How to Maintain Strength at Home During COVID-19

“But how am I going to keep my #Gainz??”

“I’m going to lose everything I worked for!”

Ever since we shut down (almost three weeks ago) we’ve gotten statements similar to these. And usually if just one person has a question, chances are that five others have the same question or concern so let’s address it.

Here’s the good news: relative to cardiovascular endurance aka your lung capacity, strength takes longer to lose. It also takes longer to gain, so that’s why we tell newbies not to fret when they start with us. But if you’ve been training long enough to get over that beginning phase, then you’re in a good spot. There have been people that stop ALL training and still maintain their #gainz. But of course that’s not you because you’re at least doing something, especially if you’re in our remote coaching program where we tell you what to do and how to do it. Basically, you don’t lose strength that quickly.

Are we saying that there’s no benefit to heavy training? Of course not. But you can only control so many things and if you don’t have access to a barbell and plates, it’s not the end of the world (at least not for that reason?).
This is a great opportunity to reframe our definition of strength. Instead of thinking about just your max squat and deadlift, let’s think about bodyweight strength, strength endurance, unilateral strength, and odd object strength.

  • bodyweight strength – this is a great time to work on things like push-ups. Make sure your chest touches floor at bottom and you get full extension at top. Can’t do that yet? For us, range of motion matters more than number of reps, so if you’re only going down halfway, elevate yourself and put your hands on a couch or bench so your chest goes all the way down.
  • strength endurance – grab a bag of dog food or a case of water and squat with it (all the way down below parallel and all the way up). Can you do it 50 times without stopping? What if you mix some running in there? Top end strength is fun, but having the stamina to do many reps is a great thing to focus on now.
  • unilateral strength – is one side stronger than the other? Barbells are great, but they also allow you to compensate for imbalances. Single arm and single leg movements are fantastic for correcting those imbalances. Side benefit: most unilateral movement will create a torsion effect on your body (twist) which makes you have to brace your midline so it’s also a core workout without even knowing it!
  • odd object strength – Again, barbells are great for overloading, but the real world doesn’t have perfectly balanced weights with a 25mm or 28.5mm knurled grip that you can latch onto. If you’ve ever needed to carry in cat litter or pick up a squirmy kid then you know what this means. So training with backpacks or cases of water is great training for the real world. Those that grew up on a farm and have “farm strength” – you know what I’m talking about.

There are two other strength strategies that your personal coach can help you implement as well and they’re related: time under tension and focusing on the eccentric movement.

  • Time under Tension – simply slows the movement down so you have to focus on controlling the movement and your muscles are working for longer duration. So instead of doing a quick push-up in one second, you take 5 seconds to go down and 5 seconds to come up.
  • Eccentric – focuses on the lowering of a movement. If you have a pull-up bar at home, slowly let yourself down. This overlaps with time under tension, but you can then do an explosive pull-up on the way up (concentric). As our friends at CrossFit Fringe say, “a tempo down of 5 seconds will trigger significantly more physiological adaptation than simply flying through the work prescribed. Be deliberate in your movement for maximum return from your workout.”

Over the last three weeks we have transitioned to a much more personalized way of coaching. Our members each have their own coach and receive their own specific workout with notes based on the equipment they have at home. So whether it’s a backpack full of books or a full home gym, our expert coaches will guide them to the right stimulus based on their individual goals.

If you are currently without a gym or programming while at home, reach out to us at [email protected]. We are doing 100% online one-on-one programming/coaching during this unprecedented time.

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