This blog was meant to feature more personal content, including training logs, opinion pieces, and eventually even some guest content. But COVID-19 threw a wrench into my plans because you can’t train for powerlifting if you don’t even have a barbell. Sadly, what I had hoped would turn out to be a relatively short quarantine has turned into the world’s longest lockdown (literally). I’ve stopped counting, but I’m sure I haven’t been out of this house for well over a hundred days.
I’m not the only one, and countless other people have resorted to alternative means to keep fit and wait for the opportunity to get back to their training plans. This isn’t about getting back – I have neither the experience nor the information at hand to give you any advice on how to get started with training after a long (long) break.
More than anything else, I’m just checking in to let regular readers know (if I have any) that I’m alive and well, and still 100% committed to working on this little project. I’m just incredibly limited in terms of resources, and there’s no real point on writing yet another piece about how I’ve been doing hip hinges or single-leg squats or finding other ways to challenge myself physically.
If you’re still stuck in a lockdown, and gyms are still closed where you live with no real end date in sight, here are a few things I’ve found very helpful in the interim.
Work Out With Friends
Peer pressure just works. Home workouts usually have an incredibly low barrier of entry, because most of the time all you need to do is set up your phone so it doesn’t fall on its face, and roll out a mat. But I personally get unbelievably demotivated to workout at home when the options available to me begin and end at push up and split squat variations. I miss the feeling of heavy weights, of smashing PRs, and of trackable progress.
But rather than whine endlessly about that, just start working out with some pals. I have found that motivating others to start taking training seriously for the first time in a long time (or ever, in some cases) can be very rewarding, and it’s fun playing instructor and finding ways to address individual weaknesses and issues in others.
When you’re finally done with that first session and schedule another one for the same time tomorrow, you’ve got additional pressure to make that appointment and not bail on your friends – especially if you’re leading the workout. No one wants to be the guy or gal who quit.
Don’t Stop Making Progress (i.e. Harder Than Last Time)
When you’re bored and tired of bodyweight training, it’s hard to motivate yourself to find ways to progress. Trust me, I’ve been there. But you need to make a promise to yourself that you’ll train harder than last time – whether by 1% or 10%, or 100%. Eke out that extra rep. Find a way to add a few pounds. Reduce the rest period. Slow down your eccentric. Speed up your reps.
Whatever kind of program you end up setting up, always make sure you’ve got a progression in mind. If you’re working up to a one-armed pushup, what comes after that? Make a goal for 5 reps, then 10, then another variation – bring your legs closer together, bring one leg off the ground, add weight.
Prioritize Your Weaknesses
Lockdown remains a great time to build physical skills that you might have neglected during your typical training cycle, whether that’s improved conditioning, core strength, unilaterally equal strength, or stability.
Take advantage of your limitations to target your absolutely weakest links, and take the time to truly humble yourself – whether that’s with ankle mobility training, a front lever, or your overhead strength in a handstand press. Push yourself past 20 pullups. Double your hanging time. Hone that grip strength.
Hang In There
We might not necessarily see a vaccine until spring next year, and there’s no telling what kind of restrictions we’ll have to live with until then. Even if gyms have reopened where you live, we don’t know how long they’ll be allowed to stay open.
The best way to prepare for something like this is obviously to invest in your own gym. But not everyone has the luxury of the space needed to do so, nor the funds to go spend on a home gym.
Body weight training might not be ideal, but there are still plenty of ways to challenge yourself.
This is no longer about preserving your powerlifting total – no matter how much time you take away from training, as long as you haven’t injured yourself during the lockdown it won’t take much time to reach and surpass your pre-COVID-19 strength. This is about preserving your sanity and making the most of a shitty situation.