Home Workouts vs. Gym Workouts: Which is Better?

Plus five tips to make any workout the best it can be!

Jamie Staley, NASM-CPT, Pn1

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let’s face it: this year has not been kind to gyms. With the threat of COVID around every corner, you may be asking yourself, “Do I really need to go to the gym to get a good workout?”

It’s a fair question and one that has been around longer than this pandemic. So which is better between at-home workouts and gym workouts? Why?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s break down the pros and cons.

At-home workouts

Even though I work in a gym, I am not opposed to at-home workouts. I did at-home workouts for about two years before I started working in a gym.

The thought of the gym was too intimidating for me and I didn’t want to have to delay getting home after spending all day at work.

However, that convenience came at a price because I wasted a ton of time training with no intention. Part of that time was physical therapy, which was about the only thing I did that ever had a reason behind it.

I did online exercise videos that called for extremely light weights and a ton of cardio. Sure, I felt accomplished and they were better than nothing, but I didn’t really see much improvement.

Once I started programming my own at-home workouts, it became clear to me that I was pretty limited, even with a wide-array of equipment.

ProsCons
Can do anytimeDistractions
Less intimidatingEasy to give less effort
Can do a lot with minimal equipmentLess equipment/machines

Recommended equipment for a home gym:

  • A few sets of dumbbells, including heavy ones.
  • Heavy kettlebell
  • Mat
  • Wide array of resistance bands: mini loops, big loops, and bands with handles.
  • Stability ball (yoga ball).
  • Some type of cardio: bike, rower, treadmill, etc.

Gym Workouts

When I made the switch to the gym, I was already a certified trainer, but was still a complete rookie and knew basically nothing about machines. My background in using free weights at home helped me find ways to be creative, but still I had some serious ground to cover.

Intimidation is usually the biggest thing holding someone back from their full gym workout potential. Followed closely by complete lack of clarity on what to do once they make their way inside.

The gym can be a great place if you give it time. Start with something really simple and just get acclimated with the environment.

Using a trainer, even for a few sessions can save you a ton of time and confusion and get you set-up to make the best of the gym.

ProsCons
More equipment/machinesMore intimidating for beginners
Easier to progress as you gain strengthCan require more scheduling
Motivation/help from othersCan be overwhelming when deciding what to do
Less distractions than at-home

COVID and the Gym

Worried about getting COVID in the gym or working out with a mask on? Keep the following things in mind:

  • Workout during slower times of the day (usually around 12:00-3:00 PM or after 7:00 PM).
  • Choose a mask that is workout-friendly. Disposable masks and masks made with sweat-wicking fabric are easier to use and not as restrictive. Just say no to an N-95 for the love of Pete.
  • Use a towel to wipe the sweat from under your mask periodically to keep your face dryer.
  • Clean your equipment before and after each use.
  • Seek out a quieter place in the gym to help ensure social distancing.
  • Wash your hands after your workout and again when you get home.
  • Stay home if you feel sick or have been potentially exposed.
  • If you are not comfortable with the gym just yet, stay home!

Disclaimer: I am not a COVID expert. These tips are my opinions. No gym can guarantee a COVID-free environment.


Five Ways to Ensure the Best Workout

Whether you pick the gym or start at-home, follow these tips to make sure you are using your time wisely and training smart!

  • Have an individualized plan. The best exercises for you may not be the same exercises that are being done in a video or what that chick on Instagram is doing. Get an individualized plan from someone who knows your medical history, goals, exercise frequency, lifestyle, etc.
  • Track your progress. This step is often overlooked and so important! Keep a log of the date, which exercises you did, reps, sets, weight used, etc. Refer back to this to see your progress!
  • Master the basics first. No need to get fancy if you are a beginner. Keep moves simple (single-leg, squat patterns, hip hinge, pressing, pulling) and do not combine moves together if you are not yet comfortable doing them individually (example: reverse lunge with a bicep curl).
  • Challenge yourself. To the best of your ability, use a decent amount of weight. If you reach the last rep of the last set and don’t even feel like you exerted an effort, it may be time to change some things.
  • Be consistent. The best workout plan means absolutely nothing if you can’t stick with it. Adherence is something that is so drastically overlooked and that leads so many people to start and stop exercise routines. Start small and be ruthlessly consistent with it.

Does your workout routine need attention? Let me help!

If tackling a new exercise regime on your own feels too intimidating and confusing, I can help! I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and have experience with a wide array of clients.

I will coach you through an individualized plan to meet your goals and help you gain strength and confidence, while cutting through the confusion. I’ll give you the accountability, real information, motivation, and guidance to make lasting change.

In-person or online coaching available! Send me an email at jsfncoaching@gmail.com and let’s chat about your goals!

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