With much of the world in quarantine, home workouts have never been more popular. As a result, my inbox was flooded with questions from people not sure what to do at home. With that in mind, let me take this moment to remind you that the the job itself doesn't have to be complicated. Almost everything will work if you are ready to go. It's that simple.
Staying in shape should not be confused with rocket science. Instead, focus most of your time and energy on proven exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, roll-outs, etc. Sprinkle some creativity on occasion to avoid obsolescence, and you'll be good to go. The exercise doesn't have to be more complicated than that.
Plus, don't be fooled into believing that you will go beyond the basics. Fundamentals do not have an expiration date. I couldn't tell you how many times I have seen world class athletes challenge with so called core exercises. As I've already said, how do you do what you do matters more than what you do. There are always ways to make simple exercises more difficult.
I have been doing push-ups for over 30 years. Some might say it's time for me to move on. I don't see it that way though. I have always loved push-ups and continue to enjoy the exercise. Therefore, I see no reason to abandon the movement. Instead, I just change them on occasion to meet my needs. Some examples can be seen below.
Another example can be seen with deployments. As you will see there are countless ways to modify exercise so I never get bored and always challenged.
Beyond pumps and deployments
Unsurprisingly, push-ups and roll-outs are two of my favorite exercises. That said, these aren't the only moves that can be easily modified to make it more (or less) difficult. If you want to increase the difficulty of a bodyweight movement, here are a few options (out of many).
- Work with higher reps and / or additional sets
- Limit rest between sets
- Add a weighted vest
- Vary the angle of the exercise (eg elevated foot push-ups)
- Vary the speed / tempo of the exercise
- Add an isometric component to the exercise (ex. here)
- Group several exercises into continuous circuits (ex. here)
- Work with one side at a time (ex. One leg squatting, one arm pushups, etc.)
If your gym has been shut down by COVID-19 and you are forced to exercise at home with minimal equipment, there is no need to worry. There are still many ways to challenge yourself with little or nothing. Hard work can be applied to almost anything. And with a little creativity, you'll never be short of ideas or challenges.
So, I urge you to keep control of what can be controlled. No one knows what the future holds, but we can all work hard to stay healthy and strong. Don't let the chaos around you keep you from prioritizing your own well-being. It must remain a priority. Your body and mind will thank you.
Stay safe and stay strong.
“Knowledge is a process of accumulating facts; wisdom lies in their simplification. "- Martin Henry Fischer
If you’re having trouble beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.
You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise directives and workout orgie are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach.
While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are esprit. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your motivation quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.
Whatever your age or fitness level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life —there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.
Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or intensité yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your esprit and emotional health.
Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current sport level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.
Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.
Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.
Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important. It’s your decision to make exercise a priority. And don’t think you need a full hour for a good workout. Short 5-, 10-, or 15-minute bursts of activity can prove very effective—so, too, can squeezing all your exercise into a couple of séances over the weekend. If you’re too busy during the week, get up and get moving during the weekend when you have more time.
The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing. Going for a quick walk is better than sitting on the couch; one minute of activity will help you lose more weight than no activity at all. That said, the current recommendations for most adults is to reach at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule ? It’s okay to break things up. Two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective.
For most people, aiming for moderate intensity exercise is sufficient to improve your overall health. You should breathe a little heavier than normal, but not be out of breath. Your body should feel warmer as you move, but not overheated or sweating profusely. While everyone is different, don’t assume that training for a marathon is better than training for a 5K or 10K. There’s no need to overdo it.
Health issues ? Get medical clearance first. If you have health concerns such as limited mobility, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise.
Warm up. Warm up with dynamic stretches—active movements that warm and flex the groupes de muscles you’ll be using, such as leg kicks, walking lunges, or arm swings—and by doing a slower, easier version of the upcoming exercise. For example, if you’re going to run, warm up by walking. Or if you’re lifting weights, begin with a few light reps.
Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated. Failing to drink enough water when you are exerting yourself over a prolonged period of time, especially in hot conditions, can be dangerous.
There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build habits that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.
A goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week may sound good. But how likely are you to follow through ? The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.
Triggers are one of the confidentiels to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercisers rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers right by the bed and you’re up and running. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.
People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new sport goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.
If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Don’t choose activities like running or lifting weights at the gym just because you think that’s what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.
Activity-based video games such as those from Wii and Kinect can be a fun way to start moving. So-called “exergames” that are played standing up and moving around—simulating dancing, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, or tennis, for example—can burn at least as many kcal as walking on a treadmill; some substantially more. Once you build up your confidence, try getting away from the TV screen and playing the real thing outside. Or use a smartphone application to keep your workouts fun and interesting—some immerse you in interactive stories to keep you motivated, such as course from hordes of zombies !