With COVID-19 being kept under control and phase 2 of the post circuit breaker reopening right in front of us, fitness enthusiasts are delighted to finally head to the gyms and sports centres.
However, there is still a dangling worry of a second wave of infections, and some are still apprehensive about working out in public spaces once again.
The good news is, figuring out the best moves for your body and switching up your routine is not rocket science and you can exercise at home without requiring a personal training certification or sports science degree.
What’s more, programming for yourself gives you a purpose in your fitness goals and you have the ability and freedom to track and revise your home workout plan as you see fit without needing to spend thousands of dollars at the gym.
Why is it Important to Keep Exercising?
Just because sports centres and gyms have closed down for a period of time, doesn’t mean we should be sedentary.
Especially during this pandemic, it is more important to take care of our health and keep active.
Besides building and maintaining a healthy immune system, we are able to relieve the stresses of isolation and boredom, in turn curbing depression or similar symptoms.
Working out indoors is the next best alternative as there are so many exercises we can do at home that are suited to all levels – beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
Exercising at home saves time and cost as we can eliminate travel time to and from the gym, as well as not needing to queue to use a particular machine or equipment.
It also allows us to focus solely on our training without distractions such as the grunts of other fellow gym-goers and the fancy juice bars.
What are the Things to Pay Attention to When Creating a Home Workout Plan?
So how do we start off in creating our very own home workout plan that is both focused and effective?
Let’s explore 10 checkpoints we need to take note of when creating a home workout plan.
What Are Your Goals?
Do you want to lose weight? Or build muscle? Or run your first 5k?
Whatever your goals may be, write them down as these are the foundation behind building your home workout plan.
Generally, most people want to get leaner, stronger, and more flexible, just in various intensities so match your goals to your program as closely as possible.
For general fitness, it is good to incorporate circuit training and metabolic conditioning as the purpose is to train as much as possible in the shortest amount of time so you can save more time while still reaping every fitness element.
Having the Right Equipment
When you are exercising at home, you have to determine what equipment you need and the space you have.
Whatever your goal may be, you can always make do with less or no equipment.
If you do invest, pick something that’s practical, familiar, and multipurpose. For starters, you can start with:
- A yoga mat for stretching, core exercises, or yoga
- Resistance bands for strength training
- Kettlebells or dumbbells for weight lifting and adding resistance to bodyweight training
- A foam roller for massaging tight muscles and reducing soreness
Also, get a mirror so you can watch your form as you are training or lifting weights.
You don’t need to spend on machines as they are usually working for a single muscle group and are not a smart investment.
Rather, for cardio and warm-up runs, feel free to hit the outdoors for some sun and fresh air.
The Exercises You Can do
When you are planning exercises to be done at home, it is best to keep it simple.
Many people underestimate the benefits of simple moves as they are used to having access to complex gym equipment and machines.
The best home workout plan is one that you can actually train with consistently so forget about planning tons of exercises for each small muscle group and stressing over the time you need to complete them all.
Simple is truly the key here.
Here’s an example of a simple full-body home workout plan, featuring compound movements that target multiple muscle groups at a time:
- Glutes and hamstrings: Deadlifts (using dumbbells or kettlebells), step-ups (on a stool)
- Quads: Lunges, squats
- Back and biceps: Bodyweight rows, pull-ups
- Chest, shoulders, and triceps: Push-ups, chest presses
- Core (upper, lower, obliques, back): Planks, superman lifts
This is just a sample list of exercises. There are tons more out there that you can rotate and change up every week to keep it interesting.
Do incorporate a mix of long-distance running at a slower pace and sprints for cardio and conditioning work.
- Long-distance cardio: 10km run at 60% of your max heart rate
- Sprints: 8 sets of 30-second sprints, each set followed by a 2-3 min slow walk as active recovery.
Frequency and Duration
For a weight lifting session, the recommended frequency is 2-4 times a week so that your muscles can recover and grow stronger.
If you also have conditioning work in your home workout plan, you can either combine them on the same day if you have additional time or do them on separate days.
If you combine them, it is best to have your weight lifting session first before cardio because cardio uses up a lot of your energy source, which will then fatigue your muscles before you even begin lifting.
The important factor in achieving your goals in training is more than just how much weight you lift, it’s about consistency.
A home workout plan should be one you are more likely to stick to, which will then increase the frequency and duration of your sessions.
Choose what you do each day, just be sure not to go intense every single day or you will experience burnout and your muscles wouldn’t be able to fully recover.
As for duration, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both, a week.
It doesn’t matter how much time you have, as long as you are consistent with your plan, you will see results in time.
Determine Sets and Reps
Reps stand for complete repetitions of an exercise movement while sets are the series of continuous repetitions. For example, if you do 10 squats, you just did 1 set of 10 reps of squats.
For beginners, aim to perform two to three sets of 10 – 12 repetitions for each exercise.
For intermediate to advanced levels, keep your reps in the 8 – 15 rep range if you are looking to burn fat while building muscle.
If you find yourself being able to lift more than 15 reps, it’s time to add on additional load.
Here’s a guide on the number of reps you should target, depending on your goals:
- 1 – 5 reps: to build strength and muscle hypertrophy (bodybuilding)
- 6 – 12 reps: to build muscular strength and endurance
- 12+ reps: to build muscular endurance
In terms of sets, you can target between 3 – 5 sets for each exercise.
Rest is Part of the Plan
What’s more important than working out is what you do between workouts or exercises. Generally, if you perform fewer reps, you should be resting more in between sets because you are lifting heavier.
Let’s go back to that guide shown in the previous point and add in the rest periods:
1 – 5 reps: Rest for 3 – 5 minutes between sets
6 – 12 reps: Rest for 1- 3 minutes between sets
12+ reps: Rest for 30 seconds – 1 minute between sets
One thing to note is these numbers are not set in stone and are totally dependent on how you feel.
Rest more if you are just beginning to exercise and reduce the rest time as you get stronger. So what about rest days?
When you create your home workout plan, it is important to incorporate adequate rest days every week.
You can set one “active recovery” day where you are still working out but at a lighter intensity, and one “complete rest” day.
Active recovery activities can include yoga, swimming, foam rolling, mobility work, or just a long casual walk.
The point of this day is to keep moving, allow your muscles to recover, and improve your range of motion.
Incorporate Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs
Whichever program you plan to do, remember to warm up before and cool down after. Warming up helps prepare your body by raising your core temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles.
It may also reduce muscle soreness and lessen your injury risk.
Start by moving in similar movement patterns as your workout but at a slower pace.
This is called a dynamic warmup and may produce some sweat but shouldn’t leave you feeling exhausted.
After your workout, a cool-down session helps to slow down your heart rate and blood pressure, especially after strenuous exercise.
Try some stretching and breathing exercises as muscles and joints are more stretchable when your body is still warm, increasing your range of movement.
Switch it Up Every Day
Not only should you be consistent in your home workout plan, but you also need to be consistent in your progress.
Your body is a smart machine and will eventually adapt to the exercises, which means you need to increase the intensity of your program.
Increasing load, speed, and volume, and decreasing rest periods will prevent a plateau in your progress.
When you are switching it up, do so gradually to avoid injuries or overexerting your muscles.
Make sure you are balancing challenges in your workouts with adequate rest for recovery.
Ideally, you want to follow a plan for at least four to six weeks before adding on a layer of difficulty.
There are two ways you can upgrade your program:
- A linear program where you add on challenges in a straight, consistent fashion, and is best for beginners.
- A periodized program where challenges are added in an increased and decreased manner, usually best for athletes and advanced fitness enthusiasts.
Video Record Your Workouts
Recording your exercises at home is crucial when we talk about your goals.
In order to achieve what you have set your mind and heart to do, you need a way to observe yourself while you are working out while holding yourself accountable.
Using a camera or your phone to record your workout session allows you to evaluate your form and observe weak areas to be improved on.
Of course, if you have a friend or family member who you are working out with virtually or physically at home, you can check on each other’s movements and provide constructive feedback.
You can also look back on these videos in the future for a better idea of how much you have improved over a given timeline.
Track Your Progress
Besides recording your workouts, you should be taking weekly or monthly measurements of your body, weight, and heart rate to track your progress.
Tracking your workouts not only makes your home program more effective, but it also sets a benchmark for your fitness goals.
A workout log will enable you to plan, understand and actualize your goals because every training session should be about improving on something, no matter how small.
Also, tracking your progress provides a clear summary of what you have completed such as how far or fast you ran that 5k, the amount of load you lifted, and what exercises have you done.
Make it into a journal and track your diet, as well as your mood and wellbeing during your training session.
Looking for Professional Personal Training?
We at RAW Active are committed to helping you stay motivated with our exclusive online and offline personal training programs, both of which are available under phase 2 of the post circuit breaker reopening.
Contact us today to know more about how you can stay healthy from the comforts of your own home!