When it comes to training, we usually have the luxury of weights, machines, barbells and dumbbells in order to put our muscles through stress and tension which, in turn causes physiological adaptation.
Unfortunately, at the moment here in the UK we are in the middle of a national lockdown which is inhibiting us to do so.
This leads to a somewhat default thought for most of us and this is to press the pause button and resume once the lockdown eases the gyms are reopened.
It’s easy to believe that with no gym there is no point…
However, I want to bring it to your attention that your muscles and body will always adapt providing there is a stimulus placed upon it.
Whether that be from the barbell in the gym or from creative improvised homework out with minimal equipment. It can be done.
I wanted to share 3 simple principles that will help intensify your home-based workouts during this lockdown to albeit perhaps not build you muscle but to least maintain your muscle, keep you fit, productive and above all to uphold your sanity.
Pre-Fatigue Muscle Groups
I would recommend introducing isometric contractions before your working set.
This is where we contract and pre-exhaust the muscle without movement (there is no movement at the joint)
Using the push-up as an example you would come down into a partial push-up position and hold that position for 15 to 20 seconds. This is going to pre-exhaust the triceps and the chest before the working set of push-ups.
Another example would be to hold a prayer squat for 15 to 20 seconds prior to a set of bodyweight squats and a final example would be to hold a plank hold prior to a set of crunches (you get the idea).
Pre-Exhaust is the essence here.
Forget Reps, Think Time
When it comes to the working set, I want to encourage you to forget about working within a specific rep range.
This strategy works when we are in the gym because we can adjust the weight accordingly to help us fall within a particular rep range to reach optimal fatigue however if you adopt the same strategy for your home wourkouts you’re going to be very underwhelmed when you get to the end of your set of 12 Reps for push-ups simply because there is not enough resistance to trigger any real physiological adaption. So, instead I would recommend working for a certain amount of time.
For example, once you have pre-exhausted your chest with the isometric contractions then see how many push-ups you can do for either 30, 60 or 90 seconds depending on your physical capabilities.
Test yourself and more importantly record the amount of repetitions you do and aim to beat it next time this way you can progressively overload your muscles and you have a measurable target to shoot for that is going to challenge you next time around.
Adjust your Tempo
The final tip is to adjust the tempo of your lifts (the speed of the movement).
In the gym you will typically lift a weight for one second (this is the concentric part of the movement).
Then, when you lower the weight this will typically take around two seconds (this is called the eccentric part of the movement).
A great way to intensify bodyweight exercises or exercises with minimal equipment is to dramatically increase the eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement.
Using the push-up as an example, instead of lowering your body down to the floor for (the standard) two seconds, try lowering it for 5 seconds and really emphasise the pause at the bottom of the movement too.
By doing this you are making what usually takes three seconds to perform the repetition around six seconds therefore dramatically intensifying and extending the time under tension.
I think we can all accept the training at home isn’t as good as training in the gym.
The environment is a challenge, you feel like you’re operating in less optimal circumstances and although that may be true, we still have standards that need to be upheld. We need to keep accountable and do what we can with whatever it is, we have!
Author: Josh Beet