitness goals.
Remember: The workout you do with consistency is 100% more effective than the workout you only think about. There’s no need to let self-consciousness, financial issues, or boredom be a barrier to the fit body of your dreams. Today is day one — what are you going to do with it?
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