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The Real Fitness Lessons From Lockdown

In fitness, as anywhere in the world, the corona virus has not taken any blows. Whether you’re in full quarantine, a bit locked down, or able to work out in a largely empty gym, we’ve all been asked to compromise on our typical routine. It has forced many people to innovate and take stock of what was really important and unimportant in their education.

One thing that definitely turns out to be important? Flexibility. And I’m not talking about your tight hamstrings. I’m talking about being able to get the most out of any situation, in any setting, with any (or no) gear.

While the world is still struggling to figure out what to do next, the fitness lessons of this stage of the COVID-1

9 crisis look pretty clear. Here’s what I’ve seen people learn and what I try to pass on to them as a trainer and trainer

Lesson 1: Have realistic expectations

I’ve seen an alarming number of articles on the internet that seem to claim that even after a long history of heavy exercise, you can “make new gains” with a simple body weight training program in your living room alone – even if you’ve emerged from a long history of heavy weights and certain patterns with machines do.

Let’s get real

This isn’t supposed to seem like a downer, but if your goals include insane strength or loading tons of muscle, you’re not going to break new records by just working with body weight or working out with a pair of 5. Pound dumbbells. The best thing you can do is maintain your current muscle and strength levels until you can return to training that promotes your specific goals – and even that takes work.

Write in a training diary.

But that’s not a bad thing – it’s just a nudge for you to set new goals in the meantime. And it’s up to you either to let this push take you to a positive place or to assert yourself and feel frustrated. A poorly equipped gym and some space make a great gateway to things like weight training and conditioning – things to help you shed some fat, get a pump, and give your joints a break.

There is nothing wrong with the type of fitness that is not based on supreme strength, epic performance, or anything in the distant elite. If it’s all you have, there’s a reason to focus on feeling pretty good and staying slim. So if you have trouble seeing this, check it out.

Lesson 2: Be at least a little equipped

I can make an endless list of useful fitness equipment to use at home, but the article would be 8,000 words and no different from any other list. I know that you probably won’t be outfitting your home gym with everything a big box gym has to offer. Serious equipment is more expensive than ever and just as impractical as ever. It’s for a certain type of person, but not for most of us.

So no, I don’t recommend squats, barbells, and hundreds of pounds of plates. I recommend cheap, must-have items that can go a long way and take up little to no space in your closet or in a corner of your bedroom or living room. Things like:

  • 2 pairs of dumbbells: You read it right: two pairs. A light pair – say under 20 pounds – and a heavier pair, preferably over 40 pounds. This gives you the freedom to make some good combinations and have a number of exercises to choose from that can challenge most muscle groups in a pinch.
  • 1 kettlebell, medium weight: Not a pair, just a single one. Why? The amount of unilateral or bilateral conditioning you can do with a single kettlebell is unreal. How hard are you going I would suggest choosing a weight that you can still comfortably push over your head six times with one arm. For many people who exercise, that will likely be 16-20 kg or 35-45 pounds. If that sounds tough, take 8-12 kg or 19-26 pounds.
  • Exercise mat and adjustable bench: Just like in the gym. A simple mat and a typical bench that can be adjusted from flat to sloped to upright will be immensely helpful. Yes, you can try making a bench out of a yoga ball or other thing around the house. I like having a real bank. There are solid, inexpensive ones that work equally well for step-ups, assisted rows, and all types of presses. It’s worth it.
  • Loop bands: Get a variety. A thin, a medium width and a heavier one. It’s nice, but not essential, to have a small loop for working on your wrist and hip.
Exercise with a kettlebell on a mat.

And that’s it. As I said, a few hundred dollars is more than enough to spend on this, and it’s a worthwhile investment without digging deep into the four-digit range given the high performance space occupies weightlifting equipment.

Lesson 3: embrace higher rep training

Sure, you can try getting crazy strong at home by turning off one-arm pushups and other solid performances. But even that isn’t for most people. I say if you are strapped for equipment and gym access, it is not worth your time if it is not in the double digits. Said Nuff.

Lesson 4: Program in Patterns

You can try restoring your bro split using the equipment above, and you may be able to do this for a while, but I recommend thinking a little differently about your split. One of my favorites for home training is:

  • Day 1: Vertical elevators
  • Day 2: Horizontal elevators
  • Day 3: Core / other

This approach allows you to focus more on certain muscle groups than others on certain days while taking advantage of the benefits of full body training like fat loss and time efficiency. It can look like this in a program.

Day 1: Vertical movements



Do the exercises in the correct order with no rest between exercises and 1 minute. Rest between sentences.

4 sets, 12 reps (no break)

+ 5 more exercises

Note: If foot-high pushups are too easy for you, grab your large dumbbells (if they’re stable) and try what I call “suicide pushups”. Notice that the hips are high, like a pike push-up.

Day 2: Horizontal movements



Do the exercises in the correct order with no rest between exercises and 1 minute. Rest between sentences.

4 sets, 10 reps (left side, no rest)

+ 5 more exercises

Day 3: Core / Miscellaneous



Perform the exercises in the order of at least 1 minute. Rest between exercises and 90 seconds of rest between sets.

Lift the lying leg

Perform with a slow negative, similar to a kite flag.

5 sets, 6 repetitions (break 1 min.)

+ 3 more exercises

Lesson 5: Have Many Varieties in Your Back Pocket

One thing we have all learned is that timelines are not set in stone. So don’t just follow a workout, find a pattern you like, and have different kinds of exercise on hand if the ones you’re doing get too easy. Here are some of my favorite movement upgrades in this program:

Instead of the one-armed row of dumbbells: Fischer row

Instead of Floor Angel: Horizontal plate transfer

Instead of a one-legged glute bridge: Glute-L bridge

Instead of bird dog: bear dog

Instead of the Lying Leg Lift: one-legged negative dragon flag

Instead of Dead Bug: Weight Resistant Dead Bug

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