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Working out at home isn’t always easy despite its convenience.
Many people are motivated by the energy of a group class or the in-person presence of a killer coach. You could be tight on space or lacking familiar equipment. Maybe you stand somewhere in the middle. Or maybe you absolutely love the efficiency of working out at home.
Those who are intrinsically motivated thrive in solo situations and don’t need the external influence of others to push through a tough workout. The benefits associated with working out are naturally satisfying regardless of the environment.
In the vast majority, however, lie those of us who are extrinsically motivated. We absolutely need someone there pushing us. These types of people are driven by recognition or praise, and without it, desire and intensity can fizzle out. In situations like these, trying to keep the intensity high can leave you feeling like a deflated balloon.
Here are some strategies to help you maintain all physiological aspects of a group atmosphere to keep you stimulated for peak performance:
Set a Clock
While this may seem obvious, there are many interpretations when it comes to setting a timer. You can set a clock to time the entire amount of work being done. For example, on a running clock, perform four rounds of a 400-meter run and 25 burpees. Another way to use the clock is a strategy known as “every minute on the minute” (EMOM). For example, back-squat for five reps at the top of every minute for 10 minutes. Considered an EMOM10, this keeps your heart rate elevated while giving you adequate time to recover.
Pro Tip: If the intent of your session is to go to muscular failure, then resting two to three minutes would be a more appropriate technique in that specific situation.
Add in Combination Movements
While muscle isolation is helpful, combination movements (meaning more than one muscle group in action at a time) are ideal for elevating your heart rate and increasing intensity. You may already perform these movements in your training without even realizing it. Here’s the short list: rows, triceps dips, lunges, squats, push presses, deadlifts. From a physical therapy perspective, I love these movements because they are functional. They permeate into everyday activities like getting out of a chair. You will notice an immediate difference in intensity by sprinkling more of these into your routine.
Going on a run? Incorporate intervals. These are short bursts of speed followed by less intense low-level heart rate activity. For example, sprint 200 meters and then run at a normal conversational pace for 400 meters. Perform these intervals over a 3-mile cumulative distance. This type of training is known as measured intervals.
Another rendition of this would be working as hard as you can for as long as you can followed by an untimed recovery break— for example, max reps of biceps curls with a resistance band followed by rest until muscular fatigue has subsided or a max distance sprint (run, row, bike) followed by a slower recovery pace. This type of training is known as varied intervals.If using this strategy in a strength-training workout such as the above example, you can take a complete rest break. When using varied intervals for running, biking or rowing, you can either reduce your speed by 75 percent until you return to your recovery heart rate or stop completely for recovery.
Add in Plyometric Exercises
Plyometrictraining is excellent for building intensity as well as protecting you against injury and improving power output. Any form of jumping can build a greater intensity in your workout, Think: box jumps, jumping lunges, jumping squats. Take these movements you’re already familiar with and add in a power component to your session to get more bang for your buck.
With any jumping movement within a workout, protecting your joints and controlling your landing is imperative. Repetitive jumping with poor mechanics can cause breakdown at the hip, knee and ankle. Pick a challenge that makes sense for your fitness level. Maybe that means a lower box or a squat jump instead of a jumping lunge. Listen to your body and work on improving eccentric control (the jumping down) at easier variations in order to continue advancing in your workouts.
Community Leader Boards
Another fantastic way to keep the intensity high in your workouts is to join a digital community or pay for a subscription that offers a leaderboard where you can compare scores while interacting with other members. It’s not exactly the same as high-fives and fist bumps in the gym, but it mimics the environment many of us need to thrive. Some programs are all-encompassing, requiring you to use their equipment (hello, Peloton). Other programming subscriptions offer interactive communities using the equipment you already own.