Everything you need to workout at home!
Are you a fit mama? Do you want to be?
Well trust me when I say there is NO need to waste your hard earned money at the gym when you have a perfectly good TV in your living room!
I think that came out wrong… haha!
No, I don’t mean you’re better off sitting in front of the TV watching movies. Far from it! What I mean is, if you have a TV in your living room, and the ability to move furniture around to give yourself a bit of space to jump around in, then why not just workout at home?
Whether working out is your New Years Resolution, or your new way of living (or both!) if you’re determined enough to accomplish your goals, then the location of your workouts is, well, irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you’re just wanting to lose those last 5lbs, or looking to lose another 50, working out at home is where it’s at!
Why workout at home?
I’ve actually worked out at home since I was 15 (I’m 27 now, so that’s quite some time) and even when I’ve tried out gym memberships, I didn’t want to give up my at-home workouts.
Working out at home is not only convenient because you don’t have to drive anywhere, but also because you can do it in your pj’s! No need to worry about what time the gym closes, no waiting on equipment or weights, no worrying about that creepy guy staring at you while you run, no being self conscious about not being able to lift as much as that other girl did – at home, you can just be yourself!
Personally, I like being able to workout in spit-up covered t-shirts and ripped up shorts, no makeup, greasy hair, worry-free, and ALONE! Ha!
When I’m at the gym, I don’t push myself as hard.
At home, I can yell or grunt in response to pain and no one says anything. (Yes, I am that girl.)
By working out at home instead of a gym, your excuses for not following-through essentially melt away. If you quit, there’s nothing and no-one to blame but YOURSELF.
Personally, I like that kind of responsibility. I have to keep myself in check to make sure I reach my goals.
So if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, or if you’re just wanting to know more about how it works, keep reading!
Tools & Supplies
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the different at-home workouts available, lets talk workout equipment.
Obviously the type of workout you do will determine what tools and equipment you need, so I’ll use this section just to go over briefly what the most popular tools available are.
Ah, the all-purpose yoga mat. Is there any woman out there who doesn’t own one? Ok, if you don’t, I suggest you order one straight away. Or several.
I think I have three at the moment. Unfortunately my cats like to use them as scratching posts because they’re so soft… so I have three different colors, all at different levels of destruction. -_-
Anyways, you can never go wrong with a yoga mat. Most workout programs call for one, some use it more than others. Even if you only use it for stretch days, it’s still a good buy.
I bought all mine off Amazon here.
Stability balls! My little one loves these. K1 was always stealing mine to play with, haha. Until it popped. 🙁
If you get a stability ball, make sure it’s made of durable material so it doesn’t pop easily if several littles try to hop on it at once.
Not all workout programs use them, but I always liked having it around to do crunches/sit-ups on.
Set of Weights / Dumbbells
This is a must. Do not give me that “but I don’t want to get bulky” crap. You won’t. You’re a girl. Weights are an absolute MUST whether you’re wanting to lost weight, get toned, or build muscle.
So buy yourself a set.
My favorite are the totally girly ones in bright, neon colors. The love of my life, however, will only buy the plain “manly” ones.
Whatever. They all work the same, so just buy what you can!
Personally, I have weights from 5lbs – 25lbs. (I haven’t ever use more than 20 – yet!). If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest getting a could 2-3lb bells, as well. It sounds wimpy, but there are going to be some exercises you just can’t get through with anything heavier than that. And if you don’t want to buy them all at once, buy some up to 8 or 10lbs to start. As you build your strength, you can keep purchasing heavier ones.
While not a necessity (dumbbells work just fine) there are many kettlebell-specific workouts available. Personally, I never bought any. But if you feel so inclined and want to follow your at-home workouts to the T, be my guest.
This one is absolutely on my wish list! No, it’s not a “bare necessity” – you can complete entire programs without it. BUT, it feels so good on sore muscles. Once you discover the power of a foam roller workout, you’ll never go back.
It feels that good.
I am all for the pull up bar! My honey and I keep ours in our closet doorway so that any time we walk in or out, we have to do a pull up.
It’s also a required piece of equipment for many of the Beachbody programs we’ll talk about in a moment.
Colorful resistance bands aren’t really my thing, although I did purchase them to use with P90X3 (scroll down to learn more). If you’re having trouble with the pull up bar, resistance bands are a good way to build up your strength before you master the bar. They also work well as a replacement for dumbbells if you don’t have any, or if you’re in need of a lighter weight.
These bands come in several different levels of resistance, and are often sold as sets to give you a bit of variety. The ones I’m used to have handles like the ones pictured above. But apparently these($11) without handles have become pretty popular, too.
Who doesn’t own water bottles? Water is LIFE, mama! We all know we should be drinking X ounces of water each day (most people say 8 glasses, I say at least your body weight in ounces), but when you’re working out, your H2O-needs increase! Make sure you keep water handy before, during, and after your workouts.
Don’t waste your money (and the plastic) buying a 24 pack of Nestle Pure Life. Blech. Get yourself a reusable bottle you can continue to fill up with water from the tap. My favorite kind are the shaker bottles (pictured above) that double as a protein shake mixer.
Think your tap water isn’t good enough to drink? Try a water bottle that has a built-in filter like this one.
Some step counters, like the Fitbit HR, comes with heart rate monitors. These help you gauge your intensity, but also keep you aware of how active (or inactive) you are during the day.
No this is not a requirement, but it does come in rather handy when you want to keep yourself from over-exertion. If you’re new to working out, you may not know what your limit is yet.
There are mamas on every end of the spectrum – some don’t push hard enough, scared they might injure themselves, while others push too hard to begin with. If you’re one that pushes too hard, you run the risk of not only injuring yourself, but of losing your motivation. Your body’s going to be real sore a couple days after that hard workout; don’t let the pain keep you from going at it again!
Sneakers Athletic Shoes
I hate the word “tennis shoes”. I’m always calling sneakers “tennis shoes” and I don’t play tennis. And “sneakers” isn’t much better. What, do you sneak around in them? Dumb.
Athletic shoes? Yeah, let’s call them athletic shoes.
Get yourself a good (yes, probably expensive) pair of athletic shoes to workout in, if you don’t have a pair already. A good set of shoes will offer enough support and cushion to keep you from twisting an ankle when you’re jumping around all crazy doing suicides and such.
While there are several different athletic shoes to choose from – running shoes, walking shoes, cross trainers, etc. – personally, I like anything I feel comfortable moving around it.
Yes, even if you’re wanting to workout at home in your underwear – you need to wear a bra, ladies! And hopefully you own more than one, because you’re going to be wearing them a lot.
If you’re a nursing mom, jumping around without enough support can reeeeeally hurt the girls. (I’m serious.) There were many times I had to layer it up when it came to sports bras just so they’d stay still. If you’re going cheap like I did, make sure you invest in SEVERAL.
Headphones (or Speaker)
To get in the zone and really focus on the moves, music is an absolute necessity for me. The right kind of songs can help me push myself harder than I ever thought possible.
While I prefer headphones to really silence my mind, you can also opt for a Bluetooth or AUX speaker and hook it up to your phone.
Either way, music can really help you get pumped. I say give it a go and see how you perform best.
If you’re going to start working out, no matter where your workouts take place you should also invest in quality protein powder. Downing a shake right after an intense workout helps your body fill your torn muscles with much-needed protein to help you become that lean, mean, sexy machine!
While Beachbody sells, in my opinion, the best powder on the market – it is a little pricey. If you can’t stomach the $120 a month to keep a supply, try others from your local grocery store. Most fitness-geeks opt for proteins with whey (milk protein) but being a cruelty-free eater (and avoiding dairy at all costs!) I chose to go with brands like Vega or Sun Warrior.
Investing in a quality, chemical-free pre-workout powder is great to help you get pumped for workouts. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve dragged myself out of bed to workout and felt like I had no energy to follow through. To combat this, I started looking into pre-workout drinks
I tried so many! From chemical-filled SuperPump Max (more like SuperPOO Max!) to the Kool-Aid-cousin Spark drink, I wasn’t happy. They were all full of ingredients I didn’t want in my body, most of them weren’t vegan, and either gave me the jitters or didn’t work!
Until I found PurePump, which (excuse me if I sound sales-y) is the best pre-workout product I have found THUS FAR. It has no crazy chemicals, is vegan and GMO-free, but more importantly – it absolutely works for me. It works best on an empty stomach, and since it tastes awful by itself (no sweeteners) you’ll need to mix it with something to drink it. I mix it with good ol’ orange juice.
Word to the wise: it makes you itch like crazy! But once you get your blood pumping, that feeling goes away. No crash, just lots of extra energy. (If you’re nursing, you’ll need to pump and dump!)
To keep you on track working out at home, I’ve found that DVD workout programs are the BEST. They give you a predetermined set of moves to follow each day, and outline how to maximize your results by following a nutrition guide and giving you a calendar schedule of what workouts to do, when.
These always worked the best for me, because I don’t like figuring out all that stuff myself. I’d rather someone do it for me, and I’ll just follow along.
The ultimate and probably the most popular at-home workout program provider – Beachbody. I learned about them from infomercials claiming fantastic fitness results could be obtained right in your living room. And for once, infomercials didn’t lie. Sure, level of fitness is largely determined by lifestyle. It’s probable their fitness models in their commercials did NOT obtain their chiseled physiques by following one program alone. You can’t get rock hard abs just by exercising (70% of fitness results come from the kitchen!), but Beachbody is by far my favorite company when it comes to workouts at home. And if you have the determination, you ABS-olutely can get the results you want. (Get it? lol)
Below, I’ve listed my favorite of the Beachbody programs. There are others, trust me, but for one – I haven’t completed every program, and two – the ones I completed but still didn’t list, I obviously didn’t like enough to mention.
These workouts are perfect for beginners. It’s mainly about cardio with Shaun T, although he does have a few weighted moves in here. As with all Beachbody workouts, there is a modifier (someone who does an easier version of each move) to follow if you need it. The moves aren’t difficult, but remember to push yourself if you want those results!
When I lived in Philly, these workouts combined with all the walking I did (I favored public transport over driving) gave me the booty I never knew a white girl could have. Seriously, I get a little teary-eyed when I think of how much I miss it.
The workouts are super short – only 25 minutes (hence the name “T25”) but total time to complete is at least 30 when you add in the cool down at the end. By the time you finish you’ll be looking at the clock wondering how you worked up such a sweat in such a short time.
Equipment required: dumbbells or resistance bands, Yoga mat
While all BB programs include a nutrition plan, the 21 Day Fix was the first I saw that took a more literal approach at food portions. It comes with different sized plastic containers in all different colors, designed to help you measure out the food you eat each day. Although not required, you really have to start meal planning for this one to work. I didn’t get into it, and therefore didn’t see the results I should have.
If you don’t put in the effort, you won’t get anything out of it! (That goes for any and all workouts.)
The workouts themselves are instructed by the creator – fitness model Autumn Calabrese. She’s beautiful ladies! Don’t be intimidated – be empowered! If she can do it, you can do it. She’s super motivating. You can even follow her on Instagram @autumncalabrese for some added inspiration.
Equipment needed: dumbbells or resistance bands, yoga mat
The grandfather of all at-home weightlifting programs.
This is the one that started it all, ladies! (At least for me!) I started doing P90X right after K1 was born and boy did I see a difference. We lived in Washington and I was taking an online fitness class at my local community college (you really have to keep yourself in check with those online courses!). We were required to follow any fitness regimen we wanted and track our progress. I followed P90X imperfectly (I would miss a day or two a week), yet I still managed to drop 5% body fat. I went from 27% BF to 22% and was super happy with the results.
P90X was the program that made me realize how important weightlifting is, no matter your fitness goal!
Equipment needed: pull up bar, dumbbells, yoga mat
P90X3 is a more modern version of the original. The workouts are shorter and more in line with the busy lives of people today. However, in my opinion it just can’t match the original. Completing these shorter workouts didn’t make me as winded or euphoric as P90X. Maybe I just wasn’t pushing myself as hard, I’m not sure. But it’ll never replace the original in my heart!
If you’re just starting out and need something with a shorter time commitment, P90X3 may be the program for you. Or, you could even pair it with the T25 program for a major booty-kicking workout regimen! 30 minutes mostly cardio(T25), and 30 minutes mostly strength training(P90X3).
Equipment needed: pull up bar, dumbbells, yoga mat
Insanity. My all-time favorite workout program! This mother of all cardio workouts will KICK. YOUR. BUTT.
This one’s actually one of the older programs, but I enjoy it the most. You may remember me mentioning Shaun T when talking about T25. In this program, he’s younger, and expects a lot more out of you. Get. It. Done.
The fittest I’ve ever been was after I finished the Insanity program (right before I met the love of my life – what luck! Ha!). I pushed myself harder than ever with this program, determined to finish. I had tried it out several times before, but never stuck with it because it’s just so hard.
If you’re committed, Insanity will get you to that lean & tight look you’ve always wanted. You’ll be stronger, faster, and healthier when you’re done, plus, you’ll be so addicted you won’t want to give it up!
Equipment needed: Nada.You might want a mat for stretching, but that’s optional.
While I haven’t actually finished this program, it does show a lot of promise (which is why I’m doing it!). I love the new moves and double-coach duo.
Hammer and Chisel combines cardio (with above-mentioned Autumn Calabrese) with weightlifting (with the Schwarzenegger-like Sagi Kalev).
They include a nutrition booklet like all the other programs, but also the color-coded food containers that came with Autumn’s 21 Day Fix. I really like how much they push nutrition and portion control with this one, because we all know that what we fuel our body with is even more important than how we stay active.
Equipment needed: dumbbells and/or resistance bands, pull up bar, yoga mat, and either a weight bench (not likely) or a stability ball.
Tone it Up Girls
Moving on from Beachbody, I’d like to share another of my favorite fitness programs, this time from the Tone It Up Girls!
Karena and Katrina are best friends turned business partners, helping women around the world get fit and find their healthy. I first discovered them on Self.com (Self Magazine) and noticed they had their own website. After perusing the internet and learning a bit about them, I realized they had started out by posting workouts on YouTube and blogging about fitness on their website. At the time, they had just released their second DVD full of at-home workouts, and were really pushing their nutritional plan.
Today, they have 6 different workout DVDs to choose from, have been featured everywhere from the Today Show to Marie Claire. They even had a brief stint as a reality show on Bravo.
Their nutritional plan is their big seller, and boasts the most amazing before and after transformations. The workouts themselves are tons of fun, and combined with the nutrition plan, will definitely give you the results you’re looking for!
Equipment needed: yoga mat, dumbbells, kettle bells (optional), exercise ball
Other Random Videos
Of course there are plenty other DVDs, online videos and workout programs you can follow. These were just my personal favorites. I’ve also tried Jillian Michael’s videos, Pilates DVDs, Prenatal Yoga, and others, but none of them I stuck to. And therefore, none resulted in any transformation. Ultimately, I believe that following a pre-defined workout program is far better than any single workout DVD, only because having an outline of my next 3 months of workouts is much easier to follow than deciding for myself what to do on the daily.
Whatever works for you, GO FOR IT! All that matters is that you stick to working out like a lifestyle change and not a beginning-of-the-year fad.
Getting the Results you want
Always remember ladies, that the NUMBER on the SCALE is not what really matters!!! Your percent of body fat, how much energy you maintain, and how strong you feel, are the true measures of fitness. No, I’m not talking about BMI. I don’t like that formula, it’s very misleading. When it comes to body fat percentage, I’m talking about sitting inside a Bod Pod to truly see how much of your mass if actual fat. Below is a helpful chart of what’s healthy.
Acceptable Body Fat Percentage
Ultimately though, t’s ALL about what YOU are happy with. Focus on how you look and feel (in your clothes AND naked 😉 ). Focus on your goals, and as Tony Horton says, “Do your best, and forget the rest!”
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