Home Workouts 101: Designing the Space

Ah, the home workout. An idea many well intentioned, time strapped individuals embrace as a possible solution to their physical fitness needs.

Whether you are just starting to exercise regularly or are an avid lifter, the home workout poses some interesting challenges that must be overcome to achieve success.

Just the nature of what “home” means to people is the biggest barrier. Home means (well, to me… and hopefully you, too): comfort, safety, downtime, relaxation, etc. 

Now, while a good training environment should be safe, we literally want it to have NONE of those other qualities!

Everything from the flooring to the ceiling height to the room temperature of a home is generally incompatible for what we would normally categorize as a good training environment.

So, if you are in the position of needing to get in home workouts - whether it’s because that’s the only place you have to workout OR because you are trying to get in extra sessions between gym training, I’m going to help you navigate how to set up your home gym and how to get creative with the exercises and methods you choose to help lead you down the path of home workout success!

Designated training area setup:

  1. Did you just get caught up on my use of the word “designated”? Yes, well, I don’t care how small your space is and how much your kids overrun every square inch of your house. You must designate a workout area. Period. Ideally, this will be an area that is off-limits to other activities in the house. But, if that’s not possible, just know that you need to be able to switch uses quickly and easily. You don’t want to have to spend 10-min rearranging the space just to get your workout in. That will not be sustainable.

  2. A good training space is always well organized and ready to go. See above.

  3. Do not, I repeat, do NOT set up exercise equipment in your bedroom. Psychologically, that does not work. Asking the bedroom to function for sleep AND the absolute opposite will not work for most people.

  4. The living room, basement, garage, office areas, or a spare room of some kind are all good options. The garage is the holy grail of home gym setup spaces.

Equipment - the bare minimum

  1. Get proper flooring - even if it has to be removed after every training session, you need a flooring solution. If you don’t believe me, see how you feel dripping sweat on your carpet or wood floors after that first workout. Rubberized flooring it the best choice (yoga mats don’t cut it) - this is not just to protect the surface underneath, but also to reduce slips and falls that may happen to YOU if you are training on an unsafe surface!

  2. Get a few bands.

  3. Invest in a small assortment of kettlebells (I find these to be the most versatile).

  4. Other equipment to consider based on available space and desired investment: anything that lines up with your goals. If great conditioning is a goal, you should try to squeeze in a piece of cardio equipment; if significant strength gains are a goal, then you should outfit your space with free weights.

The Vibe!

  1. Set the mood - remove pictures of your wedding and the births of your children. These do not line up with the environment we want to create. Trust me, seeing that stuff while training sucks your strength right out of your body.

  2. Consider doing a bit of redecoration and get some posters or pictures that help you be more focused on the task.

  3. Tunes - whether its headphones or a stereo, you need to have music available that gets you in the right frame of mind.

Get your housemates on board

Once you’ve got the space, equipment and vibe setup, you need to communicate to whoever cohabitates with you what’s going on, what they should expect, and what you need from them to help you succeed. 

In part two, I’m going to dive into bodyweight exercises and workouts; part three will cover resistance training and part four will cover conditioning.

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