At home workouts are more than just skipping the commute and “doing something quick” at home. To see results, you still need to put effort in. You still need to progress yourself forward and make sure the intensity and stimulus you are putting on your body is one that is going to change it. Here’s a look into a few different training principals you can use to check the intensity of your workouts and make sure you are getting the most out of them.
There are several different variables you can adjust in your workout to change things up. While it may be the easy option to just scroll through Instagram and grab a workout and do the designated sets and reps, it might be wasting time you could be putting in to work towards a long term goal.
If general movement is your goal – you just want to move your body and sweat and feel good, then jump around and grab workouts that are fun for you. But I will say, at some point, you are going to want a goal to work towards. Maybe that is running a race, building stronger legs, or jumping higher. Whatever it is, you likely, at some point, will want some sort of tangible goal you can strive for.
If you are looking to reach goals right now, whether they be performance based or physique based, then you are going to want to start using training variables to track your workouts. At home workouts do not need to be something to “maintain” or “just get something in”. You can still get better, and sometimes even push harder, working out at home. So if you aren’t in a program such as The Collective that will explain to you and teach you that you should be tracking variables, then you should know how to do it yourself.
The FITT principals outline the key components for tracking any kinds of exercise routine. These are frequency, intensity, type and time. All of these can be manipulated to make sure you are getting the most out of your workouts.
Frequency – more sessions per week per muscle group (so doing more full body workout or hitting certain muscles more times per week) could increase strength and muscle size.
Intensity – effort. Changing up sets and reps to reach muscle fatigue.
Type – high loads and exercise selection will increase strength. So this means choosing exercises that are going to overload the muscle more with what you have…likely unilateral movements instead of bilateral (one leg instead of two) will help overload the muscle if you only have light weights at home.
Time – Performing more reps (volume) could increase strength. This means increasing the number of reps you are doing to still get to fatigue. Depending on your weights and the exercise, this could be upwards of 30 reps, so don’t just stick to the 3 sets of 10 reps if you aren’t depleted when you are done.
These are all ways to track your performance and make sure you are working hard enough to build the muscle tissue you are looking for. Aka, the “toned” look everyone wants.
The RPE scale is used to determine the level of exertion you are putting into an exercise. It stand for Rate of Perceived Exertion. This sliding scale is 1-10, 1 being little to no effort and 10 being unable to do any more. Using the RPE scale will allow you to determine when the muscle (and your body) have had enough. For muscle building, you want to stay at an RPE of 8-9. This means you have “1-2 reps left in the tank” when you finish your set and rest.
Just make sure you are actually pushing yourself to that RPE limit. What most people assume is their RPE 8 is really an RPE of 4-5. So just be honest, and push yourself!
Progressing Workouts At Home
Now that we have a few different approaches to tracking your workouts and making sure they are fitting your goals. Let’s dive into a few specific ways you can alter movements to reach the RPE or FITT principle you are after!
Tempo has to do with the speed at which you are performing an exercise. The slower the speed, the more muscle fibers are going to be stretched and damaged (that is what we want with muscle growth). This concept is called Time Under Tension, moving slow through the range of motion to put as much pressure and load on the muscle fibers as possible.
Muscles have a specific range of motion. They either contract, or the lengthen. Well, there are a few ways you can increase the range of motion to make sure you are really working through the entire muscle length.
This could be using a taller box for step ups, standing on a box and dropping the weight past it for an RDL, and just making sure you are moving through the entire range of motion. Don’t stop your squat early or your pushups. You want to go all the way down, and all the way up, cheating reps isn’t going to help you.
Increase Reps/Decrease Rest
Another great way you can overload the muscle and increase intensity of your at home workouts is by increasing your reps and decreasing your rest period. Now, this doesn’t mean turn everything into a jumping plyometric where you lunge and bicep curl and stand on your head and touch your toes. This just means increasing the number of reps you are doing of your exercise, resting for maybe :30 seconds instead of :90 seconds, and then repeating.
You don’t have to be coming up with new exercises and jumping around to see results. In fact, most results are going to come from strength training and being extremely mindful of your routine! It is all about progressive overload, making sure you are putting enough of a stimulus on the muscle (and body) to see the changes you want to. And like I said, if just general movement is your goal for now, go for it! You don’t always have to be working towards some type of goal, you can just move for the sake of moving and feeling good.
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