Right now, we’re stuck in limbo.
Gyms are opening up — albeit tentatively — and there is the temptation to go back to the normal routine after a long break.
However, COVID-19 is still a real and present threat. With local outbreaks becoming a genuine concern, people aren’t confident about making the gym part of their day-to-day routine just yet — which is perfectly reasonable.
So, if that sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many are avoiding the gym, but that means fitness equipment for the home remains scarce. Since lockdown began, buying home fitness equipment has been a challenge and that trend doesn’t look set to stop just yet.
With sets like weights, squat racks, benches and weightlifting machines continuing to be near-impossible to acquire — for any reasonable price — what are your options?
You can’t just keep waiting to return to exercise forever. But the longer COVID continues, the more it’s looking like the gym might not be an option.
It’s time to start looking a little closer to home.
There are plenty of muscle-building exercises suitable for the home environment that can help you keep up your fitness levels, and even put on muscle mass, without having a full set of cast-iron plate weights or a chest-fly machine.
Chins-ups are the only item on this list that will require equipment. So why have we added them if you need fitness gear? Because chin-up bars are not in short supply. They are straightforward to manufacture and their high-demand pre-lockdown means there are loads still available. Cheap and accessible, you can grab yourself a decent pull up bar pretty easily.
And chin-ups are fantastic exercises for muscle-building.
Taking advantage of your full body weight, you engage a range of muscles including your shoulders, back, biceps and upper chest. Focus on form and take your time to really get the benefit of a chin-up.
The chances are you’ll only be able to do a few at a time before your body gives in. Be patient on chin-ups, rest and come back to the bar. You’ll soon find you start building muscle thickness across your entire upper body if you still do this exercise.
Tricep dips are a firm favourite for weightlifters even when they’re hitting the gym. This exercise targets the often weaker triceps muscles and puts a lot of strain on them by loading most of your body weight into the movement. The result is you can truly test your limits without the need for any equipment.
The dip exercise works not only the triceps but also the delts, the traps and your forearms. When combined with chin-ups, this is a great exercise because you’re building your biceps and triceps for powerful arm aesthetics, as well as putting a lot of work into your back and shoulders.
Do triceps dips using any strong and stable surface that’s around 50cm off the ground — a coffee table, chair, solid metal bed frame, etc.
Push-ups will forever remain one of the best additions to any workout. They work a myriad of muscle groups, particularly the chest, while also building a robust core.
Push-ups are incredibly easy to adapt to your level of fitness.
If you’re just starting, you can go easy with knee-to-the-ground push-ups. Then as you get more adept, you can introduce additional movements, like claps in-between motions, to make them more challenging. You can also change your stand for tougher press-ups, like wide-armed press-ups or diamond press-ups as a way of engaging different muscle groups and improving your strength.
You must get enough protein during these exercises. Without enough protein, your body cannot repair itself and build new muscle fibres. Protein shakes and supplements can support your goals.
Muscular development is all about progressive overload, and that includes abdominals. Pushing to 100 crunches is going to improve endurance and stability, but not build your abs and make them pop.
For that, you need to do as you do with other routines — you need to increase the difficulty of your exercise.
Weighted crunches help you achieve this goal. They make the movement harder and allow you to add additional weight to achieve the micro-tears needed to build bigger and more defined abs.
You can use anything weighted to add difficulty to your crunches, as long as it’s safe to hold while you exercise. This could be weights if you own any, a heavy book or ornament — even a rock from outside.
Never skip leg day.
Legs are essential muscles to workout. They support balance in terms of physical strength and aesthetics.
The problem is, the legs are powerful muscles. You need to test them if you want to experience growth, which is hard without equipment.
The best way to do this without equipment is the pistol squat. This is essentially a one-legged squat. Using the pistol squat technique not only gives your core a workout but also puts all your weight through one leg, making it much more difficult and therefore much more effective at building muscle than a standard squat.