It's 11:07, Thursday Morning, March 12th. Just last night, the NCAA announced that the March Madness tournament will be played without fans, multiple colleges announced that for the rest of their semester they will be transitioning all classes to an online only format, the NBA has suspended the ENTIRE LEAGUE until further noticed, and Tom and Rita Hanks revealed that they had both been diagnosed with Corona Virus. (As of the posting of this article, multiple other Sports Leagues have ceased operation. DISNEY LAND AND WORLD HAVE CLOSED. That’s how you know things are going sideways.)
TOM HANKS DID NOT DESERVE THIS
The world as we know it, is descending into chaos.
Now, I'm no Corona Virus expert. I don't know if the chaos that the world is experiencing right now is warranted, or hasty. But...what I do know is, people are starting to panic. USA to Europe travel has been cut back. Entire countries are in quarantine. Schools are cancelling. Public gatherings are cancelling. It's only a matter of time before it effects you directly (if it hasn't already).
If things don't get better quickly, we can only assume that further precautionary measures will be put into place. The extent of these safety measures, we don't quite know yet, but could extend to businesses, grocery stores, gyms, etc. etc.
Will it get to that point? Who knows. Ask Nostradamus. (This article took me centuries to write. By the time of publishing, three states including NY have closed down gyms for the time being.)
Please Nostradamus, save us all.
The fact remains that we have to be prepared for all circumstances. If businesses begin to get shutdown, and travel is restricted to absolutely necessary trips, odds are you might be stuck at home for longer than normal. Trapped in a house with nothing but time, TV, and food.
Odds of you being sedentary (non active) in this scenario? Skyrockets. Odds of you overeating as long as no food shortage occurs? Skyrockets again.
In the event that the world is indeed ending, or we enter a mass quarantine event, or you just don‘t like going the gym for whatever reason, this article will provide extensive details on training ideologies, necessary equipment, and nutrition, that will allow you to be at your highest physical prowess from the comfort of your own home.
(Picture of the Rock because he is the guiding
light that will get us through COVID-19)
If you’re planning on working out at home, it's a good idea to have some basic understandings on how training works.
I’ll spare you from the boring scientific jargon that you absolutely have no need nor desire to know, but I will provide basic information that will help you live your best physical fitness life.
Sets and Reps
Odds are, if you’ve paid attention to fitness in any capacity in your life, you’ve heard the age old thinking that heavier weights with lower reps will get you “bulky” and conversely, lighter weights with higher reps will get you “toned“ *cringe*.
It’s as bad to say that I’ve even heard other trainers spew this same nonsense to clients, and they can’t be further from the truth.
Yes, heavy weights, low reps will get you stronger. But you’re not going to turn into the Rock if you do it for 2 months.
Yes, light weights, for higher reps will bless you with more muscular endurance. But no, you won’t “tone“ your anything, but dying 4 sets of 25 of a given exercise.
Science has shown that when you run the gambit of rep schemes, whether it be sets of 3 or sets of 20, hypertrophy (building of muscle) will occur.
So at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to mix up your rep schemes and don’t get stuck doing the same thing over and over.
If you‘re used to doing sets of 12 for all your exercises, throw yourself a curve ball and up the weights and rock out some sets of 8 for some time and see how that changes your training adaptations. Odds are you’ll get stronger, you’ll build muscle and when you return to doing sets of 12, you’re stronger than you were before.
(The Rock if he does light weights and high reps versus Heavy Weights with lower reps. Also 2nd picture of the Rock. I really love him, okay? Don't judge me.)
In any given training program, there are typically 3 phases. Stimulus, fatigue, and adaptation/recovery.
Stimulus: Every time you workout, you’re providinf a stimulus to your body. Essentially you’re putting your body through a stress that it’s not normally used to. This, is a good thing! Whether it be doing more walking than you’re typically used to, or lifting weights you’re not accustomed to lifting, stressing your body more than what you’re body has regularly become accustomed to, is a sure fire way to make results.
Fatigue: Now that you’ve exposed your body to all these wonderful new stresses (aka working out), your body will naturally get tired. How far you choose to push that fatigue is entirely up to you. You may push it to the point that your body no longer complies (no longer being able to complete reps of a workout, or running to the point of exhaustion *highly don’t recommend this*), or you can push to a lower level of fatigue where you begin to feel tired, but don’t reach the brink of collapse.
Adaptation/Recovery: Now that you’ve stressed and fatigued, the fun part occurs! Adaptation and recovery. Depending on your training schedule and goals, this will look one of several different ways for you.
Exercised muscles usually require 24-48 hours to recover after a workout. So, if you’re a person that works out 2-3 days a week, and you’re doing full
body workouts, your adaptation recovery might be a full blown day off. This day off allows your muscles to recover properly to be trained again.
If you‘re working out 4-5 times a week, odds are you’re doing different workout splits outside of full body. Could be upper days and lower days. Could be back/bis, chest/tris, shoulders/legs, etc. etc. However you end up structuring it, you don’t have the luxury of taking rest days in between each workout, so your adaptation and recovery stage may be just doing a workout and hitting muscles that you didn’t hit the day prior. So you’re not necessarily getting a day off from the gym, but you are resting those particular muscles that you just used in order to allow them to recover.
Now that you know the definitions of all 3 phases of working out, the most important thing to consider with the phases is to always practice Progressive Overload.
Simply put, Progressive Overload is simply adding the amount of stress to the body when working out (or changing the stress).
If you’re starting out as a true beginner, odds are you can look at a set of weights and grow muscle, but eventually down the line, the progress you make will plateau, and you’ll have to be more conscious of the way you train.
If you do the same weights, for the same sets and reps for months on end, Phase 3 (Adaptation and Recovery) will slow down because Phase 2 (Fatigue) is never reached because Phase 1 (Stimulus) is no longer enough to stress the body.
Pretty much, if you do the same thing over and over again for long enough, your body will adapt and you won't be putting enough stress on your body to make further progress. SOOOOOOOOO.....every once in awhile add reps, or sets, or weight, or reduce rest time or any combination of those things. Your body will thank you.
And if you're working out at home with limited equipment, you'll have to use that large brain of yours and get creative. But more on that later.
In this article, I'm not going to go too deep in the weeds about nutrition since it can be an
entire article itself, and I don’t want to make you feel like you have to read for 3 hours. That being said, the MOST important thing to consider when dealing with nutrition, is that calories are KING.
Energy balance is a very real thing. Your body uses a certain amount of calories in any given day by just walking around, and doing what you do on a day to day basis. Work, exercise, walk around, etc. etc.
The particular number of calories that YOU burn in a given day is primarily based on your weight.
The same way a big pick up truck needs an 8 cylinder engine to move a larger vehicle versus a compact car with only a 4 cylinder engine, a person who weighs more expends more calories on any given day just because they have more mass to move around.
If you fire up the old Google Machine and look for calorie calculators, odds are you won’t have to look far to find one.
And the fact of the matter is, there‘s no real sure fire way to know exactly what this number is. It’s more of less a guess.
So regardless of what equation you use, or what number it spits out, you’ll have to do some Inspector Gadgeting yourself to find out how close that number really is.
A good rule of thumb is Bodyweight x 12 = Maintenance Calories
So if you weigh 200lbs x 12 = 2,400
Now, experiment time (yay!!), eat 2,400 calories for a few weeks, and see how your body reacts. If you stay the same weight, we were spot on with the equation and you can move forward from there.
Once you play with those numbers and find out what it is for you, depending on your goal, you can...
Eat that same amount of calories = Maintain Weight
Eat fewer than that amount of calories = Lose Weight (this is called being in a caloric deficit)
Eat more than that amount of calories = Gain Weight (this is being in a caloric surplus) So...depending on what you want to do, will dictate how many calories you’ll want to eat.
And if muscle is a high priority for you, try and keep protein relatively high (1 gram of protein per 1 lb of Bodyweight is usually more than sufficient).
But at the end of the day, if the world really does come to an end, you’ll just be eating beans out of a can anyways.
Dumbbells (9.99999/10 Importance)
The only reason that dumbbells are not a 10/10 importance is because calisthenics is still a thing. Odds are, depending on your fitness level, you can get away with doing body weight workouts for the time being.
Beginners can/will do lots of exercises with just bodyweight, but for even the more intermediate and advanced population, there are certainly ways to make Bodyweight exercises more difficult in absence of external weights.
That being said, there will come a point in time where in order to progressively overload (as I mentioned above, if you skipped it and are somehow reading this, scroll back up you degenerate), you will need to add weight to certain movements.
You can only pulse squat for so long until you have to load the movement to see further benefits.
At the end of the day, if you’ve got a set of nice and heavy dumbbells (if they’re adjustable, you get an A+ golden star), you’ll be able to go a long way in a home gym.
You can buy brand new dumbbells from Walmart, Dicks Sporting Goods, Amazon, etc. etc. but you can easily find used dumbbells for relatively cheap on marketplaces like Craigslist.
But in a time of social distancing, either you’ll have to order some online to be sent to you, or make due with what you have.
If you have ABSOLUTELY nothing, odds are you can find something heavyish to hold onto to add weight to your exercise, if not, rock out with calisthenics as long as gyms begin to reopen.
Monster Bands (Pull Up Assist Bands) (8/10 Importance)
Dumbbells are an amazing thing. They'll get you 90% of the way most of the time. That being said, they can only take you so far if you don't have heavy enough weights. Sure, if you had access to only 10 lb dumbbells and you typically chest press 30 lbs, then those 10 pounders ain’t really gonna do nothing for you.
But...with monster bands you can easily add additional resistance without having to buy more expensive and space consuming dumbbells.
Not to mention that you can easily do a full workout using a band alone if you didn’t have any dumbbells at all.
Monster Bands are low key amazing, and if you have any inclination that you’ll have any reason to workout at home again, they‘re definitely worth the inexpensive investment, and you can always just stick them in your bag and take them to the gym with you too.
Kettlebells (6/10 Importance)
Now we’re getting into the more fancy, specialized stuff.
Kettlebells are not by any means an essential home gym purchase, but they absolutely provide access to a different kind of training style.
Yes, most of the moves you can do with a kettlebell, you can absolutely replicate with a dumbbell, but the handle on a KB is just much more efficient and comfortable.
Kettlebells are handy for swings, and snatches, and carries, so if you’re more of a crosstraining type of athlete, you might prefer kettlebells over dumbbells.
This option is purely one of preference.
Bench (5/10 Importance)
Another pure preference and luxury option. A bench provides a nice elevated surface for things such as presses, box squats, step ups, etc. etc. That being said, you can do a lot of this without an elevated surface, or from the floor.
The only advantage to having a bench is having the ability to perform incline exercises (as opposed to laying flat on your back) or for those who have trouble getting up and down from the floor.
Barbell (3/10 Importance)
Odds are, if you’re not a wealthy person, or you’ve dedicated a good portion of your budget to absolutely pimping out a home gym, then you don’t even have to acknowledge this section.
Barbells are expensive, and they take up space. And if you get a bar, you probably need weight plates, and a power rack as well, so we’re getting into pricey pricey territory as opposed to the options above.
But if you’re extremely dedicated to fitness and also extremely dedicated to not ever stepping foot into a gym again, you’ll more than likely have to invest in a nice barbell and the necessary accessories.
Basically if you’re going this route, you’re just bringing the gym home to you.
I’m not going to go into specifics here, content with workouts and exercises that you can perform at home with the equipment you have available has been exhausted and should be easy to find.
You can find absolutely almost anything on YouTube.
I myself will put up free workouts in the article section of this website, more than likely put up videos, and if I’m feeling froggy and can figure out the logistics, I might even livestream a workout (*cough cough wink wink stay tuned to my social media*).
But squats, presses, rows, bodyweight cardio, and circuits will all be your best friend for the time being. Set a timer for yourself, pick 3-5 of your favorite exercises, do 30 seconds of each for 3-5 rounds and time yourself. Try to get a little better everyday.
Or add weight, or switch the exercises.
Stay tuned to @mtefit on Instagram and YouTube and probably here, for workouts you can do from home.
The majority of this article, title included is done with tongue in cheek. I don’t actually think the world is going to end (eventually it will but not for a long time hopefully). I don’t think this is a Doomsday situation.
But it isn’t to say that we aren‘t living in unprecedented times. Many places are shutting down. Many people will not work for the foreseeable future. In turn, many people will be home more so than ever.
Hopefully by doing so, the spread of the Coronavirus will be limited, but in the end, prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Now more so than ever, it is paramount to focus on your health and well-being. The healthier you are, the easier it is for you to fight some sicknesses. Utilize these tips, utilize me, to remain active in this time of pause. Do not let Covid-19 be a reason for you to backslide in your fitness journey.
In the meantime, if you have any specific questions, or need help with your workouts, I will be offering free programming for the rest of March. So please reach out to me in any capacity for any help you may need. Stay safe everyone!
Till next time,