According to Steele, an effective fitness program has five components, all of which you can do at home:
#1 A warmup
A warm-up could be an easy walk outside or on a treadmill, or a slow pace on a stationary bike. For the cardiovascular portion, walk or pedal faster, do step aerobics trainer exercises, or take out a skipping rope and complete routines of 60s over 5 sets with 10s rest in between.– as long as your heart rate is elevated and it increases your heart rate.
The resistance portion can be as simple as squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches. Or you could work with small dumbbells, a weight bar, bands or tubing.
Increase your flexibility with floor stretches or yoga poses. And your cooldown should be similar to the warm up, says Steele — “cardiovascular work at a low level to bring the heart rate down to a resting state.”
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You can do strength work in same workout as your aerobic work, or split them up. Just be sure to warm up and cool down every time you exercise.
If you’re short on time one day, increase the intensity of your workout, says Tony Swain, MS, fitness director of East Bank Club in Chicago. Instead of your usual 45-minute ride on the stationary bike, choose a harder program for 25 minutes and really push yourself. Choose the hilly walk in your neighborhood, or jog instead of walking.
You can step up the pace of your strength workout by doing compound exercises — those that work more than one muscle group at a time.
#2 A cardiovascular (aerobic) workout.
If you’re a beginner, aim for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week, and 20 to 30 minutes of strength work three times a week. Be sure your strength workout covers all major muscle groups, in your upper body, lower body, abdominals and back. Shoot for three sets of 10-15 repetitions of each strength exercise.
No matter what type of exercise you do, be sure to start slowly and gradually increase your workout time and intensity. And don’t forget to listen to your body, says Weil. It’s also important to stay tuned in to what motivates you.
Working out at home has obvious advantages. But there are obstacles, too: distractions from the phone, the kids, the dog, the Internet and the refrigerator can derail a workout. And that’s if you can get started in the first place. When you’re at home, it’s easy to find something else that needs to be done.
A good way to stay motivated and avoid distractions, the experts say, is to exercise early in the day. Morning exercisers are more likely to stick with their workouts, according to American Council on Exercise spokesperson Kelli Calabrese, MS, ACE, CSCS.
#3 Resistance (strength-building) exercises.
There are three basic types of resistance exercises:
- Bodyweight — This uses only your body weight to force your muscles to contract. It includes exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, and squats.
- Free Weights — Using dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells helps to increase the strain placed on your muscles, forcing those contractions and building muscle. Free weight training is considered the most effective form of resistance exercise, as it engages secondary muscles (stabilizers) and leads to more effective muscle growth.
- Weight Machines — Every gym has dozens of weight machines–Pec Deck, Cable Machine, Leg Extension machine, etc. Weight machines are not as effective as free weights, but they are a safer alternative for those who are new to resistance training.
Tips for Healthy Resistance Exercise
- Take it slow at first. Give your body time to grow accustomed to the intense workouts!
- Use compound movements. The more muscles engaged, the better. Isolation movements are less effective overall.
- Find the balance between push and pull. “Push” is all about the chest and triceps, but “pull” focuses on the back and biceps.
- Train at the right frequency. Training the same muscles too often leads to reduced muscle growth and can increase your risk of burnout. Give your muscles between 48 and 72 hours to rest between resistance training.
- Have a plan. Hit your resistance exercise hard, and you’ll see better results.
- Work with the right weight. Too heavy, and you won’t reach your rep goals. Too light, and your muscles won’t make progress in terms of strength, tone, mass and/or endurance.
#4 Flexibility moves
There are seven categories which stretching is classified:
- Ballistic stretching
- Dynamic stretching
- Active stretching
- Passive (relaxed) stretching
- Static stretching
- Isometric stretching
- PNF stretching
For our goals we will focus on passive stretching and static stretching. Passive stretching is assuming a position and holding it there with another body part or other means. It is a relaxed stretching technique. An example would be propping your leg on a chair and moving your body to stretch the hamstring.
Static stretching is more intense and it involves stretching a muscle to its furthest point and maintaining that position. An example would be propping your leg straight on a chair while touching your toes and maintaining that position for a duration.
For the following stretching exercises it’s important to remember ‘more is not better’. You don’t want to stretch yourself to absolute pain or further than your body is ready for.
A good stretch is a constant hold in position for 30 seconds with no bouncing. You should only feel a slight pull in your muscles, not a feeling of being set on fire.
#5 A cooldown
Cool down for 5-10 minutes with low intensity activity like slow walking. Helps your heart rate and breathing to return towards resting levels gradually; helps avoid fainting or dizziness, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles of the legs when vigorous activity is stopped suddenly helps to remove waste products from your muscles, such as lactic acid, which can build up during vigorous activity (lactic acid is most effectively removed by gentle exercise rather than stopping suddenly); and helps to prepare your muscles for the next exercise session.