The countdown is well and truly on for the reopening of gyms. Across the country, some boot camps and studios are back in business, whereas the long wait is still on for our friends in NSW. Whether you have been hitting the home workouts hard or you haven’t lifted a finger over the last few weeks, the time has definitely come to make sure that back-to-work body is built, not blown-out. One of the major challenges we’ve found since kicking off isolation is how to incorporate strength exercises into home workouts. While bodyweight movements can be great for maintaining muscle mass, often we struggle to grow what’s already there.
“Without access to classic gym equipment to grow muscle mass and build strength, this has left many looking at new ways to adapt, in order to maintain a healthy body and mind,” Tim Robards, Medibank Live Better at Home Program ambassador, chiropractor and founder of The Robards Method says. “Whether you classify yourself as a dedicated gym junkie or an occasional power walker –working out from home has become the new norm, no matter what your fitness category.”
If you’re thinking about heading back to the gym for the first time in weeks, or maybe you just want to learn how to better your health, it’s important to remember not to over-do it. We spoke with the health icon about how to get our bodies and minds in check as we slowly start to return to our everyday routines.
Stretch and Warm-Up
“Regardless of how long you workout for, you should always begin with some stretches and a warm-up to help your body’s mobility and also help prevent injury,” Tim explains. “Also, with the current work-from-home climate, many of us should be stretching even more as our bodies aren’t moving as much, without travelling or commuting to work.”
Depending on which area of the body you’re working on, there are lots of easy-to-do stretches that target specific areas, including hip mobility and stretching above, or shoulder mobility and stretching, that you can view here.
No Space, No Matter
Whether your preference is working out in your living room, bedroom or even your balcony, having minimal space is no excuse to not squeeze in a quick workout. “If you’re struggling to do exercise due to the width of your room, avoid workouts that move side to side and instead make the most of what’s above you, with exercises that push you up and down by simply using gravity as your resistance,” Tim says.
“This could be anything from jump squats, jumping lunges, push-ups and burpees – activities you can do on the spot without heaps of space.”
The chiropractor also suggests making the trek outside. “Over the last few months I’ve certainly had to adapt more and I’m treating it as a time of transformation. This means a lot more experimental training around my house and neighbourhood, including this huge outdoor staircase that I run up and down every week.”
Use Everyday Household Items
It’s a common excuse for why your at-home fitness regime isn’t having the impact you’d like, but lack of weights isn’t as detrimental as you’d think. “When it comes to upping the ante of your workouts to build strength, you don’t need heavy weights or dumbbells to get results. Instead, use everyday household items that you can gradually build upon each week,” Tim says.
According to Tim, one of the easiest weighted movements to recreate is squats. Using a backpack, place canned food or other pantry items as added weight. Make sure your backpack straps are fitted properly to your shoulders and back, and you’re good to go.
“If you’re looking to workout arms, use a towel with a decent sized knot tied in it and hang over the door. Close the door, and use the towel for chin-ups,” he says. “Chairs are also a great household item to challenge your body. Sturdy chairs can be used for step-ups, or by using two chairs you can create dip bars, by placing securely on either side of you. Note, do not use chairs for box jumps!”
5 Best Strength Exercise At Home
Sure, squatting with a bag full of cans might not be the most fun, but there’s more to it than just making the most of what you’ve got. Strength exercises are critical to your overall health. Compound movements build strength in your core, which is vitally important for stability and health. So, what are the best strength exercises you can do at home?
This compound movement focuses on the largest muscle group in your body, your legs, but that’s not all. The holy grail of strength exercises, the squat is an exercise that will help strengthen your core and lower body. To perform a squat accurately;
- Put your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground, chest up and spine in a neutral position.
- Keep your entire body tight the entire time.
- Breathe deeply, break at your hip and push your butt back. Keep sending your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend.
- As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet.
2. Single-Leg Wall Deadlift
The single-led wall deadlift is essential in activating our glutes and translating messages from our brain to our lower body. Regular gym-goers will recognise the movement, however, this specific variation targets each side individually for a more complete workout. To complete a single-leg wall deadlift;
- Stand around one foot away from a wall facing outward
- Bend your right leg at 90-degree angle and place foot flat against the wall
- Feel right Glute tense
- Slightly bend left knee
- Slowly slide hands down right knee, keeping back straight, head up and chest out while maintaining pressure from foot against the wall
- Once you feel the stretch in your glute, hold
- Slide back up
- Repeat, switching legs after desired reps
3. Baseball Throw
An additional emphasis on the above, exploring balance and core as well as practising upper body strength. To complete a baseball throw accurately;
- Start in a neutral standing position
- Lift right leg off the ground
- Raise right-hand back while extending the left arm forward
- Performing a throwing motion, twisting your core
- Follow through by tapping your right hand against your left knee
- Repeat, switching legs after desired reps
4. External Shoulder Rotations
Essential in straightening our overall posture – desk sitters, this one is especially for you. To perform external shoulder rotations;
- Stand in neutral position, arms extended by your side, shoulder height with thumbs forward
- Start to your hands over slowly, while contracting your core and shoulders, until you palms are facing up
- Hold that position
- Drop arms down by your side slowly
5. The Wall Angel
This is the number one exercise for your lower body, glutes, shoulders and neck, again, imperative for those who sit at a desk to practise each day. To complete a wall angel;
- Stand against a wall facing outwards. Your feet should be a few inches away from the wall but your bum, shoulders and head should be in contact
- Raise arms up, elbows locked at 90-degrees
- Elevate arms above your head, maintaining shoulder contact with the wall
- Hold at the highest point
- Slide arms back to 90-degree starting point
Strength Training At Home
The biggest takeaway from Tim’s home strength training workout is that heavy weights are less important that mobility. By increasing your range of motion, you can activate muscles that have been under-utilised for a long time.
“My five top strength exercises will help you form the foundation of your daily workout, and have a direct impact on your overall posture and strength, to help shape your fitness goals,” Tim says. “My advice would be to practise these daily, particularly for those working from home, who might spend most of the day sitting.”
If you want to check out Tim’s full explainer, watch the video he created in collaboration with Medibank for its Medibank Live Better at Home program. Check it out below