If there is one thing being in lockdown had taught me this past year, it was that I needed way less equipment to maintain my physique than I originally thought. I definitely fell into the camp that I needed my exact routine in the gym otherwise I’d lose all my muscle. The truth is, it takes way less to maintain muscle than we think.
It depends what your budget is. For those with a big budget and space, they can do the squat rack, with powerblock dumbbells, and close to what their regular gym has. If you do not have the budget for that, no worries. Even just having bands, and a suspension trainer will give you the stimulus you need. We will have other ways to create a strong enough stimulus for growth that I will describe later.
Using Bands and Suspension Tools
It goes without saying you can assume your normal approach if you have access to your normal weights. I will focus primarily on the equipment most lifters tend to use the least.
When using bands or suspension, you do not have the luxury of increasing the weight each week. So we need to find other ways to target progress. For the suspension trainer you can always make the exercise harder by bringing your angle closer to the anchor point. That’s an easy way to make the exercise more difficult.
One of our main ways to focus on making sure you are getting a good enough stimulus during your workout, and for those that like a more quantified approach such as myself, one thing we can focus on is reps. Find an angle, or a band that is challenging enough to get anywhere from 5-30 reps. As long as you are within that range, the stimulus will be enough to stimulate growth. Just keep in mind the higher you get in the rep range the closer to failure you will need to be as the intensity will not be as high.
Time Under Tension
If you find you can do more than 30 reps on a given exercise, then I would switch my focus to changing the angle in the case of the suspension trainer or using just your bodyweight. If using bands I would focus on time under tension, particularly the eccentric, or lowering portion, of the movement.
So if you were doing biceps curls with the bands for example, instead of just doing quick movements, try and take 3-4 seconds to lower the band while maximizing tension in the bicep itself. This will make the exercise harder, allow you to focus on form and better connection to the muscle. Not only will this stimulate growth, but when you do get back into a gym it will further increase your weights pushed in the gym.
You can also focus on pausing at the top of a movement for a peak contraction. 2-3 second isometric holds will also allow you to focus on time as well as cueing the muscle.
Mobility, and Gains For the Future
Remember, it’s not just about increasing weight. You can get just as good of a workout at home using any of the above methods. Your workouts also don’t have to be just about muscle growth. We often spend so much of our time focused on building strength, that we don’t take the time to focus on lagging muscles, or ranges of motion we may not be good at.
If you haven’t in awhile or at all, I would spend 4 weeks on a program dedicated to a full range of motion mobility exercises, where you can pick any area of the body you may have had trouble on your bigger compound lifts, and work on optimizing those areas. For squats, that may mean exercises that focus on hitting your glutes, core, and hips. Maybe you can’t achieve full range because of lack of ankle mobility. A program like MAPS Prime Pro is perfect for this time period as it takes each section of your body and provides exercises that help address any underlying issues.