2020 has already been a hell of a year hasn’t it so far?
If you told me three months ago that I would be writing a post about working out during a near worldwide quarantine, I would’ve told you to seek help.
Well—here I am writing that exact post.
Although it will not be permanent, life has certainly changed in the short run for most of us.
If you are in the United States as I am, your public gym is almost certainly closed as I write this.
Closed with no potential date given for reopening.
Pretty scary for most of us gym rats.
With the gyms closed, you have two options.
Option one is to say screw it and wait until the gyms open again.
Who knows how long that will be. You can wipe out months or even years of hard work if you go with that option.
Option two is to decide that you will overcome this annoying bump in the road and work out at home.
I know most of you reading this are going to go with the second option which is why this post is going to tell you how to work out during a quarantine.
I’ll give the obvious disclaimer that this is for healthy non-infected people who are forced to stay at home during all of this and need to find a way to stay in shape.
If you have the Corona virus, working out should be the last thing on your mind.
Also, this is assuming you have access to minimal equipment. If you have a home gym full of equipment, you’d have no need to be reading this.
With that being said, here we go.
A change in philosophy
If you are a dedicated gym rat used to lifting heavy weights and using machines, you’re going to have to change the way you look at working out.
During this time, you aren’t going to have access to the kind of weights and machines you are used to.
You are going to have to change the way you look at working out in the meantime.
There are two goals you should have during this period. One is primary and one is secondary.
The primary goal you should have is to maintain the current shape you’re in during all of this.
That means different things to different people.
Some want to stay ripped and keep their 6-pack, while others want to keep their size and 20-inch guns.
Whatever your current shape is (as long as you’re happy with it), you should seek to maintain it with your home workouts.
A secondary and ambitious goal you should having during this time is to actually improve on the shape you are already in.
I believe that we always need to have a goal in our training and seeking to improve our physiques is a good one to have.
It will also keep you motivated and help you to stop from losing your mind while working out in your tiny living room daily.
If you can keep both of these goals in mind while working out at home, I firmly believe that you will accomplish them and potentially be in better shape then you were when your gym closed.
You don’t need weights or machines to get in awesome shape!
Bodyweight training to the rescue
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of calisthenics and bodyweight training.
Since I started this blog, I’ve been preaching about the benefits of bodyweight training.
I’ve been lifting weights since I was about 12 just so you know that I’m biased towards lifting if anything.
Still, I believe that the benefits of calisthenics and bodyweight training is largely overlooked.
You can absolutely maintain and build muscle mass with bodyweight training.
Check out photographs of densely muscled prisoners or calisthenic disciples on YouTube and you will quickly realize the things possible with bodyweight training.
Since you don’t have access to many weights or machines right now, your primary style of training is going to have to be old-school calisthenics.
I’m going to give a brief plan for bodyweight workouts that will help keep your gains, but I highly recommend you check out the books Convict Conditioning and Jailhouse Strong I have listed in my recommended reading for more information.
These books are awesome and are very motivational. Amazon is still shipping like normal right now so it shouldn’t be an issue to get your hands on them.
A simple plan
Bodyweight training is a massive area and I can go on for hours about all the workouts that are possible with it.
Like everything else I write, I am going to keep this as simple as possible.
The basics are always the most effective and I’ll prove it to you with this plan.
In my opinion, these are the most effective exercises to help you stay in shape during this trying time that will give you the best bang for your buck.
Regular push-ups. Diamond push-ups. Sit-ups. Pull-ups (if you have a bar). Horizontal rows (off a table). Bodyweight squats. Calf extensions (off raised surface or step). Handstand push-ups. Neck Bridges and bar hangs.
I can easily add another ten exercises, but this is a minimalist list that covers almost every body part.
The only two exercises that require a piece of equipment are pull-ups and bar hangs. They require a pull-up bar or something you can hang off of.
I’m assuming that most people have access to that, but if you don’t just exclude them.
Horizontal rows off a table will work your back and forearms a ton on their own.
This is entirely your personal preference, but I will give you some basic guidelines for getting the most out of calisthenic exercises.
- Do them with correct form at a moderate to slow pace.
- Vary the amount of repetitions you do.
Some high some low.
- Do more repetitions than you do with weights.
- Have fun.
Since you aren’t going to use actual weights, you will need to focus on muscle activation.
Rushing through each set is not the right way to activate your muscles.
This is all about time under tensions. The longer you can keep your muscles under tension with these exercises, the more effective they are going to be for you.
I cannot tell you how many sets and repetitions to do. Each one of you reading this is different.
Some may people able to crank out 50 push-ups while some may only be able to do 10.
Do your best and don’t compare yourself to everyone else.
There are a million and one bodyweight workout plans you can find online, but I think you’ll get a lot more out of making your own up based upon the exercises I gave you.
You can mix and match exercises or stick to a body part-based bodybuilding plan.
You’ll learn a lot about your body and will have fun during this whole thing.
Keep in mind that you can usually train with calisthenics at a much higher rate than with weights.
I wouldn’t bench press every day, but I’ve done push-ups every day for months with no issues and have seen great improvements.
It’s all in your head
I purposely did not make this complicated and give you a ton of detailed workout plans because that’s not what you need.
In times like this you need simplicity.
To maintain and gain muscle, you need to activate it and keep it under tension.
You need to change your mindset that the only way to gain muscle is with a barbell or machine. It truly is not the case.
Each of these exercises will help you to do that and maintain your gains during this quarantine.
I believe that a lot of people will come out of this period realizing that their workouts have become too complicated.
You do not need a million different machines and rep schemes based off a 1-rep max to look awesome.
Throw all that garbage out the window.
People have been getting jacked and ripped for centuries using just their bodyweight.
Take this time to invest in and learn about the benefits of calisthenics.
I guarantee you will see the value in them and included them into your normal routine when the gyms open again if you weren’t already doing so.
I hope this has been a big help.
Train hard and do what you can with what you have!
P.S. What’s your home workout routine look like during this quarantine? I’d also love to hear any other comments or questions you have on bodyweight workouts below!