Make Your COVID-19 Training Better

TAGS: healthy mind, COVID-19, bodyweight exercises, Chris Tutela

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Deep in the heart of the quarantine, and I’m sure you’re frustrated that you haven’t been able to train the way you usually do.

Unless you have a home gym, you’ve probably been doing enough push-ups to yield an immediate shoulder surgery the moment the quarantine is lifted.

Well, good for you for making the most of what you have. However, I’m here today to teach you how to make this shit better and still make progress for the remainder of this lockdown. These are the same methods we’ve been using with our clients at TTS, and over the seven weeks we’ve been closed at the time I’m writing this, they’ve made a ton of progress.


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So let’s go over the different categories of at-home training that you can begin adding to your routine right now.

Bodyweight Training

This one is obvious, but I want to make it clear that bodyweight training can be a lot more than just a fuck-ton of push-ups.

Let’s assume you have zero equipment whatsoever, and you’re not the one to MacGyver your furniture into a Reverse Hyper®, then here is what you need to know.

  1. Just like with using an external load, mastery of technique is step one. If you’re already there, awesome, let’s move on.
  2. Each week, try to progressively overload your bodyweight training.

Since you don’t have an external load to add you’ll have to progress in the following ways:

  • Add more reps
  • Increase time under tension
  • Decrease rest intervals
  • Advance the variation of the exercise

Let’s look deeper into each one.

The first one is obvious, and I don’t think you’ll need me to go into much detail on that. But the problem is most people believe that this is the only way to progress bodyweight training. If you’re a beginner doing more reps can be fun and exciting. If you’re advanced, it gets boring pretty quickly.

So for you stronger guys and gals out there, increasing the time under tension for your bodyweight exercises can be a fun way to progress and something to look forward to. You can do that in the following ways.

  1. Control the eccentric phase of the movement
  2. Control the eccentric and concentric phase of the movement
  3. Add Isometric contractions where the muscle is lengthened
  4. Control the eccentric, concentric, and add isometrics all in the same rep
  5. Perform 1¼ or 1½ reps
  6. Perform supersets, tri-sets, and quad-sets

Using a split squat as an example, here’s a quick rundown on how to execute all six ways.

  • Perform a set of 10 repetitions while lowering yourself for 5 seconds
  • Perform a set of 10 reps while lowering yourself for 5 seconds and coming back up for 5 seconds
  • Perform a set of 10 reps while pausing in the bottom position, with your knee hovering the ground for 5 seconds before exploding back to starting position
  • Perform a set of 10 reps while lowering yourself for 5 seconds, pausing in the bottom for 5 seconds and coming back up over 5 seconds
  • Lower yourself down with control, come up only ½ way, lower back down and then come back up. That’s one repetition. Repeat for 10 reps
  • Perform 10 reps on a split squat then immediately perform 20 reps on a 1¼ bodyweight squat. For a tri-set, add in a Bulgarian split squat for 10 reps after the bodyweight squat.

If you wanted to advance those sets, add in the tempos I just mentioned to your superset or tri-set. The possibilities and combinations here are endless; just take a few minutes to write out a program to think it through.

Next, decreasing rest intervals is also pretty self-explanatory. My advice is to decrease your rest by 15 seconds the second week, then another 15 the following week. When you complete your 3- or 4-week phase, you can start over again with the original rest period you used in the first week of your program and repeat the process.

One of the most challenging areas to train with only your body weight and no training tools whatsoever is the upper back. I’m talking no rings, no bands, no straps…nothing.

If that’s the case for you, you have to make sure to do a shit-ton of volume with the exercises I’m about to mention.

  • Y-W-T-L’s
  • Blackburns
  • Iron Cross
  • Lying Handcuffs

You can progress the first three by holding onto water bottles, cans of soup, or something similar.

Make Light Weights Feel Heavy

Ok, so if you have some equipment at home, but it’s just some light dumbbells, kettlebells, or even a barbell or bands, we have some more tools to play with.

But how do you make those lightweights more challenging?

Simple. The same way that we progressed your bodyweight stuff.

And the cool thing is that you can add these tools in to supplement your bodyweight training or vice versa, depending on how much equipment you have available.

When training with light weights, be sure to maximize the muscular contraction in the end range, along with precise mechanics and control. You can really take each exercise to the next level, get an excellent training effect and even a killer pump.

Get Creative and Go Outside

Ok, so you’re the type who has a yard, garage, or driveway to train and doesn’t mind taking an hour or two to build some home equipment. Perfect…here are some things you can put together from your local hardware store, junkyard, and liquor store.

Tire sled

Grab an old tire, plywood, screws, bolts, rope, and carabiners, and you can make a sled.

Load it up with shit you have lying around like paint cans, bricks, old books, or anything that you can load it with.

I made one a while back that lasted for years! I’d bet that you’ll use it even once this quarantine is over.

With a tire sled, you can do drags, reverse drags, rows, presses, and more, so this gives you a huge bang for your buck.

Keg

Go to your local liquor store and see if they have an empty keg you can take off of their hands.

These are cool for cleans, overhead presses, carries, or even throws if you keep it empty.

For the first few options, you’ll need to fill it with water to a certain point, depending on how heavy you want it.

You’ll need some other pieces from your local hardware store, but this is another extremely inexpensive piece that you can put together in 15 minutes.

Tractor Tire

The biggest pain in the ass is getting this thing to your house. Once it’s there, you have it for tire flips— a fun way to get some more posterior chain and even conditioning work.

Sledgehammer

These are great to go along with the tractor tire for slams or to get some forearm work done.

Now that you have some options for your training, I want to remind you that you can still pack on muscle, and you can undoubtedly shred body fat right now.

Break up your training, so you have your “strength” sessions three days per week and on off days program in low-intensity and high-intensity conditioning days. This can be as simple as walking and sprinting.

Place physique transformation aside for a second and remember that your diet has a tremendous impact on your immune system, as does your sleep and level of stress. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell want my immune system firing on all cylinders right now.

To see progress in your physique and training, and to keep your health in mind, consider this.

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Eat less processed foods and more single ingredient, earth-grown foods
  • Journal, meditate, and spend more time outside
  • Be grateful for what you do have and show appreciation
  • Laugh a lot. Watch stand-up comedy, call a friend who makes you laugh, or watch other funny shit
  • Watch less news and spend less time on social media
  • Control the controllable, like everything in this article

Like you, I’m ready for this quarantine to be over. But until they tell us otherwise, let’s keep each other safe and do what we have to do. It’ll be over at some point, hopefully soon, so keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

There’s a lot we cannot control right now, but you can control yourself. I’m not trying to downplay this situation by any means. People are losing their jobs, businesses, loved ones, and lives—certainly a difficult time for a lot of us.

Panic, excessive worry, and fear aren’t going to help. Keeping yourself strong and healthy will only put you in a better and stronger mindset to help you cope with this current situation.

So do what needs to be done.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay strong.

Thanks for reading.

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