Training at home can be very challenging, especially if you’re a beginner and need to learn good technique. Add onto this a busy schedule and getting moving into an exercise routine can be a very challenging ask for most people. Thats why “eating that frog” and getting exercise done first thing in the morning can be a great way to both start the day and build a long lasting healthy routine.
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For this example, I am going to imagine that the time available is limited, somewhere between 20-30 minute per morning. It can be tempting to repeat the same exercises daily, I see the appeal, its simple and easy to implement. However it rarely pays off. After the 50th session the likelihood is that the mundanity will sink in and you’ll fall off the wagon. Thats why keeping a varied morning routine that applies the principles of strength and conditioning is important, not only for effectiveness but also consistency.
When designing a training programme, even if it’s for a morning exercise routine, it’s good to break the plan into movement categories, from here we can fill in the movement categories with different exercises overtime.
Here is a sample three day a week exercise routine beginners can use, you can use the same exercises every week for multiple weeks and once you find it mundane you can replace the exercises. Once you find the session structure too similar you can play around with that also, but this can be kept for a long time while exercises are consistently replaced. This training plan will work your entire body and can be maintained for a long time, rather than just doing 20 press ups every morning.
When creating your weekly plan you will need to pick exercises within these movement categories. The key to picking the correct exercise is the amount of challenge is poses. When we are training to create adaptation we want the exercises to overload the body to create a stimulus. However we don’t want the exercise to be so hard that it causes injury or it cannot be done technically correctly. Finding that sweet spot between the two is the key to picking exercises that will create adaptation to move forward towards your physical goals.
To make this point clear i’m going to use an example of someone who can do 1 press up with good technique and they are picking an exercise for the horizontal press movement category. Choosing a press up will result in them no being able to perform enough repetitions in the movement category, it will be more like a max test each set. So they need to choose an exercise that they can perform multiple repetitions of with good technique, for this person an eccentric press up may be a great example.
However for someone who cannot hold the press up position for more than 20 seconds, an eccentric press up is going to be far too difficult. We need to pick a simpler variation so that they can perform it with good technique and move towards a press up. For this individual a Hands Elevated Lateral Crawl could be a great introduction into taking their own body weight prior to doing any pressing work.
Understanding this principle of exercise selection to create adaptation will help you pick exercises to perform the above weekly morning exercise routine for beginners at home. Let’s look at a week of this training with the exercise selection already done. In this example we have a 22 year old male who isn’t overweight and has played some sports but never done any weight training. He has a pull up bar set up and a band at home but can’t yet do a pull up. He can perform 1-2 press ups with good technique.
Complete 4 rounds
Complete 4 rounds
Complete 4 rounds
Here we can see that the exercises selected will be both challenging, yet achievable for the individual. This for of exercise selection will result in long term success for the individual.
Training volume is the amount of working sets performed within a session or within a week. It’s important to do a meaningful amount of volume when training at home. This is because if you don’t do enough volume you will not create any adaptation and you’ll end up wasting your time. What is a meaningful amount of volume? This changes based on individuals training age, an advanced individual is going to need a lot more volume than a beginner. For a beginner doing 4 sets per muscle group will be enough to create some form of adaptation. If you can do more than three session a week or you can increase the length of the sessions then you’ll be able to increase the amount of volume you can perform in each muscle group.
Each working set should be difficult. By the end of a set the movement pattern you’re working in should be near the point of failure but never to the point where technique is reduced.
Training at home requires you to create rituals around movement and exercise, without these rituals it will be very hard to create and establish an effective morning routine. This means training at the same time, in the same place, wearing the same gym equipment. Doing these things on repeat will help reduce the barrier to entry that so many people have with exercise.
When making the decision to create an exercise routine at home, take it seriously, buy a few pieces of equipment that you can use to create a space that your proud to train in, creating an environment that you enjoy being in and can use to move yourself forward towards your goals. Nothing is going to happen if Netflix is on in the background.
If your a beginner and have never built a consistent movement practice before its really important that you use all of these techniques to your advantage as this is not an easy endeavour.
Mornings can be a difficult time to exercise, especially if your training first thing early in the morning. Thats why adding only simple exercises into your exercise selection can be a great idea if you’re planning on training in the early morning. Trying to add to much complexity or difficulty in the morning can be very challenging, especially if there is a question as to whether the exercise is going to get done. Pick simple exercise that you already have some experience with and you’ll be able to flow into your training session with little apprehension or trying to watch videos on your phone rather than moving your body.
Habits are hard to stick too, thats why every year there is a new book on how important habits are, they are notoriously difficult. This is where batching habits comes into play. Imagine you already have a great morning routine where you manage to take a cold shower before you get changed for your day. Batching this cold shower with you exercise will be a great way for you to add this new ritual into your timetable more effortlessly. Batching habits is from BJ Fog and his Tiny Habits philosophy and is a great way to reduce the complexity of the habits we are trying to implement. Batching exercise with other positive habits at the start of your day can be one of the best ways to lay a foundation of health moving forward. Not only that but it can help you in many other areas in your life like work and relationships through improving your mood.
The likelihood is that the first attempt at introducing your morning exercise routine will be unsuccessful. Once you accept this it’s easier to move forward and take multiple attempts at introducing it in a way that sticks. The idea that one day you’ll implement a solution to the problem that is living a healthy life is unrealistic, it might take months or years before you find what sticks and works for you to create a healthy routine.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.