Many of us around the globe are still stuck working out from home. At first it may have been a welcome change from the hectic nature of training at the gym. When working out from home you don’t have to worry about putting on any particular workout gear - you could work out in your PJs if you wanted to! Also, there’s no driving to and from the gym, and you don’t need to think twice about getting sweaty, making noise or sharing space or equipment with anyone else. But now, potentially months later, you’re understandably starting to worry about losing strength or muscle gains.
Here’s the good news: You can most definitely keep your gains, even while training at home. Your success is going to be dependent upon doing the right exercises, keeping up maximum effort, and potentially scouting out some new uses for your furniture or getting creative with household objects to use as added weight. Read on for the best tips on how to continue to challenge yourself while working out from home!
Improve the Mind-Muscle Connection
Since you most likely don’t have access to all of the weights, barbells, machines and equipment that you would normally have at your local gym, it’s time to get serious about mastering the mind-muscle connection. You’ve definitely heard the term before but have you spent any significant time working on it? The mind-muscle connection is all about consciously and deliberately thinking about the target muscle during an exercise. It is feeling that muscle move through the range of motion of the exercise and consciously contracting, squeezing and isolating that muscle to achieve the utmost activation. And you know what? The more you engage the muscle you’re working, the more it will grow. Take this time away from the gym and away from heavy weights to focus on how each exercise in your workout feels.
Building upon the benefits of the mind-muscle connection is another technique for improving muscle awareness- Isometric exercises. Isometrics are also sometimes called static strength training. Things like planks, wall sits, bird dog and dead-bug holds, even glute bridges when held at the top position are all considered isometric exercises. Isometrics, combined with spending some time simply flexing or posing the muscles, won’t build massive amounts of strength, but they will help minimize strength and muscle loss during this time away from heavy weights. Plus, you’ll be more primed and ready when it’s time to hit the gym again
Learn New Lifts
This is also a great time to learn new things. You may think you have mastered the basics (we’ll touch on that below), so it might be time to learn something new. Are pushups a breeze? Try doing them with one arm! Regular bodyweight squats leaving you unfulfilled? Give pistol squats a try! Lunges not doing the trick anymore? How about a bulgarian split squat to up the ante? There are also chin-ups, nordic hamstring curls, and more. Find something to take an exercise to the next level!
Make Existing Exercises More Difficult
Chances are, however, that you can make those basic movement patterns more difficult without learning entirely new lifts. No matter what your current strength level, there is always a more challenging variation of an exercise. You might not have access to a barbell and heavy weights for your squat strength, but you can most definitely incorporate high step ups, skater squats, single leg box squats, etc, to keep your squat strength up for that day when you find yourself back in the gym.
Training Techniques to Increase Difficulty
Other techniques you can incorporate to make even bodyweight exercises more difficult include adding pauses to an exercises (think: the bottom of your squat or the top of your glute bridge), increasing the range of motion (stepping up to a higher step, using boxes to increase depth of a sumo squat), include banded exercises, single leg variations of exercises, and superset exercises back to back.
As long as you’re pushing your sets pretty hard, you can continue gaining muscle during this period of time, even if you’re doing mostly high rep training and not using heavy loads. Make sure to really squeeze the intended muscle in order to achieve maximum results.