So we are in the thick of another lockdown, and you know what that means? No, not a Netflix Christmas film binge (not yet anyway), but more home workouts!
I have taken the runners that I coach through many a home workout – from working the core with some sideways crawling planks, to bullet-proofing the lower body with some Performance Community favourites such as frog squats.
But as popular as home workouts are at the moment I think there are some important considerations, not only to get the most out of the workouts but also to avoid getting injured!
Here are 5 key considerations, whether you are working out at home, in the office, or your garden:
Focus on technique
Now there’s lots of exercises out there that may take your fancy, others less so. But I think it’s key that you select the exercises and workouts that you are actually able to do, as technique is absolutely paramount.
So, before you start thinking about extra weight, or increasing the number of sets or repetitions, or the duration of the workout, make sure you have the technique absolutely bang on.
A good way to help with technique is to get someone in the house who may have an idea on how to perform the exercises to watch you. That way they can tell you how you look. Or better still, get a mirror or film yourself so you can look back on what you have done.
Technique is important for two key reasons:
Number one – it can help keep injury at bay. So if you are performing an exercise with poor technique we have a greater probability of being inefficient which may increase the injury risk.
Number two – you increase the chance of it being effective. For example, by completing a forward lunge you primarily want to target the quadriceps, the glutes, and a little bit of the hamstrings. If performed with good technique, there is a greater chance of using the muscles you actually want to target.
Knowing when to strip it back
For those who have joined in with my workouts, you will know I talk a lot about stripping things back, or regressions as the exercise professionals among us like to say. This is essentially making the exercise or movement pattern more simple. This kind of links to technique because if you find a technique difficult, there are adjustments you can make to match your level of ability. And that’s absolutely fine!
But even if you are just finding things hard, then scale things back. You might need to give yourself a little more rest time. For example, in a recent Performance Community workout we were working for 45 seconds, followed by a breather, and completing each exercise set three times. One thing I told my runners was, if they were finding it hard then they should give themselves a mini breather within the 45 seconds of work.
You’ve got to find your own level. Just because your coach has instructed you to work for 45 seconds, do not feel pressured to complete the full 45 seconds. You are just going to put too much pressure on yourself and you will not enjoy it. Find your level, don’t be afraid to scale things back, and then you can move forward as you develop your ability.
Modifying the work rate
Do you want to work hard? Do you think the routine is not as hard as you would like to make it? Well, you can increase your work rate. You may decide to speed up the exercise. Certain exercises lend themselves well to this technique, for example, burpees. On the other hand, for some exercises it’s about slowing the movement down because by slowing down, your muscles are under tension for a longer period of time. Take a squat for instance, you can make this exercise by using this exact technique.
You can do more sets, you can do more repetitions, you can increase the range of movement…. There are so many different variables you can play with to make the workout more challenging. Get creative! Making changes to any of the things mentioned here is certainly something to think about if you are looking to challenge yourself, and move out of the comfort zone.
Do not treat every workout in isolation, likewise with running. If you like interval training for example, you would not do 400m repeats every single day. I think smart scheduling is absolutely key. Not only does it lend itself to running, cycling and other cardiovascular activity, it works for home workouts too. Do not think that you need to work hard every single day. Vary the intensity and schedule with logic.
With some of my runners, who are super keen and enthusiastic (which I am absolutely proud of them for) they just want to keep doing as much as they can. At times, I just need to tell them to ease off a bit and encourage them to take an easier day after working hard the day before. This is primarily to make sure that they don’t suffer burnout – physical or mental!
This may sound a little bit fluffy, but I think it is really important to enjoy our exercise. Maybe not necessarily during some of the brutal workouts, where we wish the end will come soon, but at least enjoy the aftereffects of it. That feeling of virtuousness. You got up and moved. You got away from the desk. You have justified that food indulgence over the weekend. You have increased your fitness, and not just for the good of your health, but also leading towards any future events you may sign up for, however unlikely that may seem at the moment.
Therefore, I think enjoyment can manifest itself in many different ways. Just being aware of this and having an appreciation for the exercise you are involving yourself in, I think can really help you.
‘Home workout’ safely, have fun, and let’s all get ready to target some exciting goals in 2021! 🎯