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Top tips to begin or build a training routine from home

  • 15 July 2020
  • 4 min read

Among the variety of barriers associated with our new and adapted current way of life, physical exercise is certainly an area of challenge. However, with a little guidance and creativity it could also provide an opportunity for escape, whilst maintaining our physical and mental health. Exercise can not only keep off any unwanted pounds, but ease stress, anxiety, and worry. The mental wellbeing benefits associated with physical activity are well documented, and now is certainly a time to cash in on some of those.

Many of us would have had a regular exercise or training routine that has been abruptly called to a halt, affecting the goals we have been working hard towards. As a strength and conditioning coach and someone who relies on exercise to maintain both my physical and mental health, I completely understand the frustrations some of you may be experiencing. We are not the only ones, and this is being echoed with all the athletes that I work with.

Currently we can still get out for 1 hour of cardiovascular exercise a day. So we can still walk, run and cycle and tick that box. There are also numerous online exercise classes available for you to dip in and out of.  Possibly the one area that most concerns us is the lack of access to a gym and ability to lift weight. Yes, training within a gym is very advantageous, and certain areas of development do require a certain stimulus, but it is not a necessity.

fitness instructor demonstrating weight lifting

Whatever your fitness goal may be, the most important thing is to try and do something, which in turn should help to create good exercise habits.

Rob Rowland, Head of Strength and Conditioning

Below I have listed some ‘top tips’ that should help with your training at home. 

Make a Plan

As a strength and conditioning coach, I spend a lot of my time meticulously writing exercise and training progressions for my athletes, often periodised over months and planned to the last rep. One of the reasons I do this is to create structure and accountability. I cannot emphasise enough that (for the majority), you are much more likely to engage in a programme if it is written down. This can be as simple as a weekly calendar, and writing in the specific times and days and how you are going to train. You can then invest a little more time in writing down some exercises you want to put in that session. For example, in the table below:

Session 1 (Monday)

Exercise

Repetitions

Sets

Rest Period

Equipment

Body weight Squat

10

4

60

NA

Plank

30 s

3

45

NA

Lunges

6 Each leg

3

60

NA

Push up

8

3

60

NA

Tricep Dips

12

3

60

Chair or Sofa

Not every session has to be HIIT

There is a little bit of stigma attached to training at home, in that it involves jumping around in front of the TV for 20 minutes (more formally known as High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT). Now, it certainly has its place in your weekly plan as a great modality of exercise to develop anaerobic and aerobic fitness. However, two sessions per week are sufficient for most individuals to maintain or improve this area. Other session themes could be bodyweight, core, stretching, flexibility, balance, and coordination. If you have a specific sport you play you could even design some speed and agility drills in your back garden, or some simple jumping exercises if you do not. I would recommend picking a balance of the above within a week, that most suits your individual requirements. For myself it looks like:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Movement Patterns

HIIT

Rest

Core

Aerobic

HIIT

Rest

Progression

It is very easy to go stale when training at home. Like all physical development programmes it is important to have an area of progression (also known as progressive overload). This can come in the form of exercise type, volume (how much you are doing within sessions, for example, the reps and sets) and intensity (how hard it is, for example, a rating of perceived exertion on a 1-10 scale, or the amount of load you are using). I would recommend, maintaining the same exercises for a 4-6-week block at a time, but on a weekly basis look to increase the reps or time (somewhere around 2-5% per week). See below for some tips on the ranges to work within, depending on your goals:


Power (How fast you can move)

Strength (How much force you can produce)

Hypertrophy (Muscle Size)

Strength Endurance

Anaerobic

Aerobic

Reps

1-6

1-6

8-12

12-15

5 s – 2 min

2 min +

Sets

3-5

3-5

2-4

2-4

4 – 20

1-4

Rest Period

2 – 4 mins

2 – 4 mins

45 – 90 s

30 – 45 s

2 mins

2mins+

Get outside

If you are lucky enough to have a garden or a space locally where there are unlikely to be many people, then use it! Fresh air, vitamin D, space to move and some headspace are good enough reasons for me.

Set some goals

This can help with motivation. It could be a weight goal or aesthetics based, but I would be more inclined to consider a performance goal. How far can you run in 4 minutes? How long can you hold a plank for? These can be tested at the beginning of a programme, and then at the end to track progression.

Use the internet (with caution)

There are some good resources on the internet and social media to help with some creativity. I would tend to use them for exercise choice, but try and implement them as part of the themes I have discussed above. Be cautious when including exercises with spinal flexion (which is the bending of the lower back), such as sit ups. This can cause lower back pain if the volume is too high, so include a maximum of two exercises per week, but ideally one or less.

Whatever your fitness goal may be, the most important thing is to try and do something, which in turn should help to create good exercise habits. If you do not fall into the category of somebody who previously trained or exercised, these same principles will apply, and are also a great starting point to indeed start/re-start your engagement and journey with exercise.

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