Working out at home? Get more out of your at-home workouts.

While working out at a gym is always ideal, it isn’t possible for everyone right now. Next-best would be to set up a complete home gym. And if that doesn’t work, you might need to make do with a small amount of fitness gear and your bodyweight.

If you don’t have access to a gym and cannot set up a home gym with the basics, this blog post is for you.

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Train on a schedule.

This tip might seem so obvious you overlook it. Or, maybe you think, “I don’t need to follow a schedule. I have all day to get it in.”

In March, when the gyms closed and my wife and I had to start working out at home, I thought the same thing. Not surprisingly, if I didn’t schedule my workout, I’d get to the end of the day and end up doing “half-assed” and rushed training session.

Put your workout on the calendar and treat it like any other appointment.

Try this mental hack: Drive your car out of the garage and around the block. Then, drive up to your gym, which looks like your house, and complete your training session. That might sound extreme, but it works for some people.

And remember to tell the rest of your family when you’ll workout too. Treat that time as sacred, and make it nonnegotiable.

One other thing. If it’s possible, schedule your training session when you feel the most energetic. Some people feel their best in the mornings. Others feel best at noon and still others in the evening.

When that’s not an option, schedule your training sessions at the same time each day. Eventually, your ebbs and flows of energy will work with your workout time, and you’ll have more energy at the time you need to train.

Separate workouts from recreational activities.

Let’s say you’re supposed to do a lower body strength training session. You get to the end of the day when you scheduled your workout, but it sounds more fun to go for a bike ride.

The bike ride isn’t a lower body strength training session. It’s a recreational activity. By all means, include plenty of recreational activities in your lifestyle, but don’t pretend they’re training sessions.

It’s tempting to tell ourselves it’s the same thing, but it’s not.

Follow a program. Don’t do random workouts.

Since the COVID Circus began, the internet search traffic for home-based workouts has exploded.

Yet, doing random workouts you find on YouTube isn’t any more effective than finding random shows on Netflix is entertaining.

People get drawn into a series because each episode builds on the previous.

People get results from training programs because each workout builds on the previous.

Fitness professionals design periodized programs because programs are progressive. Follow a program.

Focus on your technique over heart rate or reps completed.

I’d always prefer that you complete five perfect reps of an exercise over 50 reps done wrong.

You workout to make your body better. To make it stronger, more mobile, and less fragile.

But if you consistently perform a movement incorrectly, at best, it’ll slow your progress. At worst, it’ll cause an injury.

I rarely design training sessions based on completing a certain number of reps in a specific time or doing as many reps as possible (unless I’ve been explicit that it’s “perfect reps”).

When your attention is on completing your reps with speed or doing as many as possible, you’re more likely to use sloppy technique. In my opinion, this kind of programming should only be used with advanced clients and athletes.

By the way, I have a collection of training tip videos in the VIGOR Training Facebook group. Check them out.

And just as a reminder for those of you who are VIGOR Training members…as part of your membership, I encourage you to post videos of yourself doing the movements you’re most uncertain about. I’m happy to offer advice on how to improve.

Invest in a little fitness gear

For a small investment, you can add a lot of variety to your at-home training program. For VIGOR Training At Home members, I recommend the following:

  • Adjustable gymnastics rings
  • Resistance bands
  • Two to three kettlebells

If you have space and budget for a squat rack and bench, you’ll have almost everything you need to train like you could at a gym (and what you’d need for VIGOR Strength Athlete and Everyday Athlete), but if you don’t, start with the items above.

Train with a team, even though you work out alone

Though you might work out alone, you don’t need to train on your own.

Find a group or team that’s committed to doing the same training program as you, and that’s doing the same workouts on the same days you are.

For example, VIGOR Training members who follow my VIGOR Strength Athlete, VIGOR Everyday Athlete, or the Army Combat Fitness Test Training follow the same workouts on the same day.

They share comments and feedback, encourage one another, and occasionally compete on the leaderboard sessions I design.

When you know others are doing what you’re doing, and they know you’re supposed to be training as well, you all help hold one another accountable, even though you might not be near one another.