June 6, 2018

How I exercise: A doctor’s guide to home workouts

By dryeongs
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to get fit at home

Photo by Form on Unsplash

I get this a lot from friends and family. How do I find the time to exercise? What’s my secret to exercising even when I’m time poor, feeling lazy and unmotivated?

How do I manage to exercise 5 or 6 times a week without getting bored or getting injured? How do I manage to do all that without paying tonnes of money for a gym?

Variety. And some basic equipment.

Variety keeps things interesting and it prevents injury. I tend to do different workout routines or activities every day and it keeps me interested, keeps me looking forward to things. It also keeps your muscles working, and prevents them from reach a plateau.

My activities are basically either home workouts with or without basic equipment, cycling, running, or rock climbing, with a stronger emphasis on home workouts, because these can be done anywhere, using minimal equipment. There are really only 2 things you need to get started: your smartphone and two apps- A HIIT Interval Timer, which you can download from Google Play here and from Apple here.  I have an Android so I use the first one which is more customizable than the Apple timer, but I did manage to make that one work when I had iPhone for awhile.  With the Android timer, I can create whatever workouts I want using it, with varying workout times and rests. It also helps to have some really energetic music to keep you going. You can either use your own music or use playlists on Spotify. I really like the Electro Workout playlist on Spotify.

Just two important things before you go on:

  1. Once again, please be sensible. I am a GP, but I am not your GP. If you would like me to be your GP, then feel free to check out my contact page or the How I Work page for more details and come see me for a consultation (if you live in Sydney, Australia). This website is not meant to be specific health or medical advice. Please see your doctor before starting any new workout plan to ensure you are safe to start. If at any time, you feel dizziness, chest pain, trouble breathing, or it’s all a bit too much- stop immediately and see your doctor. Please see the Disclaimer for more details. 
  2. Like I said before, this advice I am going to give you is 100% free. However, the website will contain some affiliate links to specific pieces of equipment that I like to use as part of my workouts. Obviously this is completely up to you, but just so you know, if you do use the links to purchase equipment, I will receive a small amount of money from that purchase, and it helps me to keep the site running. So if you love what I do, thanks for the support!

So basically, I started off by following High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) videos on YouTube 6 years ago, and over time have learnt to customize and create my own, by also including inexpensive equipment in my repertoire. Here is a great explanation of what HIIT is and how it works, including a basic workout.

HIIT can be really intense. It’s a good idea to a) see your doctor to ensure you are physically healthy enough to start and b) see a personal trainer or attend a few gym classes first (you can often trial many gym classes for free! For example, Fitness First  will give you a free 1-day guest pass. But you can always start with a few basic exercises almost everyone learned in school, and just do them in the HIIT format.

I tend to use 2 different HIIT formats- either 8 rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest (20:10) for each exercise (usually only 3 exercises), or 3 rounds of 50:10 for each exercise (usually only 4 exercises). With the latter, I will usually do each exercise in a circuit and repeat 3x, while for the former, I will do 8 reps of each exercise (since the time is shorter) at a time.

The best thing about HIIT is you can do it anywhere. I do it in an empty room at work sometimes, or in the park, or just at home in my lounge room. You only need a small amount of space and your body weight. As you progress, you can start to add in equipment.

Here are some common concerns I encounter when discussing HIIT with people:

I don’t know where to start. No worries! You can start with following videos on YouTube, such as BeFit, which I find very beginner friendly. Check out my other favourite YouTube workouts under  Workout Resources.

I’m not fit enough. The beauty of HIIT is you can tailor it to your fitness level. After all, the idea is to work as hard as you can for 20 or 50 seconds, not as hard as I can, or as hard as your friend can. And you can start with a short workout- 4 or 8 minutes, with very basic easy exercises, such as jumping jacks, and progress from there. Every bit of activity counts. 

It’s too boring and repetitive. Mix it up! Add in some equipment. Check out my list of my favourite equipment and resources under Workout Resources.

I’m too scared of getting injured. Check out this post on injury prevention.

So what are you waiting for? Here’s a beginner HIIT workout to get you started.