With the Coronavirus leaving us all indoors and preventing us from going to gyms, a lot of fitness enthusiasts are starting to lose their minds not being able to do their normal routine. Should they run outside? Should they just crank out some pushups? Here is what I think, the ultimate guide to programming a great at home workout.
A lot of sources are saying this quarantine can last give or take at least 12 weeks. So more than anything, it’ll behoove all of us gym goers to make sure we still have a routine in place throughout that time. I get you won’t be able to do your normal program, but that doesn’t mean you should become a couch potato. ESPECIALLY now, barely being able to go outside, or even work, most of us are spending our days barely moving.
Start giving yourself a schedule you can adhere to everyday! First thing upon waking, do a 10-20 minute stretch and mobility routine to get the blood flow going and get you out of bed and not right back on the couch.
Wake-up Warm Up Sample Routine
Below, I will list a sample routine that you can try out. It hits all muscle groups and has progressions for when it gets too easy. Spend 1-3 minutes on each movement. The idea is to keep the intensity low to moderate, and just get the muscles moving in a dynamic fashion.
If you aren’t familiar with the movements, be sure to check out all our free resources on the Mind Pump Youtube Page. You should be able to find most, if not all of these demonstrated.
Upper Body Dynamic
Superman into Retraction
Lizard with Rotation
Threading the Needle
Lower Body Dynamic
Single Leg Bridge
Obviously most of us won’t have weights accessible. I do encourage, if you haven’t already, to buy inexpensive, but super useful tools, such as a suspension trainer or bands of different resistance. It’ll give you more variety for your exercises. Also, don’t rush to progress exercises to the hardest form you can come up with until you’ve mastered the easier regressions with immaculate form. The last thing you need right now is an injury on top of quarantine.
If you haven’t done the Wake-Up Warm Up routine, or feel like you need to still ramp up before your workout feel free to do the routine listed earlier. Once done with that you can get into the workout. That warm up will help prime the muscles properly, and lower the risk of injury. Ideally, pick one exercise per body part. You should be aiming for a full body each session since the stimulus isn’t as strong.
Here are some exercises with progressions in case you find they are too easy. Do each exercise for 10-30 repetitions. Since we are limited on the amount of load we can put on, we want exercises we can manipulate in other ways:
Bodyweight squats -> Single Leg Squats
Push-ups -> One arm Push-up or decline pushups
Band Rows -> Inverted bodyweight rows on suspension trainer -> Pull-ups
Banded deadlift -> Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Band Chops -> Chop Rotations on suspension trainer
To add/substitute For HIIT circuits (more on this later):
Again, these are just sample routines. There are a lot of different directions you can go with this, and to get into FULL detail would make this a very long article. If you want additional, in full depth help, then I would recommend checking out our MAPS Anywhere Program for more progressions and complete guidelines towards a full and effective at home program.
Feel free to do the wake up routine every day if you want. For the workout itself, start off with maybe 3 days a week, then increase to 4-5 if you find you are recovering properly and aren’t too sore. Usually, when working with heavy resistance, I don’t recommend as much frequency because the signal is so loud the body needs time to recover. The lighter weight, higher rep allows you to recover quicker since you are using more slow twitch vs fast.
Intensity, Reps, Rest, & Progression
Usually I’m all about staying 1-2 reps shy of failure. Again, because we are working with higher weight, feel free to go to actual failure here since it’s not as much load on your joints and nervous system. If you do find you’re able to keep the reps <15 then stay 1-2 shy. Even though you’re working in higher rep ranges, it, when performed correctly, should still be enough of a stimulus to at very least maintain your current physique.
Take shorter rest periods so you can exhaust the muscle quicker. Remember the rules of training still apply - the harder reps stimulate more muscle than the easier ones. Give yourself enough time to relieve the burn on the muscle being worked, and catch your breath and get back at it!
Sets should be determined by your recovery. If you are doing full body 3x a week, start with 3-4 sets per muscle group and assess. Not sore? Can you do more reps on the same exercise as the previous workout? Then add a set. Because of the lighter intensity, you might find you can handle way more sets than in the gym.
Reps are going to be our main focus for progression. I’m assuming you can’t add more weight, so find whatever rep it takes for you to get to failure (let's say 25 reps), and each week try and add 1-2 reps. I’m assuming most people reading this aren’t bodybuilders so it’ll probably take them a couple months to go from 15/20 reps to 40+ so that alone should cover you this entire quarantine as far as programming goes.
Phasing Mesocycles (aka workout programming) can also come in the form of tempo.
Weeks 1-4 - focus on increasing reps/sets week to week
Weeks 5-8 - focus on increasing the eccentric (lowering phase) of the movement to 3 seconds
Weeks 9-12 - focus on 2-3 second isometric pauses at the peak contraction (or hardest part) of the movement.
Want to increase the cardio aspect? Take the same concepts as listed above and instead of taking 60 second breaks in between do each exercise as a circuit with no breaks in between. When you complete all exercises, then give yourself 1-2 minutes to recover, and repeat 3-4 more times. Feel free to use the HIIT circuit exercises listed above to add in, or substitute for similar exercises in the normal routines to get your heartrate going a little more and add variety.