While actions are being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, many people are experiencing interruptions in their usual workout routines. Gyms are closed, social interactions are limited, and many outdoor areas aren’t open to the public right now. At-home workouts are the best alternative to maintain a healthy exercise regimen. And they can be just effective (or more!) as gym workouts if they’re done correctly.
How can people maintain an effective workout routine at home, without gym equipment?
Dr. Nick Nwabueze: Consistently creating effective, engaging workouts that are considerate of the locally taxing effects of prior workouts can be challenging. As such, my first go-to for effective home workout routines for those without gym equipment are online personal trainers who often have available either free or cheap week-to-month-long body weight training programs.
These programs have movements that can be modified per your fitness level, either by substituting more difficult movements (i.e. replacing a sit-up with a V-up) or easier movements on a workout-by-workout basis. Alternatively, many apps that provide equipment-free workouts now exist in the iPhone and Android app stores, including (but not limited to) “Streaks Workout,” “Wakeout,” “Nike Run Club,” and “SmartGym.”
The only downside to the use of these apps is that day-to-day, they provide non-cohesive workouts, causing quality of your effort that may very well be decreased based on soreness from the day prior.
What advice do you have for people trying to get a consistent routine going?
Dr. Nick Nwabueze: As this is a time of such uncertainty, if you want to get a consistent routine going right now, it’s best to go into it with a firm “why”. What is your goal with getting into this right now? Why right now, of all times? Is this something you can keep up consistently and stick to a regimen?
If you can firmly answer all of these then, by all means, start! There is no time like the present. If you can’t answer these questions, I’ve always been of the belief that your mind needs to be firm and your heart full of resolve before you endeavor down a new path…so use some of this time to soul-search and give yourself reasons to not give up when things don’t seem to be going your way or you don’t feel as motivated as you do at this very moment.
Once you’ve found your “why”, it becomes much more likely that you will maintain consistency when you start your regimen. Ultimately, consistency is the name of the game.
What at-home exercises are most effective for muscle building?
Dr. Nick Nwabueze: When you’re trying to build muscle, the name of the game is always progressive overload. Over time, it is necessary to consistently expose your body to higher and higher stressors for it to change, and that includes building muscle. Thankfully, though, while that is most commonly done by increasing the weight used in your exercises, it can also be done with high repetition bodyweight exercises.
Research shows that hypertrophy (muscle building) can just as effectively be achieved by performing a bodyweight exercise (e.g. push-ups) to complete or near (within one or two reps) failure, as it can be by lifting heavy weights. Keep that in mind as you are exercising at home.
What at-home exercises do you think are most effective for fat loss?
Dr. Nick Nwabueze: I design fat loss plans for many of my SteadyMD patients and one thing I consistently stress is that fat is not lost with exercise; it is lost with a focus on nutrition.
I do think that fat loss is supported by exercise (endorphin release ensuring you come back for more, increases in insulin sensitivity, etc.) and that body re-composition (the loss of fat and building of muscle) absolutely needs exercise, but if fat loss is your only goal, focus on what happens in the kitchen consistently.
How important is having a consistent exercise routine to dealing with anxiety or stress?
Dr. Nick Nwabueze: Research has demonstrated that those with a consistent exercise routine are more able to manage stress without a maladaptive response like anxiety. This likely is due to a myriad of factors, chief amongst them the positive neurochemical changes that occur when we are consistently active and moving. That activity doesn’t have to happen in a gym; it can happen on the trail, in the park, on a court, along a climbing wall…whatever activity brings you the most joy!
Do you need exercise equipment to get a good routine going? What if you have no equipment at all?
Dr. Nick Nwabueze: You absolutely do not need equipment to get a good routine going. Equipment doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t absolutely necessary, especially depending on what activity you choose. You know your situation better than anyone, so the best thing you can do is to pick a specific activity that fits your life best, one that you find brings you joy, and find a way to partake in it consistently!
Read more about Dr. Nick here!
- Personal trainers who post bodyweight training programs online can be great resources for those wanting to get a consistent exercise routine going, but lack traditional gym equipment.
- Before you begin an at-home workout regimen, determine your “why” for starting. Then, be consistent with your routine.
- If you want to build muscle, engage in workout strategies like progressive overload (exposing your body to higher and higher stressors consistently over time) or completing bodyweight exercises to complete or near complete failure (meaning you can’t do another rep).
- If your goal is fat loss, focus on nutrition. Your diet is the biggest factor when it comes to body fat.
- A consistent exercise routine can better enable you to manage stress, in big part due to the positive neurochemical changes that occur when you’re consistently active.
- To get a consistent exercise routine going, the best thing you can do is to pick a specific activity that best fits your life and brings you joy, and then practice it consistently!
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