If the gym still isn’t an option here are 4 tips for training at home

COVID-19 is not the greatest time for gyms. Whether you believe in the seriousness of the virus or not, lots of gyms have closed or are at reduced capacity. Gym owners are suffering, and some people are nervous to go back.

Let’s not forget about all the lives lost either.

I’m extremely blessed to have my home gym but it wasn’t always this way. Before my gym was finished, all I had been resistance bands, a TRX and a willingness to get after it.

Like most fitness professionals, I’m a freak for exercise and motivation and knowledge to overcome exercise obstacles is easier.  And if my brain fails (cue old people jokes here), I have a coach who writes my programs.

But if you’re still stuck at home mode or apprehensive about going back to the gym, here are four tips for training at home that will help keep you on track.

1. Time And Place

This may seem obvious, but this trips up the exerciser who has the best of intentions and then fails at execution when wanting to train at home. First, you need to figure out a time for exercise among the craziness that’s your house.

I understand it’s easier said than done for some but finding time, even if it’s 10-15 minutes in your schedule, lock it in and then stick to it. Second, is a place. No matter how large or small, finding a dedicated space to get it on is required.

For example, I trained in my bedroom between the bed and the bedroom window. There was a door where the TRX hung and there was enough room for push-ups, squats, lunges, and rows. It wasn’t perfect but it was enough to maintain my strength and fitness.

Taking care of seemingly simple but important factors like time and place will keep you on track.

2. Being Creative With What You Have

Gyms have fancy toys with all the bells and whistles and getting a fraction of this for your home is expensive. If money is no object, then it’s no problem. But for the rest of us, being creative with what you have will keep your brain and body active.

All you have to do is think outside the dumbbell because the body doesn’t know the difference between a dumbbell or a bag of dog food. Only you do. To the body, resistance is resistance, no matter what form it takes.

For example, using a cinder block instead of dumbbells.

The average cinder block weighs 35 pounds (16 kg) and that’s nothing to be sneezed at if you have no access to dumbbells. And it’s a good substitute for squats and shoulder presses when the gym isn’t an option.

Make sure the bricks sit in the palm of your hands and grip as best you can with your fingers and thumbs for safety purposes.

Another example is using paper plates on a sliding surface for leg, core, and upper body exercises. For example,

Or using something you relax on for exercise purposes. I know it sounds extreme but if you want to keep in shape, extreme circumstances require extreme measures.

Please look around, put on your thinking cap (if it fits) and try your best to make it work with what you have around you.  

3.     Slowing It Down

The lowering (negative) part of a muscle contraction are eccentric contractions. Your muscles fibers lengthen and stretch as they separate and due to this lack of friction, you’re 15-20 % stronger during this contraction.

To take advantage of this, particularly when you haven’t a lot of resistance on hand, go slow. Taking 3-5 seconds to lower into a squat or push up, keeps the muscle under tension longer and helps you get stronger and burn more calories.

It is win-win.

4.     Be Efficient

Even when you’re at the gym, you haven’t got all the time in the world to workout, so why wouldn’t it be the same when you are training at home? This is why you need to be efficient with the time you have.

There are a couple of simple ways you can go about structuring your workouts to do more work in less time. For example:

A.   Supersets

What are they? Is one set of an exercise is performed directly after a set of a different exercise with minimal rest in between them.

The best use for supersets? – They’re ideal for building muscle, fat loss and for those who have a limited amount of time to train.

Types of exercises supersets work best for –   Really anything goes here. Dumbbells, kettlebell, bodyweight, and resistance bands all work. You can use compound (exercising multiple muscles groups) or isolation (single muscle) exercises.

How many sets should you do?  – Anywhere from 2-4 sets (depending on how much time you have to train) and repetitions can range from anywhere between 6- 15 reps per set.

How much rest between supersets? – Limited rest between the exercises themselves and anywhere between 60-120 sec rest between supersets. 

Different types of supersets

Compound supersets when both exercises work a similar body part.

For example,

1A. Squat 

1B. Lunge

Non-competing supersets, pairing a lower body exercise with an upper body exercise.

 For example

1A. Squat

1B. Dumbbell bench press

Isolation/compound supersets which you pair a single joint exercise with a compound movement or vice versa.

For example

1A. Triceps extension variation

1B. Push up

B. Circuit Timed Sets

Note-perform the exercises with good form but don’t use long eccentric contractions with this method.

What are they? –  Doing an exercise for a certain amount of time or completing the programmed reps in a certain amount of time and then moving on to the next exercise.  

The best use for circuit timed sets? – Can be used for building muscle but they’re excellent for incinerating body fat.

Types of exercises timed sets work best for – Any piece of equipment that allows for an easy transition between exercises is a winner. For example, dumbbell, bodyweight, kettlebell, and resistance bands. 

Different types of timed sets

Every minute on the minute sets where you complete a certain amount of reps and then rest the remainder of the minute before moving on to the next exercise.  For example

1A. Goblet squat- 8 reps

1B. Row- 8 reps

1C. Reverse lunge- 8 reps on each leg

1D. Push Up – 8 reps

1E. Biceps curls – 8 reps

Or you can scrape the reps and it’s just you versus the stopwatch where you try to do as many reps as possible in a predetermined time frame.

Work/rest interval guidelines

Beginner – 20 sec work/40 sec rest.

Intermediate – 30 sec work/30 sec rest.

Advanced – 40 sec work/20 sec rest.

How many rounds should you do?  – It depends how long you’ve got to train. Using the above example, it takes 5 min to complete 1 circuit so 3-5 rounds would be enough.

How much rest? – You rest when you’re done.

Wrapping Up

If you like training at the gym but you’re nervous about going back then these four tips for training at home should help you stay on track. It’s not perfect but with some sweat equity and some planning you will still like what you see in the mirror.

Go on and flex. I know you want to.

If you need help setting up your training at home, reach me here.

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