If you’re not someone who was in the habit of visiting the gym regularly, the COVID-19 lockdown might not have affected your exercise routine much. It might even have improved it, because the many free home workouts now available online (plenty of them on this website) are a great way to fill the extra time created by not commuting or going out in the evenings.
However, if you are a keen gym-goer now stranded at home without the equipment you normally use, you might be wondering how you’re meant to maintain your training regime in the absence of heavy free weights.
To help you spend this time away from the gym productively, here are three tips from Tig Hodson and Sam Prynn, co-founders of StrongHer (opens in new tab), which will be opening a new women-only studio in east London once the lockdown is over.
1. Slow The Tempo
You can most certainly make “simple” bodyweight exercises harder. One great way of making an exercise harder without any weights is to slow the tempo down. For example, with one of our favourite bodyweight moves, the squat, you could either slow the tempo right down so you lower for three seconds, hold for three seconds at the bottom and take three seconds to rise; or you could make it a one-and-a-quarter squat, which has a slight raise in the middle to keep a little more tension in the legs.
2. Focus On The Eccentric
Eccentric is fancy talk for the lengthening of the muscle, and focusing on this stage of a move is a great way to master bodyweight exercises such as press-ups and pull-ups. For the press-up, complete between three and five sets of three to six reps, starting at the top and lowering yourself as slowly as you can, aiming for a ten-second lower.
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3. Go Unilateral
One thing a lot of people hate doing is unilateral movements, aka single-sided movements. This is because one, it takes twice the time, and two, it exposes weaknesses which people hate knowing! But this period of social isolation is a fantastic time to work on unilateral exercises like single-leg deadlifts, step-ups and dozens of others and, if you have a weaker side, give that side the time it needs. Unilateral moves also help with your balance and core stability as an added bonus.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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