7 Major Challenges with Working Out at Home and How to Develop a Superior Routine

In episode 112 of this show, I interviewed Lisa Balash, the Kettlebell Bombshell, and I was inspired to try working out from home. That was six months ago, and little did I know that a few months later the world would be locked down and I wouldn’t be able to hit the gym.

My timing couldn’t have been better. And since making the switch, I have learned a lot, and want to share my best nuggets with you. So I used “the google,” did some informal polls of customers, and advice from some certified fitness coaches in my orbit and identified the 7 major problems people have when they start a home workout plan, and what you can do to make sure your plan works for you, is fun and enjoyable, and helps you achieve your goals!

1. Lack of a plan

Ep 132 Quote 01

If your goal is just “I’m going to workout tomorrow” it probably won’t work.

Identify your goals, then work backwards to a plan.

Is your routine well balanced? Consider the CrossFit ten recognized fitness domains:

-Cardiovascular endurance

Ideally, each week should have a good mix of activities that support these objectives. Week over week they should lead you towards your goal.

Your plan should include a variety of exercises, some strength, cardio, and mobility movements, and have a minimum of 3 workouts per week.

2. Lack of motivation or self-discipline

It’s perfectly normal to have a tough time getting going, and let’s face it, very few people are natural self-starters when it comes to exercise.

If you’re like me, there’s nothing like having a coach, whether real or virtual. Our own Procoach software has built-in reminders to keep you going, and an e-mail daily.

When I am being reminded daily about my workout and having it handed to me in an app, I am WAY more likely to do it than if I have to make up my own routine. So consider getting either a real or virtual coach to help motivate and inspire you.

You can also use an app like coach.me to achieve your daily goals, including exercise. It’s free, and the little dopamine hit of marking a task complete is very satisfying. Here’s what mine looks like before I check off any activities:

coach dot me screenshot

3. Lack of space and or equipment

The first thing I found out when I started working out at home, mostly with kettlebells, was just how great of a workout I could get in a tiny space. You really don’t need much room, and if you think you do, it’s probably because you just haven’t found the right set of exercises that will help you reach your goals, that don’t require much space.

Ep 132 Quote 02

According to Lisa Balash, if you have a 15 lb kettlebell (women), or 20-25lb (men), you wouldn’t believe how good of a varied workout you can get just taking her course or watching Youtube kettlebell workout videos.

So shove the couch over, and find those exercises that allow you to get a great workout in a small area. There are tons of them!

And with just a little bit of equipment, like a pull-up bar or a few kettlebells or weights, it’s unbelievable how much of a burn you can create in a small space in just a few minutes.

If you don’t believe me, let me ask you: When’s the last time you did 100 air squats? It takes a space about 2 feet by 2 feet, and by the time you hit 50 trust me, you will see what I mean about getting a great workout in a tiny area.

4. Lack of time

I’m not going to guilt you about how much time you spend on social media here. We all know we can use our time better. But the perceived hurdle of lack of time is a very real thing we have to deal with.

Ep 132 Quote 03

One very cool trick to helping us squeeze more exercise into our busy schedules are trigger workouts.

On episode 194 of the Making Sense Podcast, “The new future of work” with Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, he throws out a handy little nugget that I think is very powerful.

One reason for working from home is to be able to do stuff you would be embarrassed to do in an office. Every hour he does a set of pushups, situps, and squats.

Over the course of a day, this translates into a meaningful amount of exercise, limbers up the joints after each hour of sitting, and creates a very real calorie burn.

Trigger workouts are a phenomenal way to work more fitness into a tight schedule. Of course, try to workout first thing in the morning. But if you keep your morning workout brief, then follow it up with trigger workouts, you can work exercise into the busiest routine and maintain amazing health!

5. Bad Form

In a gym you had mirrors! It’s amazing how quickly your form goes bad if you aren’t paying close attention.

Ep 132 Quote 04

Brace yourself, keep good posture, and re-focus throughout each set.

You know the drill, back straight, knees slightly out, chest compressed like it’s wrapped in shrink wrap… shoulders back… we all know what good posture is. But, it is SO easy to get into bad positions when we workout at home in a small space.

So, use a mirror if you can. Otherwise, do a quick “posture reset” before each rep. Really be mindful and focused on your body position throughout each set.

If you aren’t comfortable with your knowledge or implementation of good posture in your workouts, there’s an amazing book I recommend called “Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Kelly Starrett. Try it, it could save you from future injury, and correct some bad posture you may have acquired over the years.

6. Distractions

Commit 100% to your workout. If you have to, put your phone on airplane mode, and use it only for your workout app and music.

Let your family know you need a little “me time” and ask them to hold their stuff until you’re done. Get your significant other to watch the kids.

Of course, be a little more flexible than you might be at a gym. My little dog loves it any time I get down into low squats, bridges, planks, etc, and I just roll with it. Working out from home should be effective, but of course, the odd interruption by family or pets is just going to happen, let it happen then get back at it!

And, try to be focused when you workout. Watching TV or reading a book while exercising can really keep you from putting everything you have into the workout. Let your exercise time be totally focused mentally and physically so that you get a terrific workout every time.

7. Lack of variety

Ep 132 Quote 05

If you have a rowing machine, cycle or treadmill don’t get in the rut of making it your only workout.

This can often lead to doing these activities in a lifeless manner while reading a book or watching TV, as mentioned in the last point.

If you have a plan, this will help solve the problem. In addition, make sure and review the major objectives of fitness and what’s most important to you, and make sure you are adding muscle confusion and constant variety to your workouts.

Bonus tip: A great one-two punch for winning the morning. If you could start your day every morning by meditating for 5, 10 or 20 minutes, then moving directly into a mindful workout, I promise you your entire day will be elevated.

Meditation helps you be at your spiritual and mental best, and physical exercise is obviously invigorating and empowering to your body. The combination of these two things together is powerful.

You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you are on top of things, versus “things” being on top of you. You will have the confidence that comes from proactively starting your day on your terms.

You will be more in control of your thoughts and emotions, and better prepared to take on whatever challenges lay in store.

I really can’t oversell this simple combination.

I use the Waking Up app for meditation, then our own Precision Nutrition and Procoach software for my nutrition and exercise training and instruction.

Learn more about The Waking Up app here. And don’t worry, if you can’t afford it simply send an e-mail to them and tell them you would like it free and they will simply give it to you.

And learn more about Precision Nutrition and Procoach here.

To your success!

Dave Sherwin, PN1
Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach
Owner, Dirobi.com

Download this episode here