Six Successful Strategies for Exercise at Home (or Outside a Gym)

You’ve been thinking about enjoying some exercise and a gym membership doesn’t fit with your schedule, tastes, or finances. To come up with your program, you need to start with the basics so you can feel successful with your workouts. 

Step #1 Pick One Goal

What do you want to accomplish with your exercise? Are you dealing with pain or health issues? Are you trying to improve your overall fitness? Are you trying to tone or to bulk up? Pick ONE goal to start with, you can adjust as you go. Having a clear grasp of what you’re aiming to do in the long-run will help to guide your plan and keep you motivated too.

Don't worry about picking the perfect goal, go with what seems attainable with the least amount of extra planning. Think small to start off with, you can always adjust your goal as you progress. 

 Leila approves of my home gym set up.

Leila approves of my home gym set up.

Step #2 Know Your Location

Are you running out doors? Are you setting up a space at home? Are you traveling and not sure what your spaces will look like?

Having a sense of the space you will be moving in, or through will help you plan for any equipment you might need. Make a list of the items you need and see what you already have on hand or can get quickly. 

I set up my home workout space in the garage with items I already had. I will be adding some mats and other things over time and for now, this works really well. 

Step #3 Schedule Your Exercise

Now it's time to think about how often you will work out. If you’re new to workout programs or recovering from illness/injury start with some simple, safe movement twice a week for 15-20 minutes. Too much too soon could be overwhelming and put you off. Also, changes are more successful if you ease into a new habit. Resist the urge to over-schedule yourself for workouts every day. 

After easing yourself in, you can increase the intensity of the workout and add an extra one or two workout days to your program. Try for three days each week, or maybe four if you’re feeling really energetic. However, it’s as important to include rest and recovery days in your schedule as it is to include workout days. If you tend to get distracted, use a calendar or reminder app on your phone or computer to keep the appointments with yourself. 

Step #4 Allow Plenty of Time

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The amount of time you allow for a workout session will dictate the variety and kinds of exercise you can carry out. For lots of variety, you’ll need a longer session, and for endurance exercise, you’ll also need more time.

TIP: Include time to eat, get dressed, get set up, and for whatever you need afterward. A 20 min workout might need an hour of your time. Be realistic with the time you have available.  

Perhaps some days of the week you have time for a leisurely walk with friends, other days might be body weight exercises at home or on the road. Enjoy variety! 

Step #5 Develop Your Routine

Think about which areas of your body you’d like to focus on the most. Do you want to increase the endurance in your legs? Perhaps you want to bulk up your biceps? You can plan each session with these focal points in mind.

Build your program up bit by bit. With a range of possible exercises in mind, plan what you’d like to cover in each session. See if you can cover everything in a one- or two-week exercise cycle.

YouTube is a fabulous resource for a wide range of exercises. Look for videos with clear explanations and watch them first before trying to do them. This important step will help you decide if the trainer's style works for you or not. 

Step #6 Adjust and Adapt

After you’ve begun the actual workouts, you’ll have a better idea of which exercises work for you, and how long it all takes. You can then adjust your program to match what you learn. With this knowledge, you can then set yourself longer-term goals – like increasing the number of reps or sets you do in a session, or running further in the same amount of time.

Always do what works for you, ignore whatever new trend is happening and take the opportunity to give your body the type of movement experience it wants. Developing an exercise routine can be successful if you are really enjoying what you do. If you aren't enjoying it, try something different. 

BONUS: A 25 Minute Intro to Resistance Loops/Bands for Arms, Legs and Core. Downloadable & Printable Cards for Resistance Band Exercises

Have questions or need modifications for exercise? Schedule a session with Nancy.