The pandemic that is Covid-19 has disrupted the lives all over the world. Many countries are under lock-down, meaning, staying at home has become the new norm. Most parts of Australia are under lock-down too, while some areas have slowly started lifting the lock-down with caution. Whether your gym is closed or not, social distancing or isolation has resulted in avoiding unnecessarily stepping out of our homes for our safety unless absolutely essential.
In a difficult time like this, for a gym enthusiast who has spent months and years of training hard to get in shape and maintain muscle mass, no access to gym equipment can be a cause of panic. But, worry not. All is not lost. There are home workouts that can help you maintain muscle mass without heavyweights. Sure, it may not match the results of a well-equipped gym, but it's a lot better than turning into a couch potato enjoying 'Netflix and chill' until the lock-down is lifted.
So, here's how you can achieve optimal muscle tone and improve your strength with this home workout and nutrition.
Stay at Home Exercises to Maintain Muscle Health
Before you begin these exercises, remember to change into comfortable gym wear like Anarchy Lift Wear for ease of movement and comfort as you prep yourself for a sweaty workout session ahead.
- Exercise 1: Push-ups
Source: Muscle and Fitness
If you are advanced, you can take the classic push-ups a notch higher to work your chest, shoulders, arms and abdominal's. Lie on your stomach and cross your ankles by bending your knees. Put your palms on the floor a little to the side. Let your forehead face the floor by tucking your chin slightly into your chest. Straighten your arms and lift your body to balance on your knees and palms, abdominal's tight. Bend your elbows and bring your body closer to the floor at once. However, instead of touching your chest to the floor, you can just lower your upper arms till they are parallel to the floor. You can perform three sets of 8 to 10 reps.
- Exercise 2: Burpees
Source: HIIT Academy
If you want to lose the fat around your belly, nothing like bur-pees for an ultimate abs workout! This is the granddaddy of all exercises which works as many muscles from head to toe as possible. To do a bur-pee, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your body closer to the ground as you rest your palms on the floor shoulder-width apart. Kick your legs backwards into a push-up position. Then, reverse the movement and jump when you stand. This counts as 1 rep. You can perform 3 or 4 reps of 10 bur-pees each depending on your stamina and endurance levels.
- Exercise 3: Dips between chair
Dips are excellent to work your triceps, shoulders, chest and even the lats. Plus, they are not hard to do at home without any personal trainer to guide you. All you need are two sturdy chairs. Place them shoulder-width apart (back to back). Then press up by putting your hands on the back of the chairs. Make sure you are not bending too far forward, or you could lose your balance. You can let your feet touch the floor and use your legs to push you up lightly if you need an assist. Otherwise, keep your feet hooked together and knees bent.
- Exercise 4: Squats
Source: Fashion Beans
Squats are one of the easiest exercises you can do at home that works your thighs and hips. For a beginner, you can simply sit and stand without using your hands, as if there is a chair behind you. For an advanced fitness level, you can add weights (Think a backpack full of Harry Potter books?) and wear it on your chest for front squats.
To perform squats, stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips and weight on your heels. Sit back as lower as you can without bending too many inches forward. Remember not to let your knees stick out past your toes. Stand back up. You can perform 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
- Exercise 5: Hollow hold to rock
Lie on your back and reach your arms overhead as you extend your legs in front of you. Pull your ankles together and point your toes. Engage your abs so your abdominal's hollow and your lower back round a bit. Raise your shoulders and lift your legs off the floor at the same time. Now rock yourself back and forth. Ensure you don't leave the hollow-body position. Feel the stretch on the abs and remember to deep breathe as you perform this exercise. If you have dumbbells at home, you can add a variation to this by adding the weights to strengthen your core.
Focus on the Right Nutrition/Diet
Whether it is to maintain your muscle mass or your current body composition, nutrition plays a pivotal role. Especially now when you are less active than on normal days, and there is a higher probability of being drawn to comfort foods at home, you need a focused mind not to let all your workout sessions go to waste.
Proteins are your best friends
Source: 3W Market News Report
Some fitness experts recommend maintaining an adequate level of protein in the body based on your body weight. Ideally, 2 grams of protein per kg of the body is recommended. This means, if you weigh 60kgs, your protein intake per day should be 120grams. Proteins are also responsible for increasing the hormones in your body that make you feel fuller for longer duration, so you tend not to overeat. Plus, they also help to balance lower levels of insulin and blood sugar levels.
Be mindful of the carbs and calories you intake
Source: American Diabetes Association
Since you aren't venturing outside as often as you used to and you are not getting the general movements throughout the day, you may want to reduce your carbs and calorie intake to compensate for this reduced movement. It makes sense to prioritise your carbs around the workout routine you set for yourself.
Put a limit on sugary drinks
Source: ZME Science
Sodas, aerated drinks or sugar from juices get absorbed into the bloodstream at a rapid rate. This can lead to a rise in insulin levels. If you frequently consume sugar-sweetened beverages it may cause weight gain, type 2 diabetes or obesity in the long run. Instead of drinking apple juice, get your sugar from the apple fruit, the natural form. It also keeps you full for a longer time and is a much healthier choice.
Eat Magnesium-rich foods
Did you know Magnesium aids in muscle contraction? It is a critical component in the functioning of our cardiovascular and muscular systems. So, food items such as almonds, cashews, leafy green veggies, tofu, pumpkin seeds and more can do a whole lot of good for your muscles. Typically, men require 400 to 420 milligrams of magnesium in their diet per day. It can vary depending on your age.
Eat Healthy Fats
While it is recommended to cut down on the trans fats and saturated fats, the body still needs an appropriate amount of healthy fats to maintain hormonal function and boost metabolism. If you are only performing vigorous exercises and relying on a fat-free diet, it can impede your muscle growth. Consider keeping the fat between 15% and 20% of your daily calorie intake. Some sources of healthy fats include dark chocolate, avocados, Greek yogurt, olives, chia seeds, nuts, among others.
Source: BBC Good Food
Lastly, be a water guzzler. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water daily can make your metabolism functioning at its best, aid in digestion and also reduce bloating. Your muscles need water just as much as the rest of the body. It can be hard to keep track of the water consumption while you are home, but make it a habit to monitor the bottles you finish in a day.
Just because a gym is not accessible at the moment, it doesn't mean you should cancel the 30 to 60 minutes of your workout commitment. It just means you got to pull up your socks, maintain the same workout consistency even while at home and avoid twiddling away your time. While it is natural to feel bummed in such challenging times, engaging in some form of exercise can do wonders even for your mental health and not just physical fitness alone.
You may consider investing in some basic equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, kettle-bells for an effective workout. But even if you can't, it's completely fine as the body-weight exercises mentioned above and the right nutrition can help you be on track. Not to forget, the right gym wear is as important to get you in the mood for an intense workout session. You can have a look at the products offered by Anarchy Lift Wear, a leading gym clothing brand based in Western Australia.