Can a home workout be as effective as going to the gym? How much should we be training during lockdown? Fitness expert Gede Foster answers these questions and more…
Q. How much should I be training and how many rest days should I take per week?
A. We are all moving less under lockdown and not getting as many daily steps as we normally would so exercise and moving is more important than ever. While I 100% recommend that people should get outside for fresh air and utilise our ‘once a day of exercise’ whether that be a walk or a run, we can definitely be doing more in the house. It is important to move every day but just like normal training it should be structured. Create a home workout schedule that includes a mixture of strength, cardio and recovery. On recovery days you might do a yoga/Pilates/mobility practice.
Q. Are home workouts effective? I’m concerned I’m losing strength and muscle
A. There is a lot you can still do at home away from your gym. For example, HIIT is highly efficient allowing you to burn a high amount of calories in a short amount of time as well as improving your oxygen consumption. The key with these workouts is the intensity. You want to be working 80-90% during the intervals and fully utilising the rest periods to allow the body to recover.
If you are concerned about losing muscle and strength and are normally used to lifting heavier loads in the gym, buy yourself some dumbbells or kettlebells for your home gym. Adapt your workouts by increasing TUT (Time Under Tension), which promotes hypertrophy (muscle growth). The recommended amount of time under tension for hypertrophy is 30-70 seconds, so if you were performing 10 reps of a bicep curl picking it up for 1 sec, 1 sec at the top, 1 sec to release you would spend 30 secs under muscular tension. If you extended it to 2 seconds to curl, 1 sec at the top, 3 secs to lower for the same 10 reps you would spend 60 seconds under tension and demand twice as much from your muscles.
Q. How can I track my progression at home?
A. There are many wearables such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit and Garmin that can track your stats for a workout. Tracking your stats and your progress is a great way to stay motivated and to keep yourself accountable. Another trackable performance tool you could use is setting yourself benchmarks. For example, how many press-ups or burpees can you do in a minute. Within that minute it is okay to take breaks but be super strict on form and only accept correct form reps. You can then revisit this a month later to track your progress.
Q. I’m driving my downstairs neighbour insane. Can you recommend a flat-friendly HIIT workout?
A. HIIT doesn’t necessarily have to be high impact, it’s about the intensity. There are a lot of low impact exercises that get the heart rate up. Additionally, this might be where you add in some load with your dumbbells. On the FIIT app I have several low impact workouts that burn an average of 260 calories in 25 minutes.
Q. Is there anyone doing online post-natal fitness or yoga? I’m six weeks postpartum and now seems like a great time to get in shape but I know I can do damage by doing the wrong stuff
A. Last year I designed a 24-week postnatal plan with a team of experts for FIIT, called FIIT Mum. It includes core rehabilitation with Pilates, yoga, strength and in later stages low impact cardio. It is broken up into four stages to be easily consumable. The plan takes you through the stages with every exercise specifically designed to support the postnatal journey whether that be rehabilitating the core, exercises to counter the postural changes, and exercises to support the new everyday actions new mums do daily such as putting your little one down in their cot and getting up and down safely from the floor.
Q. Best non-slip exercise mat?
A. There are so many mats out there but I love the Yogi Bare mats. They have great grip under your feet for all types of exercise as well as the floor to stop you sliding across your living room. They have some creative designs too!
Q. I got into a really good routine at the start of lockdown but now my motivation is dipping. Do you have any tips?
A. Create a schedule and decide what workout you’re going to do for the next day. It is so easy to wake up 20 minutes before you have to start work and roll straight into it without getting out of your PJs and before you know it the day has gone. If you plan to workout in the morning, lay your kit out the night before, get your space ready with your mat and anything else you need so there are as few obstacles as possible before getting it done. If you are joining an Instagram live workout, tell the trainer you’re going to be there, or message a gym buddy and join together virtually to create some accountability.
Q. I’m finding the IG Live workouts don’t focus much on a warm-up or cool down. Do you have a warm-up and stretch routine you always use?
A. Ideally your warm-ups want to be specific to the workout you are about to do to prepare your body adequately. If you’re looking for a general full-body warm-up I would recommend the following:
A good warm-up consists of mobilisation, pulse raiser and activation, as well as movements that cover all three planes of movement.
Jump jacks – get the heart rate going without too much stress to the ankle joints.
Walkout with reach overhead when standing – warm up the shoulders and the core while preparing the shoulders for any overhead work.
Worlds greatest stretch – mobilises the hips and thoracic spine.
Reverse lunge with rotation over the front leg – glute and quad activation, deep psoas release.
Lateral lunge – adductor mobilisation, hip hinge.
A general cool down I would recommend:
Downward dog (especially if you have been doing a cardio workout) stretches calves, hamstrings, upper back
Kneeling hip flexor stretch with side bend- stretch the deep hip flexors that can have an impact on the lower back if tight as well as stretching the obliques and lat muscles.
Quad stretch – stretch front of thighs.
Lying figure 4 glute stretch – stretches the glutes.
Chest opener – clasp hands behind back to open up the chest.
Forward fold – stretch out the hamstrings.
Gede Foster is head of fitness at FIIT, the on-demand fitness app. Sign up for a free two-week trial and then use code promo code DOSEOFFIIT25 to claim 25% off any membership.
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