Thursday 3 January 2013

Home Workouts – 7 Essentials

If you’re thinking of setting up a gym at home and not sure what to buy to start with here are the essentials to get going with.  There are far more you can add, but these will form the basis.

If the trainers are obvious don’t just think oh I’m working out at home so I won’t bother, a colourful pair that you’ve invested in will be a constant reminder (provided you don’t hide them away) to keep it up.  As my fitness mad son said to me when he saw what was on my feet recently (and I have the ones below) the shoes mean business but the colours say ‘party’. 

I’ve deleted the reference to cardio from the original post and will post it separately. 

Another quote from the Santa Fe Spa:

’How Exercise Helps the Brain

Here are a few more ways that exercise boosts brain power, according to AARP.
It improves concentration and attention. When you're fit, you have faster reaction times and can better focus on relevant information.’

Working Out at Home – The Essentials

1.  You need a good mat.  This is essential, wherever you choose to exercise.  Make sure that you buy one that is thick enough and long enough.  The one I use is 1800 x 600 x 10 (but if you’re on a hard floor get a mat a bit thicker than that.  Be aware that yoga mats tend to be quite thin and may not be good for all of your workout.

Nike Trainers

2.  Get yourself some new trainers.  You may already have a pair, but you need to make sure that those that you have have enough support and enough tread.  Plus the fact that they’ll make you feel sooo good when you wear them and so guilty if you don’t………

Fitness Ball

3.  Buy a gym ball (or Swiss ball or stability ball).  You can do so many exercises on this, with and without weights, even in front of the tv.  Here’s a helpful guide as to which size to buy.  Make sure it’s properly inflated and take a look at these videos on You Tube. 

Beginners exercises with the gym ball.

Intermediate exercises with the gym ball

Weight training and toning with the gym ball

4kg Fitness Mad Weights

4.  Hand weights/dumbells.  You can build up your weights collection one pair at a time or by an expandable set (which can be very expensive although this one is good value).  I have individual weights from 1kg and 1.5kg for Pilates and repetitions to 7kg for lifting.  If you’re starting out this would be a good set

As far as lifting is concerned the best advice I can give you is to find a local gym where they’ll give you a free one day pass, as many gyms do so you can try them out.  Get on down there and ask for advice.  You’ll soon find out what weight you should start with.  Then when you find doing 3 sets of say 15 or 20 repetitions of that weight is reasonably easy you’ll need to move up. 

You need to do this as not only do you want the right weights, but you also need to be shown how to lift without harming yourself.  Always contract your core and glutes and keep a straight back with your shoulders pulled back and down.  Never hunch.  This applies to ankle weights as well.

Reebok 1kg Ankle Weights

5.  Ankle weights.  If you want to develop and tone your legs and bum these are brilliant.  1kg weights are quite enough to have a go with as you can build up the repetitions.  This is a great You Tube video which you can use with ankle weights once you can do it without the weights

6.  Ab Wheel or Roller.  This is one of the best ways of exercising your stomach muscles but be warned you have to be very careful.  Only go out as far as you can with your abs held in and your back absolutely straight, never allowing your back to sag.  You can hurt your back if you do this wrong.  Watch this demo on You Tube.

Resistance Tubes

7.  Resistance Bands. You can do a full workout with resistance bands, or just include them as part of what you do.  One of the great things about these is that you can take them with you anywhere.  This is a Resistance band workout.  Some of the exercises require you to fix the resistance band to something, for others you provide the weight. 

Other general things you might like to have in or for your home gym.

Heart Rate Monitor – I have a very basic one as I can’t be bothered with all of the settings and what I want to know is (surprise surprise) my heart rate and how long I’ve been exercising for. 

Mirrors – if you want to spend the money having mirrors in your gym is a great idea, so that you can check you’re doing your exercises correctly. 

Music – Music in your gym can inspire you, energise you, and just make a long cardio session go more quickly.  With headphones or speakers, and whatever medium you use, don’t try and exercise without music.

iPad or TV – If you go to a public gym you’ll find they all have something to watch, from built in screens on the equipment to large wall mounted tvs as they have in the gym I go to in the US.  This is the best way to make the time go if you’re doing a long cardio session.  If you have an iPad and you’re buying an elliptical (or treadmill, or bike) make sure it has a tablet holder.  Plug in, switch on and get going. 

The only thing I would say is it’s too easy not to pay attention to how hard you’re working out, so keep an eye on your heart rate monitor or speed if you’re watching something distracting.

Here’s the Victoria’s Secret Butt Workout from, all done with ankle weights.

Victoria's Secret Butt  Workout

One of the most important things about exercising anywhere is your form, so never forget to contract abs and glutes, pull your shoulders back and down, and keep a straight back.

Working out at home can be fun, and you can become addicted, provided you put the time in and push yourself, by the results.  It’s worth it, every time, and how you can change your body becomes more and more interesting.  You’re in charge.  Totally.