Do Home Workouts Really Work?

By: Caitlin Gaudreau

We’ve all heard the skepticism about home workouts, so I sat down with Coach Tom to hear his honest thoughts on the often criticized “home workout”.

So, are home workouts effective? The answer is, YES! Depending on your goal, home workouts are just as effective as hitting the gym or a group class. If your goal is to run a marathon, only working at home on your mat may not be the most effective approach. However, if your goal is to stay healthy, manage day-to-day pain, gain muscle or lose weight? A home workout can do that for you. 

What about equipment, you may ask? Ideally, some weights would be grand, but other household items can be used (using a can of tomatoes for shoulder work or a bottle of laundry detergent for leg work are some examples) as well as varying the workout to make up for a lack of weight options. These variations can include:

  • Changing the type of movement so different muscles are targeted or similar muscles are targeted in different ways 
  • Increasing the time spent under tension. Doing 10 body weight lunges may sound like a piece of cake, but try doing all 10 with a count of 4 on the way down, at the bottom, and on the way up. You’ll be singing a different tune!
  • Reducing your rest periods; having less time to recover makes the next exercise harder to do!
  • Switching up the exercise order, like doing all your leg-focused exercises together
  • Creating circuits. Anytime you link exercises together the intensity increases, ESPECIALLY if you turn them into a tabata circuit!

Essentially, adding load (i.e. increasing the weight) is not the only way to achieve progressive overload.

Gym equipment is expensive, there’s no argument there. However, consider that most Ontarians spend an average of $60-70 a month on their gym memberships. You can redirect those funds for a few months and accumulate a variety of dumbbells, swiss balls, and/or resistance bands. Resistance bands are often overlooked as a fad when, in reality, they’re cheap and effective pieces of workout equipment. They’re fantastic for activation of specific muscles/muscle groups and work on stability, as well as mobility. Tom’s favourite resistance band exercise is the kickstand (as anyone who has worked out with him can attest!). This involves standing in a lunge position with a glute band around your thighs. The back leg is then raised and tension is put on the band; this helps activate the glute in the standing leg (read: booty burner!) in such a way that is helpful for lunge and squat development. There are a ton of variations that can be done to this exercise based on what you want to focus on.

If you’re hoping for more of a cardio workout at home, fear not! That is also attainable. If you have any doubts, join MoveForward Fitness’s NINJA! Class on Saturdays at 1PM EST, and you’ll see exactly how cardio can be incorporated into your mat time! Tom often uses tabata during his NINJA! classes because it’s been proven to provide the most results for the shortest amount of work (deal!). In case you were wondering, tabata involves 20 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds. This raises your heart rate, burns calories, and helps with weight loss. If you’ve ever been told to do some high intensity exercise, tabata is king with the added bonus of improving heart and lung health.

Unfortunately, we can’t do just one round of tabata and call it a day. In order to maintain our heart and lung health, as well as reach our goals, it is recommended that we do resistance training 3 times a week, as well as work on mobility and get some light exercise in as well (such as walking, gardening, etc.). Of all the recommendations though, tabata is the hardest to achieve on your own. It is surprisingly hard to give your maximum effort without someone else pushing you to achieve it. This is why Tom likes to include tabata in his classes—to make sure we’re thoroughly pushed and giving our max!

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Tom Lyonette is a former soccer player and endurance athlete specialising in lower back pain recovery, weight-loss and endurance sports. He will help you through the process of change, challenge you to improve, and support you by keeping you accountable. 

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