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How to Rock a Home Workout

Pistol Squat

Making the most of a rare sunny day in Dublin

I was asked a good question yesterday. It was one of those moments I always mean to have a voice recorder handy for but never do, because it was an important question with a big answer. I’ve a feeling that now, 24hrs later, I’m not going to do it justice in writing.

However, here goes:

Q: “Why is it so much harder to train at home, I can’t seem to lift nearly as heavy as when I’m in here (wild geese)?”

Ok, that was paraphrased somewhat but the conversation was with a pair of women that train with me, and train hard. Over the last week though they’ve both had various commitments and have been forced to get their workouts done at home as they simply couldn’t get to me. Fortunately both are well prepared, have their own kettles and notes on what to do.

The problem was different for both of them. One struggled to stay the course and get the reps done while the other simply struggled with a weight that she can usually handle while in the gym.

Neither of these issues are uncommon, so lets see if we can provide an answer.

A: There is no one simple answer, after all both girls have different symptoms. But we can generalise and cover most of the issue. Lets break into sections:

  1. Mental Preparation When you are scheduled to come into WG to train, it takes forethought. This starts many hours before you arrive at the gym, maybe even the day before. The first stage of this is remembering the

appointment, this then triggers you to get your workout gear ready and have it somewhere you won’t forget it when you leave for work in the morning. You’re probably aware that you need a good dinner, a good nights sleep, plenty of fluids. You know that the workout will be tough and that too much coffee and biscuits through the day will leave you listless in the gym, and Dave doesn’t like that, so you drink water and eat cleanly. You know that you must be out of the office by a certain time to make it into the gym ready to go, you may even be relishing the opportunity to release that pent up office stress when you get there. Essentially you’ve spent the entire day planning to have a good workout, this may be subconscious or it may be conscious, either way, you’ve been doing it. By the time you actually step on the floor and get moving, you’re more than adequately prepared, mentally at least.Now compare that to most people’s home workout. You may have been in the house all day already, especially if you work from home. or you may have just arrived home from meetings/conferences etc. Either way, you’re entering a “comfort environment” and I guarantee, as soon as that arse hits the sofa it will form an almost unbreakable bond. The trick I find with home workouts is to get outside. If you have a yard, a balcony, a garage whatever, just get out of the “comfort environment”. This change of scenery can (should) be scheduled, so you know that at X-O’clock you get your gear on and get out the back to train. you should also have a plan made out well in advance, so you know what you will be doing. For my online clients this is done for them, but for the occasional home trainee you need to think ahead. All this will keep the though process as close to what it would if you were coming into me as possible. You’ll lay out your gear in the morning and have the plan beside it, you’ll have a predetermined time that you will go and change, pick up the plan and anything else you need and you’ll step outside and simply go for it.

  1. Distractions I already mentioned that your home is a “comfort environment”. You have deliberately set it up as such. You have a comfy chair set just the way you like it, the kitchen is fully stocked, just over there. The TV is sat proudly in the corner with its little remotes on the arm of your favourite chair. There’s no one breathing down your neck to get stuff done. It is your home, your place of refuge against the chaos of the outside world.

Compare that to the gym, especially somewhere like WG. We are set up as a “training environment”. There is absolutely no mistaking this, you can smell it as soon as you enter. There’s music thumping out, there’s people moving around, hitting bags, practising rolls, lifting kettles or performing calisthenics. There are photographs of us training along the walls as you enter, just past the training certifications. There isn’t much comfortable in the gym.So in your home you must try to replicate a training environment. This means turning off the TV, the Computer and the phone. It means clearing away anything that may distract you, this means any coffee cups or kids toys that are lying around, it may mean rolling up the rug or putting down your training mat. Or it simply means stepping outside. Then fire up the stereo or put on your iPod with your favourite training tunes. I recommend building a play-list especially for this time, all high octane tracks that get you fired up. Once this is done you should have a distraction free environment. You can now get to work. One more thing – if you’re just in from a work day, DO NOT sit down or put the TV on, get changed straight away and crack on with it. TV & Sofa can wait, they make a powerful and dangerous couple and once you give in to them it’s very hard to escape.

  1. Lack of Motivation This is the biggest downfall of all. You can overcome any distraction if you are motivated. And for this you may need tools. If you’re a procrastinator, get a stopwatch/countdown timer. If I’m not there to shout at you, use a

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machine that will beep at you. If you train alone a timer is your best friend. If you struggle to build the intensity to push hard by yourself, then you need to workout why. Why can you do it when I’m glaring at you but not on your own? You need to work out you “why.” Why do I want to lift this? Why is this important to me? Once you know the why, then the How is easy, just get on with it.Either way, keep a training journal and note down everything that happens in your workout. note the weight, the reps, the sets, the rest periods, the music playing, the time of day, the weather, the location, how you felt before/during/after. It doesn’t need to be an essay, bullet points are fine. Over time you can look back over these notes and see what you need to create your training environment as well as the points that seem to hold you back. Maybe certain songs get you pumped for lifting heavy while others leave you weak and unmotivated. Maybe you train better at a certain time of day. Do certain weather conditions suit (I work best in inclement weather, I set a PR on the kettlebell snatch one day in my back yard during a hail storm and gusting wind!)

This is by no means an exclusive list, these are general suggestions. Each of us have our own personal lazy demon that we must battle. But battle we must. Training at home is great, everyone should be able to do it, many’s the time that life will throw a curve ball at you and you simply can’t get to the gym, so having the tools at your disposal in the home are vital.

Now, shut the computer down and get on with it!


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