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Help me work out, in.
November 15, 2007 6:35 PM   Subscribe

How do you make a home-based workout work for you?

When I go to the gym, I pretty much only use the elliptical (an adjustable incline type so I get butt-work) and a mat for crunches or leg lifts. I think when I move out of this teeny apartment, I would like to buy my own elliptical, as it would pay for itself in a few years.

What are some strategies for guaranteeing good home workouts? How do you minimize distractions, stay comfortable (I'm used to a lot of air flow, and I workout sweaty hard) or keep the honeymoon going with in-home fitness routines?

I think one thing I'd like to do is have a small tv in the same area so I can do dance video workouts there some of the time, too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Two words: Television on DVD. Work your way through a season of Deadwood in two weeks, burn off a couple pounds. Marvelous.

Gymwise, might I recommend trying some other exercise machines as well? It's good to change things up, so your body doesn't get comfortable (you're optimizing your motions and working more efficiently, i.e. less. Good for sports, not good for e.g. burning pounds). Climb stairs, try the rowing machine, vary things occasionally. Sucks but it's good for you. The rowing machine is a goddamn beast.
posted by waxbanks at 6:51 PM on November 15, 2007


Some options :

Get a Wii. Play Wii Sports Boxing. Every time you get knocked down, or knock someone down, and between rounds - jog in place. Seriously. This burns mad calories and it's damned fun.

Read this chapter of The Hacker's Diet. It has a "ladder" system, whereby no routine should ever take longer than 15 mins. When it gets too easy, you move up the ladder. Too hard, move down. Very quick and easy.

Buy a pull-up bar at your local big box store. There's a lot of simple, but effective workouts you can do with one. And, you could watch TV whilst doing it.
posted by revmitcz at 7:01 PM on November 15, 2007


Easy, I've got a Bowflex. I get a better workout in less time and don't have to worry about sitting in puddles of other people's sweat.
posted by fenriq at 7:12 PM on November 15, 2007


In my experience two 15-25 lbs. dumbells are the perfect items, the weight varying depending on what you want to do.

They are trivial to store in a closet or under a bed, and you can do every sort of workout with them - lunges, butterflys, curls, and on and on.

I have a gym in my building but I usually stick to the freeweights, mostly dumbbells, for 5 or 6 different exercises.
posted by four panels at 7:25 PM on November 15, 2007


four panels has it. I have a basic, sturdy flat bench too.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 PM on November 15, 2007


Maybe I should clarify.

I am planning on a one hour cardio workout, on an elliptical. Sometimes I will do a video instead, and some crunches or leg lifts. How can I be as comfortable, as committed, and as entertained as possible working out this way from home?

Suggestions for variations on these routines are fine, other things you think I might like, but I've never done a pull up in my life. I just need to burn X calories every day, on the cheap. I want to replicate a go-to-the-gym routine experience. I'm concerned that having a home gym won't last as a motivating force.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:18 PM on November 15, 2007


Whatever regimen is what you feel is most comfortable/uncomfortable for you.

To keep it up, set small milestones. Can do 10 reps of something before exhaustion? Aim for 12. When you hit 12, aim for 14, &c. Then, add weight and do it again from 10.

Indulge in something whenever you hit milestones.

Stick to a schedule. Make up for it when you miss one, but don't get too down on yourself. Never miss two scheduled days in a row unless you're ill (hangovers don't count) or something.

Are you in maintenance or gain? Keeping a log could help you feel that the pain-in-the-ass's worth it.
posted by porpoise at 10:14 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree with porpoise - make a schedule. For me, I have a goal of working out five times per week. I don't have any particular days I have to work out - so if there is a day that I'm not feeling well, I make that my "day of rest." I'm pretty motivated to not take the rest days toward the beginning of the week because I'd rather have at least on of them on the weekend.

Another thing that has helped me not lose motivation is that I print a monthly calendar that I put on my fridge. Each day when I work out, I put a sticker on the day. It's a very visual reminder of how closely I'm sticking to my routine.
posted by ugf at 11:11 PM on November 15, 2007


Honestly, this worked for me.
posted by m3thod4 at 12:44 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


What motivates me at the gym is the social side of the visit, seeing people, saying hi. What motivates me to keep exercising even when I don't feel like it is the distraction - keep my mind on one thing while my body does the sweaty thing. Sometimes its tv, sometimes music, sometimes just taking a mental jog along a tropical beach.
posted by ptm at 2:43 AM on November 16, 2007


What works for me is turning on whatever music I'm craving and dancing my ass off for about ten minutes. This is a warmup, it gets my energy up, it offers me an opportunity to stretch (especially because my dancing when I'm alone is a LOT different than any I'd do somewhere else). Plus, once my body is moving, I get a reminder of the limitations of my range, energy, or appearance-- for example, which parts are jiggling more than I think appropriate. It provides incentive. It helps me practice getting comfortable with my body. AND in the long run it makes me a better dancer.

During this time I can get distraction out of my system, shed clothes, fiddle with music, all the things that one would normally do when getting ready to work out.

Also, sometimes after dacing through a few songs, I find I'm not really inclined to work out at all. But at least then I've still gotten in about ten minutes of rigorous physical activity, which puts me in a better place than I started from.

I also try to end my workouts with some dancing as well, if I have the steam.
posted by hermitosis at 6:15 AM on November 16, 2007


You might want to add some push-ups and pull-ups to your routine.
Building up to an unassisted pull-up is a good fitness goal. You can get a good door-frame pull-up bar for about $25 that will fit nearly anywhere. Practice for a few weeks with "jumping" pull-ups and "negatives." Soon you'll be able to do them unassisted.
posted by tiburon at 8:18 AM on November 16, 2007


Frankly, I've tried this, and it doesn't work for me. I have to leave the house. I can go running, but I can't work out inside the house with any consistency or motivation. YMMV, but I ended up selling the home gym and getting another gym membership.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:09 AM on November 16, 2007


Do you have a game system or PC? I just grabbed a used copy of Yourself!Fitness off of eBay for my PS2-- no vouching to say how effective it will be entirely, but it varies the workouts daily and depending on the equipment you have (weights, exercise ball, step) it'll change your workout. Sure, the fitness trainer is a little sassy and the music is pretty bland but I definitely found myself working out more when there was a schedule of things to do counting down-- plus unlike a fitness video, it guilts you into coming back-- it knows when you skip a workout day you've set for yourself.

I'm a person notorious for not having the willpower to do exercises on my own, or wussing out for visiting my old gym-- so it's tough to keep the willpower. One other thing I'm doing for cardio is going to an arcade to play DDR-- it's addictively fun and I'm guessing a bit more of a workout than Wii Sports does-- at least it feels like it to me!

This is tough stuff-- but hopefully you'll pull through. Good luck!
posted by actionpact at 9:21 AM on November 16, 2007


You need to add more variety to your workout regimen. You should do this to make it compelling enough to hold your interest and also to keep it productive. When your workout becomes as predictable as your morning commute, it's going to be lame and you're not going to want to do it, especially on those days when your energy and motivation are low. Also, your body will adapt to a stimulus, if that stimulus is repeated day after day, at which point the exercise won't provide the same results as it did the first few times you did it.

If you decide to buy an elliptical trainer, you'd probably get more out of it if you used it for interval training. That is, instead of running at a steady pace for an hour, do ten minutes of light warmup, then five-fifteen intervals of thirty seconds of all-out, intense running, followed by thirty seconds of light jogging. (Or one minute-one minute, etc.) End it with a five-minute light cooldown. Most of the research indicates that this type of interval training burns fat much more efficiently than traditional aerobic training.

There's also kettlebell work. Kettlebells are the shit. You can do an almost infinite variety of exercises with them. They're relatively cheap. And when you're done, you can store them under the bed. It's like having a little freeweight gym condensed into an 18 or 35 pound ball.

Bodyweight exercises. Pull-ups. Ring pull-ups. Rope climbing. Burpees.

So . . . mix it up a little. Don't just do elliptical training. Your body likes variety and your workouts should reflect that fact. Some good sources of ideas are:

Crossfit, Beast Skills and Stumptuous.

Have fun and enjoy your workouts!
posted by jason's_planet at 9:26 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seconding CrossFit. And the kettlebells (I have two).

Despite the equipment suggested for CrossFit workouts (minimalist compared to many gyms, granted), I generally work out with a pair of 30 pound dumbbells, a pullup bar, a jump rope, and my kettlebells. When running comes around, I live about a mile from a middle school with a track. The consistently large variety in workouts means I'm never bored and I make progress toward my goals. The huge number of videos on the site show me how to do any of the exercises assigned.

I never would have believed it, but some of my friends have taken to calling me a jock. Weird.
posted by phoebus at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2007


Although I go to a gym now (and love it) I initially worked out at home (and loved that, too). My home tools were:

1. a good pair of running shoes,
2. the cheapest weight bench I could find,
3. two 15-25 lbs. dumbbells,
4. an exercise ball, and
5. this book.

The book's not anything amazing, but it contains good exercise instruction and decent workouts with which to get started. And honestly, the weight bench could probably be cut out of that list if you're just beginning.

Don't underestimate the value of resistance training!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 6:26 AM on November 17, 2007


Thirding kettlebells. So simple and so effective.
posted by DakotaPaul at 11:44 PM on November 17, 2007


People seem to be missing the question here. As I understand it, you want to improve an existing exercise routine that you have already decided on.

It's difficult to do straight exercise indoors without changing scenery (as opposed to, say, biking), so I can't imagine it would be terribly interesting without an activity to couple with the exercise.

Off the top of my head:
- Can you rig a computer so that the screen can be easily viewable from the machine? What about keyboard/mouse? Alternatively, you can look into getting a cheap video adapter for your computer to hook it up to the TV, and use that. This way, you can do all your early morning infosnacking rounds while you exercise.
- Assuming you can get a computer, how about a video game that you can play? Something that would involve works like Fowl Words, so that you can sort of type as you ellipticize. The thing is, exercising and typing is a difficult task to do at the same time, which means it would take a while to get through one game (I see this as a good thing).

If you can't setup a computer in front of the machine:
- Do you like Sodoku or crossword puzzles? Grab a large-print puzzle book so that it's easy to read while you're exercising.
- Get the entire season of some show you've been wanting to watch, and make a rule that you can only watch it while you exercise.
- Challenge contraption to a daily game of chess. Nothing gets your mind working better than exercise, and it's a good distraction. (alternatively, you can get a chess computer game -- but those can be downright difficult, so make sure it has a reasonable or adjustable difficulty level.

I guess the goal here is to have something to look forward to.

I'm no exercise expert, but my understanding is that you don't have to have an intense workout everyday -- just alternate between a nice easy pace, and one that challenges you a bit. The days you go easy will give you a bit more freedom in terms of, say, crosswords.
posted by spiderskull at 10:47 PM on November 20, 2007


That's a sweetheart of an answer, spidey.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:29 AM on November 21, 2007


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