In this week’s short blog I’ll share 5 tips to maintain your strength and muscle from home.
As many of us don’t have access to the gym right now, I’ve prepared these strategies to help you maintain your strength and muscle over the coming weeks. Who knows, we might even get stronger or fitter in the process. We must use this time as an opportunity, don’t worry that you might not be able to do your favourite barbells lifts. These tips will help you potentially avoid injury, avoid losing your hard-earned muscle and strength and might develop a bit of athleticism and functional strength in the process.
#1 - Master / Manipulate your own bodyweight
If we are concerned about our strength and muscle then that implies that we have developed something to hang on to. In doing so, we should be pretty sound at squats, lunges, press-ups and potentially chin ups too. We can make these exercises harder by opting for single leg versions (more on that later) or in the pressup example we can raise our feet up to put more weight through the upper body. This is where the foundation of our workouts should come from. Keep reading for ideas on how to make these harder if you are already the bodyweight master.
#2 - Find A Way to Add Load
For some movement patterns, we are going to have to try load them in some way. A single piece of equipment here will do like a decently heavy dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, slam ball, keg filled with water or even a heavy resistance band can be quite versatile. Once we have this we can use the next tip and the following tips to introduce more difficulty to the movement so that it is hard enough to keep up the intensity we need for strength and muscle.
#3 - Use Single Limb Variations
Think split stance variations for the lower body or single arm variations for the upper body. For lower body we have the load of ourselves going through one leg which makes it automatically harder and then to load that even more we don’t need very much resistance. For upper body, our single piece of load can be enough given the right tempo to maintain the strength and muscle we have built.
#4 - Utilise Tempo to make it harder
By this I mean lowering the weight for a set time, introducing a pause and then coming back up for a set time. For example a tempo of 6-2-2 Would give us 6 seconds on the way down, 2 second pause at the bottom and then 2 seconds on the way back up. You can manipulate this anyway you like and if you are achieving more than 10 reps on a given exercise then I’d strongly consider using tempo to make it difficult enough that it comes down into the single digit reps. Bias the lowering phase and be strict when you count this out in your head!
#5 - Utilise Isometrics or Eccentrics
Normally we are focussed on the concentric phase of the lift which is the part where we actually lift the weight. However there are 2 more types of muscle contractions which we kind of touched on talking about tempos. During the lowering phase of the lift we are stronger normally and can produce more force than on the way back up. This is called the eccentric phase and can be used to build strength on bodyweight movements especially like press-ups, chin-ups, pistols and any loaded exercise. We can also produce high forces when doing isometric contractions, there are if we are to push against a fix object that won’t move ie. It is too heavy for us or if we hold a position during a lift where there is no movement. An example of the former would be opening your car door, positioning the top of the door frame on your back and then trying to stand up and squat your car. Chances are it will come up onto the suspension then won’t move unless you are really strong or have a tiny car. The other type would be to hold a chin up at 90 degrees for as long as you can maintain.
Hopefully these give you some ideas and principles to go by when maintaining and building your hard earned strength and muscle.
If you have any questions then please just get in touch as I’m always happy to help. I've you'd like to inquire about online coaching then click here.
Allan Young is a Glasgow based Personal Training who runs Strength Coach Glasgow and is a 4x Scottish Champion Olympic Weightlifter.