In a talk called "Athletic Performance & Strength Training for Aging Populations," John Welbourn, a retired NFL lineman and CEO of Power Athlete, used a photo of a home treadmill to make a point about the power of habits when it comes to using a compact home gym. In the photo, the treadmill — located in a laundry room — is draped in clothing, like a drying rack. It's evident that the treadmill has suffered the demise that tends to occur with most resolutions to start a new exercise habit. Rarely (if ever) used, the initial motivation to get into shape having waned into oblivion.
How do you capitalize on the desire to start a new health and fitness program, and prevent the idea from going the way of most resolutions? A compact home gym can be, in fact, a terrific way to integrate a robust functional strength & and conditioning program into your daily routine. Executing a single workout can have the following obstacles: Packing a gym bag, getting to the gym, finding a locker, changing clothes, working out, showering, getting dressed, then the time and effort to get to the next place you need to be.
"Every habit is just an obstacle to getting what you really want," says James Clear in his New York Times bestseller, "Atomic Habits." "You don't actually want the habit itself," Clear writes. "What you want is the outcome the habit delivers." With exercise, it's getting fit, being healthy, or improving performance in your sport — or all the above. The more obstacles, the more difficult it will be to get a new habit up and off the ground. "This is why it is crucial to make your habits so easy that you'll do them even when you don't feel like it. If you can make your good habits more convenient, you'll be more likely to follow through on them."
Working out at home can be an advantageous option when it comes to exercise: You make the new habit relatively easy to do. You eliminate some of the time and travel obstacles that make using a gym membership tricky. A home gym also has the value of helping you fit workouts into a chaotic schedule by always being open. There are pitfalls, however, when it comes to investing in a home gym so that you can workout at home. Clear says that habit-building requires designing your environment for success. Here are three tactics you can use to make sure your compact home gym doesn't become a makeshift clothesline:
Don't Set Up Your Gym in a Place You'll Forget About
Clear uses a guitar as an example. If you stuff it in the back of a closet, there will be considerable friction in carrying out a desire to practice every day. "If you want to practice the guitar more frequently, place your guitar stand in the middle of the room." The more you want to make a habit a big part of your life, the more critical it is to make the cue to perform the habit a big part of your environment.
Don't Mix Contexts of the Space You've Picked For Your Gym
"Avoid mixing the context of one habit with another," Clear says. "Easier habits tend to win out." Putting your gym in the laundry room, per Welbourn's photo, is setting yourself up for failure because of the "mishmash" of clues. Clear suggests this is a reason why technologies like smartphones can be a double-edged sword. If you use your phone for anything other than phone calls (texting, social media, surfing the internet, and on), the more in danger you are of distractions. The solution is to put your home gym in a space of its own. Ideally, set your home gym up in a room or section of a room, basement, or garage where there's no crossover with another part of your life. This may require some imaginative delineation if you live in a studio apartment, but do the best you can to make your gym space your gym space.
The Two Minute Rule
When it comes to building a new, robust exercise habit, a home gym goes a long way to reducing the potential friction that could undermine your ambition. Still, it's common to make the fatal mistake of trying to start too big. Like the guy who decides he wants to run a marathon even though he hasn't as much jogged two miles since high school, and tries to hammer a long run on day one. Attempting too much on day one is how many fitness goals go up in flames. Start small, says Clear. He recommends using the "2-minute rule" to establish the momentum you need to give a new habit life. "When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do," he says. At the heart of the 2-minute rule is that you want to make your new habits ridiculously easy to start. "This is a powerful habit because once you've started doing the right thing, it's much easier to keep doing it." The aspiring runner should lower the bar to merely putting on running shoes every day. Putting on your running gear is a gateway habit, Clear says, that will likely lead you into going for a run. Become consistent with putting on your running shoes every day long enough, and you'll eventually be drawing yourself into a consistent running discipline. You can apply this idea to make your compact home gym a place where you transform your body and mind with functional strength & conditioning. Commit to a daily 2-minute habit of putting on your workout clothes and walking into your gym space. Maybe you do a single-banded push-up or maybe a full Tom Brady workout. Or maybe nothing at all. The initial focus is on making your gateway habit permanent. So don't worry about whether or not you work out. Concern yourself with putting on your workout clothes and entering the space consistently. In time, Clear says, the working out will come naturally. By all means, prep your gym the night before and have your phone on a stand so you can follow a routine on a training app. But in the initial weeks, make yourself accountable for simply putting on your workout gear.
The Best Compact Home Gym
Anyone wanting to train like Tom Brady, increase health, fitness, and performance, doesn't need 5000 square feet to train at home. A small room or corner of the garage can be quickly transformed into your own training center with the TB12 Home Gym Kit: The essential gear you need to get going with to get started on the path of pliability, functional strength & conditioning, and high-performance nutrition.