Granted, finding the motivation to actually go to the gym can be challenging at times. But once you are there, exercising is kind of a must, if only because there are other people around and no one wants to be judged for spending 10 minutes on an exercise bike and then leaving again. Plus, once you’ve made the effort to get there, you may as well make the most of it. And gyms have classes and personal trainers that can keep you motivated.
Exercising At Home
It’s different when you are working out at home instead. There are plenty of advantages to building a home exercise routine – you save gym fees, don’t have to compete with other users for the best machines, and you don’t have to go anywhere; you can get fit right in your living room. But it can be harder to find the motivation when you don’t have the same structure that a gym provides.
This is our guide to starting (and sticking to) a home exercise routine so that you can get healthier and fitter without ever needing to step outside your front door.
1. Start where you are
If you have already been going to a gym on a regular basis, you have a good idea of which exercises and workout programmes work for you, and just need to adapt them for use at home. But if you are new to working out, don’t expect to leap in and be keeping up with the pros straight away. It’s important to be realistic about your existing fitness level and capabilities.
It can be tempting to get carried away and choose a workout that is above your current abilities. This will lead to discouragement if you end up not being able to finish the exercises. Even if you do manage to keep up, you will likely find you pay for it the next day with aching muscles, making it harder to motivate yourself to continue with the programme.
Some exercises require more skill than others too and the margin for error is higher at home than at the gym, where there are staff and trainers on hand to help. Don’t risk injuring yourself by attempting moves that are beyond your current capabilities. There are plenty of simple exercises that you can use to get yourself started.
Building a regular home workout routine that you can actually stick to is all about starting slow. You will soon be moving onto harder exercises as your fitness and skill levels grow.
2. Set a goal
With any new habit, setting a clear goal is a great way to get motivated and hold yourself accountable. Instead of something vague like ‘I’m going to get fit’, give yourself a specific goal to aim for. You might say instead ‘I’m going to work out four days a week every week this month’ or ‘I’m going to complete this particular challenge in the next 30 days’. Write your goal down and put it somewhere you can see it every day to remind yourself what you are aiming for. You could even make a chart to keep yourself accountable.
You’ll notice that our examples above are also time limited. Setting achievable goals means you don’t leave them stretching out indefinitely into the future, but work to shorter timeframes that make everything feel more manageable. It is much easier to make a commitment to work out four times a week for the next month than for the rest of your life.
Your goal also needs to be realistic. If you have a busy family and working life, are you really going to be able to do two hours of exercise every day? If you have never lifted weights before, is four sets of fifteen reps really going to be achievable? Set a goal that will stretch you, but not defeat you, or you are setting yourself up for failure before you have even begun. Half-an-hour a day is more reachable than 2 hours, 3 sets of 8 reps is a good place for a beginner to start.
Once you’ve reached your first goal, you can set another one. Each time challenge yourself a little more. Before long, you’ll have turned your new exercise routine into a long-term, sustainable habit.
3. Pick exercises you enjoy
The more you enjoy your home workout routine, the more likely you are to stick to it. If you loathe burpees with a fiery passion, maybe invest in a home treadmill or exercise bike instead of going for a HIIT workout. If you find the thought of spending half-an-hour on a bike deadly dull, try a dancercise routine, or skipping, or hula hooping.
Working out can stretch you to your limits and have you cursing every step, but it should still bring you a sense of joy – if not during the exercises themselves, at least afterwards when you feel the glow of achievement and endorphins.
For many of us, the key to an enjoyable home exercise routine is variety, which is also great for making sure you are working out every part of your body. You might do this by focusing on a different part of your body each day – legs today, arms tomorrow, abs the next day etc – or by trying a variety of different styles of workout. With a whole range of workout programmes available online, many for free, you are sure to be able to build a routine you enjoy.
4. Find someone to hold you accountable
Having someone else who can encourage and motivate you is a great way to make sure you stay on track with building your home exercise habit. It doesn’t have to be someone you live with – it could be a friend or family member who can keep you accountable with regular check-ins. Or you might find a workout buddy online; there are lots of online communities and social media groups dedicated to supporting one another in getting fit and healthy.
Share your goals with whoever you choose and ask them to help you stick to them. Agree together how they will do that in advance – do you want to do a weekly check-in, or should they send you a daily text to remind you to work out? There will likely be points where you really don’t want to exercise. It is much harder to make excuses to someone else than it is to make them to yourself.
You could even consider working with a professional. Many personal trainers now offer remote coaching, so you can take advantage of their expertise from the comfort of your own home.
5. Have the right kit
You don’t need to go overboard buying every bit of exercise equipment on the market, but it is likely you will want at least a few bits and pieces to reach your fitness goals. If you are not sure what you need, check out our guide to the best home gym equipment to get you started. We’ve made this comprehensive list to suit all budgets.
6. Use the Internet to find programmes and classes
Especially if you are new to working out, making use of the huge range of videos, plans, and challenges available online is a great way to get yourself started. YouTube is a fantastic way to find free workout videos. You can also get a wide variety of apps for your phone, many of which are free, although you will have to put up with advertising. Once you are ready to commit, a paid-for programme can take you further towards your fitness goals.
7. Warm up and cool down
When you go to an exercise class or work with a personal trainer at the gym, one thing they will never do is allow you to skip the warm-up and cooldown sections of your workout. These are absolutely vital to prevent injury and reduce how stiff and sore you feel the next day.
At home, it can be very tempting to skip the warm-up or cooldown in favour of getting on with your day. Don’t! If you want your home exercise routine to be a long-lasting habit, you need to be sensible and take proper precautions to stretch your muscles and prevent injury. The best online exercise videos or plans will include both a warm-up and a cool down as part of the workout.
8. Track your progress
Whatever your workout aims – to get fit, bulk up, tone, or lose weight – keeping track of your progress is a good way to stay motivated. You can do this formally, by keeping a chart or diary, or informally by just taking the time to notice that a workout that once had you sweating and gasping for air now feels doable.
Share your wins, big and small, with the person who is keeping you accountable so that you can celebrate whenever you’ve reached a new milestone. After all, you have done great work to build and sustain a regular home exercise habit, and that is definitely something to smile about.
Starting a home exercise routine that you actually stick to can be a challenge. With the right resources, some realistic goals, and the encouragement of others, you put yourself in a great place to be successful.
Like any other habit, working out at home requires regular commitment to bring you the results you want. With these eight tips, we’re confident that anyone can reach their home exercise goals.