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Fitness, General Health

How to Stay Fit When Gyms are Closed Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By Sal Di Stefano on Mar 17, 2020 9:15:00 AM
6 Minutes Reading Time


I’ve been in gyms on average 3-5 days a week since I was 16 years old and I’ve worked in gyms professionally since I was 18. To say that I love gyms is a massive understatement. Gyms are my favorite places to be. The sounds of the weights clanging, the humming of cardio machines, the collective feeling of self-improvement and the shared suffering of hard workouts between strangers makes gyms truly special places.

Unfortunately, they are also busy social places where people touch and sweat on shared equipment. Past studies have shown that a dumbbell or machine can have hundreds of times the germs on them than a toilet seat. To be fair this really isn’t an issue to worry about (except for germaphobes). People who workout in gyms don’t get sick more than people who don’t workout in gyms. In fact, studies show that regular gym goers get sick LESS than average people. This makes sense when you consider how regular exercise and a good diet (people who workout regularly tend to also eat healthier) positively effects the immune system. In other words, under normal circumstances, there isn’t really any reason to worry about all the germs in the gym.

But these days are far from normal. We are in the midst of a global viral pandemic. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading FAST and, if it’s spread and not controlled aggressively we could end up with a whole lot of really sick people. Governments all over the world are declaring national emergencies and this includes our own government. Some countries have already enacted strict rules banning all public gatherings and here in the US local governments are doing the same. Gym attendance is at all-time lows and it’s not out of the question to predict that state governments will force gyms to shut their doors for at least a short period of time. What will us fitness fanatics do? Lose our gains, get fat, become unhealthy and generally unwell? Hell no! Staying fit and healthy is a wonderful way to maintain a strong immune system and it’s a great way to maintain sanity during these unpredictable times.

Even though you may not have access to a gym or you don’t want to risk going to one you still have some options when it comes to fitness. You can get amazing workout at home with no equipment at all so long as your workout is programmed EFFECTIVELY. They will need to be done differently and the focus of the workouts will need to change, but the change will be good for your body. Here are a few tips that will make your at-home workouts truly effective.

Train the Whole Body Every Day

When lifting heavy weights its usually advised that you lift heavy some days and you rest other days. This is great advice when it comes to heavy resistance training. Your body needs to rest in order to recover, build and adapt. When you are training without heavy weights and you are just using body weight or bands you don’t send as loud of a muscle building body adapting signals as you would with weights BUT you also damage the body less. This means you can (and should) train more frequently! A signal to build or adapt that isn’t as loud still has powerful cumulative effects when done frequently. Don’t believe me? Look at the bodies of prison inmates who don’t have access to weights. They do calisthenics and body weight movements in their cells every day and they accomplish incredible physical changes. For best results pick one exercise per body part and do three sets of it every day and do this for every body part. Train this way 6-7 days a week and watch what happens. If you want closer instructions, exercise demonstrations and a full two-month plan you can try MAPS Anywhere.

Focus on Mobility

Let’s be honest, most of you don’t prioritize mobility. Don’t feel bad, I’m also this way. Mobility work isn’t as fun as deadlifting or squatting tons of weight. But mobility work does have TREMENDOUS value when it comes to building muscle, strength, metabolism boosting and for fat loss. Proper mobility work allows you to train in longer ranges of motion with better stability and control and studies CLEARLY show that longer ranges of motion (so long as they are stable and proper) produce faster and better results. What better time to place special focus on mobility than the next few months since you aren’t going to the gym anyway? If you made mobility a focus for the next 2-3 months you would see MASSIVE improvements when you get back in the gym. Our YouTube channel has lots of great mobility movements that you can choose from. If you want a structured mobility program that lists the joints of your body with corresponding mobility movements you can check out MAPS Prime Pro.

Do HIIT Workouts

Although I rail against the overuse and overdependence on high intensity interval training (HIIT) style workouts, HIIT style workouts are AMAZING in the short term (1-2 months). They burn a LOT of calories in short periods of time and they are excellent for total body conditioning. Pick 3-4 body weight movements and do them for 30-60 seconds each in succession at a high intensity with no rest. Once you complete the last movement, rest until your heart rate goes back down to normal and then repeat. Do this for 2-5 rounds.

Bottom Line

Just because you don’t have access to weights and machines, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be fit, lean, functional and healthy. Follow the above guidelines and you will likely be surprised at your results. Some of you may even get MORE fit and functional.

For more information on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) GO HERE.

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Sal Di Stefano

Sal is one of the hosts of the Mind Pump Podcast. At the age of 18 his passion for the art and science of resistance training was so consuming that he decided to make it a profession and become a personal trainer. By 19 he was managing health clubs and by 22 he owned his own gym. After 17 years as a personal trainer he has dedicated himself to bringing science and TRUTH to the fitness industry.

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