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Simple tweaks to transform your home workouts

Simple tweaks to transform your home workouts


Lockdown 2.0 is here. Maybe for a couple more weeks, but it could be longer. As always, I think it is best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

By Mark Laws

It looks like it is going to be a while before you can get back in the gym, which means one thing – as if you weren’t glad to see the back of them before, now you have more blooming home workouts to look forward to!!!

Let’s get the negative bits out of the way first. You only have one light pair of plastic Dumbbells from Argos at home, you don’t have a lot of space and you don’t feel like you have done anything when you finish!

What if there were a couple of tricks up my sleeve that I was willing to share with you? Well it wouldn’t be much of an article if I was going to keep them all to myself would it.

I love a full rack of dumbbells and a squat rack as much as the next person but being limited by the amount of load you have access to doesn’t have to limit your progress.

Try these variables that might just make home workouts interesting and challenging enough until you can get back into the gym…

Stand instead of sitting

Rather than sitting down on a nice solid seat for your presses, curls and raises, stand up instead. Not only will you have to worry more about balance, but your ‘core’ will have to work harder standing up than it does sitting down. Benches are a relatively new addition to gyms. The strongest men to have ever lived didn’t perform any exercises sitting down, and I don’t think that is a coincidence.

Stance width

Now I have got you up on your feet there is another small tweak you can make that will challenge you a bit more. The wider your base of support the easier it will be to perform the workload. So, the narrower your stance becomes the more challenging an exercise will be. If you can build up to having your feet touching then you are doing well, but there is more…

Points of contact

No this isn’t a new TV show hosted by Anne Robinson. The next step is to reduce the number of points of contact you have with the floor.

For those of you who have built up to doing your lateral raises with your feet touching each other, your next step will be to stand only on one leg. It would be a good idea to do one set on one leg and the next set on the other…so make sure you do an even number of sets. And don’t forget which leg you did last time – we don’t want you walking around in circles with one Hulk leg!

If you are doing some floor-based exercises, such as planks, push ups or renegade rows then you can apply the same principles. Initially narrow the stance between both hands/feet, and then reduce the number of points of contact with the floor. If you are doing a push up the most obvious step would be to take one foot off the floor. If your push ups are at an advanced level, then you may try to do them with one single hand.

That should slow you down for a bit…

Speed of movement

Speaking of slowing things down, that leads us smoothly into our final variable that can be tweaked. Very often people will thrash their dumbbells around like they are trying to flag down a passing vehicle. When you have your dumbbells at the top of the movement gravity will pull them effortlessly down towards the floor. However, if you ssssllllooooooowwww thhhhhiiiiinnnnggggsssss dooooooowwwwwwnnnnn it can increase the difficulty. Count the downward phase of each exercise – start by aiming for 3-seconds on the way down but try to increase this to as much as 10-seconds. If you get this far and we are still locked down then start slowing down the upward phase in the same way.

There you have it. Four simple tweaks that can drastically change your home workouts and provide a much more challenging session with the equipment that you have access to. If you don’t have any dumbbells, then you can use the old ‘tins of beans in a rucksack’ trick.

If you don’t believe that any of this will work, take a 1.5 litre bottle of water, sit down and do 10 shoulder press with one hand. Then stand, on one leg, and perform 10 shoulder press with the other hand, but take 10-seconds on the way up AND down.

Which shoulder is burning the most?