Techniques to get the most out of your favourite exercises

With most of us quarantined inside our homes, everybody is turning to home workouts. So I thought I would give you some tips to make sure that you’re getting the most out of the exercises you’re doing. I love home workouts and have been doing them for months and months now instead of going to the gym. I find that I work better at home, in my own space. And while a lot of us will be trying to do the same, it’s really important that when you’re completing these exercises at home, you’re still getting the most out of them. There are no machines to help you with your form at home – unless you’re super lucky and have some sort of home gym. So below I have listed just a few of my top tips.

Use a supporting mat.
I find it really important to exercise on a mat. You can pick one up from Amazon or Sports Direct and these will really help to support your body with any exercises that you’re doing. Make sure to get one that’s nice and wide and one that has a good thickness to it to provide padding.

Wear trainers instead of socks.
You might think you don’t need to wear trainers when working out at home but I really like to put mine on if I can be bothered. Firstly, they add that tiny little bit of extra weight to your feet. This is great for any core or ab exercises. Secondly, they provide your feet with the support needed for any bodyweight exercises such as squats.

Press your lower back into the floor.
When you’re doing any core/ab floor exercises, it’s really important that you focus on pressing your lower back into the floor. Improper form with these exercises will cause a gap to form between the floor and your lower back. This makes the exercises ineffective. Focus on tucking your hips under and pressing them to the floor. This is especially important for any lower ab exercises that you do. You’ll definitely notice the difference!

Perform exercises at a controlled pace.
If you’re following a workout video, then you’ll be tempted to try and match the pace of the person you’re watching. This isn’t always going to be possible and often you’ll end up performing your exercises incorrectly because of this. If you’re flailing your arms or not sinking down low enough into your exercises because you’re trying to keep up, then you’re not getting the most out of them. Thus, the workout becomes ineffective. Instead of trying to match anybody else’s pace, work on performing the exercises at a pace that allows you to do them properly. You’ll still be doing them for 40 seconds or a minute. If you do less reps then that’s fine, as long as you have done them properly!

Move slower.
Slowing down your movements builds endurance and actually makes your muscles work harder. This is why pilates movements are often quite challenging and require a lot of concentration. I recommended pilates in my last post for this reason. It teaches you to control your movements and to think about what your muscles are doing. This is a great way to learn how to do certain exercises that you might be struggling with. Just slow them down.

Don’t drink water too regularly throughout the workout.
If you keep drinking water in every rest, then your body is filling up whilst you’re working out and it’s going to become more sluggish. Save your water for a halfway break or the end of the workout. This gives you something to work towards and teaches you to remain disciplined.

Invest in some weights or a resistance band.
Home workouts are great but at some point, you’re going to need to up the stakes so that you keep pushing your body to do more. Invest in some dumbbells, ankle weights or a resistance band so that you can vary your movements. This will help you to keep challenging your body.

What are your tips for working out at home?

Staying active during the Coronavirus pandemic

A fifth of the world’s population is currently on lockdown, attempting to battle the deadly Coronavirus. This is a really crazy time that we are living in. Everything that is a reality right now feels like the sort of thing you learn about in A-Level Sociology or read about in dystopian novels. It’s crazy how quickly things can change and I think that we’ve all realised that over the past few weeks.

Thankfully in the UK, we are still being allowed to leave our houses. This means that we can keep active by going for walks or runs once a day. I know that for a lot of people, me included, this is one of the only things keeping me mentally sane. It hasn’t even been a week since this happened and I’m already going a bit loopy. I hate to be one of those people complaining that they’re bored but there are so many things that I already miss.

There is the mentality that lockdown is going to make us all put on extra weight. Surprise, surprise I don’t think this should be the case! Being aware of what you’re eating is probably even more important now. Eating out of boredom is one of the easiest ways to put on weight and we do need to be mindful of this.

Weight aside, it’s important to keep your body moving! I don’t think that any of us really want to become couch potatoes during this time. We need to keep moving, exercising and staying fit to keep our energy levels up and fuel our minds so that they can be properly stimulated. If you’re thinking of learning something new during this period, then that’s great! Working out is a great way to exercise your mind and your body.

So please, try to do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day. It’s not much but it really will make a difference. Here are my exercise tips:

Pilates has a number of great low impact moves that are perfect to do at home. Pilates focuses on movements that improve your core strength and stability. It’s about controlling your motions and moving at a steady pace through your exercises. So although it can be low impact, it requires a lot of concentration and discipline. It’s therefore a great choice for working out quietly at home.

HIIT workouts have recently become one of my favourites. The exercises are a lot more demanding but this means that you can do shorter workouts and still achieve really good results. HIIT workouts are also a great way to get your cardio in (my least favourite type of training) because the exercises usually incorporate fast repetitions and you can easily include weights like dumbbells.

Upper body workouts on YouTube are also perfect for building up your arms, core and abs. Lots of girls focus only on legs and abs. You ask a girl what day it was at the gym and she almost always replies with “leg day” or “ab day”. As I’ve said before, I like to workout to achieve overall fitness. At the moment, I’m working a lot more on my upper body in order to build strength that can help me to do exercises like press ups and pull ups. It’s not all about lower body training for me anymore. It’s about strengthening the weaker parts of my body so that my overall fitness levels are higher.

What’s your favourite type of quarantine workout?