I’ve been tweaking workouts to accommodate home gyms if (when?) commercial gyms are required to close.
For folks who have a barbell, weights, dumbbells, adjustable bench, and squat rack (ideally), I can make most anything work.
But for those with just resistance bands and maybe an exercise mat (like yours truly), its decidedly tougher.
So how would I train if I got an email today saying my gym was now closed?
For now, I wouldn’t.
I’d take at least a full week off (maybe two) and then re-assess the situation.
A week off from weights is one of the most restorative things you can do, if you haven’t taken one in a while. (Sadly, thats not me.) Most people come back stronger with less joint pain.
While two full weeks off would be recovery overkill, it won’t really affect previous progress (apart from not making additional progress). Most might return and be a bit weaker in some lifts (it’s temporary) and perhaps feel a bit out of sorts.
Losses in muscle size due to not training would be negligible, though the mirror might say you look a little flat.
But the biggest reason I won’t be weight training for a week or two is the S word: STRESS.
Just look around your local supermarket or Costco or scroll your Facebook feed (brace yourself).
People are on edge. Some are legit angry. I even saw road rage boil over into a fist fight, at noon.
Facebook in particular has become an extension of vitriolic partisan politics, with Team “This Virus is Scary” and Team “This Is All Overhyped” trading memes, infographics, and a lot of personal insults.
I understand stakes are getting high but getting heated doesn’t make your argument more compelling or helpful.
You wanna get mad at somebody? You wanna get mad at somebody? Get mad at the TP hoarders or the idiots licking microphones and definitely who or what created this damn thing. Not Phil in Toledo who happens to have a different opinion than you.
With stress at an all-time high, adding MORE stress by scrambling to come up with an effective bodyweight/band/soup can resistance training workout by tomorrow just isn’t worth it.
So if you don’t have decent equipment just take a week or two off from resistance training.
However, that’s not taking a week or two OFF. Since positive people see an opportunity in every problem, no gym workouts offers several key opportunities:
1. Step up your cardio.
Even if you’re “gaining.” Replace that hour of weights with an hour of (ideally outdoor) walking, hiking, running hills, cycling, etc.
Do it at the same time as you normally weight train to maintain rhythm. And if you can drag a family member along with you, even better.
This activity is not only heart healthy, burns fat, and keeps you in rhythm, it blows off stress. Which is the most important thing.
If you prefer to drop in a bodyweight workout (there’s a million online) here’s one I happened upon. Checks in the mail to whomever wrote it:
- 50 jumping jacks
- 25 air squats
- 10 push-ups
- 20 reverse lunges/leg
- Mountain Climbers x 30 secs
- Side Plank x 30 secs a side
No rest between drills. Rest 1 min after circuit. Repeat 3-5 rounds.
2. Double Down on Your Diet
I always tell clients that can’t train due to injury that they now have a golden opportunity to focus on their diet.
So for the next week or two, become a measuring and tracking machine. You likely won’t be eating out, or for some even working. So if you’re at home, get very good at cooking & eating at home (and tracking).
Spend extra time developing this crucial skillset now and you’ll have it drilled down for when training returns to normal.
3. Nail Sleep / Wake Times
You ain’t going to work, ain’t going clubbing. Perfect time to practice going to bed and waking up at the same time every day of the week.
Obviously set times that jive with your normal “pre-post Apocalypse” life.
Do these three things every day for the next week or two and you can expect to lose fat at your normal pace or even MUCH faster. Fat loss is largely diet anyway.
Now you won’t gain much if any size, but how much do you gain in a week or two anyway? The important thing is you won’t lose any.
But what happens if 1–2 weeks stretches to 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or more?
That’s the $64,000 question. I really don’t know.
If the closures stretch beyond two weeks and into months the 3 tasks above still apply, even more so.
However, you WILL need to start resistance training, somehow, as detraining will occur.So that leads to the fourth task for the next week or two. If you have the means and the space, consider putting together a home gym.
You don’t need much beyond:
- a barbell and weights and/or dumbbells (or Power Blocks). Get these used if you can.
- an adjustable bench
- resistance bands and a mat
Optional but really nice to have:
- some type of squat rack or power rack if you have the space
- a large mirror with anabolic lighting
There are millions of things you can add, the above will get you in business.
Just keep in mind the entire meathead world is currently trying to do this, so don’t sleep on it.
But the tasks outlined here are helpful year round, virus or no virus. They just make you better, period.
See the opportunity in this decidedly frustrating problem and even get a leg up for when things settle down.
And don’t forget to try to be nicer to one another.
This too shall pass.