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Training At Home - How to Cope

So there is another lockdown, another gym shutdown and you’re forced to tackle your fitness at home. Standing between your unfolded laundry and the unwashed dishes in the kitchen - you are primed for the best workout of your life…*Borat voice* - not!

It’s tough to get get motivated and stay focused when training at home, especially if you are used to lifting heavier weights in a public gym. Below I’ll highlight some ways in which you can remain focused and actually have fun training at home!

In April I wrote an article for the Personal Trainer Development Centre, talking to coaches and trainers about how to write programs for their athletes and clients at home. This post will be directed more towards those who are stuck at home and looking to make a program for themselves that may not have a sports science background.

What’s the roadblock?

The #1 killer for at home workouts is motivation. As someone who has a squat rack in their living room I can say - it’s not always easy to get motivated to train. Let alone train hard with the normal distractions around you. 50% of training at home has nothing to do with your sets and reps, nothing to do with exercise selection, nothing to do with the % of your 1RM. Half the battle is just getting into a routine where you are training consistently and able to put effort into your training in the same space you use to work and relax. Below are some points to address if you’re looking to up your game training at home.

Step 1: Pick A Goal

When you’re training at home it’s always nice to have something to work towards. A reason to push for that extra rep, that extra second of plank, etc… Right now I have all my strength goals written up on my whiteboard for the year. It’s a good reminder of why I’m training. If you don’t have firm goals in mind here are some easy ones for the time being:

Option A: Test your max front plank. In 4 weeks re-test and aim to add 10% to your total time.

Option B: Test your max push ups. In 4 weeks re-test and aim to add 10% total reps.

Option C: Write a circuit and complete it as fast as you can, every Monday re-do that circuit and see if you can shave off a few seconds from your time.

For example:

5 Push Ups + 10 Crunches + 15 Squats + 20sec Front Plank x 6 Rounds. See how long that takes you and try to do it faster every week

Your overarching goal might be “lose 10 pounds” but if you can make measurable mini-goals to hit along the way your motivation will come a long way!

Step 2: Create a Routine

From April - June my life was very simple. I would work Monday-Friday until 5pm. At 5pm I would close my laptop and begin my workout, I would workout until 6:30 most days. On days where I didn’t feel like working out I would do a minimum of 200 calories on my Airdyne. Every day I woke up and I had either 2 pieces of bacon or 3 small sausages + 3 eggs + spinach for breakfast. I had a bagel+cream cheese and a protein shake for lunch, and dinner was a carb+a protein+veggies. Doing that consistently for 3 months I got in pretty good shape. The reason I was successful was that I could auto-pilot through the tough days. I created simple plans to follow so that even if I felt like crap I knew I what to cook, when to train and at minimum I’d be doing 200cal on the Airdyne.

There is no one size fits all plan for scheduling or motivation. For example: A client of mine had a busy schedule where he felt he had to choose between playing video games with his friends or training. So I made him mini-circuits he could do while his group was waiting in the lobby between games of Call of Duty. There is always a solution for your problem!

The key question to ask yourself is: what does this look like for you? Are you training 3 days/week? Are you going to do 20 squats, 20 push ups and 20 crunches every time you finish an episode on Netflix?

I’ve found that firm statements work best:

“I will do 3x 45min HIIT workouts per week for the next 4 weeks”

“I will go for a 30min walk every day for the next 2 weeks”

“I will do one youtube yoga class once a week for January”

For those in Quebec: "30min before the curfew starts I will walk 20min away from my home and run 10min back to avoid a fine" <-- legally I think I have to say this is a joke.

Find a routine that is reasonable and that you will want to do. If your routine involves burpees - you’re a psycho.

Step 3: Find Accountability

As I mentioned in my new years resolution post, telling people about your plan is crucial in making sure it happens. I’m holding myself accountable to my own training by posting my last week's training to my IG story every Monday. I’m not looking for a pat on the back from people who see it but I do think about the social consequences of slacking when I’m training. If I take 3 days off in a row my friends, clients, potential clients, peers, etc… will be seeing that. That doesn’t mean you need to do something that public - that is just something that works for me. You could instead create a group chat with some friends and post a link of the youtube workout you just did in the chat when you’ve done it. Support, accountability and GIFs - what’s to lose!

Step 4: Get Creative

This is the fun part. Oftentimes people will look around their house and not see kettlebells, dumbbells or ellipticals and think they don’t have equipment and are stuck with bodyweight exercises. Below are a few ideas of how to jimmy rig some equipment in your space!

Backpacks Are Sandbags/Weight Vests: Fill up your favourite backpack with textbooks, cans of soup, cinder blocks and your feelings (the heaviest thing of all) and you can use it as a sandbag for clean and presses, rows, curls, etc… or wear it like a backpack for push ups, lunges, squats, etc…

Towels Are Slideboards: put your hands or feet on a towel while it is on hardwood, tile or any other slippery surface and you can now do hamstring curls, mountain climbers, push ups, body saws, etc… just google “sideboard exercises” and you’re off to the races.

Couches/Chairs Are Benches: using a couch for: shoulder elevated hip thrusts, rear foot elevated split squats (also called bulgarian split squats), single leg box squats, feet elevated push ups, feet elevated hamstring bridges, etc…

Stairs are…Stairs: this requires no explanation. Go up and down stairs at your own risk.

*Google "Rocky" for more stair specific tips*

Step 5: Get Started

Doing anything is better than doing nothing. So - get out for a 10min walk, google “10min workout” on youtube, go up and down your stairs until you hate me - do what works for you!

As always - if you have any questions feel free to drop me a line either at or @clairmontconditioning on Instagram.

Mylan Clairmont MSc, CSCS

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