Are you struggling to come up with at home training that will keep you engaged, motivated, and fit? The AWMA Blog has some suggestions to help get you through this incredibly trying time.
Fitness is having a confusing time in the spotlight right now. We are, arguably, being made more aware of its importance than ever. Health and public officials are reminding us that movement and activity can play a vital role in maintaining our well-being during these times. Exercise is also a great source of stress relief — and we’re all in need of some of that right now. But just as we’re all starting to need fitness more than ever, our ability to pursue it in the ways that most of us enjoy and are used to are disappearing. Gyms are closed. Aerobics, circuit training, boot camp, and martial arts classes are cancelled. Not everyone can get outside for a walk or run.
This is one more frustrating obstacle in a very frustrating and scary time. But there is one thing the AWMA Blog can offer you right now: before I wrote for this blog, I worked as an in-home personal trainer who specialized in small equipment and bodyweight exercises. I also have an allergy to cold temperatures and live in a cold climate, so I have a lot of personal experience in the field of staying fit and fighting off boredom while stuck at home. And I’m going to share tips I’ve learned with you while we’re staying home and saving lives.
I’m going to start with ideas for cardio, because I’ve found that those are often the hardest to do when you have a limited amount of space and equipment. If you have a treadmill or exercise bike in your home, you’re probably set for now. The rest of us will have to get a little more creative. Here are some tips for maintaining — and maybe even increasing — your cardiovascular fitness during social distancing:
Interval cardio training, which involves periods of high intensity work loads (usually at the high end of your aerobic zone or in the anaerobic zone) interspersed with periods of lower intensity recovery periods, are a little easier to execute in a home setting. There are a lot of explosive exercises that you can do in a small space. And you can walk or march on the spot for your recovery periods.
Here are some of my favourites:
Jump rope drills: If you have a jump rope — and enough space to swing it without hitting anything — your cardio world is going to immediately open up. You can select one basic jump like a double hop or side shuffle that you can maintain for longer period of time and do a number of boxing-style rounds of 2-3 minutes of skipping and 1 minute of lightly marching in place for a solid interval workout. If you want to get fancier, you can also add footwork drills to your routine. And if you don’t have a rope or space? You can still do jump rope-inspired workouts like this:
Agility ladder drills: Speaking of footwork, agility ladder drills are a great way to work on your coordination while you’re stuck inside. If you don’t have an agility ladder, you can easily create a makeshift one out of jump ropes, string, and/or tape. I’ve also used floor tiles as a guideline in a pinch. Here are some examples of fast footwork drills to get you started:
Tabata circuits: Tabata-style interval training — 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 8 sets per exercise — was a favorite of mine when I was working as a trainer because it can be adapted to almost any level of fitness. People with a high base level of cardio and no injuries can build their Tabata workouts around basic plyometric exercises like jumping lunges, ski jumps, tuck jumps, and burpees. Beginners can start by doing high knee marches for their work intervals — or even waving your arms above your head. Any movement that can do to safely raise your heart rate can be used for Tabata training. All you need is a timer. Or you can use this video:
Burpee ladders and pyramids: If you’re used to high intensity interval training classes and hard martial arts training, here’s a challenging full body workout that will keep you going while you’re cooped up in a small space: Start with 10 burpees. Then do 10 jumping jacks. Do 9 burpees. Then 10 more jumping backs. Then 8 burpees and 10 jumping jacks, and so on. The number of burpees (your work load) decreases by 1 each time while the number of jumping jacks (your recovery period) stays the same. March on the spot for 5 minutes, then try another set. If you’re still not challenged enough, start with 10, work down to 1, and then back up to 10 again. If you’re not ready for the full workout and you have a moderate level of cardio fitness, try going from 5 to 1. If you’re a beginner, I strongly recommend building a solid cardio base before attempting any variation of this workout.
Steady state cardio, which is any workout that involves a continuous and steady effort within your aerobic heart rate training zone, can be a little trickier. Most of the workouts we do in this zone either require a lot of space for forward momentum (like walking, running, or cycling) or bigger pieces of training equipment (like treadmills and bikes). But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to reproduce at home with little to no equipment.
Walking and running: If you live somewhere where you can go outside for exercise while maintaining a safe distance from other people — and you feel comfortable doing so — a walk or run outside can do you a lot of good physically and mentally. If you’re considering taking up running now, though, please be careful and follow a responsible training program, like a couch to 5k. Now is not the time to risk new sporting injuries!
If you’re not able to go outside, or aren’t comfortable exercising out there right now, there are other hacks you can do to get your steps in. One man ran a whole marathon on his balcony while on lockdown in France!
Stairs: If you have stairs in your home, you have access to a highly underrate piece of fitness equipment. Beginners can start by stepping up and down on the bottom stair for a set period of time. Moderate exercisers can go up and down the whole flight for sets. If you have a solid low stool or an old Step or exercise box lying around, you can also revisit Step aerobics. This old video might look a little weird, but the workout itself has aged a lot better:
Aerobic videos: If you’ve haven’t tried an aerobic video in a while, now is a great time to experiment. If you think they’re cheesy or not challenging enough for you — which are opinions I once held when I was a big fitness snob — you might be surprised by what’s out there that will keep you working for the right amount of time in the right training zone. From Tae Bo (add a pair of boxing gloves for an extra toning challenge) to Sweatin’ to the Oldies, there are a lot of old and new school workout tapes out there to keep you busy. Plus, they’re a great source of cross-training. You know how football players try ballet or martial arts to test their coordination and body awareness in new ways? These videos can do the same thing for your regular training routine.
Looking for more at home training ideas? Check out our blog posts: