Fitness Articles

6 Mistakes to Avoid While Working Out at Home

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So, you're on a mission to make exercise a part of your everyday routine. Congratulations—you're one step ahead of most. But here's the big question: Can you pull it off at home?

After all, you don't need a fancy gym membership to get fit. While some might argue that it's great for getting social and breaking out of the rut, gyms can also be intimidating and overcrowded. Maybe you've got grandchildren to watch or the gym is just out of your budget. Perhaps there isn't a gym that fits your needs nearby, or the thought of being surrounded by people while you sweat makes you cringe.

You're not alone—this is where at-home workouts come into play. Deciding to ditch the gym doesn't mean you're free of hard work and effort, though. Exercising at home comes with its own set of hurdles and requires a totally different mindset if you want to find success.

Here's the good news: It is possible to work out at home and reach your goals. It all comes down to the right approach. Want to give yourself a leg up? Before you start clearing the furniture from your living room, learn about the top mistakes people make when they exercise at home—and how to fix them before they come in the way of healthy living goals.

Benefits of Working out at Home


At first, the perks of at-home workouts seem obvious. "It's convenient, flexible and less expensive than a gym," says Julie Lee, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. a dietitian and certified health coach in Binghamton, New York. But the benefits extend beyond your wallet.

"Home workouts are great for people who aren't comfortable exercising in front of others," shares Lee. "It's also ideal for those who find they're susceptible to 'comparison syndrome.'" By doing your thing at home, you won't be tempted to glance at the super fit person next to you—because there won't be one.

According to Lee, home exercise might even influence other aspects of self-care. "You'll be more inclined to prepare and eat healthier foods," she explains. "Or maybe you'll engage in more physical activities with your children."

Think of this way: The gym is an excellent source of motivation, but it's also easy to leave that mindset in the locker room. By exercising in your living space, you'll turn it into a home motivation.

Top 6 Mistakes and How to Fix Them 


1. Not Listening to Your Body

At home, you have no one to listen to but yourself. You also double as your own gauge for safety.
A common mistake is plowing through workouts with aches and pains. It's just too easy. Without anyone thereto tell you to pump the brakes when you're hurting, it's the perfect recipe for injury disaster.
 
How to Fix It:
 
"Start small and listen to your body," Lee advises. "Know your body's limits and don't try anything that you aren't confident you know how to do safely." She adds that this is even more important if you're a beginner or it's been a long time since you last exercised.

But what if you've been working out for a while? It's the same deal. Even if you know the low-down on a specific move, it's crucial to be careful at home. Lee recommends kicking things off with a short duration to avoid unnecessary injuries.
2. Not Learning Proper Form

Whether you're doing yoga or lifting weights, proper form is everything. Holding your body in the wrong way will stop the exercise from actually working, meaning you could be wasting your time. Even worse, it's extremely dangerous and could lead to an injury that keeps you from keeping up with your fitness routine.

How to Fix It:

Use the internet to your advantage! With today's technology, visual tutorials and advice are just a click away.

Take a tip from SparkPeople member JENSTRESS, who works out at home five to seven days a week. "If I'm doing a new move, I research proper form so I know I'm not going to injure myself," she says. "I buy and watch videos on YouTube or Amazon, and I consult SparkPeople for experts as well."

SparkPeople member KCLARK89 echoes a similar approach. She does home exercises four to five days a week, but takes an extra step to stay safe. "I feel more comfortable taking videos of myself working out, as an extra layer of double checking my form. I wouldn't want to do that in a crowded gym!"

If you're just getting started, Coach Jen also recommends using a mirror to track the full expression of any movement, while also emphasizing the need to focus on whether or not you're actually contracting the muscles that the movement was designed to target. Real rookies should also consider consulting a personal trainer for an introductory session, just until you get a hang of some basic strength-training movements.

3. Not Making Space

Your home is your home, not a space specifically designed for fitness. It's a space for chores, relaxation and everything in between. But when you're used to the gym or just starting out, it's easy to forget about making enough room to adequately move and challenge yourself in your home workouts. While you might want to just shove the clutter to the side or throw your mat on top of whatever mess the kids just made, doing so makes it difficult to properly exercise.

How to Fix It:

Look at space as a non-negotiable aspect. If you don't have the leg room, you'll be knocking into furniture and walls, compromising your form in the meantime. Choose a space that's free of items and hurdles, instead. Make an effort to shimmy things around before you dive into your workout. Essentially, your home won't work if you don't.

"Always be aware of your surroundings," advises Kristin Marzullo, ACE-certified personal trainer in New York, New York. "Treat your home the way you would a gym." This means putting things back where they belong. At the gym, you'll make the extra effort to put dumbbells away, so why not treat the living room table the same way?

4. Not Scheduling It

As a personal trainer, Marzullo says this is a big reason why at-home workouts fail to stick. She's even seen it with her clients. "People have a hard time holding themselves accountable," she shares. "For the average person, it's a chore. So when people don't want do the chore they planned to do, they'll talk themselves out of it."

By failing to schedule working out like an appointment, people are more likely to skip out. Suddenly, even tedious tasks like organizing silverware seem more appealing than sweating.

How to Fix It:

Don't treat exercise as a chore. Instead, pencil it in like an actual meeting. "Schedule the time to work out just like you would a doctor's appointment," suggests Marzullo. "That way, when you ignore it, you'll have to admit you're ignoring the one hour you set aside for yourself and your health."

Lee even suggests getting your spouse or children involved. "Working out at home is the ability to exercise as a family, which benefits everyone.  You'll be less likely to skip out if you know you'll let your kids down."
5. Sticking to One Exercise

Humans love the comfort and familiarity of routine, and this doesn't change with exercise. When you master a routine, it's tempting to stick to what you know.

Yet, if the routine never changes, things can get real boring real fast. "You'll feel like you're doing the same things over and over again without progression," she says. In turn, your body and mind won't be able to switch it up, making it easier to ditch. It's a foolproof way to ruin your motivation.

How to Fix It:

Regularly switch things up. Throw yourself for a loop—literally.

"Challenge yourself," Marzullo urges. "This can be anything with more sets, more reps, or the way that you perform an exercise. Test your balance and stability. You don't need a bunch of fancy equipment to get the body working hard."

JENSTRESS supports this concept. "To stick with it, constantly change things up—be it a new video, new weights, new anything. That helps me known I'm investing in myself."

For SparkPeople member JAMESMCD, the internet comes in handy. "To keep things fresh, I design each of my workouts with help from ideas I've found around the net." Stuck in a rut? Head to the SparkPeople message boards to see what other members are up to.  

6. Setting Unrealistic Expectations

At the gym, personal trainers and teachers set the goals for you. This guidance gives you a framework. You're working to reach their expectations throughout each and every move.

It's a different story at home. Without professional guidance, there's a lot of room to set unrealistic, far-off expectations in the midst of your determination. According to Lee, this is a common motivation-killer. "Many of my clients have an 'all or nothing' mindset," she says. "This ultimately sets them up to fail."

How to Fix It:

When starting any new habit, start small with goals that are more attainable and appropriate for your skill level. As you check off each small goal, you can move on to the next.

Even motivation will flourish this way. "As you achieve smaller goals, it'll lead you toward biggest ones," explains Lee.
Think of it like a set of stairs: To get to the next floor, you need to work your way up. You'll be more likely to master the step directly in front of you, rather than jumping up and ahead to try to come out on top.

Still wary about home workouts? After struggling at first, KCLARK89 found that the right mindset and a dedication to goals were all she needed to make home workouts work for her. "It took a lot of determination and willpower to come home and work out instead of veg out. [Eventually, though,] it gave me a lot of confidence to then move what I'd learned into a gym setting."

Remember, your home is a safe haven. You can use that space to experiment and discover what you love. From there, the world is your oyster. Remember to work slowly, intentionally and work to challenge yourself when you get used to routine. A home workout is a great option for the busy, shy or solo avengers among us, and it doesn't even need to eat up your entire day.

"Make that hour yours and rock it," encourages Marzullo. "You'll thank yourself in the future."  

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About The Author

Kirsten Nunez Kirsten Nunez
Kirsten Nunez is a health and lifestyle writer, editor and author. She has a Master of Science in Nutrition and is currently based in New York. Kirsten spends her days writing articles and dreaming up healthy recipes.