Getting More From Your Home WorkoutPosted on December 2, 2016
When we think of working out, our minds usually go to a gym with big heavy weights. A lot of us try to emulate the gym and bring it into the home. This leads to bulky expensive home gym set ups and it may be unnecessary. The secret to continued progress in any workout is progression. Classically this means do more reps or add more weight, but anything that is more will do. While this model suits the big box gym, it doesn’t always work in a home gym environment. There are only so many push-ups you can do. So how do we progress using mostly body weight exercises in a Spartan home gym? I recommend we focus on progressing something else; intensity.
Intensity is hard to define as it’s affected by the quality of movement, namely the speed of execution referred to as tempo in the fitness industry. Intensity can be understood as general difficulty and it is the most important parameter to grasp in any fitness routine.
Try this experiment, take out a stop watch and note how long it takes you to do as many push-ups as you can right now (any version that you can do at least 10 reps). Now catch your breath for a minute and repeat only this time try to perform only 5 push-ups but taking the exact same amount of time. If you managed 40 push-ups in 30 seconds then each push-up should take six seconds long. Keep that timer handy to keep you honest. What you’ll notice no doubt is that it was really tough, probably much harder than that first set. You made the exercise more difficult while subtracting reps instead of adding them.
When we are using a home routine we can certainly increase the number of reps however this may not work. When we go quickly we use momentum and elastic energy to make any exercise easier. Easier is not the goal here, difficulty is. We may believe we are progressing but all we are doing is getting more efficient and learning to give ourselves a break.
The number of reps I picked in this experiment above is arbitrary as the purpose is to show that another factor is very important in exercising and that is time under tension. As it sounds, this refers to the total duration of a set.
If you want to get technical we can get that stop watch, use it in all our workouts, ignore the reps and just keep time under tension 30-90seconds attempting to add a second or 2 to each workout. Once you hit 90 seconds in a given exercise move onto a harder version of that exercise and repeat. This is hard, hurts the ego but is ultimately far more rewarding and effective training methodology.
To summarize, if you’re doing a home calisthenics workout and you want to get the most out of exercising; SLOW DOWN!
Richard is an expert in calisthenic training, if you would like to learn about some exercises you can do without any equipment and how to safely and effectively progress them click the link below to receive bi-weekly tips and strategies to become the strongest version of yourself!