Staying fit during quarantine doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, you’ve already gone through quarantine once.
While the first time may have caught you off guard, there’s no reason the second lockdown should too. This entry into the Get Swole During Quarantine series provides some great tips for shoring up your home gym NOW, in case another pandemic hits in full force.
Having a well-equipped home gym can be the key to success! Don’t worry! You don’t need fancy, expensive things.
Basic equipment, such as dumbbells and resistance bands are enough, but even those can be replaced.
Sounds interesting? Keep reading to find out how to prepare your home gym for another quarantine.
5 Ways To Get Your Home Gym Ready In Case of A Second Quarantine
1. Sit down and write a fitness plan
To create the perfect home gym and keep fit during a lockdown you should first know the goals you’re working towards and create a plan that’ll help you get there.
So ask yourself what you are working towards. Is it weight loss? Maybe you’re trying to build more muscle? Or maybe you just want to stay fit while maintaining your current weight?
Are you working towards an even more specific goal such as increasing speed and endurance? Maybe you want to someday take part in a marathon.
Whatever your goals are, you need to clearly define them. Once you do that, create a fitness plan that helps you achieve that goal.
If you already have a workout plan that you’re following at the gym, see how you can maintain a similar plan at home.
For instance, if you rely a lot on fitness machines, it’s safe to say you won’t be able to rely on the same equipment at home.
Find ways to introduce more bodyweight exercises or use simpler things such as kettlebells or dumbbells instead.
HIIT and circuit training are also fantastic ways to stay in shape while at home.
They don’t require much space or fancy equipment and they can fit in pretty much all fitness plans, regardless of your goals.
Make sure your fitness plan includes cardio, strength training, and some stretching and relaxation.
For most people, 3 days of strength training per week will be enough, but if you’re already working towards building more muscles, you might want to increase that to 4 days.
Remember to give yourself at least one rest day before working out the same muscle groups again.
On the other days, you can do cardio or HIIT. Do alternate steady-state cardio days with higher intensity ones to avoid exhaustion.
2. Investing in a fitness/yoga mat
Now that you have a workout plan, it’s time to start thinking about the equipment you’ll need.
Start by considering investing in a good fitness or yoga mat. I know working out from home you might think you don’t need one because you can just use the carpet.
While the carpet may provide some cushioning, it’s also great to use if you want to increase your chances of injuring yourself. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t among your fitness goals though!
A mat provides so much more than cushioning. It helps with stability and the cushioning is made specifically to protect your elbows, knees, and back in exercises where you put a lot of pressure on your joints. Believe it or not, carpets aren’t made for that!
If you do Pilates or yoga, you’ll need an even better mat – one that is non-slippery and that offers stability. In both yoga and Pilates you’ll find several exercises requiring balance, so a mat that helps with stability is crucial.
As for the need for a non-slippery mat: have you ever tried a downward-facing dog on a surface where your hands and feet are slipping constantly? Trust me, it’s not fun!
And there’s a bonus: mats protect your floors if you happen to accidentally drop a dumbbell or kettlebell.
No more worrying about damaging the floors or explaining to your neighbors why you keep dropping heavy things on the ground!
3. Choosing affordable dumbbells
Probably the most important equipment in your strength training routine is dumbbells.
You can use them for both upper and lower body strength training workouts, but also during HIIT and circuit training. They can easily, and safely replace the machines from the gym.
In terms of choosing the right dumbbells for your home gym, there are a few things to keep in mind.
It is probably safe to say adjustable dumbbells are one of the best investments to make. They take very little space and they allow you to progress in your training easily.
Each time you feel the current weight isn’t enough anymore, you set a higher one.
No more need to worry if you bought the right weight, how long it will take you to move up from the weight you’re currently on, and so on.
If you have the luxury to buy high-quality dumbbells, look at this comparison between the Powerblock Sport vs Elite. They are both adjustable, durable and they can expand to a maximum of 90 lbs.
However, if you don’t have the budget or if you just can’t find any such dumbbells in your area, no worries!
Something simpler, like the hex dumbbells, is just as good. You can even use weighted water bottles and still get a great workout!
And of course, don’t overlook the power of simple push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and burpees. They require no weights, and will work all your muscles!
4. Optimize your workout with resistance bands
Resistance bands are often overlooked when it comes to strength training. Many know them as a rehab tool for those who are recovering after injuries or even surgeries.
The truth is they are much more than that. First of all, they are perfect for a home gym. They take almost no space and can be stored anywhere.
They can be used for both upper body and lower body workouts. And they can also help you work your core!
On top of that, the risk of injury is minimal. Sure, if you accidentally let go of one end while the band is in tension you might hit yourself with it pretty hard.
But that does not compare with injuries that can happen by the incorrect use of a heavy dumbbell.
They are even recommended for athletes looking to improve their performance!
And believe it or not, you can build muscle with resistance bands. The great thing about them is that your muscles are working hard the entire time.
Resistance training can complement bodyweight workouts but also dumbbells, something especially helpful if you’re used to going to the gym and using a wide variety of machines and weights.
The bands will provide a fantastic alternative to all those things, adding functional training to your workouts, thus improving your strength.
5. Make the most out of your cardio outdoors
Let’s be honest – doing cardio in your home is not exactly fun. Not to mention that your options are pretty limited.
If you have cardio machines such as a treadmill or an exercise bike, you might be OK for a while. But even then, if all you do is use that one equipment, you’ll hit plateau pretty quickly.
The solution? Take your cardio outdoors.
Exercises like interval sprints are great for improving your cardiovascular health, your speed, and endurance, but they also help maintain leg strength during the lockdown.
If the rules aren’t too strict where you are, you can also run long distances, alternating speed for instance.
Plus, physical exercise includes an important component – perceived exertion – which has been proven to be just as important as heart rate to determine how efficient a cardio workout is. (1)
Why does this matter?
Because perceived exertion is higher when running outside as opposed to running on a treadmill, even if you go at the same speed and the same incline.
Factors like weather, wind, and surface come into play and make you work harder when you’re outside.
However, if running for long distances isn’t an option due to lockdown rules in your area, indoor cardio will help you stay in shape.
You’ll just need to be a little more creative with it to avoid hitting a plateau.
Preparing your home gym for another wave of quarantine is easier than you think.
Yes, equipment may be hard to find right now, but you don’t need much to have a great workout.
A mat, some dumbbells (or water bottles), resistance bands, and some creativity for your cardio is all you’ll need!
But for your home gym to truly help you, don’t forget to have a fitness plan ready to go.
If you have no idea where to start, here’s how a simple 1-week workout plan could look like.
On day 1, start with an upper-body strength training workout.
Chest, back, shoulders and arms, work all of them using dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or just bodyweight exercises.
If you have more than one piece of equipment, go ahead and mix them, to keep your muscles guessing.
Day 2 can be great for some cardio. Run, either outdoors or indoors, dance, or ride a bike, they are all great ways to get your heart rate up.
On day 3, go back to strength training and work the lower body.
You can now take day 4 to stretch. Do some yoga or just some simple stretches. Maintaining flexibility will help you avoid injuries and improve your fitness performance.
Do incorporate stretching in all your workouts, especially at the end to reduce soreness.
On day 5 you can do some HIIT or circuit training working your entire body, while day 6 is perfect to focus on the core.
Finally, day 7 can be again a day to take it easy, do some yoga, or, if you can take an easy walk outside.