How To Safely Increase Your Training Intensity At Home, According To A Biokineticist

Because nobody's keen on a pulled hammie RN...


Women's Health |

Workouts at home are a thing now, for obvious reasons, and they come with their own set of challenges over and above the phantom exercise bike (yeah, we’re all still chewing on that “home gym of dreams” fantasy).  One issue you’ve probably run into is The Plateau… So, how do you push through and up your game? We chatted to a biokineticist about exactly how to increase your training intensity during your workouts at home, without hurting yourself.

So you’ve hit a wall…

With the walls closing in on you, how could you not? Right? But listen, if you’re consistent in doing even short sessions of exercise at home, you’re likely to get to a point where it feels, well, easy. Which is amazing, but also not — it means that if you want to keep seeing results, now is the time to up the intensity. In fact, according to the experts, because our bodies adapt to change so quickly, we should be modifying our routine every two to four weeks. Yup.

READ MORE: Home Workouts That Will Improve Your Running

Mariska Meyer, a qualified biokineticist at Virgin Active Faerie Glen, has gifted us with five easy-to-follow steps to help you take your workouts to the next level…

1. Increase your reps

While it may seem obvious, we often don’t increase the number of repetitions of an exercise because we’re stuck in a mental exercise rut (and, TBH, it huuuuuurts when we do). But just do it: Instead of stopping at 20, perform 30 to 40 reps of each exercise. Your body will praise you.

2. Cut back on that “rest time”

Also, decrease your resting time. If your workouts have become easy, you’re probably not clutching your chest or emptying a water bottle over your head anyway. Stick to this: In-between sets, try not to rest for longer than 30 seconds.

3. Add another set

Following on from the above two points, if you’ve done two to three sets, don’t be shy to add a fourth. Again, you’ll get used to it way sooner than you think.

READ MORE: How To Stay Motivated When You’re Working Out At Home — Tips From A Personal Trainer

4. Play around with your heart rate

Mix it up: Break your workout up into shorter and longer sessions with different heart rates. Short sessions should be tough, with a 75-85% heart-rate max, while longer sessions should have a 55-70% heart-rate max.

5. Include variations

Lastly, add variations to your exercises, such as splitting the reps, varying your speed, doing cardio between sets, freezing the move or adding compound exercises to isolated movements. What this means for your workouts at home:

  • Split the reps: For example, instead of doing full squats, do half of your set with small low squats (almost pausing in the middle) and the other half full squats.
  • Vary the speed. So, if you’re doing push-ups, do 10 slow push-ups and then 10 fast ones.
  • Add cardio between sets. Do this instead of standing still. Running on the spot/skipping/running stairs will get that heart rate up.
  • Freeze the move. Yes, this makes the yogis sweat! Hold certain reps for a few more seconds. Bonus: This will also make your muscles stronger.
  • Add compound exercises to isolated moves. For example, add side lifts with your upper body while doing those lunges.
  • Last but not least, plank in all directions. Yes, a reverse plank is a legitimate exercise, says Meyer.

READ MORE: 9 Best Yoga Apps To Level-Up Your At-Home Practice

Meyer’s parting advice is this: Never overtrain as it can decrease your critically needed immune system. There’s no need to achieve an 80-90% heart-rate max for more than 60-90 minutes during your workouts at home, unless you’re an athlete training for an event. And if you experience any chest pain or dizziness, stop exercising immediately.

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