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Gyms are closed - how to maintain strength?

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  • Gyms are closed - how to maintain strength?

    OK folks... so I arrived today at my local community center gym to find that it's been closed, indefinitely, in order to help manage the risk of coronavirus spreading. Which I support.

    However, I've been working very hard on my strength gains, and I'm not in the mood to sit on the couch watching TV for months.

    Personally I live in Vancouver, and I was about to begin BBM's PowerBuilding II template on a calorie cut - but I think this question applies to folks anywhere who may be losing gym access at this unique time.

    I own some kettlebells up to 24kg, a 45-lb barbell with no plates, a pull-up bar, elastic bands, and a 48-lb child (actually she owns me).

    Any wise advice on how I can best maintain my strength? Isometric holds? Push on immovable objects? Train to failure once a week even if it's super high reps?

    I do look forward to some nice time outside - skiing and hiking and climbing and all kits of good fit activities. Spring is upon us. But like most people here, I'd like to maintain strength.

    Thanks all for your ideas,
    - James.

  • #2
    The most recent BBM newsletter has some ideas. I don't think you are gonna be able to do much powerlifting specific work (though you might be able to figure something out w/ your barbell). I think you could make a decent workout centered around unilateral leg exercises, Pushups, and pullups, keeping in mind that you can wear a backpack to add weight. I think a BBM at home template is coming soon, in the meantime maybe you can critique and get some inspiration from the program I wrote for myself (it's just a repeating microcycle):

    Pestilence Lifting
    notation is [email protected]
    Pushup: [email protected] (the + means that I'll add as much weight as I can to keep the reps down to 5, but once I max out the weight I'll just add reps)
    Bulgarian SS: [email protected]
    Lunges: [email protected]
    Inverted Row 3xAMRAP

    Feet Elevated pushup: [email protected]
    Step Ups: [email protected]
    4ct NHC: 3x3

    Pistol Box Squat: [email protected]
    Pushup: [email protected]
    Single Leg Hip Thrust: [email protected]
    Inverted Row: 3xAMRAP

    Dips: [email protected]
    Step Ups: [email protected]
    4ct NHC: 3x3


    • #3
      Doing handstand / head stand push ups with your feet barely resting up against a wall is good IMO.
      Most people here (PL/bench press focus) are going to be able to be a shit ton of pushups and/or dips between chairs....
      ....because.... Bench Press.
      If you don't have the appropriate apparatus to artificially load pushups/dips/chin-ups (weighted vest, weighted-belt )
      .... well, get used to the low loads/highrep/or myo-set type stuff. Might get boring.

      If you do have those things, well, you probably have a lot of other resources on hand and you are better equipped in many other ways.
      So go away.

      For us who don't have jack shit at home, back to the headstand pushups:
      Most people can't do many of these for a lot of reps.
      It's almost like pressing your body weight; you can get some heavier loads/intensities with these first.
      So at least you get some variety in your loading....

      The eccentric has to be done fairly controlled (see" smashing head and neck).
      (unless you intentionally kick-off the wall to the ground, for the next rep...which might be a smart option for some)

      You can push off an object to deepen the ROM.

      I would do these first because they are hard, THEN do your endless pushup-reps / chair dips afterward.

      Rando video from the interwebbs (3:41 if timestamp doesn't work)

      You can obviously use some object to deepen the (starting) ROM.
      At Xfit boxes you'll see plates stacked up; but if you have plates, you obvs have other solutions to your lift-at-home- problem.
      If you stack something up, it needs to be stable. Be smart ... e.g. a stack of thick books can and will fly apart.
      Maybe two step stools or something.


      yeah, BW lunges are good.

      Simple controlled setups on a chair are tough also.
      if you completely DO NOT USE the foot/leg on the floor.

      What you have to do is intentionally straighten the 'off' leg, and flex your toe/forefoot so you do NOT cheat with the leg/foot off the floor.
      After you start to rise, relax the 'off' leg ... don't land with a locked leg of course.
      Its really really hard to push up only with the leg on the box/chair, and NOT add an initial mini-push with the 'off' leg.

      For step ups I like:
      LLLLLLLLLLL rest 1 unit RRRRRRRRRR rest 1 unit LLLLLLLLLLL rest 1 unit RRR....and so on

      For lunges I like:
      LRLRLRLRLRLRLRLR rest 2 units LRLRLRLRLRLRLR rest 2 units LRLRLR... and so on.

      A unit could be 30-90 secs.

      I guess what makes no sense to me is:
      LLLLLLL then immediately RRRRRR rest period LLLLLLL then immediately RRRRRR. ....and so

      Last edited by mbasic; 03-20-2020, 01:49 PM.


      • #4
        Yeah hand stand pushups are good but hard to add weight too, don't sleep on how much weight you can add w/ a backpack. I can get mine too ~120lbs, and ~90lbs had me doing pushups for sets of fahve (though I only bench 275lbs).


        • #5
          You are going to lose a lot of strength if gyms stay closed for as long as I think they will. You're in a better position than many people in that you at least have SOMEequipment, but when you're exclusively doing work that is waaaay submaximal and non-specific for possibly multiple months, your SBD strength is kinda screwed. If you continue doing some sort of resistance training with the equipment you have, though, you should hopefully be able to hold onto most of your muscle mass, which will make regaining your strength quicker and easier once you're able to get back into the gym. Since you're going to be lifting rather light, I'd suggest multiple sets of timed AMRAPs and myo-reps.

          If you have the space and the money, try to get some actual equipment - some plates for your barbell, a rack, and a bench at minimum. I live in Ohio and our gyms were closed down Monday EOD, so I rushed to order equipment from Rogue with the intention of setting up a cozy gym in my 8' x 8' shed. Some of it shipped yesterday and some of it is on backorder - most importantly the squat rack and iron 45lb plates. I really hope they'll be able to get them produced and shipped before they and all other non-essential businesses in the state get shut down...I'm not very optimistic.


          • #6
            Originally posted by 4l3x View Post
            Yeah hand stand pushups are good but hard to add weight too, don't sleep on how much weight you can add w/ a backpack. I can get mine too ~120lbs, and ~90lbs had me doing pushups for sets of fahve (though I only bench 275lbs).
            yeah, I forgot all about the backpack trick.
            That's a good one.