How you doin’? Hope you’re doing great. Before the pandemic, many of us regularly go to the gym to workout or jog outside for cardio. But since this pandemic is life-threatening, we are advised to stay at home for our own protection. Does that mean that we can’t be fit anymore? In this article, we’ll talk about how we can construct our own home workout step-by-step, and how we can stay motivated to workout regularly. Let’s go!
Step #1: List all exercises you want to include on your program
It’s important to take your time in this first step because your fitness depends on the exercises you choose. According to Mayo Clinic, our exercises should reflect on the following aspects of physical fitness:
- Aerobic fitness
- Strength training
- Core exercises
- Balance training
- Flexibility and stretching
You may read about this in more detail in this article.
Which exercises/workouts should I include?
Here’s an example of a list of exercises from my home workout. Each workout/exercise listed below links to how-to videos.
- Flexibility and Stretching: 5-minute Stretch
- Strength Training: 120 Squats (Different Variations)1On the linked video, the total reps for squats is 100 squats. However, even though I follow along, I’m doing 120 because the Roundabout squats and the Squat Reverse Lifts is not effective at all, in my opinion. So, I modified these two into Double-Dip Squats, a Triple-Dip Squat minus one dip.
- Aerobic fitness: High-knees (Run in place)
- Core exercises: Straight Arm Plank
- Strength Training: Sitting Shoulder Presses
- Strength Training: Chest Flys
- Strength Training: Bridge Floor Presses
- Strength Training: Standing Calf Raise
- Strength Training: 3-second Negative Push-Ups
- Flexibility and Stretching: Reverse plank bridge
- Core exercises: Side plank
- Core exercises: Double-crunches
- Strength Training: Floor Presses
- Strength Training: Overhead Tricep Extensions
- Strength Training: Seated Alternating Curls
I’m not at all requiring you to include all of these into your home workout, but I suggest you include some of these into your workout. If you want to do other exercises besides those cited above, you can view more on this website.
The amount for each exercise
Once you’ve listed down your exercises, think about the quantity or the repetitions you can do for each one. Just start easy. Test yourself, and don’t force yourself to do amounts you really can’t. For instance, if you can only do 20 squats per session, that’s okay. We’ll discuss what you can do if a certain exercise is already easy for you on Step #3.
Note: You could also search for prepared home workout programs. There are actually a lot over the internet! I find darebee.com as an exceptional website for prepared workout programs.
Step #2: Overcome the Limitations on Equipment
Now that you have listed down and created your own home workout program, what are some limitations you may have? Personally, we don’t have a gym in our house and I don’t have any equipment besides dumbbells and a yoga mat. If you face the same problem, what can you do?
If you already have dumbbells, that’ll be enough. If you don’t have any dumbbells, you could just buy two dumbbells weighing 10 pounds each online or at the store near to you. But if you want to save money, which you definitely can, check this DIY video on how to make concrete dumbbells out.
If you plan to buy more equipment for your workout, that’s entirely up to you. But like I said earlier, having dumbbells is already enough for workouts. Why? Because you can customize a certain workout with just dumbbells. How?
Be flexible and adaptable
For example, if you don’t have a bench nor a barbell to do bench presses (which is true in my case), you can do floor presses as an alternative workout for chests. This way, you can still target those chests with just dumbbells! Accordingly, I have customized all my strength training workouts to using just dumbbells.
NOTE: If one of your obstacles for regularly working out is a busy schedule, we have tips on Step #5
Step #3: Record your progress
Now that we have our list of exercises and we have prepared our equipment, let’s discuss where we can record our progress.
Where can I record my progress?
You can provide a notebook that’s exclusive only for recording your home workout. Or, you can use a helpful and easy-to-use tool that I use: Google Sheets. I recommend using Sheets to record your workouts because (1) it’s very mobile (you can access it on your own phone anywhere you are), (2) you’ll never have to worry about data loss because all your data is safely backed-up into your account, and (3) you can access your log sheet on any device!
How to record?
The steps are very simple:
- Write down the current date.
- Set a stopwatch (a watch that counts up, not down).
- Start the stopwatch by the time you start an exercise; stop it by the time you stop.
- After doing the exercise, write your time down on your log sheet.
Tip: Consider doing all this as a short rest time between your exercises.
Benefits of recording your progress
“Wait, isn’t having a list of workouts and then simply doing all of them already enough?” Sure it is. Unless you want to know whether you’re improving or not, or whether your workout is effective or not, then you really have to keep a record for your progress.
How will I know if I’m progressing?
Good question. Consider the following.
As an example, say that on the first day of your workout, you were able to do a straight arm plank for only 30 seconds. After a few weeks, you were able to do it for 1 minute and were able to maintain 1-minute planks without going under a minute for the next sessions. That’s a huge progress!
Having a Time Entry
While it’s logical to compare your time entries for a particular exercise, you may not have to on certain exercises. For example, if your chest fly’s time entry now is higher (slower) than your previous session’s, does that mean you haven’t progressed at all? No!
So sometimes, simply having a time entry for an exercise is enough, especially if you have time entries for all of your workouts. That means you have completed the task and achieved your goal!
More repetitions and frequency
If you feel like a particular exercise in your program is already a piece of cake for you after doing it for weeks, then you are progressing! And when that time comes, you will feel like you need to add more repetitions and frequency to a particular exercise—and you should!
Why? Because doing an exercise that’s already easy for you would not challenge your muscles anymore. Thus, your muscles will less likely develop. Therefore, to gain more muscles, you need to add more repetitions and frequency on your workout program.
Take the comparison of two tables below as an example:
Compare the double-crunches from the table on the left to the other table. Do you see a huge difference? At first, I was only able to do 20 reps per session. But after almost two years, I was able to do these crunches 120 times (40 reps * 3 frequencies) per session!
Adding more repetitions and frequency the right way
Now, did I presumptuously jump to huge amounts of repetitions in just a short period of time? No! Like I said, I was only able to do 120 reps of double-crunches per session after almost two years! So the question is, “When are you going to add amounts to a particular exercise?”
If you took a careful look at my workout log sheet, you’ll notice that I did a set of exercises for about four weeks (or more) before I started adding more reps. Accordingly, add amounts to your workout when you’re certain that you can do a lot more than your current set. For now, just take it easy (but not too easy), and don’t rush into progress. What’s important is that you progress nicely. Remember, quality is a lot better than quantity.
Step #4: Pick your Motivational Workout Music
What kind of music? Any music that motivates you to do your workout! May it be classical music, pop music, or any workout music you can find on Youtube or download on the internet—as long as it motivates you to workout regularly.
Does it work? According to many trusted researches and articles like Scientific American’s, having music during workouts has an advantageous psychological effect! Check out this article for more information.
Step #5: Schedule your Workout
This is the most important step of all. Even if you follow all the previous steps but fail to accomplish this one, then your workout would be just a dream. For most of us, the biggest obstacle to our regular workouts is having a very busy schedule. This was my problem, too. But what helped me?
Use a Calendar
First, I organized my initial schedule on Google Calendar. Second, I read “How Can I Manage My Time?” from the Young People Ask series, which helped me manage my time more wisely. For example, I realized that I have some activities that, well, we can’t really consider “meaningful and worthwhile.” So, third, I did my job. I got rid of those activities, cleaned my schedule up, and replaced them with the more meaningful activities. And look what I’ve got now:
Everything is just beautifully laid out when you do it here, isn’t it? I really enjoyed organizing this last year and I’m sure you will, too! The benefit? I was not only able to use my time for meaningful activities, but I was also able to allot a time for my workout! Truly, managing your time will give you more freedom, not less.
Now I encourage you to take a look at your schedule, organize it on your calendar like this, and see when you can do your workout.
Tip: You can also set a recurring alarm for your workout schedule. For example, if you’re going to workout this coming Monday and Thursday at 5:00 pm, set an alarm that’ll sound at 5:00 pm on those days. And make sure that your phone is not on silent! In the end, even if you haven’t noticed your calendar’s notification, your phone will be there to remind you, too.
You may be asking yourself: “Why even workout/exercise in the first place?” That’s a fair question because knowing why is the main motivator you and I as “fitness enthusiasts” have. Did you know that the Bible has an answer for that question? 1 Timothy 4:8 reads: “For physical training (or ‘exercise’) is beneficial for a little.” Yes, it is.
In addition to that, Mayo Clinic published an article that tackles the numerous benefits of regular physical activity. According to that article, exercise controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves our mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, etc. Without doubt, exercise is beneficial!
So, is pandemic a hindrance to being fit? No! Why? Because we already have (constructed) our own home workout program which we can now follow and perform in our own homes! We just need to stay motivated to be able to do this regularly! Fortunately, we have the following articles that would also motivate us to regularly exercise:
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading the whole article! Stay safe and may you have a healthy, fit life!