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Making Your Home Workouts Harder Isn't Just About Adding More Weight - a Trainer Explains

PopSugar logo PopSugar 5 days ago Samantha Brodsky

When it comes to getting the most out of your home workout, trainers have given us the following advice: exercise in front of a mirror to keep tabs on your form, focus on your tempo, use follow-along workouts (I like the Peloton app and Class FitSugar videos), set up a space you'll actually want to sweat in, make realistic goals, and find an accountability partner.

a person standing in front of a window: Making Your Home Workouts Harder Isn't Just About Adding More Weight - a Trainer Explains © Getty / GrapeImages Making Your Home Workouts Harder Isn't Just About Adding More Weight - a Trainer Explains

But what about making those home workouts harder?

Trainer Katie Crewe, CSCS, whom we've interviewed in the past, started out the new year with some crucial tips for people who are exercising at home. Achieving progressive overload - the gradual increase in resistance training in order to effectively build muscle and get stronger - can seem difficult to do outside of the gym. "It doesn't matter which building you're standing in when you're training; you still need to focus on doing more over time to continue to challenge yourself and improve," Katie wrote in her Instagram caption.

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HOME WORKOUT PROGRESSIONS 💪🏻 – aka how to apply progressive overload in your casa. I wanted to address home-based training as I know many people are starting exercise regimens but not everyone is able to make it to a gym but still wants to have quality workouts. It doesn’t matter which building you’re standing in when you’re training; you still need to focus on doing more over time to continue to challenge yourself and improve 👊🏻. - I added increasing weight (I felt it would be remiss of me not to) but with home-based training, you often have to apply other methods to continue to challenge yourself as you don’t typically have access to barbells and heavy weights like you would at a gym. Here are *some* methods you can employ: - 🔹Increase your range of motion (ROM): Something good to focus on when weights are lighter (or when using body weight) is building strength in a larger ROM, that you can safely control, and then maintaining this form even when external load is applied . - 🔹Increase weight lifted: An obvious one but worth mentioning 😊 - 🔹Increase number of reps: if a weight becomes too easy for a given number of reps but you’re finding it hard to use the next weight up or there isn’t one available, increase reps (to push a little bit closer to failure). - 🔹Incorporate more unilateral exercises: Unilateral training can help you address possible strength imbalances between sides and offers a great bang for your buck in terms of how challenging exercises are with less weight vs their bilateral counterpart. - 🔹Choose a more challenging exercise variation: If you’re finding an exercise too easy (e.g. you can bust out 45 reps of regular push-ups), and it lends itself well to using a progression, choose a more challenging version. - Hope this gives you some strategies to use to level up your badassery. Get it, friends!! - P.s. I listened to you guys on my @fitplan_app wanting more regressions and progressions so I addressed this in my new program (releasing later this month 🙈 -yay!) - 🎵Anto & Lyle M - Erase Me

A post shared by Katie Crewe (@katiecrewe) on

Katie said that at home, you often have to apply other methods of progressive overload aside from increasing the weights you're lifting, since that might not be an option for you (not everyone has access to heavy weights). Ahead, check out Katie's tips for how to progress at home. Then, watch her demonstrate them above.

In pics: When you have only one minute to work out, here's what to do (Slideshow provided by Women’s Health)

Increase Your Range of Motion

One way to progress your workouts when you're doing bodyweight or light-weighted exercises, Katie wrote in her Instagram caption, is to build strength in a larger range of motion that you can safely control. Then, when you add more of a load, you should be maintaining this form. In her Instagram video, Katie uses the example of a bodyweight Bulgarian split squat. To increase her range of motion, she goes deeper into the split squat with her back leg hovering above the floor and her front leg bending more at the knee.

Increase the Weight That You're Lifting

In the video above, which you'll have to slide through to find the corresponding tip (there's one slide for every tip), Katie does deadlifts with a smaller kettlebell, than switches over to a heavier one. It's pretty self-explanatory, she said, but something still worth noting. 

Increase Your Number of Reps

Katie said that "if a weight becomes too easy for a given number of reps, but you're finding it hard to use the next weight up or there isn't one available," you should increase the number of reps you're doing. This will push you a little bit closer to failure (aka, that point of full muscle exhaustion when you can't do any more reps).

Fix Your Form

One way to make exercises more difficult is to check your form. For instance, if you're doing push-ups incorrectly - not going all the way down with your chest to the floor, not extending all the way back up to high plank to finish a rep, etc. - you'll find them to be a lot harder when you make corrections. Here are exercises that will help you work on your push-ups.

Incorporate More Unilateral Exercises

To change it up, you can do single-leg exercises as opposed to moves that use both legs. For instance, try single-leg squats instead of a basic squat or a single-leg Romanian deadlift as opposed to an assisted single-leg Romanian deadlift (with your back foot resting on the ground). "Unilateral training can help you address possible strength imbalances between sides and offers a great bang for your buck in terms of how challenging exercises are with less weight vs their bilateral counterpart," Katie wrote.

Watch: Want to workout at home? Here's help (Video provided by Buzz60)

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Choose a More Challenging Exercise Variation

If an exercise becomes too easy - Katie uses the example of doing 45 regular push-ups in a row - try a more challenging form of the exercise if you can. Here are some push-up variations you can choose from. In the video, Katie progresses piked push-ups by elevating her feet on a chair.

Give these tips a try for yourself! Plus, check out these expert tips on how to avoid getting injured during home workouts.

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