Home fitness is a challenge. There are a lot of bodyweight exercises that will easily help you build and maintain muscle at home. Starting a home-based fitness regime however and maintaining it long enough to see results is the real challenge.
When working (and working out) at home sticking to a fitness routine becomes more important than ever before because it helps with emotional balance and mental health. Sticking to it however is extra hard because there are a lot more distractions that simply get in the way.
Work is just a few paces away. Emails keep on coming. Household chores need to be done. Distractions are plentiful because there is no workplace barrier to help keep them at bay. And life is never short of unexpected emergencies. The odds of anyone consistently finding time to exercise every day are slim to none.
That, however, doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. Just like everything else there is a way to create a structured approach to exercise that will help you overcome every obstacle you face.
How To Create A Structured Approach To Home-Based Fitness
Consider that in order for us to stick to anything we need to be motivated. Motivation, inside our brain, is a neurochemical response to a real need. It always takes us from a place of dissatisfaction to a place of either less dissatisfaction or satisfaction. What this means is that in order for us to regularly put up with the sweat and physical discomfort associated with exercise on a regular basis we need to have as smooth a path as possible to the point where we get up and work out.
That however is not all.
When you are at home the environment is against you. There are usually too many distractions by ways of chores, pets, partners, kids and life that are designed to trip you up and stop you from finding the time you need to do something for yourself.
In addition to all this there is fatigue. Because we are constantly in the same environment we don’t realize just how exhausted we get as the day moves on. The way we rationalize motivation inside our heads is through a calculus of perceived difficulty versus perceived rewards. If, for example, we are training for a $10 million boxing match, no amount of physical discomfort and fatigue is going to stop us from putting in the work that will lead to our payday and retirement.
Cognitively we all know the benefits of getting fitter. But because those benefits (i.e. a healthier look, staving off old age, boosting our immune system and feeling happier) are in the future and we feel tired in the present moment, our focus tends to be in the here and now. This often means that we put off exercise as something we “will do tomorrow”.
The problem with this strategy is that tomorrow has just as many challenges to throw at us as today. The cycle of wanting to exercise but not finding the right moment, feeling too preoccupied, dispirited or exhausted to start anything involving physical activity starts again.
Breaking that cycle however is easy; as long as we put a few clever strategies in place and a make a couple of smart choices.
First, the strategies:
1Identify what it is that stops you from exercising regularly. Take active steps to remove it. It may be you try to exercise at a time when there are a lot of distractions. Maybe you are exercising when you are already really tired and can easily find an excuse not to. Whatever it is, your first goal is to identify the obstacle or obstacles and work around them so they are no longer an issue.
2Make it easy. If, in order to exercise, you need a set of ideal conditions the chances of that happening every time are pretty slim. Don’t set yourself up to fail by requiring special times, special clothes, special music and special environmental conditions. These are all immaterial to your goal for a fitter, healthier you. So, make it easy to exercise by picking a time and place which works for you and making sure the requirements are as low as possible. For instance, you can do no-equipment workouts from the Darebee range almost anywhere, any time and, even, in your underwear.
3Make it accessible. Don’t go too hard too fast. That way you will only get tired, sore and dispirited and make it more likely for you to decide to take a break. Coming back from a break is hard because life always rushes in to fill the void left by exercise. So pick workouts you can do that will stretch your abilities incrementally.
4Make it persistent. Even the fittest amongst us have days in which everything gets too much. On those days pick a workout that is easy for you. Do stretching. Go light. Exercise for just ten minutes by doing a Daily Dare. The point is that even at your lowest you still put in some physical work.
5Make it fun. This is the hardest component because it is purely mental. We all know that exercise is good for us. That is not enough to make us want to exercise consistently. So work to make it your “me time”. Add music (via earphones). Use RPG Fitness. Consider doing a program like Spellbound that provides great flexibility on how exercises are done or a more structured RPG fitness program like Zero Hero that help you do something physical each day.
6Make yourself accountable. When you’re working out on your own it is easy to lose track of days, times, goals and even forget what you were doing earlier in the week which makes it harder to decide what to do next. Get round this by keeping a diary, track your physical fitness goals. Use an online support group like The Hive to help you on days when you feel low and don’t want to be active at all.
Now for the smart choices:
1Make fitness a journey, not a destination. Accept that there is no “I got there” point where you will stop. This takes the anxiety associated with exercising out of the equation. You know that some days will be brilliant and some days not quite so great. Regardless, each day takes you further into your journey. This is a mental attitude shift that you must make in yourself.
2Always have a fall back plan. If you are feeling unwell. Or if you are really busy, or short of sleep, or really stressed the last thing you want is the added load of having to then think of a back-up plan to take the place of your workout that is not going to happen. Have that ready. Use a micro-workout that is scientifically proven to help your fitness. Meditate. Stretch a little. Or, even, use the sofa to get fitter while you chill. The point is that your fall back plan should be reflexive and non-negotiable.
Armed with all these smart choices and clever strategies science tells us your decision-making process will be easier and you will be likely to use any of your home time to get fitter, better and smarter.
- The Emerging Neuroscience of Intrinsic Motivation: A New Frontier in Self-Determination Research, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11. 2017, 145pp, doi: 3389/fnhum.2017.00145.
- Distinct Neural Representation in the Dorsolateral, Dorsomedial, and Ventral Parts of the Striatum during Fixed- and Free-Choice Tasks, Makoto Ito and Kenji Doya, Journal of Neuroscience 25 February 2015, 35 (8) 3499-3514; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1962-14.2015.