The Home Training Fundamentals.
Now I think about it, I really should have put this together a while ago.
Let me be clear, this is by no means the definitive guide on how to optimise your home training. Rather, it's a break-down of a few things that I've personally found hugely valuable when training from home. These fundamentals have helped me to actually feel motivated enough to train in the first place, to have effective sessions that I actually enjoy doing, and to build muscle & strength during this lockdown period.
So here they are.
The mindset you hold really does underlie everything. It dictates how you interpret your experience, how consistent you'll be, and much more. So, here's a few things that have helped me build a mindset that drives me towards my health & fitness goals.
Firstly, aim. Before committing to training, it's essential to have outlined exactly what it is you're working towards. Take some time to think about this. Write it down. Are you trying to build muscle? Build strength? Is sporting performance your priority? Or do you just want to improve your health? Be crystal-clear on your intentions & then tailor your training approach accordingly.
The next aspect is focus. Nowadays we live in hyper-stimulating environments; there's always something to distract us. Ignoring distractions & turning your focus internally is crucial to effective training. So before each workout put all distractions to one side & take your attention to the session ahead of you. I find that when I'm able to let go of anything I've got coming up in the future or anything that's happened in the past, I enter into a state of flow whereby I'm fully immersed in the move. Essentially, focus on one thing at a time.
The final aspects are patience & consistency. A lot of people start training & expect to see results after a week. This mindset will only leave you feeling disheartened. Change takes time & consistently executing actions each & every day. The big picture is obviously important, but you've got to be willing to let go of it & just take each day as it comes. Live by this mentality & results will come naturally.
A home-gym set up would be nice.
But the reality is most of us can't afford that luxury just yet.
What I've found useful is to allocate a space at home (or outside) for training - ideally somewhere distinct from where you do most of your other daily activities. This way, you're able to create some much needed separation between your training & other things in your life (e.g. work, sleep/relaxation).
Equipment isn't essential.. but I highly recommend it. Bodyweight training can deliver some incredible results, but the safest & most straightforward way of progressing exercise involves the use of equipment & external load.
If I had to recommend two pieces of equipment to invest in, it would be a set of resistance bands & a pair of dumbbells. You can find a solid set of resistance bands on Amazon for no more than £25. Dumbbells will cost a bit more at this moment in time, but are worth the investment. Look to get an adjustable set (that way you're not having to buy multiple pairs) - Powerhouse Fitness & York Fitness tend to offer good quality sets at affordable prices.
Consistency is up there as one of the most crucial factors when it comes to building strength & muscle. And it stems from clearly outlined routine.
First, outline the frequency of your training. For real progress to be made, you’ll want to be training 2x per week at the very least. But, it's also important to ensure you allow plenty of time for recovery between sessions - somewhere between 48-72 hours before you train the same muscle group again.
There's plenty of different training splits out there to choose from (just google, "training splits"), but if you're just starting out I'd recommend doing 2-3 full body sessions each week, with a 1-2 days between each session (e.g. Monday-Wednesday-Friday).
Once you've decided on your preferred training frequency & split, it's time to incorporate your training into your schedule. Outline specific days & times that you'll train and stay consistent with them. The more routine/scheduled you can make your training, the easier it becomes to stay consistent.
The exercises you should include in your training is highly individualised. Your goals, training history, current & previous injuries, anatomical structure, likes/dislikes, mobility, & much, much more ought to be accounted for when it comes to exercise selection.
Without these background details & an analysis of your movement, I can't tell you what you should & shouldn't be doing. But, on a very general basis, here’s what I'd recommend focusing on.
Above all else focus on moving with excellent technique throughout the entirety of your sets.
Solid technique not only hugely reduces your risk of injury - which is an incredibly important point in itself -, but it will also mean that you actually get more out of your training.
With improper form you..
Essentially, you’re limiting your ability to develop strength & build muscle while also potentially causing injury down the line. So, moving with flawless form is a must.
Compound exercises are movements that require the use of multiple joints & muscles - for example, presses, squats, lunges. These essentially provide the biggest bang for your back in that they target multiple muscles at once, as opposed to isolation exercises that focus on just one muscle at a time. What's more, as compound movements utilise multiple muscle groups, they allow you to generate more force & therefore lift heavier weight, leading to greater results down the line.
Your exercise selection should ensure that you're building your body in a balanced way. There shouldn't be a massive emphasis on one part of the body & less on another. That means doing 30 sets of chest-dominant exercises per week, but just 10 sets of back-dominant movements isn't the way to go. Each major muscle group ought to receive equal attention (unless there's a specific muscle group that requires additional stimulus due to weakness).
Superset Exercises for Efficiency.
Time efficiency is probably a big factor for you - you want to work out but don’t want to spend crazy lengths of time doing so, I get it. To help with that I suggest pairing up or ‘supersetting’ exercises to condense your sessions.
However, when it comes to pairing exercises it’s important to understand what your goals are - if you’re trying to really target & overload a specific muscle, then you might pair two exercises that focus on it. But, if you’re just trying to have an effective full body workout, then pairing exercises that don’t utilise the same primary muscle groups would be a better idea.
How could I leave out this crucial component?
Your training should be enjoyable, something you actually look forward to doing. For me, listening to some good music makes me feel good & the whole process just becomes more playful & fun.
If you're interested, here's a link to my current workout playlist (it's still in the works, so if you've got any track recommendations please send them my way!).
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