How To Make Your At-Home Workout Work For You
Updated: Oct 6
If you're reading this, you’ve accepted that exercise is a necessary component for healthy living, feeling your best, and of course, looking good naked. There truly isn’t a magic wand or magic pill that will get the job done for you. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be complicated or time consuming. If you want your body to look firm and feel toned, strength training is the answer and all you need is this 20-minute, twice a week, at-home workout.
What defines exercise?
In order to achieve true exercise, the body must experience an adequate level of stimulus, requiring it to adapt and grow stronger. Examples of this would be, incrementally increasing the amount of weight on the leg press with each workout, or adding weight to the backpack you carry while hiking up a mountain each week. An increase in the level of challenge is the key factor.
If you're able to perform a physical activity for an extended period of time without reaching muscle fatigue, the bodily demand isn't sufficient enough to grow stronger. It will allow you to maintain, but not increase strength and muscle mass. Also, it isn’t necessary to exercise for long durations of time in order to achieve true exercise. In fact, longer sessions of physical activity require repetitive motion, which leads to wear and tear on the bones and joints.
Getting to the heart of the matter as efficiently as possible is far better for you in the long run. Speaking of running, sprinting as fast as you can, until you feel your legs might give out requires far more strength and energy than running at a slower pace for 5 miles. Not to mention, it puts less wear and tear on the knees, hips and feet long-term.
Quality vs. quantity
Somewhere along the way on our fitness journey, we were told that we needed to workout three-to-five-times a week for an hour at a time, and we believed it. And, we felt bad about ourselves if we didn’t meet that weekly quota. Maybe we even gave up because we couldn’t make that commitment. There also seemed to be mixed information on what type of exercise it was exactly that we should be doing three-to-five-times a week.
To clarify the quality of the type of exercise we perform versus the quantity, or duration, we are performing the exercise, let’s use the treadmill as an example. If I hop on a treadmill set at zero percent incline and walk at 5 mph for 30 minutes, and you hop on the treadmill beside me set at twelve percent incline and walk at 4 mph for 10 minutes, who had the higher quality workout? You did, you rocked it! And I bet you’re feeling it too.
Just because I was on the treadmill for 20 minutes longer than you and I was walking faster, doesn’t mean I was working harder. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I could keep that up all day, and guess what? That means it is not an adequate amount of physical demand and it isn’t making me stronger. But you on the other hand, achieved true exercise. The increased level of incline forced your muscles to work hard enough to propel your body up that steep hill, much harder than mine had to. Plus, the increased demand on your body caused you to burn more calories and build more muscle than I did. You achieved a quality workout.
Now I’d like to introduce to you a no-wear- and tear, quality, portable workout that you can do right at home. Remember, 20 minutes twice a week.
Timed static contractions (TSC), are nothing new. In fact, they've been around for a long time. The updated approach I like to use for myself and for clients is the TSC-90 method.
The basic idea with TSC-90 is that you are working through a 90 second no-rest repetition for each exercise. This is not a dynamic movement, it is a static contraction that increases in its intensity as you increase your level of effort.
For the first 30 seconds, you will be using 50% of your effort, which is the warm-up phase
At the 30-second mark you will increase your level of effort to 75% for the next 30 seconds
Once you reach the 60 second mark, you’ll increase to 90% of your strength
At 80 seconds you’re going to take it up to 100% of your effort, using your full capacity for the final 10 seconds
Here is a video to demonstrate one of the TSC-90 exercises called the Pec Fly. For more information on how to perform timed static contractions, click here.
What you need to know
Don't be fooled by the simplicity and portability of the TSC-90 workout, nor should you confuse the lack of movement with being easy. These exercises are challenging and effective when performed correctly. The items you will need for these at-home exercises are: stopwatch/phone timer, table, chair, bath towel or yoga mat, 2 foam yoga blocks, and an 8 foot yoga belt (the non-slip style is best).
I recommend you perform 6 to 7 exercises during each 20 minute workout and do this twice a week. Each workout should include 2 to 3 leg exercises, 2 to 3 upper body exercises, and an abdominal exercise. The only way to experience the true results of this workout is to commit to your 2 workouts a week for 8 weeks. Self-discipline not only builds character, in this case it also builds muscle. If you are consistent with this commitment, you are going to see and feel the positive changes in your body. Click here for access to all TSC-90 Workout videos and protocols.