Most of us have to make do with an imperfect environment when training at home. A bumpy back garden, a creaky old bike, rusty equipment and a limited selection of weights, bars or kettle bells- if you’re lucky.

It can be a pain to get everything out (from behind the lawn mower) and put everything away safely away from the kids. And with things out of sight, it may take a little more motivation to get started and a bit more discipline to keep going.

Yet, training with less than equipment, or in an imperfect environment can be good for us for many reasons. Here are 6 ways in which you can benefit.

1.     You can improve your balance and control systems. Have you tried box jumps on the grass? Outdoors with a breeze and more distractions than you’re used to? It’s very different to a stable or unchanging gym environment. The box might wobble when you jump, it might be slightly up or down hill. These variations, and the adaptions you have to make to over come them, will challenge and improve your balance and control systems, benefiting your muscles, bones and joints.

2.     You can become more mindful and respectful. We all get into bad habits, like slamming equipment down on the nice cushioned gym floor. If you drop weight in your garden there will likely be repercussions. Training at home, in an area you respect and look after, will get you back into good habits which you can maintain when you resume your normal routine.

3.     You don’t bother with the aids, or the things which make you look cool. Let’s be honest, you first started wearing this stuff to feel part of the tribe, and then you got used to it, you like it and now even rely on it a bit. Yesterday, my lifters and knee sleeves were in my car, I wanted to sneak my Pistol squat workout in, but I didn’t want to disturb the children who had just started school work, and so I went without. Did I find  the exercises more difficult? Yes, but was that a bad thing? No. It was a different, harder workout. If you practice performing the exercise that you are able to without the aids that you are used to, imagine the improvements you will see over the next 6 weeks.

4.     You improve your intrinsic motivation. There is no coach alongside you to encourage and motivate, so ultimately, you tap into that inner drive and train because you want to, for yourself and for your own reasons. Not to compete with others, to please your coach, or for your social media credibility. Remember why you love training, stick on some old clothes, and just get on and sweat.

5.     Gratitude. The bike is smooth, the conditions perfect, we get used to the quality and smoothness of the kit and don’t like the clunky old stuff. It may be a little dissatisfying, but it’s likely that you feel pretty grateful for what you have right now.  This will remind you to appreciate the quality and smoothness of the fancy kit, when you return back to your gym.

6.     You are becoming anti-fragile. In the gym you might have your favourite ‘squat spot’, at home you’ll make do with a wobbly rack and an uneven surface. You become more creative with a lighter weight and you adapt and make do with a thicker, less grippy bar. Because of this, you become less fussy, you are able to adapt, you get tougher and you become more resilient. You have to get on with it, so you do.

This is why imperfect training is good for us. Embrace and learn from these experiences and you will return to the gym more resilient and adaptable than ever.

Photo Credit: Gareth Smith

Athlete: Heidi Jones

Gym: Function SFR