6 ways to smash every single home workout

New Body Plan creator Jon Lipsey shares the tips that have kept him fit and active during lockdown

Schedule your sessions
You wouldn’t believe how important this one is. It sounds so simple (and so mundane, frankly) that it’s easy to overlook. All I want you to do is plan your workouts a day in advance. Here’s why. Yesterday I planned to do my workout when I put my son down for his lunchtime nap. Today, when I was feeding him his lunch, he decided to redecorate the walls with yogurt. So instead of doing press-ups and burpees after I put him down for his nap, I found myself scrubbing the walls clean. I don’t mind admitting that recent events mean I’m more tired and more stressed than usual. Because of that, I know that if I only had a vague notion (as opposed to a concrete commitment) to do a workout then I would have used that interruption as an excuse to sack it off. But because I had already committed to the session I cleaned up the mess, took a few breaths and started my workout. The point is that if you don’t plan sessions in advance and treat them like an important an immovable work meeting, life will get in the way and tempt you to put them off. 

Keep it short
Good news, this. Now that I’m training at home I’m reducing the length of my sessions. When I’m in the gym and I’ve got every conceivable workout tool at my disposal I can afford to take my time fatiguing a muscle group and getting the precise outcome I want. But if I’m at home with minimal kit then my focus shifts to fat loss. That means you can afford to make your sessions much short because you should be aiming to increase the intensity. Circuit-style workouts where you do exercises back to back with minimal rest are great because that will give you a great cardiovascular (and, subsequently, fat loss) effect while also providing a challenge to your muscles. You can get a great workout in just 20 minutes if you’re smart about how you structure things. 

Create an element of competition
Speaking of structuring things, the thing that as had the single biggest impact on the results I’m seeing form my home workouts is introducing and element of competition. I’m currently just over halfway through our 28-Day Bodyweight Blast plan (there’s a dumbbell version too) and the sessions are structured as circuits where you perform as many reps as possible in an allotted time. In the last session I did there were five rounds and the exercise bursts varied in length each round. In the first round you do each exercise for 20s, in round two you do 30s and in round three you do 40s. Crucially, round four is also 30s ad round five is 20s, so my aim is to beat my rep count the second time I do the 30- or 20-second burst. Here’s an example. If I do 10 press ups in the first round (of 20 seconds) I’ll aim to do at least 11 in round five (which is also 20 seconds). The great thing is that it is me versus me. So it doesn’t matter whether you do 5 reps or 50 reps. Your aim should be to beat your first effort. There are loads of ways you can build that kind of challenge into a workout. The crucial thing is that you need an incentive to push yourself during a session. 

Record your progress
This is one of the simplest yet most effective bits of advice I can give you. All you need to do is record the work that you do each workout. There are a couple of reasons for this. When you have that training dairy it motivates you to complete the next session. It’s a constant reminder of the bank of work that you’ve done. You don’t want to undermine all of the hard work that you’ve already put in and that will spur you on to compete the next session. It will also help you to buy in to the process and that is one of the most underrated element of fitness success. Finally, it will give you a benchmark that allows you to track and celebrate your progress. If you do the same workout four weeks apart and you haven’t recorded your performance from the first session, how do you know if you have improved and if your hard work has been worth it? Equally, if you have recorded your efforts, you have a target to aim for and, as I said in the last tip, that competitive element is so crucial for fostering success. 

Make yourself accountable
I’ve already said that I’m probably more stressed than usual because of juggling work and family commitments. And because of that my energy levels aren’t always where I’d like them to be. If I wasn’t accountable, it would be really easy for me to miss a session. After all, who would know? So what I’ve decided to do was make myself accountable on social media. I’m posting a quick video every time I train and that is keeping me honest. If I go off the radar for a week then it’s not just me who knows. 10,000 other people on social media will also know and that provides a big motivation to do the session. You don’t have to post on social media. You could just tell your missus or a mate what you’re doing. The important thing is that you make yourself accountable to others. 

Have a plan
This is the big one. I’ll be blunt and say that if you’re not following a plan then you might as well not bother. That may sound really harsh. But the truth is that I’ve never seen anyone (either in a gym or exercising at home) get great results without following a proven and credible plan.