With the world currently facing a pandemic as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO)—many businesses have been forced to temporarily shut down operations due to precautionary measures implemented by state and federal governments.
Among the many businesses currently being closed are restaurants, movie theaters, churches, and even gyms. For many people that workout religiously, facing the prospect of not having a gym for weeks or months can be daunting. While the majority of facilities are facing temporary closure, there are still numerous ways of staying in shape.
Hi, I’m Sean Torbati. The idea of facing a world without gyms is uncharted territory that many people never expected. While not having access to workout equipment may limit certain workouts—don’t fret because there are several ways to create a solid routine in even during times of crisis.
Creating a Home Gym
There are more home gym options available today than ever before. Companies have created interactive workout equipment that allows you to essentially have a virtual trainer in your home. People can purchase items such as squat racks, dumbbells, and benches to get the full workout experience.
While these may be options for some people, several other factors make this a challenging endeavor. The costs and space limitations associated with building a full gym makes it difficult for many people to justify the costs and square footage.
Investing a small amount of money can go a long way towards improving home workouts. Individuals can purchase dumbbells, resistance bands, or yoga mats—though none of these items are necessary for a great workout.
Equipment Free Home Workouts
During the upcoming weeks and months people may be faced with limited options when it comes to workouts. While running or biking are great outdoor options for cardiovascular workouts—neither provide the resistance training needed to build and/or sustain muscle mass.
The good news is you can utilize your own bodyweight in a number of ways to help create complete workouts. If you don’t typically do bodyweight workouts, you'd be surprised to know that they can be used to build and sustain muscle mass for long periods of time.
In fact, some studies have even shown that body weight training is comparable to other forms of aerobic and resistance training when it comes to improving body composition (1). Research has found that using body weight can be used as resistance is a viable option for the masses (2).
Let’s take a look at some of the best exercises you can implement into your home workout plan.
Push-Ups/Close Grip Push-Ups
Push-ups have been a bodyweight staple for generations. Members of the military have performed this exercise for decades. Push-ups have the unique ability of working various parts of the body. Standard push-ups are effective for building chest muscles while closer grip variations can be used to focus on triceps.
The key to a successful push-up is maintaining a neutral spine while holding a tight core. Start with sets of 10 if possible and continue to add resistance by increasing reps over time.
For individuals looking to build six-pack abdominal muscles—sit-ups can be a great exercise to increase core strength while creating the appearance of rock solid abs. The key to proper sit ups is using techniques that aren’t likely to put excessive strain on the lower back or cause injuries.
Keeping a neutral spine and breathing between reps will put you at less risk for injury. The quality of reps performed is more important than the quantity.
Recently a man performed a plank for a record 8+ hours. While you don’t have to go to these lengths to build core strength, start with a 30 second plank and add time as you get stronger. Planks are an effective bodyweight tool used to increase core strength without the use of outside equipment. In addition to standard planks, side planks can also be performed to help strengthen oblique muscles. Try to keep a flat back and neutral spine while tightening the glutes throughout the exercise.
Adding burpees to a routine can help workout muscles simultaneously including arms, core, chest, back, and legs while also increasing heart rate. People that enjoy high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may add burpees to their routine for a full body workout experience.
Like many of the other exercises mentioned here—dips can be performed in a number of different ways while utilizing common household items. If you don’t have a bench—a standard chair or sofa edge can be used to perform this exercise. You simply need a solid edge to stabilize your bodyweight while focusing on the triceps. Since the triceps account for two-thirds of the arm’s muscle—dips are second to none when it comes to arm workouts.
If you’re looking for an abdominal exercise that also incorporates cardio, look no further than mountain climbers. Simply put your arms on the ground shoulder-width apart and begin moving your knees back and forth while keeping your core tight.
Perform sets using high-reps of 20 or more at a time.
Hundreds of pounds of weight aren’t needed to perform effective squats. Simply using your body weight can help to build quad and core strength. Like any other type of squat, the key is keeping a neutral spine without rounding the lower back.
For some people, elevating their heels off the ground will help to improve technique for the movement. Use higher repetitions since external weight is not being used for resistance.
Lunges should be incorporated into almost any leg routine, even when performing bodyweight exercises. While keeping your upper body straight, engage your core, and begin stepping forward with one leg. Lower the hips until your knee reaches a ninety degree angle.
For individuals looking for a bit more of a challenge, try alternating lunges—going back and forth between both legs.
Rows are a staple of any back routine, but not having dumbbells or barbells can make performing the exercise a bit more challenging. If you have a table or desk—you can lie on the ground and use it to perform rows.
Simply keep your arms to your side and focus on contracting your lats throughout every rep.
Don’t Stop Your Workouts
Although many gyms across America may be closing down, that doesn’t mean you have to stop your workouts. Even with minimal equipment, people are able to utilize their body weight along with common household items to create effective workout routines.
You would be amazed at the range of exercises you’re able to perform using only your own bodyweight. The key is to create a plan and stick with it. Although times may be tougher than usual right now—take whatever steps possible to optimize your health and well-being.
A level of uncertainty is currently permeating throughout the world—the key to a successful outcome is for us all to continue living our lives to the fullest extent possible. Instead of dwelling upon current news—utilize free time to focus on your health doing at home workouts and cooking healthy meals.
If you have any additional feedback or are looking for other workout tips and advice—please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Let’s all get through this together.
Sean Torbati - PN Certified Nutritionist | EXOS Phase 3 Training Specialist
Co-Founder, Ambrosia Collective