Struggling to keep fit at home while staying away from COVID-19? MAXIM fitness guru ALEXA TOWERSEY shows you how to train while in self-isolation — and it’s not what you think…
Runners can still run. Cyclists can still cycle. Yogis can still flow. However, if your preferred method of training is picking up and putting down really heavy shit, working out while self-isolating is a little more difficult. BUT the keyword to remember during any stressful situation is adaptability. It’s about doing what you can, with what you’ve got. And I’m here to tell you that you can get jacked AF without leaving the comfort of your own home.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The idea that bodyweight exercises can build muscle might seem foreign to some people, given that their perception is based on what they see on cheesy workout DVDs or fitspo stuff on social media. The truth is bodyweight exercises can be extremely effective for building muscle when done correctly. It’s just about knowing how to create enough resistance and time under tension to stimulate muscle growth. Here are a couple of simple and effective bodyweight methods you can do anywhere, anytime to help you get some sizable gains.
PRE ISO EXHAUSTION
This is an awesome way to up the intensity of any movement. It helps stimulate growth, and is an amazing way to improve mind-muscle connection. It’s pretty straightforward; you start each set with an isometric hold of 10-60 seconds at the key position in the movement – i.e. where you can feel the most tension in the target muscle – then you pump out as many quality repetitions as you can. The length of your hold will depend on how strong you are. Volume wise, I’d be aiming for 3-4 sets of each exercise with a 60-second rest between.
- Squat: hold the mid-range or near the bottom.
- Push-Up: hold in the mid-range or near the bottom same.
- Pull-Up Variations: hold the peak contraction position near the top.
Make each hold as hard as possible by creating as much tension as you can. If you’re holding a position in a push-up, try to “squeeze inward” in an effort to bring your hands closer together, even though they won’t move. In a squat, try to “screw your feet into the floor” by attempting to externally rotate them, or “press the floor with the toes” and “tense the abs” as if you were going to get punched in the stomach. In a pull-up, flex your biceps and upper back hard by trying to pull the bar apart. These actions will not only create more muscle fiber recruitment, they’ll also develop your capacity to contract and feel key muscles. That way, when you get back to lifting weights, these muscles will respond a lot better.
This method makes a set more difficult and increases the time under tension of a movement by lengthening the duration of the eccentric (lowering) phase. You start by doing a 30-second long eccentric phase, then immediately do 10 normal reps. After your tenth rep, finish with one final 30-second eccentric, after which you stand up (or push/pull yourself up). You can do this with any exercise but if you want to be truly humbled, give it a go with Bulgarian Split Squats. This is one 90-second set. And anyone can do anything for 90 seconds right?
Still control the eccentric on the normal reps – two seconds down is a good target.
Including a more explosive day can burn fat and make you more mobile and athletic. This way you can also build a bigger, stronger body that moves as good as it looks. Plyometrics are more than just box jump variations. You can also incorporate bounding drills, single-leg runs, double-leg broad jumps and on-the-spot plyometric versions of a basic exercise like a squat or push-up. Here’s a few of my faves…
- 6 x Max Reps Push-ups – Max reps is the amount of reps required before you are no longer powerfully leaving the ground with each push-up.
- 4 x 8 Standing Broad Jumps – spend as little time on the ground as possible.
- 4 x 12 Split Jumps (jumping lunges) – focus on height, soft landing and minimizing time on the ground.
- 8 x 50m sprints – focus on high knee drive and stable torso while pumping the arms.
Staying Safe and Staying Sane
Mental toughness is the ability to persevere through tough times. It’s that mental edge that helps you cope better, be more consistent, more focused, more in control and more confident. This sort of mindset is hard to achieve, requiring practice in meditation and mindfulness, but it’s essential if you want to not just survive, but thrive. And it doesn’t have to be complicated.
I suggest starting your day with a two-minute freezing cold shower. Not only will you reap all the physical benefits like increased immunity, faster blood circulation and breathing efficiency but you’ll also gain increased mental focus and clarity and will build willpower, discipline and self respect by forcing yourself to do something you absolutely don’t want to do.