At-home workouts are a prevailing exercise trend! All signals point to them remaining here to stay. But can you achieve progressive overload at home?
What started out as a fitness necessity during lockdown has now become a global trend, and now challenges the conventional notion of where fitness should take place.
Table of Contents
- Pros of working out at home
- Cons of working out at home
- Are at-home workouts actually effective?
- Achieving progressive overload at home
- Mental tips for sticking to an at-home workout schedule
- How to achieve the best results from at home workouts
Pros of working out at home
As the world started to return to some semblance of normalcy, many of us have come to some profound realizations about our exercise routines.
First, we’ve discovered that you don’t actually need to go to the gym to break a good sweat. Next, many of us have found that we actually enjoy working out from the comfort of our own homes much more than going to the gym.
These realizations shined especially bright in the wake of gyms opening back up again. When faced with the option to revert to our pre-pandemic routines, the crystal clear advantages of at-home workouts have loomed heavily. We now know that having a home gym removes many of the barriers that used to stand between working out and watching another episode of White Lotus.
Other perks of working out at-home we particularly enjoy:
- Saving time and gas on commutes
- Working out on your schedule, not your gym’s
- Skipping lines for gym exercise equipment
- Avoiding sweaty and/or unsanitary gym equipment
- Not spending ridiculous amounts of money on pointless amenities and hidden gym membership fees?!
However, as we’ve begun embracing the advantages of home gyms and workout routines, new questions have emerged. Whereas we used to wonder whether it was practical to work out from home, we're now faced with a crucial question to our home workout thesis:
"Are at-home exercises actually effective?"
While there are some really great advantages to working out from home–convenience, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and improved sanitary conditions– there are also legitimate concerns if your goal is to achieve muscle hypertrophy or to improve your VO2 max.
Cons of working out at home
Of these challenges, the most significant is certainly the limited access to the wide range of equipment that a gym typically offers. Without the availability of specialized machines, weights, and various exercise classes, it can be challenging to diversify workouts and target different muscle groups effectively.
Still more, while bodyweight exercises are a very solid way to stay in shape, there is a point where progress may plateau. Without access to a wide range of weights, achieving progressive overload, a key training principle to strength training, is pretty much impossible.
Yes, this caveat is a thorn in the side for many who chose to continue the workout-from-home lifestyle.
Does this mean that it’s impossible to achieve progress though?
With the right tools, at-home workouts can be just as effective as going to the gym!
Are at-home workouts actually effective?
The short answer here: yes. At-home workouts can be highly effective, provided certain principles are followed.
As mentioned above, the first key principle for effective at-home workouts is ensuring you're achieving some sort of progressive overload. This involves gradually increasing the stress placed on your muscles over time, forcing them to adapt and grow stronger.
If your muscles don't ache by the end of your workout, then it's unlikely you've achieved progressive overload!
There are several ways to implement progressive overload in your training, including increasing the weight, increasing the number of reps or sets, and decreasing your rest time.
Let's dive into each below.
Increasing the weight
As you become stronger, it's essential to continually challenge your muscles by increasing the weight you're lifting over time. Achieving progressive overload this way is possible if you increase the weight once you can comfortably complete a desired number of reps with proper form and technique.
Here's an example of what a weighted progression might look like for a person aiming to achieve progressive overload.
By increasing the weight each set, you can ensure you're progressing towards your fitness goals!
Increasing the number of reps or sets
Another way to achieve progressive overload is to increase either the number of reps per set or the total number of sets you perform during a workout.
This technique builds strength and stamina, and helps to polish your technique!
Here is what a repetition progression exercise regimen might look like for a person to achieve progressive overload.
Increasing the total number of repetitions per set is a great way to build muscle!
Decreasing rest time between sets
Loving your rest time after a tough set? Your muscles are loving it too!
While rest is absolutely pertinent to ensure sustainability in exercise, while also reducing risk of injury, pushing them to back to work sooner is another way of achieving progressive overload and ultimately, muscle hypertrophy.
Reducing the rest time between sets can also increase the intensity of your workout and promote muscle growth. Aim to rest for no more than 60-90 seconds between sets to maintain intensity.
Here's an example of what a rest time guided workout regimen might look like for a person seeking to achieve progressive overload.
Varying the exercises
Regularly changing up the type of exercises can help to prevent plateaus and ensure that you continue to challenge your muscles from different angles.
Just as approaching complex issues that require critical thinking from different angles helps to shape a healthy, well-rounded approach to that subject, the same goes for your muscle tissue!
Try workouts that target the same muscle group from different angles to achieve progressive overload in your at-home workout routine.
Here's an example of what a varied exercise approach to achieving progressive overload might look like.
Achieving progressive overload at home
While each of these techniques help you to achieve progressive overload at home, some still get tripped up by an essential piece of the at-home workout puzzle: Acquiring and assembling all of the equipment required to get it done.
Let's face it: most of us have limited space when it comes to setting up a home gym. For some, small homes or tiny apartments make it hard to plug in a full set of weights.
Others may have some room to spare but might not love the idea of dedicating a whole area to clunky metal equipment.
As a result, the challenge lies in finding alternative solutions that allow you achieve progressive overload at home within the confines of limited space.
A home gym machine designed for dynamism
There’s hope! The ARENA platform addresses the limitations of space while still providing the means for progressive overload.
Our users can incrementally increase the weight they lift over time, which enables them to continually challenge their muscles and promote strength gains.
Users perform functional, highly-effective at home exercise routines that are specifically designed to help them see results from their living rooms.
With up to 200 pounds of resistance, the ARENA's drivetrain-inspired motor continuously challenges its user through the concentric & eccentric portion of each rep!
Users can even set different weights for concentric and eccentric motion, which helps them tailor their exercises to target different parts of each muscle for maximal gains. This is all controlled via the Go ARENA app in the iOS and Android app stores.
At roughly the size of a carry-on suitcase, the ARENA fits in home gyms small and large, and features no plugs or tethers (outside of charging).
Its battery-powered build lasts for weeks at a time, allowing for about the most flexibility one can achieve in an all-in-one smart home gym!
With the right tools, pesky limitations of working out from home dissolve as quickly as do your fears about sitting in someone else's smelly sweat at a public gym.
We make attaining progressive overload at home achievable and fun!
Mental tips for sticking to an at-home workout schedule
Speaking of progress, you may be wondering if this is even possible. Sure, in theory one could stick to a a few at home workouts per week and see results, but it's arguably harder to stay motivated to workout if you're doing it at home all of the time.
To stay mentally in stride towards your fitness goals, we recommend a mixture of planning, staying consistent, and tracking your performance.
Here what we've found works best:
Establish clear workout goals
Trust us here: it's worth investing the time to determine what you genuinely want to achieve from an at-home workout routine.
If you don't have clear goals, staying on track will be difficult to maintain over time!
With clear goals in mind, you’ll not only have a broad understanding of the 'why' you're working so hard, but you'll also inherently generate a mental roadmap for tracking your progress and staying motivated.
Don't worry, we'll help you track your progress too.
Follow a structured program
Now that you’ve set some fitness goals, you should create a realistic workout routine that aligns with your goals.
ARENA makes this part easy. Try out The Lift if you're not sure about where to begin.
This dynamic, full-body weekly workout routine alternates between strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts each day.
You'll be surprised by how in-shape you are after a week or two of following this regimen!
Alternatively, you could also look into one of our expert trainer-designed Workout Programs.
These programs offer 4 to 12 weeks of strength training with specific goals in mind.
We don't have to tell you that consistency is key–that's what we're here to help build around you so you can reach your goals. Just keep in mind that showing up is half of the battle.
Even on those days when you’d rather sink into your couch than lift a finger, find ways to pop on your ARENA and stay motivated. Consistent small efforts are infinitely better than sporadic intense workouts.
Track your progress
Monitoring your progress is vital for making any kind of fitness headway.
It’s nearly impossible to stay motivated, identify areas for improvement, and truly appreciate your hard work without tracking your fitness progress.
It's for this reason that our incredible design team has invested so much time and energy into building the Go ARENA app, which tracks and stores all of your performance data–from the types of workouts you do to the total weight lifted.
Every session. Every push and pull of the cable. Every kilojoule of effort and work is measured and recorded.
Track your data and progress with ARENA's Strength Report
How to achieve the best results from at-home workouts
If you’re ready to drop your gym membership and see what the at-home workout craze is all about, we got you covered. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you dive in.
Focus on form, not weight
Yes, we just went on a whole rant about adding weight on a cadence to achieve progressive overload. But please, for the sake of your body, make sure you’re always focusing on proper form.
Without a doubt, lifting lighter with the correct form is always better than lifting heavier and potentially risking an injury. Not only that, but poor form can also hold you back from engaging the necessary muscles effectively, hindering your muscular development.
Take rest and recovery seriously
But not too seriously!
All jokes aside, your muscles need time to recover. Every time you work out, you create microscopic tears in your muscle tissues.
By not incorporating rest days into your routine, you may be putting yourself at risk of injuring yourself. We understand wanting to see results as fast as possible, but that's not going to be possible if you end up with an injury that inevitably sets you back.
After all, overuse injuries are some of the most common. Make sure you rest up.
Find the right motivation
When you’re home, there’s a laundry list of things that could potentially distract you from getting your lift in. That is indeed another barrier preventing many from switching to the workout-from-home lifestyle.
Yet, we’ve found that finding some kind of reward for keeping up with your fitness routine can really give you that extra push off the couch. Whether that is treating yourself to a workout in a new environment or turning on that show you’ve wanted to catch up on during your workout.
Whatever gets you up gets you moving
At-home workouts can most certainly be effective.
With the right tools, a proper plan, and the right discipline and motivation, you’ll find that at home workouts targeting progressive overload makes all the difference to achieving your fitness goals!