If you don’t have an equipped home gym, replacing your workouts in the gym with home workouts can be quite a tedious task. Unfortunately, doing squats on your own weight or with the help of hand-held weights in the style of “what I find on hand” may not be as challenging as loading the barbell with weights that are close to your personal maximum and try to place record.However, there is a way to make your home workouts really effective and stressful! Just read these few tips, which we will present in today’s article.
Will my muscles disappear if I train only with my own weight?
The first loss of muscle protein usually occurs at the earliest in the time range of 10-14 days without training. But maybe you feel that your muscles are smaller after only a few days without training? This is due to the loss of muscle glycogen and water, which is due to training rest.
Given that the main recommendation for a properly set training plan is in the form of 3-4 workouts per week with 3 exercises for a large muscle group and 2 exercises for a smaller muscle group, in 3-4 work series, based on the following : In this context, whole body training about twice a week should be sufficient to maintain muscle mass, with 1-2 quality exercises for the respective muscle group, which with a number of repetitions will prevent the loss of muscle mass.
As you can see, any workout is better than no workout at all. I dare say that most people exercise several times a week, but the main problem is to maintain the intensity of training without fitness equipment and heavy weights.
What should a home workout without fitness equipment look like?
- First of all, the workout should be fun and challenging enough for you.
- Just like in the gym and at home, training should be strenuous and intense.
- You have to do the series almost to failure.
Of course, one person can do push-ups or squats with their own weight all the time while watching their favorite series, and another may not be able to continue after doing 20 reps. Therefore, it is necessary to look for ways to make the workouts more strenuous and to increase their intensity. You should not forget about quality nutrition with sufficient protein intake.
10 ways to make home workouts more intense
1. Slow down the speed at which you perform the exercise
When planning strength training, the Time Under Tension (TUT) variable is usually ignored. This information expresses how long you have been performing a repetition or series within an exercise or muscle group. Simply put, this is the time when the muscle is loaded and working. On the other hand, you do not need to overdo it. According to Schönfeld (2015), the maximum expected time to perform one repetition in connection with muscle hypertrophy should be 8 seconds. Studies show that time longer than 10 seconds is quite counterproductive in this regard. 
You know very well that very fast squats or push-ups are not as difficult as if you slow down, especially in the eccentric phase of the movement (down to the end position). The greater emphasis on the eccentric phase of movement also leads to greater “muscle damage” caused by training, and thus a stronger stimulus for muscle hypertrophy.
How to use the slowdown of the exercises in practice?
Especially in the eccentric phase of the movement, when you are in the extreme position, slow down and count in your mind to about 6. Then return to the starting position. Such a repetition should take about 8 seconds. A bonus is the greater involvement of the central part of the body, which increases, for example, when the performance of push-ups is delayed.
2. Accelerate your pace and try HIIT or plyometric workouts
Acceleration of the pace is typical for HIIT training and plyometric training. There are many types of HIIT workouts. You can make your own from almost any movement. All you have to do is alternate the maximum speed intervals with rest intervals, in a ratio of approximately 2: 1. This way you will do a really strenuous home cardio in a slightly different way.
With the help of HIIT training you will burn more energy and also work more effectively on your physical condition than with classic cardio. HIIT usually consists of 30 minutes of intense exercise. Thanks to the After Burn effect, your metabolism speeds up for a few more hours after a workout. This way you will burn a little more energy even at rest and effortlessly.
Plyometric training is used in almost all sports to increase speed, dynamics and explosiveness. Their purpose is to quickly alternate the eccentric and concentric phases of movement, when, for example, after landing from a jump immediately follows an immediate new jump. For example, you can perform squats with a jump or box jumps, performed with maximum effort to activate fast muscle fibers and develop strength. Plyometric training also improves the neuromuscular system, so then you can do everything a little faster.
How to do HIIT or polymetric training?
Instead of focusing on the number of repetitions, focus on time. For HIIT workouts, you can use the timer of many applications. The tabata format is very popular, with it you train for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds within 8 series. During plyometric training, the rest interval should last about 30-60 seconds or 3-5 times more than the time during which you perform the exercise.
3. Use the full range of motion
Have you ever wondered if you are making full use of the potential of each exercise and the full range of motion? This means squatting as low as possible in the lower phase of the movement, the same as when performing push-ups or lunges. This will lead to greater stretching of muscle fibers, use of the full potential of exercise and more effective muscle building and strength. If you still do not have the strength or mobility to do a deep squat, work on improvements such as “partial squats” to the final position.
The effectiveness of using the full range of motion was also demonstrated by a study that tested the use of range of motion when performing bench presses. (Not) surprisingly, the greatest improvement was achieved by the group of trainees who used the full range of motion, compared to using 1/3 or 2/3 of the maximum range of motion.
4. Hold for a while in the extreme position of the exercise, you can also use pulsation
Another tool to achieve greater muscle tension and thus greater intensity of training is a momentary stop (1 – 3 seconds) or the use of small movements up and down (“pulsation”) in the lower position of the exercise. If you do this properly, after the first few repetitions you will feel a burning sensation in the muscles, which means more effective exercise. For example, you can make 5 or 10 small movements up and down (pulsing) near the lower end position, for example when squatting, and then return to the starting position in an upright position. You will engage the entire range of motion and take full advantage of all phases of movement.
5. Try one-sided exercises
Of course, some exercises cannot be performed as a one-way street, but with many exercises this is possible. An example would be squatting on one leg or plank with support on one arm. You will start working more on stability during training, and in the case of a plank on one arm, you will engage more and the lateral abdominal muscles. Another example is raising the arm to the side using a water bottle or, as far as possible, a full shopping bag when the muscles in the central part of the body are again engaged more.
6. Do more repetitions
Maybe this is a very clear method to make your workout more effective and stressful, but it is worth mentioning. You will appreciate the performance of more repetitions, especially if you do not use external weights and the exercises become too easy for you. With more repetitions you will achieve metabolic stress, which is one of the mechanisms that stimulate muscle growth.
7. Reduce the break interval
By shortening the break between sets of exercise for a shorter time, it leads to more metabolic stress, similar to the previous case. Muscles just work harder. For example, start shortening the rest interval to 10 seconds, depending on your condition.
8. Load the muscles at different angles
What to do when ordinary push-ups are too easy for you? You can try to rest your feet on a raised platform, such as a sofa, stool or table. This will put more strain on the upper half of the body, forcing the muscles to work harder. You can use the same principle, for example, when practicing the glute bridge exercise, as you can rest your legs on a raised platform and thus more effectively load your buttocks and back of your thighs.
9. Be creative and combine different types of exercises
How to improve your workout and make it even more effective and stressful? Combine several types of exercises in one. We will illustrate this with the example of squats and the use of static endurance or pulsation and plyometrics. First do 10 squats, then approach the lower end position and either hold for 10 seconds in this position, or make 10 small movements up and down (“pulsation”). Finish the whole series by performing squats with a rebound. How to make your exercises more challenging depends on you and your abilities, the possibilities are really many.
10. Use everything you have at home as an external weight
- Cans, such as chickpeas or beans, various large plastic bottles filled with water or sand. You can use a Hydrator bottle and large water containers as weights instead of classic dumbbells. You can use a backpack full of books or plastic water bottles as a weight when performing squats, lunges and other exercises for the lower half of the body, as well as when performing planks or push-ups.
- Particularly suitable for biceps, triceps or shoulder exercises are shopping bags filled with books or plastic water bottles.
- Small furniture that is suitable for handling and does not hide the risk of injury or the possibility of destroying the apartment. If you have a small massive table in the living room, you can use it, for example, for pulling the muscles of the back. The chair or sofa, in turn, will serve as a support for triceps buckets or ordinary push-ups. Wondering what you can use instead of a lever? Take the handle of an old wooden broom or an unused hockey stick and place shopping bags or a backpack full of books on each side. You can fix their position with insulating tape or strong tape.
- Use your partner, especially when doing squats, push-ups or when training for endurance in a plank position. Of course, he should not lie on you with his full weight, for example, during a plank it is enough just to put his feet on your back.
What do you remember from everything said so far?
Workouts at home without fitness equipment should not be boring and you should not worry at all that they will not be effective enough. They may not be as heavy as in the gym, where you are used to loading a “hundred” squats, but whoever wants, finds ways. Also interesting is the fact that to maintain your muscle mass, you only need to practice about 1-2 workouts a week with 1-2 basic exercises for the respective muscle group, which will prevent the loss of muscle mass through the appropriate number of repetitions.
You can use the simple things you have at home as an external load, with the help of which you can make your workouts more strenuous. You can get inspiration from today’s article. For example, static endurance in deep squats can be really quite stressful.
And how do you cope with the exercises at home? Share with us in the comments ideas, tips, gadgets that you use for your home workouts. If you liked the article and it was useful for you, support it by sharing it so that your friends can train effectively at home.