With the recent re-closure
of gyms in Michigan along with many other states across the country due to the rising COVID-19 cases it’s left many people spinning trying to figure out how to maintain their healthy lifestyle. Many of us have taken for granted how nice it is to have a well equipped gym to train at that offers a variety of training options, equipment, and simply the motivation of not being in our home around various distractions. While all of us who regularly exercise know the physical value of exercise, some of us forget the mental benefits, such as stress relief. During this period of time here are some simple suggestions on how to get the most out of your workouts at home, as well as some other ideas for ways to challenge yourself physically, and focus on neglected areas.
Training: When it comes to training there are a few tweaks you can make to ensure you don’t back track too far, and maybe even make some progress.
Tempo: Slowing down the eccentric portion of an exercise (the lowering portion) is a great way to make things harder. Typically people will take less than 1 second during the eccentric portion of an exercise. Extending this to 3-10 seconds will make the movement much more challenging, as well as help reinforce good movement patterns. Holding any position of the movement (such as the bottom to middle range of the squat or push up for example) also known as an isometric for time is another great intensifier. Try 5-20 second isometric holds. Increasing the speed of the concentric (the up portion of a squat or push up) can be a great way to maintain strength and increase power. Simply accelerate during this phase as quickly as possible. Play around with 3-5 second eccentric phases, 5-10 second isometrics, and maximal velocity on the concentric to ramp up your body weight exercises.
Proximity to failure: While you can get bigger, stronger, or more powerful when lifting weights all while staying a ways from failure the same doesn’t seem to be true when lifting light loads or body weight movements. This can be fixed by simply going closer to muscular failure. While a standard strength training routine might have someone do sets of 6-12 repetitions, a body weight routine may require you get very close to failure (when you can’t perform another repetition). For many movements like squats, split squats, lunges, etc. this might have you doing 20-50 repetitions. While a standard resistance training program typically has sets lasting 30-40 seconds this may have your sets lasting 45-90 seconds.
Recovery: Another easy modifier is to simply reduce your rest time. Typically when strength training we recommend rest intervals of 90-180 seconds for most clients. When working out with limited loads simply cut those numbers down. Shoot for resting 20-60 seconds when doing body weight movements to help increase fatigue and make them more challenging.
You can use any one of these variables or combine them all in various ways. Shoot for 2-5 sets of each exercise and 10-20 total sets each workout for 3-5 workouts per week.
Just Move: As cliche as it might seem, simply moving and being active pays huge dividends to our health. Walk, hike, ride your bike, golf, play basketball, ski, etc. Just keep in mind if you are doing a more intense activity or something you're not accustomed to ease into it. This could be a great time to pick up some new activities that you might grow to really enjoy.
Focus on your food (or other weaknesses): A lot of us do a good job with a regular exercise routine, but come up short when it comes to eating and we know it. You could take this opportunity to hyper focus on your lacking nutrition so that it better aligns with your health and fitness goals. On that same note, we all have something in the world of human movement that we neglect. We tend to do the things we are good at/like and avoid the things that we aren’t good at. This might be conditioning work, mobility, balance, etc. Set some of your old gym time aside to start working on these shortcomings.
Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn2