In 30 seconds…
Just in case you can’t (or aren’t quite ready) to go back to the gym yet.
On any normal year, mustering up the motivation to not only make a fitness-focused resolution, but also following through on that plan, can be challenging enough.
Throw in a pandemic and rampant gym closures for the better part of 2020 (and now well into 2021), and that goal can feel downright impossible. Without access to dumbbells, barbells, expensive cardio machines, and that charismatic indoor cycling instructor who both frightens and motivates you, how is it possible to plan for (and stick to) a goal like losing weight or gaining more muscle?
Staying in your own home and away from others is still the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So even if your local gym or fitness studio is open, depending on how dense the spread of the virus is in your local area, you may not want to enter it just yet.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
While exercise alone won’t cause you to lose weight, if there’s one workout that can give you a slightly sharper edge than others, it’s HIIT: alternating between short, intense bursts of energy with less intense (or completely restful) periods in between.
“Any time you’re doing a hard burst of activity with a shorter recovery, your heart rate and temperature go way up,” Davis explains, noting that those two physiological changes have a direct impact on your metabolism. As your body works to bring those two variables back down (or achieve homeostasis) for the next few hours, you’re still burning calories.
And the best part of all? No equipment (or abundance of space) is required, making it a perfect at-home workout.
While Davis notes that weight training won’t burn a ton of calories in the moment, it will help to increase your muscle mass—which can affect your resting metabolic rate, or how many calories your body is able to burn at rest. And the more calories you burn at rest, the easier it can be to maintain (or potentially lose) weight.
And although you do need weight (or resistance) to strength train, it certainly doesn’t need to be in the form of dumbbells. Anything that has mass (including your own body, for bodyweight exercises) can be used to build muscle.
What this means: So long as you’re feeling a burn from a biceps curl with a full wine bottle, or performing reverse lunges with your own bodyweight, you’re working to strengthen your muscles and potentially increase their mass.
Davis favors Costco-brand gallons of bleach (to replace kettlebells or dumbbells) while doing front squats. “I don’t know how much it weighs, only that it makes me tired after 12 or so reps. That’s the most important factor.”
Dancing—be it in the form of ballroom dancing or trendy TikTok dances—has the potential to contribute to weight loss. That’s because it’s a form of aerobic exercise, which the American Diabetes Association notes can support weight management. It can also increase joint mobility and spinal flexibility, key factors in preventing injury (and ensuring you are limber enough to execute living room burpees and jump squats with confidence).
Dancing is straight-up fun. “Dancing has an emotional, energizing component that can’t be beat,” Davis says. “But it’s a super-effective way to burn calories, too, often without you even knowing you’re doing it” She notes that she often tracks her cardiovascular workouts using her heart rate monitor, and frequently finds that dancing will produce the highest heart rate—something she credits to the joy she’s feeling while doing it.
As anyone who’s taken a vinyasa or Bikram yoga class will tell you, it’s entirely possible to get your heart rate soaring during flows—especially when the room is heated. While a direct tie between yoga and weight loss is pretty murky, it might help you execute other exercises that do maximize calorie burns (HIIT, strength training, and dance) with more efficiency, Davis says.
“Any kind of strengthening and stretching is beneficial for weight loss because it will make your body stronger and more limber. This makes it possible to tackle your cardio and weight sessions with more intensity.”