Written by Jenna Merritt
With gyms being closed, and continuing to be closed through phase one of the MT re-opening plan, most of you have had to get creative with your fitness routines. You probably don’t have access to the state-of-the-art equipment that you have become accustomed to at your workout facility; however, that doesn’t mean that all the progress you have made needs to be lost! We are here to tell you that you can maintain your fitness gains if you follow a few key methods to retain the strength and muscle you worked so hard for in the first place.
Guidelines for maintaining Muscle Growth at Home
You have many things around your house that can service as resistance or weight for your training program (water jugs, laundry detergent, are good examples of homemade weights). Look around and use what you can find. Try to avoid lifting things like chairs, dogs, etc., as this tends to just make the workout more accident prone, and some of the biggest pieces to the fitness puzzle are safety and form.
Now that you’ve selected your weights (homemade or real), here’s a small list of movements that are perfect for targeting certain muscle groups, and are simple to perform anywhere.
- Upper Back:
- Bent over rows, single arm or both
- Band pull-aparts, prone and supine grip
- Vertical pulling, like pull-ups, or inverted rows
- If you have a pull up bar, gymnastics rings, or TRX, great! If not, doorways, tables, and kitchen bars are a great substitution, as long as they are STABLE.
- Tricep extensions
- Tricep kickbacks
- Dips (on chair, bench, couch)
- Curls (Preacher, seated, incline, alternating, hammer, all the curls!)
- Single or both arm, strict overhead press
- Lat raises
- Bent over delt flies
- Front raises
- Floor press (try this one flat, on an incline using a yoga ball or block, and on a decline by getting into a glute bridge position, to target different areas of the chest muscles)
- Pushups (all types!)
- Calf raises, single or both legs (on stairs, etc.)
- Romanian deadlifts, single leg or regular stance
- Split squats
- Glute bridges, single or both legs
- Jumping squats
- Heel elevated squats
- Single leg squats
- “Back” squats (with weight on shoulders, weighted backpack, etc.)
Building an Effective Workout
Go to Failure (or close to it)
With lighter loads, it's going to take quite a few more repetitions to get to the point of maximum muscle fiber activation, where the most growth stimulus is happening. This might mean rep ranges upwards of 30 on certain movements. Essentially, all movements listed above are safe to perform, up to the point where your technique begins to break down. Challenge yourself to complete as many reps as possible of each of the movements you choose. You may even surprise yourself with the amount of reps you can complete before you reach breakdown of form and true failure.
Your goal should be to reach, close to, total muscle fatigue with each exercise. Spending less time resting between sets will ensure that you do. (e.g. where we may have been able to perform 30 overhead presses had we rested up completely for 2 minutes, we will begin our next set after 30 seconds, and may only get 22 reps before we hit failure). It's totally normal to not be able to complete the same amount of reps for each following set - this is actually a good sign you're doing it right!)
Superset to save time
Instead of performing a single movement for all prescribed sets then moving to the next, save time by combining 2-3 exercises of opposite muscle groups with no break in between, then rest when all 3 movements are complete.
Train (almost) Everyday
Generally, lighter weights create less demand on your joints and, as a result, you recover quicker. As long as you are not experiencing excessive soreness, you will be able to train more often.
An effective plan for an average, healthy gym-goer: workout 5-7 days a week, choose 5-10 different movements a day, do 3-5 sets to failure of each movement.
Got questions? We got you. Our Performance Coaches are offering virtual training sessions, or monthly programming that includes weekly check-ins.