Make the most of your workouts if you’re heading home for the holidays

Traveling to your family’s home for Christmas? Sophie Butler, Gymshark’s first disabled sponsored athlete, shares her tips for adapting your workout. 

Just because you’re heading home for the holidays, doesn’t mean that your workouts have to be put on hold. Sure, without access to bigger floor space or equipment, it can be trickier to maintain your usual routines. But you can still build strength and challenge yourself with a few simple tricks. 

Sophie Butler – an online fitness coach with almost 79K followers, Gymshark’s first disabled sponsored athlete, and and an award-winning advocate for disability awareness – explains that adapting her workouts is something she’s had a lot of experience with. As a wheelchair user, Sophie has had to acclimate to not only her gym’s set up, but her own home when she was forced to do at-home workouts during lockdown. “One of the beautiful things you learn from being disabled is an ever-growing ability to adapt,” she says.

Sophie shares her best advice on how to modify your strength training workouts when you’re heading home for the holidays. Spoiler alert: no equipment needed. 

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Master your basics

The key to a good workout routine is to not overcomplicate things. While Sophie admits it can be easy to want to try out a different Instagram routine each day, this can make it difficult to track your progression, and to hold yourself accountable when it comes to reaching goals. Not to mention rattling the walls when you’re doing intense HIIT sessions. 

When you’re working out in small spaces, sticking to key bodyweight movements – such as squats, press-ups and lunges (while adding modifications to make them progressively more challenging) – is a simple way to get stronger, even if you don’t have any weights on hand. 

Swap weights for more reps and sets

Chances are, your parents don’t have a home gym (and if they do, score!). So when you don’t have access to weights or equipment, Sophie recommends focussing on increasing the number of reps and sets you complete instead. “Making your workout more challenging in this way will help improve strength gain and muscular endurance.”     

Focus on your tempo

Tempo is a term used in the fitness industry that describes the rhythm and pace at which you lift weights – something that Sophie believes is seriously underrated due to its effectiveness. Through elongating the time it takes to perform each exercise – i.e taking six seconds to do a bicep curl versus three seconds – muscles are forced to work harder, which optimises both muscle strength and endurance. “When we don’t have heavier weights, slowing down the tempo of our exercises helps to create more time under tension for our muscles.” 

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Invite your family to join in

The holidays with family can be a busy time – whether we’re in lockdown or not. There’s always something at home that needs help being fixed or sorted, not to mention all the (socially distanced and outdoor) meet ups with family members while you’re in town. 

Why not kill two birds with one stone by inviting your family to join your workouts? You’ll be able to spend quality time together – while encouraging your family to become healthier – and get your workout in as well. 

This can include anything from going on a walk or a run together, or even joining inviting them to join in on one of your regular workouts. Plus, it allows everyone to blow off steam – we all know living together under one roof for too long can become more irritating than merry.

Recreate the gym mentality

One of the hardest things about working out from home, much less your parent’s home, can be getting into the zone and concentrating on your routine. Sophie recommends starting each workout by removing distractions: turning off the TV, getting your equipment set up and turning on a good playlist. “You can throw yourself around the living room all you like, but if your head is not in the game, you won’t be able to fully benefit from your workout.” 

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Images: Getty

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