Overcoming the Barriers to Home Workouts 

Whether you don't feel ready to go back to the gym yet, or you simply don't have the time, many people are choosing to stick with home workouts despite the gyms reopening. 

However, there are a number of barriers preventing people from getting the physical and mental benefits of regular exercise from home.

We’ve done some research to find out what the main barriers to home workouts are and we've asked three of our fitness experts to give you their top tips for overcoming these issues so you can achieve your fitness goals with or without the gym...

Trying to replicate your gym workouts from home without the same equipment can be tough and as demand has increased during each of the three UK lockdowns, the price of home workout equipment has skyrocketed, making it unaffordable for many. 

To illustrate the extent of the problem, we used data from Amazon seller software Helium 10 to research the price increases of eight of the most popular types of home workout equipment available to buy on Amazon.

The graphic below shows the average percentage price increase of the top five bestsellers of each type of  equipment based on their price during lockdown compared to when gyms were open.

As well as the price of home workout equipment, a lack of energy is another key barrier preventing people from keeping active at home.

If you’ve been struggling with your energy levels recently, you’re not alone. The current lockdown has clearly left many feeling sluggish with Google Trends data showing search interest for ‘I’m so tired’ more than doubled in mid-January compared to the month before as a third lockdown began to take its toll.

It’s become harder than ever to get yourself going and finding the motivation to do a workout throughout the pandemic has been tough.

According to Google Trends, search interest for ‘‘No motivation’ was six times higher in mid-January compared to the month before, highlighting that our enthusiasm has taken yet another hit with the latest lockdown measures.

Lockdown fatigue has also made it harder for many to recover from workouts with aches and pains stopping them from getting the exercise they need. This is once again highlighted by Google Trends data which shows search interest for ‘Aching muscles’ more than doubled in mid January compared to the month before.

How Can you Overcome The Barriers to Home Workouts?
Top Tips from Three Fitness Experts

With exercise playing such a crucial role in overall wellbeing, we asked three of our resident fitness experts for their top tips for overcoming the four barriers mentioned above. Check out their advice below.

Mike Woodhall

Mike is a Personal Trainer with over 7 years experience coaching and a BSc (Hons) Nutritional Sciences degree.

Barrier 1: Are there any cheaper alternatives to home gym equipment?

• "Storage barrels/drums or sand bags can be sourced easily online and at hardware stores and you can fill these with sand or water and use them in the same way as weights. If you fill something with water the instability can be a challenge to get used to but helps you to build strength in different ways than you will experience with a stable weight."

• "Another great way to maintain and build strength without equipment is to use static and eccentric training. Take any standard exercise such as a push up, slow down the movement taking around five seconds to lower yourself down before holding at the bottom for five seconds and then push back up."

• "If your goal is weight loss, this can be achieved without equipment via diet and bodyweight workouts to achieve a calorie deficit. Depending on your fitness levels, you can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time with high intensity interval training (HIIT) - carry out each exercise for 20 seconds with as much intensity as you can and then rest for 20 seconds - 20 minutes of intervals like this will burn lots of calories without spending as much time working out."

Barrier 2: How can you boost your energy levels before a workout?

•"Find a time of day that suits you. Some people have loads of energy at the start of the day so capitalise on this and get an early training session in. If you find yourself picking up through the day/afternoon, find the time in the day you have the most energy and use that time for training."

• "Try to get a more consistent bedtime and wake time as this will help you feel well rested and full of energy. Sleep is shown to have an impact on how well you can workout and the more rested you are the better your workout will be."

Barrier 3: How can you motivate yourself to do a workout?

• "One of the best ways to improve your motivation is to set goals. SMART goals are the best goals to set. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and with a Time frame.) Setting small goals that are attainable stops them from overwhelming you and can really help with motivation. Want to run a 5k but can't do it at the moment? Set a goal of 1k to begin with and build this up gradually over time to 5k."

• Find a friend who wants to achieve something similar to you and be accountable to each other. Share your goals, you could even work out with each other over zoom or share progress photos/videos. Having somebody you are accountable to helps to motivate you."

• "Don't put pressure on yourself. There are a lot of pressures in life at the moment so progress may be slow and some days you may not have the motivation to do stuff and that's ok. Also, for me, if I don’t sleep well, this definitely has an impact on my motivation to workout and how hard I push myself so make sure you're getting the rest you need. "

Barrier 4: How can you recover after a workout?

• "Stretching is essential for recovery. Any workout will result in tight muscles if you work hard enough so it's important to counteract that with a good stretching routine to prevent or minimise sore muscles.

• "Don't over train. It can be tempting to workout all of the time at the moment but that won't be productive. It's important to take enough time for the body to rest and recover to continue making gains and progress. With the right plan, nutrition and recovery training 4-5 days a week will be more than enough."

• "Nutrition is also essential for adaptation and recovery. If you want to get maximal gains and recover as fast as possible, you need to ensure your food intake is hitting all of your nutrition needs. This starts with the larger things such as your macros, protein, carbs and fats and goes all the way down to the micronutrients which includes all of your vitamins and minerals. As well as providing you with energy, sleep is also essential as this is where the body and mind recover."

Kate Whapples

Kate is a Strength & Conditioning coach with a BSc in Strength and Conditioning Science and a MRes degree in sports science.

Barrier 1: Are there any cheaper alternatives to home gym equipment? 

• “A litre of water weighs roughly a KG, so full bottles can be a great way to add a small amount of resistance in an easily holdable way! If you have children, squats and press ups with them on your back is a great and fun way to add weight to your workouts. Filling containers with water or sand and performing exercises such as farmer carries is another fun but challenging way to add resistance to your workouts."

• "You can perform isometric deadlifts and other pull exercises simply using a towel - stand on it and hold either side and create resistance by pulling upwards before maintaining the position of a deadlift for around 20 seconds. Socks on a slippery floor let you perform hamstring curls, core sliding exercises and plank to pike tucks - all really effective exercises."

• "HIIT workouts, when done properly, are an absolutely incredible way to workout.. but very taxing! For a workout to be classed as a HIIT workout, your heart rate needs to be at 80% of its max or higher. This is tough, but really good for improving your fitness and burning calories."

Barrier 2: How can you boost your energy levels before a workout?

• "Caffeine has been shown to have multiple performance enhancing effects including improving aerobic and strength capacities, whilst also stimulating the central nervous system and eliminating the sense of fatigue and drowsiness. The best time to have it is 30-45 minutes before your session."

• "I also recommend vitamin C, D and B12 to give you a boost before working out."

Barrier 3: How can you motivate yourself to do a workout?

• "It's really tough to juggle everything in the current climate and stay well but moving in some form every single day helps. Exercise releases neurotransmitters that improve your mood, so if you’re in a slump just get moving."

• "I also recommend tracking your mood. Rate your overall daily mood out of 10, then you can start to see the trends of your mood - if you have a few low days the tracking process makes it easier to identify why you’re feeling this way. Maybe it’s just the pandemic weighing heavy, but if you recognise you're feeling low because you didn’t do any exercise, this can help to motivate you to get moving next time."

•"For me, motivation is never enough, it’s easy to achieve your goals when you’re feeling motivated. You need to learn to be disciplined, and train when you don’t feel motivated. That’s how to make sure you don't fail."

Barrier 4: How can you recover after a workout?

• "It's important to eat and drink something shortly after your workout to give your body everything it needs to recover." • "I recommend spending at least 15 minutes a day doing some yoga or stretching to alleviate the sensation of DOMS and promote muscle recovery by increasing circulation to the affected muscle groups."

• "Other things that will help are making sure you are drinking two litres of water a day and getting eight hours sleep a night and at consistent times, so set yourself a sleep time and a wake up time that you can stick to!"

Stefan Murray

Stefan is a Personal Trainer, Strength and Conditioning coach and active Mixed Martial Artist with over 9 years experience in the fitness industry.

Barrier 1: Are there any cheaper alternatives to home gym equipment?

• "With exercise equipment going up in price, it’s worth investing in your imagination. Get creative by filling a backpack with as much weight as you need and put it on your back during exercises to provide resistance."

• "You can use the sofa or chairs to perform certain exercises such as step ups and tricep dips or towels and bedsheets to perform deadlifts and rows."

• "You can also increase strength and fitness with bodyweight exercises - challenge yourself by playing around with reps, tempo, range of motion."

Barrier 2: How can you boost your energy levels before a workout?

• "In order to boost your general energy levels, It’s important to look after your wellbeing by eating well, getting plenty of sleep and making time for yourself."

• "I also find Vitamin C to be a great energy booster whilst vitamin B12 is great for improving both performance and energy levels - I have been taking it for several months and have found it very beneficial."

Barrier 3: How can you motivate yourself to do a workout?

• "Exercise at home, for me, is all about getting creative, getting yourself into a good routine and forming good habits. Treat exercise like any other task that you value and consider to have any importance on your wellbeing. Set aside a fixed time  on your designated ‘training days’ to get up and move."

• "Workouts can be as simple or as complex as you deem necessary but if you don't have incentive, motivation is useless. Find something that you enjoy – whether that's dancing, figure skating, martial arts, calisthenics, gymnastics – and run with it (no pun intended)."

• "I don't believe there is such a thing as shortcuts when it comes to your health but you can create short term goals that help make your long-term goal(s) more tangible, digestible and manageable. Moving forward with a positive mindset and a genuine desire is generally the best approach to have. "

Barrier 4: How can you recover after a workout?

• "I'm a firm believer in stretching after a tough session. Keeping your muscles (and joints) mobile will help prevent tension and stiffness so try to get up throughout the day and stay loose."

• "I have found magnesium to be a great supplement to help aid muscle soreness."

• "I am currently dosing myself up with Vitamin D. Due to the lack of sunshine levels in the UK – especially over the winter periods – it's important to do what we can to get these necessary vitamins in to our daily life to help aid recovery."


Our methodology and data set can be viewed here. 

Need more help to boost your energy, improve your sleep and recovery?