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How to Exercise at Home When Gyms Are Closed

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How to Exercise at Home When Gyms Are Closed

Gyms are closed and our level of activity due to the quarantine has dropped dramatically. Most people who are concerned with their health (and waistline) are wondering how to exercise at home when gyms are closed, especially when they don’t have access to any facility, health classes, or personal trainers.

Whether you believe the current measures being taken to control the virus are overkill or spot on, I will tell you this: we’re all in for a significant change. Whether you take protocols to isolate yourself from crowded areas is your call, but if you decide to stay home from the gym, I want you to have the tools you need to succeed. The way I see it, the stronger and healthier you are, the better your body functions, whether you need to perform your best at work or ward off a virus.

The problem most people face though is the lack of direction and clear rules on how to maximize both the efficacy (how good the exercise you pick works) and the efficiency (how quickly you get it done) of their at-home training.

This article will offer you a solid foundation to bodyweight training and a few tips on different strategies you can implement to get some exceptionally effective workouts from your living room.

Training Philosophy for Exercise at Home

These are tough times. You know that. Less obvious is the much more positive flip side: The tough times offer you the ability to emerge smarter, more resilient, and yes, in better health and fitness.

It’s less about biceps and PRs and more about the link between mindset, health, fitness, and becoming a better person so you can best lead others and provide an example to them. It’s now all about maintaining a positive mindset and emerging triumphant from these troubled times.

A full set of weights, dumbbells, and on occasion, cables and machines are the ideal. But these aren’t ideal times. So here’s the good news: You can still build an incredible physique and prevent the loss of muscle even with a partial layoff and/or limited equipment when you exercise at home.

In the current coronavirus climate, some special considerations are required to help you not only make progress but to maximize health along the way. What follows are daily steps you should be taking, as well as tactical training tips to adjust workouts on the fly.

Daily Movement and Wellness Steps

Before doing any exercise at home, consider these steps to lower your stress levels and prepare your body to move.

Daily Meditation

Mediate for 3-10 minutes first thing each morning.

In times like the current pandemic, stress-relief practices are key to true health and fitness. Meditation has been proven time and time again to help people cope with stress, anxiety, and depression[1]. With so much uncertainty, starting a daily meditation practice will help you navigate the troubled waters ahead.

The most common reason people self-sabotage when it comes to fitness can be summed up in a single word: stress.

When you struggle with stress (and who doesn’t these days?), you will end up skipping workouts, gorging on junk food, drinking too much, and sleeping too little. All this undermines your ability to make progress and get stronger, leaner, and healthier.

The takeaway? Attack stress directly through meditation. You’ll be able to better handle the root reason many people struggle to make the progress they deserve.

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Try meditation on your own each morning before your day gets going and/or use an app like Headspace, which is currently offering free service during the coronavirus outbreak.

Cold Showers

Want an extra blast of positivity in the morning? Jump in a cold shower for 30 minutes.

The brutality of this practice has the power of taking every single thought you have in your head away. It’s cold…that’s all you can think about, but after 30 minutes you feel amazing. A cold shower has been proven to have amazing benefits like reducing stress, improving resilience and willpower, and increasing fat loss. Don’t just take my word: try it, and meditate just after you’ve done that!

Daily Walks

Aim for 10,000 steps per day.

If you’re able to be out and about, aim to get 10,000 steps per day. Walking serves as a great way to clear your head, manage stress, and keep fat gain to a minimum.

This may not sound like a big deal, but getting around 10,000 steps per day may burn as many as 500 calories. Taken over the week, that’s 3500 calories, or the same number of calories in a pound of fat.

Walk in the morning. Walk while doing meetings on the phone. Walk after meals. Walk while you listen to podcasts. Walking time doesn’t need to be dead time.

Bonus:

When you go for your walks, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth and breathe through your nose. Nasal breathing has a ton of benefits[2] including better oxygen extraction (which can lead to more energy), maintaining a balanced pH in your body through improved carbon dioxide breakdown, and decreased nerve activity in the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system arouses the body (the fight or flight response). When this is chronically high due to periods of high stress, cortisol increases, which can suppress your immune system, increase fat gain, and decrease muscle gain. Long story short: Nasal breathing reduces stress and improves your health.[3]

Daily Warm-Up

Performing a simple warm-up daily is the key to restoring mobility, wiping out pain and dysfunction, and making pain-free progress in the gym and when you exercise at home. Think it’s too simple to be true? Think again.

Try this simple warm-up sequence daily:

1. Jumping Jacks (or jump rope) x100

2. Quadruped Fire Hydrant x8/side

3. Quadruped Hip Extension x8/side

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4. Bodyweight Squat x10

5. T-Push Up x5/side

6. Front Lunge x10/side

7. Groiner with T-Rotation x5/side

Benefits of Each Exercise

Jump Rope/Jumping Jacks

The goal with the first activity is to improve blood flow and increase body temperature. I prefer the jump-rope to improve coordination, footwork, and athleticism, but if you don’t know how to skip, you’ll be fine doing jumping jacks.

Quadruped Fire Hydrant

This exercise has been a staple in my warm-ups since Rehan Jalali (trainer of Stallone, Ben Affleck, Halle Berry and many others…and also my personal mentor) recommended them to me.

The quadruped position has reduced lumbar loads[4]. Basically, it relaxes your lower back muscles–a metaphorical “orgasm” for your spine after sitting all day–while simultaneously improving muscle activation in your thoracic extensors, lats, and obliques.

The fire hydrant provides a low-stress exercise to resist rotation through your spine while firing up your gluteus medius–an often neglected glute muscle essential to providing support to your hip, knee, and ankle.

Note: If your knees are diving in when landing, squatting or lunging, double up on these.

Quadruped Hip Extension

As mentioned, the quadruped position is absolute cash-money for core and glute activation without spinal stress. By adding a hip extension, you’ll wake up dormant glutes to fire up gluteal muscle fibers to support improved performance, better muscle gains, and potentially reduced back pain.

Assume the quad position with your spine neutral and actively pushing through the floor for the entire set. Don’t allow any movement through your lower back as you extend the hip, pause, and return to the starting position.

Bodyweight Squat

This drill grooves the squat pattern, aiding mobility through your hips, knees, and ankles. I recommend performing with a shoulder-width stance and no wider. Allow the knees to drift past the toes as long as your heels stay planted. This improves active dorsiflexion through your ankle, allowing better movement mechanics.

T-Push Up

The T-Push warms up your chest, shoulders, arms, and back while engaging the core to control rotation. Do you spend a lot of time sitting and hunched over? This exercise will help break up the stiffness in your upper back and shoulders. Stay slow and controlled, following your hand with your eyes on each push-up.

Front Lunge

Lunges prepare your body for sagittal plane (front and back) movements, loosening the hip, knee, and ankle. This improves both stability and mobility to improve performance and keep you injury-free.

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Groiner with T-Rotation

Bad hip mobility leads to back and knee issues[5], poor posture, and hinder your ability to stay healthy and athletic. Use the groiner to unlock your hips and add the t-rotation to improve thoracic mobility. Make sure you keep the front heel down on each “step” to minimize shear stress on the knee.

Progressing Exercises, Tips, and Tactics

Whatever routine you decide to do after you’ve done your warm-up to exercise at home, the key to maximizing the effectiveness of bodyweight or minimalist style workouts is to maximize the quality of every single repetition.

Your body doesn’t understand “weight” or reps; it only understands tension and time. Therefore, if you can create more tension in each rep, you can still create progressive tension overload[6], which is the key to building strength and muscle.

Hint: This is also one reason gymnasts get so jacked using only bodyweight: They learn to create maximum tension with their bodyweight.

Here’s how you can experience some of the same benefits:

1. Focus

Put simply, eliminate distractions. Turn off the news. Put down the phone. Be focused on what you’re doing. Don’t overcomplicate this. When you train, you train. Nothing else.

2. Squeeze and Flex Everything

Here’s a trick: stand up and flex your right fist as hard as you can. Notice how you feel the tension in your hand, forearm, shoulder, and entire upper body? This is known as irradiation. By focusing on creating as much tension as you can, you teach your body to activate nearby muscle fibers.

When you do squats, focus on gripping the floor with your feet.

When you do push-ups, squeeze your abs, quads, glutes, and imagine “squeezing” your chest together on each rep.

Take this principle and apply it to each exercise you do.

3. Manipulate the Range of Motion and Body Angle

Let’s use a push-up as an example. To make push-ups easier, elevate your hands on a bench, counter-top, or against a wall. To make push-ups more difficult, elevate your feet. The higher the angle (with your hands on the ground), the more of your bodyweight you support.

Also, you can increase the range of motion by elevating your hands on books, push up handles, or something similar. If you’re able to do inverted rows in a squat rack, on rings, or a TRX, the same thought process applies.

With any of the exercises you perform from the floor, consider altering your body angle as a simple method to make an exercise harder or easier.

4. Minimize Bounce and Momentum

The best way to “feel” a muscle and make any exercise harder is to slow down your tempo. When you go slow, you keep muscles under more tension[7], which increases metabolic stress, a necessary component of muscle growth.

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You should also add pauses at the bottom of your reps, like the bottom of a squat, lunge, or push-up. Adding pauses and actively contracting your muscles in those positions serves as both an active stretch and allows the dissipation of stored energy in your ligaments[8]. This forces your muscles to do all the work.

Push up example: Lower your body in 3-5 seconds and pause at the bottom of the push-up. At the bottom, “squeeze” your hands like you’re trying to make your chesticles touch each other.

5. Vary Your Leverage

I covered this a bit above as it pertains to push-ups, but it’s worth repeating. Changing the leverage to an exercise increases (or decreases) tension to make it easier or tougher.

Here’s an example with the hanging leg raise and fully extend your legs; it’s a brutal exercise! However, if you partially bend your legs, it gets easier. Finally, if you keep your knees fully bent, it gets even easier. This is a sample way to vary leverage to increase or decrease the difficulty of an exercise.

6. Vary Your Stability

By reducing your base of support and stability, you can increase the demands of an exercise. Let me give you some workable examples:

Lunges

A lunge has more stability than a pistol squat or a skater squat. In both pistol squats and skater squats, you only have one foot on the ground versus two; therefore, each limb must work harder to contract and to stabilize.

Push-ups

A push up with two hands on the ground is simple and straightforward. Here’s how you can take a simple push up and change the stability:

  • Lift one foot
  • Lift one hand (single-arm push-up)
Rows

An inverted row, if you have the equipment, is an incredible exercise. You can vary its intensity just like a push up:

  • Row your body with one hand
  • Perform a row, but lift your foot off the ground

These adjustments sound small, but they make a world of difference. By changing any of these factors, you can dramatically alter how hard a body part is working at any given time.

Customizing Your Workout

With the information above, you can customize any workout you read or see online based on the equipment that you have at your disposal to exercise at home. My goal with sharing the information above is to help you become self-sufficient when working with little equipment and capable of adjusting on the fly to challenge your body and continue to make progress with the gym.

Exercise, especially these days, is not just a way to look better and be healthier, but also a tool to minimize our thoughts and focus on something positive and energizing.

The above-mentioned style of training has an almost meditative effect on the brain and can truly reset your mood and daily attitude, on top of improving your muscle tone, fat-loss and physical performance. Make it a daily practice to move in a smart way, and you will even be able to improve the way you look, feel, and perform during this quarantine period.

More Tips on Exercising at Home

Featured photo credit: Samantha Gades via unsplash.com

Reference

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Davide Alfonsi

Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

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Last Updated on January 26, 2022

Best Fitness Trackers to Get in 2022 To Stay on Top of Your Health

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Best Fitness Trackers to Get in 2022 To Stay on Top of Your Health

Years ago, when I started my wellness journey and looked for the best fitness trackers, I was familiar with a few wearable step counters, aka the pedometer, Fitbit, Polar, and more recently, the Apple Watch. These wireless wearable “bracelets” offer high-tech fitness and health metrics at the press of a button.

I didn’t realize how many tracker brands there were, and I felt as overwhelmed as when I walked down the cereal aisle.

How do you decide which fitness tracker is right for you with so many to review? Below, I will share my experience and research to remove the confusion and overwhelm, and I hope it helps you decide.

It was also fun to discover that step counting originated in the early 1700s by a Horologist and inventor Abraham-Louis Perrelet. It was later suggested that Tomas Jefferson created the first mechanical pedometer.[1]

Fitness trackers—or wearable health devices as we know them today—later surfaced in 1965 by Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, a Japanese professor at the Kyushu University of Health and Welfare. His research offered a method to combat obesity and created the Mankoe-Kei pedometer, translated to “10,000 step meter.”

Fitness trackers and, more recently, smartwatches have come a long way. With multiple styles, features, and price ranges to select, it can be challenging to find the best choice. With so many options to choose from, which one is the best? And how do you decide?

Let’s briefly look at some of the most popular brands and the similarities and differences between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch. Let’s also look at the pros and cons of wearable trackers to see if they develop or hinder motivation.

Fitness Trackers vs. Smartwatches

There is quite a bit of overlap between the two, but the fitness tracker is the way to go if you want to keep things simple and focus solely on your fitness and daily activity. Both also offer an app experience to review several health statistics.

However, the smartwatch takes it up a notch by sending notifications and updates from your phone to your wrist. If you are looking for a detailed tech analysis, I will link the website to the brand.

Suppose simplicity and interest in reviewing the below top health metrics are the primary reasons for choosing a fitness tracker. In this case, selecting a wearable step counter and affordable fitness wristband is the way to go—no need to get caught up in data analysis paralysis.

  • Tell time
  • Step counter
  • Calories burned
  • Heart rate

If you are interested in additional advanced features, want to receive a detailed analysis of all the following health metrics, and need your wearable to track more than just your health, a smartwatch would be the way to go.

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  • Breathing rate
  • Resting variability
  • Skin temperature
  • Oxygen saturation
  • Movement notification
  • Female health tracking
  • Sleep monitor
  • GPS tracker
  • Receive calls, texts, and emails
  • Workable apps such as mobile payments and music storage

So, how do you choose the brand? It all depends on personal preference, ease of use, style, and how many details of your health and fitness data you would like to analyze.

Bear in mind, there may be various products within each brand, each offering something a little different based on when it hit the market. Here are some of the best fitness trackers and smartwatches in the market.

The best thing about these wearables is that they all track your health and fitness from super simple to more advanced. Let’s compare a few statistics to see how each stack up against their competitor.

1. Fitbit

    Price Range: $80 to $200

    Battery length between charges: up to 6 days

    Launched in 2007, Fitbit offers nine different models and 21 products to choose from, offering everything from a simple clip-on pedometer to fitness wristbands to the latest in the high-tech smartwatch. Easy to set up, sync to the app, and use immediately, each watch can meet the needs of basic use to high-tech statistical analysis.

    2. Apple Watch

      Price Range: $199 to $429

      Limited battery life between charges – charge every two days

      The Apple Watch is a multifunctional wellness tracker and phone on your wrist. Launched in 2015, Apple Watch offers two models with a slue of tech specs that change yearly.

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      Prices are steep. It takes time to navigate with all the bells and whistles, but this watch has many unique features that most brands don’t offer. If you are a multi-tasker and are looking for a watch that could almost cook you dinner, this would be the one.

      3. Samsung Galaxy

        Prices Range: $60 to $350

        Battery life between charges – 2.5 to 4 days

        In 2014, Samsung introduced its first fitness wristband designed to be just an activity tracker, then later the smartwatch. With two models to select from (each having yearly updates), this brand offers all the above specs.

        One thing sets it apart from the rest: Samsung is the first smartwatch to measure body composition, namely Weight, Skeletal Muscle, Body Fat Mass, BMI (Body Mass Index), Water, and BMR (Basel Metabolic Rate).

        4. Polar

          Price Range: $90 to $500

          Battery life between charges – up to 4 days

          Polar is not just a fitness tracker but also a sports science and technology on your wrist. Polar offers heart rate monitoring, fitness tracking, and GPS sports tracking.

          This watch is great for athletes looking to improve athletic performance and exercise enthusiasts looking to improve their overall health. They are the leaders in heart rate monitoring and offer proprietary Smart Coaching technology. This technology turns your training data into personalized, actionable training guidance.

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          5. Timex

            Price Range: $45 to $180

            Extended Battery life – 12 to 14 days

            Timex, the foundation builder for smartwatches, began in 1994 with a watch made for space flight for NASA. Timex has everything, from the basics of calorie counting, stopwatch, step counting, and distance traveled to ironman smartwatch capabilities with GPS tracking.

            If you are a runner, cyclist, or swimmer and are just interested in the basics, this one is for you. With a durable design (Aluminum Alloy Case and Gorilla Glass™), these watches were designed to last forever.

            It is also one of the most stylish fitness watches and has the most affordable smartwatch on the market, coming in at only $180 compared to other popular brands. Expect this watch to cover all your health metrics and offer a great battery life in between charges.

            6. Garmin

              Price Range: $149 to $1,149

              Battery life in between charges – between 5 to 50 days (Yes, you read that correctly.)

              Garmin Smartwatch, founded in 2014, doubles as the leader in GPS wearable tracking devices and high-performing athletic data tracking watches on the market. It is one of the best brands with a fantastic battery life with the Garmin Enduro (made for endurance athletes and ultra-marathon runners), clocking in at 50 days.

              If you aren’t the athletic type and want to stay off the grid and use it to track your activity, Garmin is also an excellent choice. But be sure to know what you want before investing because Garmins price point can be pretty steep due to the premium material in its design.

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              There are two products on the market worth mentioning that focus on how your body is functioning, so you are well-rested and ready to go for your next workout. We focused on multifunction health and fitness devices around fitness and wellness specifics. But what about recovery? Meet Oura Ring and Whoop.

              7. WHOOP Fitness and Health Membership

                Price Range: monthly membership is $30 (additional premium upgrades)

                Battery life in between charges – 4 to 5 days

                WHOOP, founded in 2011, is a fitness and recovery tracking all in one. It monitors your sleep, recovery, and daily effort 24/7, then delivers in-depth feedback on how you can optimize your performance.

                If knowing when to push harder or rest is vital to improving your performance, this tracker is a sure winner. Join as a member, and you will receive the latest WHOOP wearable for free—every time another generation is released.

                8. The Oura Ring

                  Price: $200

                  Battery life in between charges: 4 to 7 days

                  The Oura Ring, founded in 2013, is focused on sleep quality and recovery, so it will not track your fitness or daily activity. Features include tracking your motion, heart rate, and temperature to tell you how well you are sleeping and recovering your body.

                  Final Thoughts

                  The purpose of health and wellness trackers is to create awareness around increasing one’s daily activity level and provide a valuable tool for tracking important health and non-health-related statistics. Make a list of the essential features you will consistently keep track of and interest you, and perhaps that will ease the pain when choosing which best fitness tracker to use.

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                  Which one you choose is entirely up to you, and you can spend months researching over every spec. The most important thing is that you don’t get caught up in the minute details and keep moving.

                  Featured photo credit: dusan jovic via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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