Gyms are Closed? Try Working Out at Home...
With all the commercial gyms being closed, many trainees wonder how they can train at home with minimum equipment, if any, at their disposal.
Organizing workouts at home is easy and one requires so little space and gear. However, having a few items can be of great help ...
Updated: January 10, 2022.
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First thing first - when switching from the gym workouts to the home workouts, perhaps the hardest part is to recreate gym's sets and reps. Well, what worked in the gym doesn't have to work properly at home and vice versa - unless your home gym is an actual gym with weights, bars and everything else what constitute a gym. Lucky you ... :)
Anyway, my favorite sets and reps method for home workouts is Tabata Method or for short 'Tabata'. Basically, you workout 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds and do that 8 times for a totally of 4 minutes.
So, after warm-up, try to do common pushups using Tabata method. After that, rest for 3-4 minutes and then go for pull-ups, squats, crunches and finish with the burpees.
Over time, introduce some variations in these exercises and try to include few more. It is incredible way of burning a ton of calories and increasing the stamina, muscle mass (if you eat properly), coordination etc.
Bodyweight workouts are not just squats, push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, lunges and similar exercises - bodyweight workouts are much more with countless variations of movements, speed, range of motion and similar.
And the best of all, one doesn't need anything, except perhaps the yoga mat and some good will.
Bodyweight exercises may be used as warm-up, but they can also be the main focus of your entire workout session.
If you are used to gym workouts, you are then probably underestimating the bodyweight workouts (I did, but not any more) - so, start slowly.
Here is a 20 minutes YouTube video of light fully body workout - it looks so easy, but for the heavier people not used to such workouts, it can be quite challenging:
How to Avoid Boredom While Doing Burpees
Personally, I never get bored doing common burpees, but when variations are introduced in any exercise, body reacts by adapting to the new conditions - You grow stronger, faster, coordination is improved etc.
Here is an excellent YouTube video about burpees:
Note: Any variation in any exercise cause body to adapt - that also means that muscle soreness and similar issues are possible. Not to mention that if you are not fit to work out, you shouldn't do it on your own ...
Good yoga mat should be part of any home gym - they are cheap, easily stored away, and can be used for warming up, stretching, bodyweight exercises, for yoga obviously, etc.
Good yoga mat is made from durable, tear-resistant material, must be easily cleaned, it should repel water, moisture and sweat, it should be without any scent (new ones often do have some mild scent, but it goes away quickly) etc.
Most popular fitness/yoga mats can be found at local fitness shops or may be ordered from online stores.
Fitness and yoga mats are very important for improvised home gyms with concrete, store or ceramic tile floors - such floors are cold and trainee requires addition thermal protection. For short, don't try to warm up or to stretch by sitting on the cold floor ...
If you do have such floors, consider putting wall to wall home gym mats at least 1/2 inch thick.
Exercises With Ropes
Ropes are excellent home gym accessory that can be used in many ways. Also, ropes are cheap and durable, and the ropes of various thicknesses can be purchased in any local hardware store.
Ropes can be used for various exercises:
Rope jumping is an excellent exercise for increasing stamina, burning fat, improving coordination etc. Also, rope jumping is also high impact exercise and people having issues with ankles, knees and hips (and even shoulders) should avoid it.
Rope jumping can be used for warming up, too - 5 minutes of rope jumping is a warm up, not a cardio session :)
Ropes for rope jumping (or 'rope skipping') can be ordered from online shops, but ordinary 1/2 - 1 inch rope can be used as well - just note that the thicker the rope, the more weight it has, making the workout harder. Also, it is not the same to be hit in the head with 1/2 inch rope or 1 inch rope - again, been there, done that countless times ...
Rope climbing is one of those exercises that are rarely done at home (or anywhere else, except in the military and some Cross Fit camps/gyms) but they should be done whenever one has time and opportunity.
Rope climbing increases strength in arms, backs, legs, shoulders etc. - it is almost full body exercise.
There are several common climbing techniques, don't try to master them all at once - master one and only then go for the next one.
If you want to master rope climbing, try to do it with the trainer that can show you various techniques and correct your at the very start. If the trainer is not a viable option, check the YouTube for rope climbing videos ...
Also, be aware that the higher you climb, the greater the danger of getting injured when falling down - so, don't climb high and don't fall down at all. Safety first ...
How to Battle Ropes Properly
Take two 2-3 inch thick and heavy ropes, tie them to the wall and you have all what is needed to battle ropes - just don't do that if you have an apartment and there are people living below you.
Battling ropes can be crazy efficient exercise for whole body, regardless if you are preparing for an event or you just want to become and stay fit.
Here is the video with many different versions and variations of this excellent exercise:
There are countless objects that can be pulled, pushed or flipped.
Car pulling and/or pushing can be great way to increase strength of the whole body, but why stop there?
Tire pulling and flipping are another full body exercises that require rather fundamental equipment - some old, large tire.
Do you have a large tire and a sledge hammer? Great, now hit that tire dozens (hundreds?) of timed with left and right "leading" heands.
If you can get hands on the platform that can be used as sled for pushing/pulling, great. If not, try tire pulling/flipping, or even use a stone large enough.
Cardio Exercise Equipment
For people wanting to do some cardio, having a cardio exercise machine is a perhaps the best choice - one can exercise at the privacy of home, with no gym fees (not even when they are open), with no time lost for commuting to the gym, no waiting for a favorite machine to become free etc.
Cardio machines may also be used for warming up - again, 5 minutes of elliptical is a warm-up, not a cardio session :)
Cardio machines varies in type, size, price etc. Most popular home cardio machines are treadmills, rowers, ellipticals, steppers, and exercise bikes.
Personally, treadmills are great for running sessions at home, but they can be noisy, may require plenty of electricity and can be somewhat taxing on the joints. But, if you like running, treadmills are your best choice.
People having back issues should go for recumbent bikes - they offer low impact exercise and offer great support for the back.
Rowers can burn tremendous amount of calories, but they also favor leg pushing and arms/back pulling motion and should be combined with push-ups and similar exercises to avoid imbalances.
Steppers offer low impact cardio workouts, but just like bikes, they stress lower body mostly.
Ellipticals are my favorite choice for home cardio machine - they are very silent, they offer low impact workout, they offer full body exercise and can burn plenty of calories.
Perhaps the only issue with the ellipticals is that the good ones supporting larger/heavier users tend to be large units without the folding option and thus require much space.
Dumbbells are great for working not only upper body muscles, but whole body. Number of exercises using dumbbells is practically endless and with all the variations in sets, reps, TUT (Time Under Tension), etc. dumbbells warranty 'good fun' for a long time.
However, having a pair of dumbbells in all possible sizes require plenty of space for dumbbell rack, they require money, whole set may be rather heavy etc.
This is where a pair of adjustable dumbbells with dial-in mechanism kicks in perfectly - just dial in required weight, do your exercise, return the dumbbells in their stand and another trainee can use them right away with totally another weight.
The only drawback of adjustable dumbbells is that their initial price is higher that the pair of common iron dumbbells - but, if you plan on getting few pairs of ordinary dumbbells, consider adjustable dumbbells first.
In the long run, adjustable dumbbells save both money and space.
Note on the kettlebells: kettlebells workouts can be brutal and if you have few of these, great. Personally, I don't like adjustable kettlebells and having 5-10 pairs of kettlebells of various sizes require space, money and solid rack for storing them - yes, they can be stored on the floor too, but that requires some extra space.
If you like kettlebells and have some area to spare, go for few pairs - dynamic exercises burn tons of calories and increase strength and stamina.
Adjustable Weight Benches
Adjustable weight benches are not as sturdy as fixed (flat, inclined etc) weight benches, but they are more versatile - they can adjusted in several incline, decline and, of course, flat position.
They are used for exercises that target muscles under different angles and for many other exercises that can't be done on a simple, flat weight bench.
Adjustable weight bench can be simple weight bench, or it can come with many accessories and attachments, increasing its price, but making it almost a small home gym in one.
When buying weight bench not only for home gyms, but also for commercial gyms, it is important to pay attention to certain details.
Maximum allowed weight or maximum weight capacity is the maximum allowed weight on the bench, including both the weights and the user. Flat weight benches go up to, or even more than 1000 pounds (~450 kg), while various adjustable weight benches have much lower maximum weight capacity.
Although weight benches are relatively cheap, for safety reasons, it is better to buy over-dimensioned weight bench, than to have your weight bench collapse during heavy lifting.
Frame material and warranty conditions - frame should be made of thick steel, and the weight bench should come with the 10-20 years or even with the lifetime warranty on the frame.
Such benches are built to last, even if they are rated 'for home use only'. Warranty on the other parts varies, but warranty of month or two on pads and upholstery is normal. 30 year warranty on the frame and a full year warranty on the upholstery is sign of excellent weight bench and although such benches come with slightly higher price tag - go for them!
Upholstery should be made out of several materials, and should be durable, comfortable for use, but not too soft.
Safety features - weigh benches should have enough width, to provide stable working out platform. Also, various pins must be easy to use, without any danger for injuries. IMHO, benches are simple pieces of gym equipment, and most of the injuries are caused by careless or too tired trainees.
Adjustable weight benches are often combined with adjustable dumbbells in small home gyms, providing the trainee with a valuable asset for everyday workouts.
Most home gym pull-up bars are mounted on the doorways or the walls/ceilings.
If you are more or less serious about working out at home, go for the wall/ceiling mounted pull-up bars. But, if you don't have room to spare, doorway mounted pull-up bars may be just as good as wall mounted.
After all, it is the trainee that do pull-ups and chin-ups, not the bar :)
As such, pull-up bars are excellent for building strength of lats and biceps. Personally, after each Deadlifts of Squats session, I prefer to do few gentle pull-ups, just to allow my spine/back to relax a little bit.
For short: good pull-up bar don't have to be expensive, don't require much space and can be very useful.
Long Story Short: If you have time and resources, getting few workout items can be of great help for having excellent workouts at home - and we are not speaking about getting full home gym with squat rack and similar equipment.
Whatever you plan on purchasing, consider your own needs, requirements and personal preferences.
If you can't go to the gym, keep your mind open and think out of the box! Just be sure that whatever you do, safety first!