Over the past year, those who regularly work out have been forced to adapt their normal training routine. Gyms closed for a bit leaving most to work out at home. How many people have sufficient workout equipment at home? How many people know how to properly program a workout routine? And how many people have the motivation to workout consistently on their own, without much equipment, and in a place of comfort? The answer to all: not many. I wrote this (very short and very simple) article to provide some insight on how to make your own workout plan using limited equipment. Let’s dig in.
If you have equipment:
Having equipment makes building a program a LOT simpler. It gives you more variety, an easier way to progress the exercises, and are a little more fun to use. The first thing you want to consider is your goals: strength, endurance, or hypertrophy. Determining these first helps to determine your main exercises and the volume of your program, including the amount of weight, sets, reps, intensity, and rest time. I won’t bore you by getting into the details, but here is the gist of programming for certain goals: for hypertrophy perform 8-12 reps, for strength perform 3-8 reps, for muscular endurance perform 15 or more reps (NOTE: you could accomplish any of those goals with any of those rep schemes but looking at specific numbers simplifies and narrows the focus).
You might be asking yourself, “does that information really tell me much?” Honestly, probably not. What I expect most from people who are working out at home is to find a good volume (reps x sets x weight) that is easy enough to complete but also hard enough to feel like you accomplished something. Working out at home is not the most fun task one can undertake, so do your best to create fun workouts. Something is better than nothing! Use that equipment, move around, break a sweat, and have fun.
If you do not have equipment:
Here is where there is a real challenge. Bodyweight exercises don’t seem like they can help much, and progressing those exercises is very basic. But I would like to point out something I mentioned in the previous topic: SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING! Everyone knows the basic bodyweight exercises to perform and finding more is just one click away. When determining how many reps you should perform, test out the movement by performing as many reps as possible. With that max number now known, start the exercise with 60-70% of that number.
Then do that exercise, with the newly determined sub-max number of reps, for a 3-5 sets. BOOM! You were just given the beginners guide to programming! I must point out that EVERYONE has some workout available at home, it just may not be readily apparent. You know that bag you have in your pantry or kitchen that’s filled with more bags? And have you seen all those canned goods piled up in your cabinets? Well, there’s your workout equipment! Double bag some cans and utilize those as your weights! Or water jugs! Or furniture, books, or even your pets! If really feel the need to use more resistance than what your body provides or just feel more accomplished with weight in your hands then get a little creative with what you have at home!
- Do SOMETHING. Even if it is just a handful of things. Find exercises you enjoy, perfect them, and get better with them!
- Play around with reps and sets. If something feels too easy, increase the reps, add sets, or decrease rest time.
- If your workout for the day is easy, play with reps/sets/rest or add another exercise.
- Change the manner in which you complete an exercise, i.e., perform the movement really slow, really fast, pause at different points of the movement, etc.
- BE CREATIVE! This is the time to explore fitness and to challenge yourself!
Of course, if you still do not want to create your own program or need the motivation a trainer can provide, seek out the professionals! If you have found this article, then you most likely were looking for a trainer anyway. But it is my duty as a health professional to provide you with the knowledge you need to be successful on your own.