With gyms up and down the UK closed, and the majority of the nation staying at home during coronavirus lockdown, many of us might be worried about keeping to our usual fitness routine.
And with life effectively on pause until lockdown is over, it’s understandable that energy levels can take a hit; leading to us feeling less motivated to keep our physical activity levels up.
But there are ways you can exercise at home. And there are also mental approaches you can take to help you stay active.
The first of our Keeping Up with the Pack series of videos is a double bill, and we spoke to Bodene Thompson (Second Row), Gaz O’Brien (Full Back) Jon Kelly (Head of Strength and Conditioning), Tony Gigot (Full Back), Gadwin Springer (Prop) and Hakim Miloudi (Utility Back) to get their take on exercising at home, and staying motivated.
Do you need equipment to work out at home?
When lockdown measures were announced and gyms were closed, it’s likely that catalogue retail sites saw a spike in people ordering exercise bikes and weight benches for their homes, to help tide them over until things returned to normal.
But what about those of us with little or no equipment at home? How essential is it?
Jon Kelly: ‘Do you need it? No. Does it make life a bit easier? Yes. So there’s a scale and a spectrum to work from when programming to workout from home. In the current climate you are still allowed to leave the house to exercise once a day. So a run and a walk is quite easy to do. The public can create a gym away from the gym if they’ve got the kit at home, but it is not essential.’
Gaz O’Brien: ‘I’ve not got any equipment so a lot of my training has been bodyweight exercises to maintain my strength. But you can improvise. We’ve just had our kitchen re-tiled, and I had some spare tiles so I’ve been using those. They’re pretty heavy, you can use them as a weight for press ups and stuff like that. You can probably improvise using various pieces of furniture as I’ve been doing.’
Gadwin Springer: ‘I’ve got some dumbbells at home so I use those, or resistance bands. I’ve been doing lots of squats and body weight exercises, push ups, pull ups. I’ve been using small dumbbells trying to do some reps, really. Instead of doing 10 reps I do maybe 30 or 40 reps just to feel the burn, keep my muscle ticking over really.’
What sort of exercises can you do at home?
For those of us who are accustomed to using quite specific gym equipment, such as free weights, cables or weight machines, it is possible to replace these movements with bodyweight exercises.
The trick, as Jon Kelly explains, if you usually lift heavy but don’t have heavy weights at home, is to do more repetitions if you’re going for bodyweight exercises:
Jon Kelly: ‘We’ve replicated the players’ normal gym session and the normal exercise that they would do. So squatting patterns, hinging patterns, pressing patterns, pulling patterns. But we understand that because they are limited by body weight, in some cases, rather than the usual rep ranges you would see in strength training they tend to go for higher rep ranges, or they go for a single leg or single arm version.’
‘We do a lot of 30 second intervals in our training. So I said to Greg Worthington the other day, if you choose eight exercises that you’re familiar with, perform one exercise for 30 seconds and have 30 seconds rest, and then go into the next exercise, then 30 seconds rest, until you’ve done all eight and have two minutes rest. If you do that two or three times, that’s a good session there.’
‘I think Greg chose some quite simple things, like a squat, press up, he has some exercise bands at home so he actually managed to create a lat pulldown at home. He chose an ab exercise, threw lunges in there, planks. Bodyweight core exercises are quite easy to create. So if you just think about all the muscles attached to your body, exercise that muscle once, for 30 seconds, a little bit of rest - then move on to different muscles - you can create quite a straightforward circuit like that.’
Bodene Thompson: ‘I’ve got a little curb in the backyard, or you can put a weight plate down, just doing full range squats all the way down, heels to the back heel, ankles if you can get it there, and all the way up on a little bit of elevation knees pointed out. Those are really good if you’ve got no weights, just doing those on a little curb or elevation.’
‘For upper body, you can do komodos. So a modified push up: go down, then move your upper body to one side, then to the other side, then back to the middle, then back up.’
And even for those who normally use the treadmill, there are routines you can do away from the gym that can get your heart rate into the cardio zone.
Bodene Thompson: ‘Maybe every two days, or every three days, maybe just try and go for a little run. If you can find a park and maybe do some tempo running that’s ideal but if you can’t, you can just go for a leisurely walk.’
Jon Kelly: ‘If you like running you can do a either straight continuous run or, in this case, what I’ve suggested is to perform some hundred metre efforts or fifty metre efforts, at a faster pace than you would normally at a continuous effort. So there’s variations around this, it’s not got to be continuous running if you’re a runner, you can do some sprint work as well.’
Gaz O’Brien: ‘For the cardio aspect we’re allowed, as long as we’re keeping social distancing in mind, to go to a field and get running done or do some road running. But if you don’t feel like leaving the house, burpees are great for cardio.’
Hakim Miloudi: ‘When I wake up at home I do something similar to a gym circuit. I don’t have a lot of rest so I just keep working, and I do some boxing. One minute on, 30 seconds off, one minute on, 30 seconds off. I do three or four sets like this, and then some jumping exercises. I do exactly the same, one minute on, 30 seconds off. With less rest so I can work my cardio too.
How do you stay motivated when exercising at home?
For many, staying motivated right now might not seem easy. A lot of us might tend to associate the home with rest and relaxation, so it can be tough to change mindset and see it as a place of exercise.
So what you can do to make sure you’re keeping activity levels up at home? The key according to Jon Kelly, is routine.
Jon Kelly: ‘If you like to exercise in the morning make sure you’ve got a slot each day for your exercise. Then you go into the other jobs you’ve got. If you like exercising in the evening, for example between 5 and 7pm, then train at home between the hours of 5 and 7pm. Create a normal routine as best you can in the four walls of your house.’
Tony Gigot: ‘We receive a programme from our conditioner, and I try to respect every day the exercise we need to do. We’ve got a lot of kilometres to run, so as normal like a normal training week. We try to respect the kilometres we would normally do during the game each week. So I do a lot of running. It’s pretty hard now to do weights so I try to do more intense cardio: jogging, sprints.’
Gaz O’Brien: ‘It is harder don’t get me wrong, I’m not gonna lie to you, cause you get into a routine of jumping into your car, going to training, being with 20-25 other blokes that can get you through the day. If you’ve had a bad day, your mates get you through it, and it’s good to bounce off each other so you get each other through it.’
‘Being home, It’s a bit different. You’ve not got that comradery around you. But you’ve just got to get it done, there’s no other way around it really. You’ve got to get into a routine at home with specific training days. So you set yourself specific days you’re gonna train, and then have a day off at a certain time. And then try and get yourself into a routine at home. It does help.’
Reducing the risk of infection
The takeaway message from all three: ‘Stay at home’.
For the latest guidance on coronavirus, head over to the NHS website.
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