It can be challenging to find the motivation to resolve fitness and follow through with it in any typical year.
Throw in a pandemic and rampant gym closures for the better part of 2020 (and now well into 2021), and that goal can feel downright impossible. How can you plan to lose weight or gain muscle without having access to expensive cardio machines, dumbbells, barbells, expensive cardio equipment, and an indoor cycling instructor who is both fearless and motivating?
Listen, it’s OK to mourn the time you spend at the gym. But, it’s also OK to hate the idea of jumping up and falling next to your dining table. But staying in your own home and away from others is still the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You may not want or need to go to your local gym, fitness studio, or other places where the virus is spreading.
Liz Davis, a Columbus-based clinical exercise physiologist, explains that at-home exercises can be especially effective in reaching your fitness goals. She tells Health that she used to feel stuck during the pandemic. But that changed quickly. Even if you have limited space or equipment, the home can be a great place to reach your fitness goals. It’s all about changing your mindset to find the proper workout for you.
A quick note of importance before we dive in: Weight loss is complicated, and it takes much more than just adding a few more steps or workouts to your routine. Maintaining a calorie deficit is the most critical factor in losing weight. This, as Davis stated, depends on how much you eat. All you need to consume 100 calories is a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream.
Exercise can help achieve a weight loss goal. Experts recommend these workouts as a great way to lose weight.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT),
Although exercise is not enough to make you lose weight, HIIT can help you do so. It alternates between short, intense bursts and more restful periods.
“Any time you’re doing a hard burst of activity with a shorter recovery, your heart rate and temperature go way up,” Davis explains, noting that those two physiological changes have a direct impact on your metabolism. Your body will continue to burn calories as it tries to bring these two variables down (or attain homeostasis).
The best thing? It doesn’t require any equipment or a lot of space, making it an ideal at-home workout.
Your digital HIIT program of choice at home
Le Sweat by Charlie Atkins ($16.99 per month with your first week free) contains over 100 exercise programs, including HIIT, that require only your body, a small space to move, and tons of motivation.
Les Mills ($15 per month on IOS and Android with your first month free), an app with over 1,000 workouts ranging between 15 and 55 minutes in length, contains a trove of heart-pounding, equipment-free HIIT routines.
Davis points out that weight training will not burn a lot of calories at the moment. However, it will increase muscle mass, impacting your resting metabolism rate (or how many calories your body can burn at rest). The more calories you consume at rest, the easier it is to maintain or lose weight.
Weight (or resistance) is a must to train for strength, but it doesn’t have to be in the form of dumbbells. To build muscle, you can use any mass (including your body for bodyweight exercises).
Davis explained that muscle fatigue is more critical than weighted equipment in determining if you become stronger. Strength gains will be possible as long as you don’t fatigue the muscles while doing any exercise.
This means that you are increasing your muscle mass and strength by performing bicep curls with full wine bottles or reverse lunges using your body weight.
Davis prefers Costco-brand bleach gallons to replace dumbbells or kettlebells while doing front squats. “I don’t know the weight of it, but it makes me tired after 12 to 15 reps.” (FYI) She suggests picking an object that you can fatigue in 12 to 15 repetitions, such as gallons of bleach or a bag filled with books.
Your digital strength training program of choice at home
The Nike Training Club is free for IOS and Android, but costs increase for premium subscriptions. Josh Honore, NASM CPT, is a Row House trainer and coach. Their versatile workouts are great for getting my muscles pumping in just 20 minutes.
You can still use the app to join the Peloton movement if you don’t want to spend the money on a treadmill or bike. With a subscription ($13 per month for IOS and Android), you can access their library of equipment-free workouts–including strength sessions.
Weight loss can be achieved through dancing, whether it’s ballroom dancing or the trendy TikTok style. It’s an aerobic exercise that can help with weight management, according to the American Diabetes Association. It can increase joint mobility, spinal flexibility and prevent injury.
Perhaps the most crucial benefit is that it’s easy to do, especially right now. Dancing is pure fun. Davis states that dancing has an emotional and energizing aspect that cannot be beaten. It’s also a great way to burn calories. Davis notes that she frequently tracks her cardiovascular workouts with her heart rate monitor and often finds dancing the most effective. She credits this to the joy she feels while dancing.
Your digital dance program of choice at home
While the obe (or Our Body Electric) app ($27 per month) contains several types of exercises to choose from (HIIT, strength, etc., its biggest draw is its dance classes. Why? Expect to learn “moves TikTok hasn’t dreamed of” (according to its website) with a pastel-colored, 80s-inspired backdrop and super enthusiastic instructors to lead you through.
Another digital workout program channeling 80s Jane Fonda energy, 305 Fitness ($28.99 per month), is a hardcore HIIT session disguised as a dance class. You can expect to slide, jump, dip and twerk your heart rate to an increased level.
Anyone who has taken a Bikram or vinyasa yoga class knows that it is possible to raise your heart rate during flows, especially when the room heats up. While a direct tie between yoga and weight loss is pretty murky, Davis says it might help you execute other exercises that maximize calorie burns (HIIT, strength training, and dance) with more efficiency.
Any strengthening or stretching can help you lose weight because it makes your body more flexible and robust. This allows you to focus more on your cardio and weight training sessions.
Your digital yoga app of choice at home
I love the YogaSix mobile app ($19.99 per month for IOS and Android) because it covers multiple aspects of yoga, from slow flows to fast-paced power flows,” Honore explains. This app is for all levels of yogis.
Yoga for Beginners is one of the most popular yoga apps in the iTunes Store and Google Play. It’s also free for Android and IOS. You can choose from beginner-friendly yoga flows or targeted at specific areas of your body (such as the back and abs).