Do you like home workouts? I sure do. The best thing about them is that there isn't anybody around to judge you if the exercises are performed wrong or you half rep a workout. But for the same reason, many of us fall into the trap of never learning how to properly home workouts and doing many mistakes which can hinder progress.
Although I can list quite a few of these mistakes from the top of my head, I thought it would be better if I asked an expert to weigh in on the subject. And not just any expert but Dean Hodgkin, Head of Programming at community wellness and fitness app TRUCONNECT by TV.FIT (opens in new tab), who was happy to provide expert insight on the topic.
"With the home workout now a mainstay in the weekly regime of many, bad habits have crept into the living rooms of some", says Dean, "Whether that be poor form or skipping warm-up, these can potentially increase your chances of injury."
What are the biggest home workout mistakes and how to avoid them? Read on to find out.
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Mistake #1: distractions
From kids to pets and the TV to the neighbourly neighbour who just popped in to check you're okay after hearing you let out a huge groan at the end of that heavy set, there can be many barriers to you getting a full focus workout at home.
This is why the gym is often referred to as the third space, somewhere to escape to and enjoy some sweaty me-time. The solution is to try to create an immersive experience that directs all your senses to your workout. Do don your favourite fitness kit and if you’re able to, Dean would recommend creating a dedicated fitness space in your garage, shed or spare room. It will pay dividends in the long-term.
Mistake #2: cheap home gym equipment
Whether you use the bottom of the stairs for step-ups or a dining chair for bodyweight dips, it’s great that we’ve adapted over the last year in creating tools for resistance training, enabling us all to do most (if not all) the exercises we would perform in the gym.
However, Dean's advice for those wishing to invest in home fitness equipment is to think carefully about what to buy. You really do get what you pay for in this retail sector, and cheap equipment can often wear away extremely quickly.
T3's best advice is to build your home gym step by step. One of the first pieces of gym equipment you should get is an adjustable dumbbell that will enable you to work out your whole body without taking up much space. For toning, consider resistance bands and maybe even a TRX Bandit.
Mistake #3: staying in your lane
Making progress in fitness is easy – when you challenge your body, it temporarily suffers, but then it makes microscopic adaptions to ensure it will cope better next time. Adequate nutrients in your diet certainly play a big role here, but you need to ensure your body receives a new stimulus to change physically.
Staying in your comfort zone and sticking with your favourite workout could result in plateauing, whereby you’re putting the sweat in but not seeing any results. Simply put, the answer is to mix things up every now and then as workouts of varying durations and intensities will call upon your body to utilise different muscles fuelled by different energy sources.
Variety is something Dean always considers when programming workouts on the TRUCONNECT – whether it be strength, core, Pilates or HIIT, the challenge is important. Variety isn't just the spice of life, it's the key to making all-around progress!
Speaking of workouts: we have plenty of those on T3. Here is a full-body workout that uses only five exercises and also this push-pull-leg workout for big gains. Or you can do this 20-minute kickboxer strength and flexibility workout. Or loads more.
Mistake #4: missing the warm up
Skipping the warm-up is a bad idea. You should gently increase your core body temperature, ideally through rhythmic movements of the whole body. It’s important to start small and then move through your full comfortable range of motion around each joint.
By doing this, you will not only heat the muscles, rendering them more malleable and less likely to tear under stress, but you will also pump more synovial fluid into your joints, leading to less friction as you move.
Warm-up properly with this 10-minute kickboxer’s warm-up drill from FightCamp coach Aaron ‘Speedy' Swenson or using the 10 best stretches as instructed by a ballet instructor (hint: they're pretty flexible).
Mistake #5: buddy workouts
Fitness buddies can be both beneficial, but also possibly detrimental to your fitness aspirations. Committing to exercising with a friend or a loved one is a great way to ensure you show up as you won't want to let your partner down, while it's also been shown that we tend to work harder in pairs due to the extrinsic motivation another voice brings.
However, fitness is not a 'one size fits all' concept so don't assume that just because your best friend has achieved great results from a particular style of workout, that it'll also deliver for you.
Mistake #6: too much too soon
Whilst the mantra, 'you get out what you put in', holds water in the fitness domain, this does need to be tempered with if you're just setting out on your shape-up journey or returning to exercise after a break.
Try to think of exercise as medication – too little can be bad for your health but if you exceed the appropriate dose, then negative side effects can result.
Mistake #7: incorrect technique
The most common exercise-related injuries are due to poor technique. Focus on your alignment, ensuring your movement patterns feel natural and follow the biomechanics of your body.
Dean would always recommend using mirrors to check your posture because the last thing you want to do is cause injury or stress on any tissues and muscles. Many online programmes include a technique clinic so don't forego this just to get started quickly or you may pay the price.
Mistake #8: failing to set goals
As surprising as it sounds, many people fail to achieve their fitness goals simply due to not setting any in the first place. This opens the possibility that at some point you might feel like you're exercising just for the sake of it, a real damper on self-motivation.
Use the S.M.A.R.T. (opens in new tab) approach to set targets and take measurements along the way as visible gains will stimulate you to keep going. Whether it’s weighing yourself from the scales, improving your 5k time or counting how many press-ups or squats you can do in a minute, any progress you make can count as personal wins.
Mistake #9: ignoring injury
Pain, whether acute caused by a single trauma or chronic as the result of overuse, is usually a sign that something is wrong and so your workouts need to be adapted. Exercise while injured is possible, as long as you 'work around' the injury.
Movements that further aggravate an injury could put you onto a downward spiral so you should always take pain as a sign that something is wrong. As an example, slow swimming with a minor lower back issue or low-pace stationary cycling with a shoulder injury are sensible tactics whereas an intense weight training session would be a no-no in both cases.
Mistake #10: not taking rest days
Without enough time to sufficiently recover, you might head into your next workout before your fuel stores have replenished. If you’re short on adequate supplies, your regular workloads will be much more stressful, so ensure you have rest days built into your regime.
Dean always considers a healthy balance of flowing, meditative/mindfulness slanted workouts perfect for winding down on rest days. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs - any drop-in workout performance, loss of appetite, interrupted sleep patterns, and muscle soreness are all indicators that a rest day could be of benefit.
Do you like skipping rest days? Here are 7 signs you're addicted to exercise.
Dean Hodgkin is a personal trainer and head of programming for community wellness and fitness app TRUCONNECT (opens in new tab) by TV.FIT