Closed gyms do not have to put off summer gains. Simple and consistent at-home routines can still provide the same results as the gym!
When lifting weights, ideally you should lift heavy enough to feel the tension in your arms, but not too heavy to avoid getting injured. An easy trick to identify if a certain amount of weight is too light is to try doing 20 reps (repetitions). If you can easily do more than 20 reps, then you should consider going up about 5 pounds heavier.
“Consistency is key to see gains” said Chris Clark, personal gym trainer and lifestyle coach. “Muscle growth happens when the targeted muscles are exercised consistently,” he said.
After a successful workout, the body begins to repair the muscle tissue that was stressed and damaged during the workout. The new muscle protein allows the muscle to grow and thicken. Resting after a good push-pull day is also key for growth. Most muscle growth occurs while the damaged tissue is resting. Clark recommends resting the stressed muscles for at least two days.
The following workouts can be done with weights or household items:
- Plate curl- the plate curl is a simple pull workout that trains the upper body and more specifically, the biceps. This workout can be done with either a plate or a barbell weight. A great alternate choice for those weights is lifting a backpack filled with random items. The weight of the items will vary depending on how heavy you can lift. The backpack should have two straps so it’s sturdy and won’t rip as easy with all the weight inside it. Another option for a barbell weight can be the use of a broomstick and two gallons filled with water on each end of the stick. If you wish to lift heavier than a gallon of water, filling the gallon with sand is also a great choice. This arm curl, whether it’s done with a weight or a backpack, it should be done from waist to chest. If using a plate, holding it like a steering wheel is the best way to go about it. If using a backpack, holding both straps together and lifting them from waist to the chest is just as effective. For beginners, four sets of 13-15 reps is a great start.
- Hammer curl- the hammer curl is similar to the plate curl, but this time the weight or object of choice is held with one hand. For this exercise, a dumbbell is ideal but not required. Lifting a gallon full of water is a great alternate option. This is also a pull exercise, and the dumbbell or gallon/object of choice should also be lifted from the waist to the chest. Repetitions can vary depending on one’s lifting ability. Like the plate curl, four sets of 13-15 is a great choice.
- Standard pushup/sink pushup- push-ups are probably the most beneficial push exercises that target many places such as the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It is also a freebie since you are lifting your own weight. The standard pushup is done on the floor, pushing one’s body from the floor up. The sink pushup is another great type of pushup and a lot easier than the standard one. This form of pushups is done at the sink. Instead of lifting yourself from the floor, now you’ll be pushing off from the sink. Your legs should be extended back for best results. Four sets of 5 are recommended.
- Resistance bands- resistance bands are probably the most inexpensive of all the weight training equipment. Some go for as little as $10. These bands are great for many exercises including several stretches. Bands with handles are great for working out arms. Stepping on the center of the band and grabbing both ends of the handles, and pulling upwards towards the chest like a bicep curl is a great type of pull exercise.
These simple at-home exercises, if done frequently and properly, will increase muscle growth and strength.
“It is important we stay active during this stay at home order,” said Alexa Giacinto, a membership advisor at Equinox. “The last thing you want is your starting weight to be your maximum lifting weight when you go back to the gym.” It is important to keep exercising and conditioning while gyms remain close. ‘Staying active’ as Giacinto puts it, allows the body to keep burning fat, and not gain the infamous “quarantine 15.”
If muscle gains are your goal, consistency is key. Protein intake is also essential. Whether the protein comes from food such as chicken breasts or protein powder, it is recommended to consume a gram of protein per pound of your own body weight. Protein powder is a great form of consuming protein since it comes in many flavors, and it is also a great way to repair damaged muscles and tissues.