It’s the simplest, cheapest option – just choose your workouts carefully
You don’t need to join a gym or go to fitness classes to transform your body. In fact, you don’t even have to set foot outside your door. Strength and conditioning coach Rannoch Donald (Simple Strength) answers some common queries about the pros and cons of home workouts.
What kind of workout can I do at home?
“People underestimate how far you can get with bodyweight moves,” says Donald. “Even when you’ve topped out on the standard ones – press-ups, squats, lunges and so on – there are more challenging variations that will keep you working hard. If you can crank out ten one-arm press-ups or single-leg pistol squats, you’ll be stronger than most people in your gym.”
But what will I be missing out on?
Most notably, heavy lifting. Unless you’re prepared to invest a fair amount of money, it’s tricky to get enough weight for serious squatting and deadlifting – and depending on your flooring, Olympic lifting variations are probably out too. But this isn’t as much of a concern as you might think. “Lifting for higher reps, or using tougher variations of moves, can see you make solid strength gains,” says Donald.
What should I spend my money on?
Your first investment should be a pull up bar. This will allow you to work the pulling muscles in your back, which are difficult to hit with other moves. Plus, you can put in the kitchen and get some reps in while the kettle boils. ‘Also invest in a resistance band and a set of dumbbells,’ says Donald. ‘They’ll allow you to add resistance to almost any movement.’
Won’t it be difficult to stay motivated?
It depends on your temperament. Some people have a Mr-T-in-Rocky-III-like ability to get to work wherever they are – gym, park, garden, garage, dungeon-like cellar – whereas others may find they train better in a dedicated workout space. But the at-home trainee has two things in his favour: choice of music and lack of distraction.
Any other benefits?
Loads. There’s nothing wrong with working out in front of the TV, for instance – whether you’re motivated by watching Stephen Amell doing shirtless muscle-ups in Arrow, or something more serene. You can also take a more leisurely approach than you might at the gym – doing multiple sets of press-ups over the course of an hour, say. The only disadvantage is that you have to clean your own sweat off the floor.