Maybe you had a new bench 1RM in mind, or you might have wanted to get to squatting 225 for sets of ten without (a) losing all your breath and (b) losing all your form.
Your programming was probably centered around those goals, and now… now, it might feel like all is lost. Creating an at-home workout routine can be emotionally tough when it feels like you’re trapped in it. But you can make it a lot easier for yourself by coming up with solid quarantine exercise goals.
You can maintain a lot of strength and muscle without access to your usual equipment — which will definitely help with your lifts — but you can only reach your goals with a barbell by… being able to work with a barbell. It’s okay to mourn the setback to what you wanted to accomplish. But you can also take note of those pre-pandemic lifting goals and use your lack of gym time as an opportunity to prime your body as well as you can for when you do get back.
How Do You Translate Lifting Goals Into Workout From Home Goals?
You’ll probably need to adjust your workout goals during quarantine, and while it can be scary to feel like you’re losing time, you can try and use the time for a new — but related — set of goals.
If you had serious bench goals, translate them into increasing your shoulder mobility and push-up prowess. Can’t yet do a series of clean archer push-ups? They’ll leave your chest ready to engage when you do get back to benching, and it’ll give you something to work towards now.
If you spend all your quaran-time upset about what you’re missing, that’s okay, you’re allowed to be upset. But you can manage your upsetness by adjusting your goals so you’ll still feel like you’re accomplishing something. You’re not completely adrift — you’re just changing direction for a little while.
Take your earlier goals and craft new, related ones based on the equipment you have available. You might not be able to deadlift a barbell right now, but test how many kettlebell swings you can do in 10 minutes. Record your number and keep beating it each time you do your benchmark workout. Chase some kettlebell goals for a while, and it’ll leave you in pretty good shape to snap back to deadlift when you can.
Had squat goals? Work on your split squat form and adjust your goal from back squatting x weight to split squatting x dumbbell weights for y reps.
How Do You Program For Your Workout Goals At Home?
Of course, when you’re programming for yourself under typical circumstances, your training splits and rep schemes are planned backwards from your long-term goals. You’ve got a series of short-term goals to work on during your microcycles, and everything is timed in training blocks. But… how can you backwards plan when you’re not sure when you’ll be able to gym again?
In reality, you’re never sure of when and how often or intensely you’re going to be able to work out. From bouts of particular intense depression to troubles at work or injuries, there is always uncertainty about your lifting program.
For now, the uncertainty is just staring you in the face a lot harder.
So try to program like you would normally, projecting out six to eight weeks with your training blocks. Just like you normally would, reassess whenever the time comes and keep building from there.
Remember, too, that your goals might be less number oriented now. You might find that you don’t want to try and directly translate your gym goals into a home-based version. Instead, you might take some time to think about what you can gain as a strength athlete at home that you’re unlikely to give yourself in the gym.
Maybe you don’t move in the frontal plane enough at the gym, or you’ve got muscle imbalances or mobility issues to address. Start there — because adding plates to the bar aren’t the only kinds of goals you can have.
Maybe your goals are more process based during quarantine — you’ll commit to a 15-minute mobility session every day in the service of opening up your ankles and hips for squatting prowess, or you’ll complete a full program every few weeks on the Nike Training Club app. Process, rather than numbers, can drive your goals — and your program.
Commit To Benchmark Workouts
During your regularly scheduled gym routine, you probably could tell someone in your sleep what 75% of your current bench max is.
But when you’re training at home, the metrics change — you know exactly what you can do with a barbell, but you might be a lot less familiar with what you’re capable of with bodyweight or whatever equipment you’ve been able to cobble together at home. In the gym, you don’t want to be checking for your true 1RM every two weeks, but it’s reasonable to repeat some benchmark workouts to check your progress every couple weeks when you don’t have access to weights.
If you’re wanting to take advantage of quarantine to really work your chest, test your three-minute pushup threshold (with, of course, perfect form) every couple weeks. Once you learn your body’s rhythms, you’ll be better able to craft a number to shoot for. Trying to up your explosiveness? Jump squats or burpees for time can similarly help you keep track of your progress.
Remember, of course, that just like with lifting weights, your progress won’t always be linear. You’ll have good days and you’ll have sleepy days, and you’re also bound to have utterly crappy days. That’s all normal and okay — that part isn’t about quarantine, it’s about the way your body always works. Keep that in mind at all times. Benchmarks are only one measure of progress, not the end-all-be-all.
It can be scary to feel directionless, especially for something you care about so passionately. But by designing an at-home workout program that takes new goals into account — rather than emotionally clinging to your old ones (you can always go back to them later!) — you’ll be doing your body and quarantine brain a huge favor.
Featured image via Dmytrenko Vlad/Shutterstock