Updated: Dec 29, 2020
I think during this time of isolation we can all be a little extra grateful and appreciative of the barbell. You simply can’t get the best training to match your goals without one.
So, while we are having to navigate this unchartered territory of training at home with little to no equipment, I wanted to give a few tips on how we can best stay “yoked” during this time.
Caveat, this will be aimed at people who are stuck to body weight only protocol. If you still have access to a barbell you are lucky and should keep using said barbell.
1. Push-ups are your best friend right now.
If you are wanting to maintain upper body mass, push-ups will be your go-to right now. And really, there is no overdoing them right now. I suggest you just rep a bunch of them out every day. Depending on your current skill and strength level, bust out as many as you can. If you can crank out a hundred, then do that most days of the week. Push-ups may be one of the few things that are saving you from losing muscle mass.
A way to make otherwise “easy” exercises a bit more challenging and stimulate tissue adaptation are tempos. For example, you can use these to slow the tempo of the movement down through the entire exercise, slow the eccentric only, and you can even add a static hold. For someone who can do a lot of push-ups without a lot of added effort, I suggest slowing the tempo down to 3-5 seconds on the way down and on the way up. You will see this can get hard pretty fast. Tempos are also a great way to maintain some lower body mass as well. A lot of people can squat way more than their body weight, so it stands to reason body weight lower body exercises won’t be too challenging. Add some static holds and a slow tempo throughout on your split squats to get a little bit more bang for your buck. Below are some ideas.
For most strength athletes a good way to maintain some mass and overall strength in your legs is to add some plyometrics to your at-home program. We all can get quite a bit of productive jumping in with just our body weight. Below are a few ideas you might incorporate. The use of plyometrics right now will increase our chances of maintaining performance when we get back to the barbell.
This should go without saying, but now that we aren’t spending as much time on actual training, we can spend a bit more time in the kitchen and dialing in our nutrition intake. Right now, there is no excuse to not get the amount of protein you should be consuming in. If you don’t know how much you should be consuming the best general guide is to consume your body weight in grams of protein each day. Yes, so if you weigh 200lbs, consume 200g of protein. It may seem like a lot, but now is the time to start creating that habit.
With all this being said, nothing is going to quite give us the gains we want like the barbell will. It is important to know that our goal right now is to maintain. If we are a competitive strength athlete, we are not going to make gains with body weight exercises. Now is the time to refocus your goal for a short period of time. Don’t try to add complexity for the sake of complexity as that usually results in less progress. Be simple, know the goal right now, put in the work, and we will get back to the barbell in no time.