Trapz Johnson, if you’re familiar with him, he may be making a reappearance, as I’m losing my mind here in quarantine.
Four main ideas to focus on. The first is that to retain neural force production qualities, basically your nervous system’s ability to generate high outputs. If you don’t have access to a bunch of weights to do that, the way you’re going to have to do it is with really high velocity, high force movements, like sprinting, jumping, different kinds of plyometric exercises, plyometric push-up variations.
That’s going to keep the qualities of the nervous system you need to lift heavy intact for longer than doing nothing, of course. Particularly exercise like depth jump, where you’re dropping off of one box, or ledge, or chair, or whatever, coffee table, whatever it may be right now, landing, and jumping as high as possible. That can really help retain those force production qualities for this time, depending on how long it goes.
Number two thing to focus on, is going to be retaining muscle mass, and hypertrophy. Even if you’re limited to only bodyweight training, or getting creative, adding backpacks and duffel bags, Zercher squatting your dog, or your child, or firemen carrying your wife around the house, whatever it may be.
Even those limited intensity exercises, limited load, if you’re training it for very high volume, and to near-failures — zero reps and reserve type of work — that’s going to help retain muscle.
It may be redundant training, it might be just a lot of push-ups, squats, lunges, inverted rows using your kitchen table to do inverted rows, or dips from a chair, but doing a lot of volume of that’s going to help retain muscle, and keep you in the best position possible, when you get back into the gym.
Then, more to the idea of pivoting the goals — while you probably can’t get stronger during this time, depending on your qualification as a lifter — building up a lot of work capacity with high frequency, high volume training, short rest periods. That’s all going to be a long term benefit when you get back in the gym. You could actually be in as good, or better general shape, to be able to tolerate a little bit more training.
Utilizing things like EMOMs, time to rest periods, drop sets, mechanical drop sets, AMRAPs, cluster, all these different things, is going to be a useful time.
Then finally, to introduce new movement patterns, more mobility work. If you’re in a situation like me, and you’re dealing with an injury, and you’ve been neglecting taking care of it, this is the perfect time to take a step back from training hard, and make sure that you’re coming out of this time as healthy as possible.
For powerlifters, weightlifters, even CrossFitters, who deal almost exclusively in that sagittal movement plane — they’re just going up and down, forward and back, type of thing — implementing some side to side, some rotational movement patterns, is going to help you stay healthier.
It’s going to help probably correct some imbalances that may have arisen in the last weeks, months or years of more specific training, and it can just be fun for a new challenge.
I think if you focus on those four things, and then you force yourself to be creative in how you can load some of these exercises — backpack on your back, backpack on your front, both, Zercher carrying your kids around, whatever it may be — you can still create a lot of positive momentum in this time, with training.