Thank goodness for all the muscle-building work you’ve been doing lately – we’re all going to need strength to get through this! But in this new coronavirus impacted world, we also know many are struggling to figure out how to keep making progress and getting those gains without a home gym set up.
While your routine and the pace of your results will undoubtedly change during this time, you can still effectively build and maintain muscle when you’re stuck at home. The same principles of consistency and repetition remain, you may just need to adapt and work differently.
Muscle Building workouts in your planner remain your No.1 resource – watch some online videos to see an inset of at-home alternatives that target the same muscle groups as the gym equipment exercises. From dip station holds to weighted ab cable curls, we’ve already done the thinking for you.
Let’s talk through your home training options – and we’ll give you 5 exercise substitutions.
Is it time to switch goals?
Every one of us is working to make the best of these strange circumstances. If you can’t access heavier weights to continue with building muscle, maintaining what you’ve already worked for still counts as a win in these conditions.
If maintenance is your best option, remember you can swap your goal to Get Fit & Toned at any time – selecting this goal will help keep you strong while dialing down your calorie excess to suit your temporary requirements.
If you know you’ve been neglecting your cardio and flexibility while focusing on building muscle, this is a great time to bring those aspects of your fitness up to speed. Increase your workout intensity to stay lean and strong while amping up your cardio, bring a weekly Pilates session into the mix and test your functional movement functional training.
You know the work you had to do to progress your strength to where it is now, so you know you can get back there again.
What changes do you need to make in your diet?
Your meal plan s designed to deliver the calories, carbs and protein you need to add muscle. If you’re unable to train at the same level at this time, you’re likely wondering what that means for your meal plan.
Advanced Sports Dietician Lisa Middleton recommends that if building strength and mass remains your goal, and you are maintaining a similar level of exercise, to stick with your meal plan.
“The calories in your meal plan are not extreme, so if you’re expending similar amounts of energy during the day – even if the actual exercises you’re doing are different – stick with it. If you cut down too much, you risk losing muscle,” Lisa explains. “However, if your training load drops, reduce your intake by dropping one or two of your snacks per day, and monitor any changes.”
On top of your home training, things like extra work around the house, or going for walks outside whenever you can, will still be burning up energy. Keep an eye on your food intake and adapt if you feel your total energy expenditure drops at any point.
Tips for strength training at home
- Get creative with the equipment you have at home. You may not realize it, but you already have some handy exercise equipment just lying around the house. You may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find the right substitute or anchor point and so on, but you’ll get there.
- Before you reach for a substitute exercise, go through the movement and think about what muscles you’re using in the process – this will help you modify and find suitable equipment.
- Safety first. If you’re not sure something will hold your weight or that makeshift equipment will remain intact, best look for another alternative.
Our top 5 home exercise alternatives
We know many of our members have at least basic equipment at home such as a set of dumbbells and resistance bands – with just this gear, you can replicate many barbell and machine moves. If you don’t have this gear, but do have the means to invest and get it delivered, now might be a good time.
To keep you powering through whether you have the equipment or not, try these extra home alternative ideas for gym-based strength exercises.
i.e. shotgun rows, horizontal lat rows, cable rear delt rows
For rows using a cable machine, sub in a resistance band. Rows targeting different muscles, such as horizontal lat rows, could be replaced by dragging weighted objects (just make sure hard floors are protected!) or a suspension trainer, but again resistance bands can be used to replicate most movements. And you can always hit up your dumbbells to perform renegade rows, single-arm rows and bent over rows.
i.e. leg presses, calf press, chest press, seated shoulder press
For those presses that use your legs – resistance band squats are going to be your new best friend! Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hook one end of the resistance band under your feet and the other end across the back of your neck and shoulders, holding the band so it forms a square across the top of your shoulders. Then get squatting! No band? You can also add weighted squats and calf raises into your regimen.
For presses using your arms that work your chest, back and shoulders, switch to dumbbell flys, floor presses or overhead raises. You can also anchor a resistance band around your shoulders then, using a split stance, push outwards against the band as if you are pressing forward or punching. You can also hook a band under your feet and, standing upright, press the other end above your head
i.e. incline cable flys, cable crossovers
Stick with dumbbell flys – and use a chair, cushions or Swiss ball to replicate incline or seated positions. You can also loop two light resistance bands around a post or solid sofa leg and (with your back to the post) walk forward until you have the right resistance to perform a band fly.
i.e. cable bicep curls, one-legged cable curls, single-arm overhead bicep curls
Keep curling with dumbbells and mix it up between hammer, Zottman, bench curls and so on. If you don’t have dumbbells, loop light/medium bands around your feet and holding the bands in your hands, curl upwards against the resistance.
5. Pull-ups & Pulldowns
i.e. seated lat pulldowns, neutral grip pulldowns, chest supported lat pulldowns, pull-ups
Grab your dumbbells to perform overhead raises, bent over rows, renegade rows or front raises and overhead tricep extensions.
Remember, think creatively, stay active and committed.