Fitness

A Guide To Keeping Your Training Intact During The Covid 19 Pandemic

May 7, 2020

INTRODUCTION

You don’t need me to remind you that we are in the middle of a very serious situation and a period of huge uncertainty. Many people can now lump their training into that uncertainty as well. Whilst focusing on how the current situation surrounding Covid 19 has affected peoples’ training probably seems trivial from the outside, to so many people training and exercise is an essential part of who they are. The pandemic has turned everyone’s lives upside down right now and as such, normal training routines have been completely uprooted. Many gyms have closed and there has been a scramble among many to source equipment so that people can continue to perform some training at home. Gym equipment supply companies have been inundated with inquiries and requests, to the point where the supply isn’t able to meet the demand in a lot of cases. Lastly, we don’t really know how long this will go on for, so it’s important to try and put some kind of a plan in place so that we can retain some resemblance of normality in our weekly routines. The focus of this article is to help those who have lost access to their gym but are anxious to keep up some sort of training or exercise routine. I think this is important to do right now in order to help preserve physical and mental wellbeing as much as possible.

SETTING THE SCENE

I can’t cover every possible scenario here, but I will do my best and hopefully something within this article will resonate with you and be of help to you in your current situation. We also won’t cover what the home training program will look like because that will depend on you and your individual circumstances. My aim here is to generate some ideas for you, so that you can put something together either on your own or in conjunction with your coach. With that in mind, here are some suggestions for you to put together a setup so that you can implement a training routine that can be done at home. I will approach it from 3 different contexts:

  1. I have the space, suitable flooring and the money to put a home gym together, what should I do?
  2. I have very little space and limited funds but I am really determined to be able to train. Help!
  3. I don’t have the permission/money/space to get gym equipment. What can I do?

SCENARIO 1:

Scenario one is tricky but just requires some patience. Companies will eventually restock, so just keep an eye out. If you’re buying equipment off classified websites that obviously carries inherent risks and unknowns so tread with caution. If you are in a position to purchase equipment here is what I would recommend purchasing:

  1. A power bar.
  2. Standard barbell plates. Some additional bumper plates would be a useful addition, but they are by no means essential.
  3. A sturdy power rack with safety pins or straps (check the dimensions to make sure it’s suitable for your ceiling and your barbell). If it has a pull up bar then that’s even better.
  4. Thick rubber mats for deadlifting (I would recommend purchasing these regardless of what floor you have).

If you can get access to the above, you’ll still be able to perform relatively normal training. Exercises that can be done with the above equipment include (but are not limited to):

* I don’t particularly like the term core as it can be misleading, but hopefully based on the exercises in this column you can understand what I would define it as.

We don’t know how long we’re going to be in this situation, so the phrase “buy nice, don’t buy twice” likely applies here. Don’t just buy the first or cheapest thing you see, make sure it is suitable for the intended use.

Some additional items you might wish to purchase would be a bench, some dumbbells, bands etc. to give you more exercise options.

SCENARIO 2

In this scenario, the above options of a power rack setup aren’t feasible for you. Here you can use a combination of whatever items are in your home plus whatever you can manage equipment wise. You might not be able to get a rack, but you might be able to fit a bar and some bumper plates in a room or potentially outside. I would also recommend a few small, space efficient additions like a TRX, some bands, and, if you can, some adjustable dumbbells. This would open up the possibility of a lot of different and challenging exercises. Adjustable dumbbells can be quite expensive. so this might not be feasible for some people. If you can get your hands on the items listed above, here are some of the exercise options available to you:

SCENARIO 3

The third scenario, where effectively a barbell, plates and/or dumbbells just isn’t feasible for you is probably best prefaced by saying “look this sucks but if you’re staring into a period of no or really poor workouts it’s really not going to be as bad as you might think it will be!”. By that I mean if you are a relatively young and healthy individual, under normal circumstances it’s very plausible that you might take some time off lifting, come back to it and catch up to where you used to be in a relatively short period of time. Now I acknowledge that it’s easy for me to say that, if I was in that situation myself I’d find it very difficult to deal with, but it is the reality. The people most at risk due to a period of weeks or months of very low levels of activity are older adults, not young people. So even if you do lose a lot of strength and muscle during this time, it will return relatively quickly.

The next thing then is to stop focusing on all the things you can no longer do and start focusing on what you can do! Reframe this situation from a period of restriction to a period of opportunity to try different things, be more creative with training, improve your conditioning and work capacity etc. If you are very limited in terms of equipment, here is a list of some very challenging exercises that can be done at home with next to no equipment:

Planks, side planks and variations of these are all still available options to you here as well, and there are ways of getting creative and making these more challenging if need be. If possible, the addition of a TRX and/or some bands would also offer more options to you.

Because I feel particularly bad for people in this category I’ve also included a sample hypothetical 3 day training routine for someone with next to no equipment. Again, you don’t have to follow this exactly; perhaps the reps are too low or too high. Maybe you can’t do any pull ups. That’s fine; you can do inverted rows or a single arm pulldown with a band. The intention here is to give you a head-start or an idea of how you might put something together, rather than a blueprint.

As a side-note, if these exercises are very unlike what you’ve done before in your own training (e.g., Nordic hamstring curls) or you’ve taken some time off training; make sure to ease yourself into this. Don’t go as hard as you possibly can on the first few sessions just because these exercises are “light”.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The aim of this article is to give some guidance for those who have had their training turned upside down by the necessary restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid 19. Every situation is going to be a little different based on your location, finances, space availability etc. but hopefully something within this article will resonate with you and be applicable to your situation. Hope you found this article helpful, stay safe and stay training…at home!