Plank

Many gym-goers across the country are finding themselves in a frustrating situation. Daily routines of going to the gym to exercise have come to an abrupt halt, and we're forced to find makeshift weights and workout spaces in the comfort of our homes.

There is one common problem though: it seems like there are not enough exercises to do!

Most of us are used to big gyms with a lot of space to operate. Now we find ourselves having to make the most out of our living rooms, garages and kitchens. Despite these smaller and non-gym spaces, you can still achieve a very good and challenging workout… even if you’ve already done a million squats, pushups, and lunges this week!

There are some great ways to spice up those infamous bodyweight movements and that’s where we are here to help. Below are six big ways to make any at-home workout different from your typical bodyweight workout.

1. Change The Tempo. Let’s take the bodyweight squat, for example. More often than not, we would perform this exercise by lowering down into a squat pattern, hitting our end range of motion, and rising up back to the starting position. This entire movement might take a total of two seconds or less. 

      • Spice it up: Think about lowering down into the squat with a four-, six- or eight-second eccentric (lowering) phase, followed by a one- or two-second hold at the bottom. Then rise up in a normal one-second movement. This exercise that used to take one- to two seconds to perform one repetition now takes six to 10 seconds to perform one repetition. Slower eccentric phases are quite beneficial and many believe them to be a superior way to build muscular size and strength.
      • Pro Tip: These will make you sore! 

2. Change The Rep Scheme. Most normal gym routines include two to four sets of anywhere between five and 12 repetitions. Keep in mind that most of those exercises typically involve some sort of resistance, such as dumbbells, kettlebells or cable machines. 

      • Spice it up: With bodyweight exercises, switching that normal rep scheme to either more sets, more repetitions --or both! -- is an excellent way to spice up your at-home workout. This may look like doing anywhere between five to 10 sets of 15 to 30 repetitions of any given movement. Switching to a higher volume workout might surprise you with more results than you would think. 
      • Pro Tip: Gravity will slowly start to feel a little more heavy the higher the sets and repetitions get! 

3. Change The Rest Intervals. If you are used to performing an exercise and then taking anywhere between 45 seconds to two minutes rest before completing your next set, a decrease in your rest intervals could be just what you need. 

      • Spice it up: Upon completion of an exercise, cut your normal rest/recover interval in half and jump back into your next movement right away. For example, after 20 bodyweight squats, take only a 15-second rest, as opposed to a 30-second rest.
      • Pro Tip: This is a great method for improving your cardiovascular endurance as well as muscular endurance. You will feel this a little extra in your lungs for sure! 

4. Include Isometrics. The term isometric refers to an exercise where muscles stay consistent instead of lengthening and contracting. A common isometric exercise that we all love is the plank.

      • Spice it up: Isometrics are a great way to really feel your muscles activating and they rarely need additional weight. Isometrics are also a fun way to challenge yourself. How long can you hold a plank, or a wall sit? If you hold that position long enough, you’ll surely feel your muscles screaming! 
      • Pro Tip: Mix isometric movements in between your normal exercise sets to really feel the burn! For example: 15 bodyweight squats, straight to a 30-second wall sit, and repeat. 

5. Switch To Unilateral Movements. Being confined to at-home workouts is a great way to focus on unilateral movements, where you focus on one leg or arm at a time. 

      • Spice it up: Instead of a regular lunge (where both feet are in contact with the floor), think about throwing that back foot on your couch or a chair and try a single leg lunge. You’ll notice that these are a little more challenging, but the leg that is doing the lunging will need all of the attention!
      • Pro Tip: Unilateral movements are great for fixing muscular imbalances and are potent for balance training as well. 

6. Use Your Surroundings. No gym equipment? No Problem! Look around you and find a second purpose for all of those household items. This is a great way to switch up from all of those bodyweight movements and add a little bit of resistance.

    • Spice it up: Did you know that a gallon of water weighs about eight and a half pounds? That sounds like a great alternative to a dumbbell to me!
    • Pro Tip: Stuffing backpacks full of anything heavy you can find is a great substitute for weights as well. Strap up and get to squatting! 

Any of the aforementioned six strategies will inevitably spice up your normal at-home workout routine. Give them a shot and let’s keep our gains coming in, because the gains don’t stop for anyone, not even COVID-19!

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