Week 3 — How can you maintain or improve your fitness level when everything is shut down?
This is not the post I’d originally planned for this week. I had planned to help you look at different options for improving fitness both inside and outside of the gym, but with everything happening around the world I decided to put that on the back burner.
We can address your optimal fitness plan when this epidemic is over and the world is starting to return to normalcy, but for now I want to focus on something else. A lot of gyms around the US have been closed, and even if the gyms closest to you are still open you may not feel comfortable going right now.
So today I’m going to give you some ideas of workouts you can do at home, with minimal or no equipment, to help you at least maintain your current fitness level through this crisis.
FREE daily home-based workouts
I think what’s going to keep all of us going during this time is to help each other however we can. In that spirit, I’ve started posting daily workouts in my Facebook group — CrazyFitMommy Fitness — which you can access for free at least Monday thru Friday, and I will do my best to include weekend movements as well.
Each day there will be two workouts posted. The first is more geared towards beginners, and will not require any equipment. There will be standard bodyweight, bootcamp style movements, such as squats, burpees, lunges, pushups, etc.
There will also be an advanced workout that assumes you have a little basic equipment (like a few dumbbells) and at least a little bit of background in fitness. These workouts may include more complicated movements, such as dumbbell versions of olympic lifts, for those who already know how to do them. I will provide a scaled version of each of those movements, as I do not recommend that you try to learn them on your own. Olympic movements are complicated, full body movements, and you can hurt yourself if you do them improperly. I am programming them as an option for those who already know how to do them, but I am not giving the level of guidance that you would need to learn these movements for the first time.
I will do my best to get on live each day and at least explain the movements, and when I have the space I will demonstrate movements as well. Like yours, my family is learning to share space in unprecedented ways, so I’ll ask for your patience if a child or my husband wanders into a video unexpectedly.
I have been able to convert part of my garage into a makeshift gym with some minimal equipment borrowed from my gym, so I should be able to demonstrate more often this week than I was last week. I want to encourage you to comment or message me with any questions you have, additional help you need, or even different styles or movements you’d like to see in future workouts. I want this to work for you!
Crossfit or Bootcamp style workouts
Why do crossfit or bootcamp style workouts work so well at home?
First of all, because you get a lot of variety of movements so you don’t tend to get as bored. Secondly, these workouts are often in a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) format, which allows you to get a more intense workout in less time.
With the HIIT format, you perform movements at a high intensity for a certain amount of time, and then rest for a short period, and then repeat. This allows you to work more intensely than a longer workout, and research shows that this type of workout will continue to elevate your metabolism for up to 24 hours afterward (this is called EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). A lower intensity, steady state workout (such as a 40 minute jog) won’t keep your metabolism elevated nearly as long.
Yoga may seem like some easy stretching, but it can actually be a very intense workout. Yoga is great for an active rest day and to increase mobility, and it’s something you can safely do with your kids! Especially if you can’t go outside right now, this is a great way to help your kids burn off excess energy and feel less stir crazy.
I love doing calming yoga with my kids before bedtime; it really helps them wind down! There are quite a few yoga programs you can find on YouTube, but my favorite by far is Yoga with Adrienne. She has several 30 day programs tailored to different needs, and the movements are slow and explained well.
To the right is an easy beginner sequence called a Sun Salutation, which is a great way to introduce yourself to yoga. Most yoga classes start with some form of a Sun Salutation to help get the body and mind ready for the rest of the movements.
While it wouldn’t seem like you can get in a good martial arts workout in your own home, MMA conditioning can be done anywhere and is a great workout. If you have some sort of punch or kick pad, or a partner who’s willing to let you punch his/her hand, even better! (But be careful please)
The act of actually hitting something works more muscles than just pretending to strike in the air, so that’s always the best option. Knowing the average person probably doesn’t have a pad (and someone to hold it) readily available, the best way to keep the intensity of an MMA style workout up is to move like you’re actually going to hit someone. Moving through a bunch of punches in a bouncy, group fitness style way might get your heart rate up but it’s not going to do much else. Actually moving like you’re punching something every time you strike works completely different muscles and ramps up the intensity!
This is one of my favorite workouts to put my class through, and it doesn’t require any equipment besides a sturdy chair.
A quick explanation of the striking movements:
jab — a punch with the non-dominant hand
cross — a punch with the dominant hand
knee strike — using the muscle/fat pad above the knee to strike a target
front kick — keeping the foot flexed, kicking something directly in front of you
If you are right handed, you will stand with your left foot slightly forward (your “fighting stance”), jabs will be your left hand, and a cross will be your right hand. This is the opposite for someone who is left handed.
More than anything, it’s important to stay moving every day. During this time of isolation it will be very common to feel anxious and stir crazy, and any kind of exercise will help keep you in a healthier mental and emotional state.
As always, please reach out if you need any additional help during this time, and if you have any workout questions or any other styles of workout you’d like to see, please let me know!