The Quarantine Times 4 – Adapting to Exercising At Home

I wonder what the first week or so is going to look like after the gyms across the country open back up. For me it is going to be a big struggle those first two weeks back. My normal routine involves a lot of heavy lifting and unfortunately I am without those heavy weights during this quarantine. I remember times when I have come back from vacation while taking two weeks off from lifting and how difficult it is to get through a workout. I am guessing when it is finally time to go back to the gym this time, it’ll be worse. It will be most like the time where I broke my hand and had a cast on my arm for 3 months. Although I am not going to the gym on a daily basis, this quarantine is giving me the opportunity to explore other parts of fitness and exercises using body weight.

              My workout routine has been pretty much running, pushups, and pull ups. It does not sound like much and it really isn’t. But when you break it down it can get tough. Running is no walk in the park, literally. It is a 5 mile run and whenever I run, I don’t take it lightly. I usually push myself pretty good so my runs are fairly intense. On this morning’s run, I felt better than ever before. I ran longer than I usually do thanks to another closure of a park that I usually run around. So, I had to take a longer route. Running is something I always want to have with me even when I get old and grey. I think running is extremely important to our overall health and wellness. This quarantine is a great opportunity to really rack up some miles and so far I have been. I’m running longer and more often than I have ever before outside of my college basketball days. This type of running is also a different type of running than what I’m used to. In the past, I would do no more than 3 miles and those 3 miles would be as close to a sprint as I could make it. Now, I am more about pacing myself and today for one of the first times it showed. I started this morning’s run fairly slow and held my breathing just fine. At around the 5th mile I started to ramp up the pace as I like to do towards the end, especially if there is a hill. So, for the last mile up a small incline, I really turned up the pace and was expecting to gas out. However, I didn’t. It was like my muscles had plenty of oxygen from pacing myself and controlling my breathing that I could push myself very fast and it wasn’t gassing me out right away. Eventually I did, but it took longer than it normally does, especially at the 5mile mark. All in all, running has been the biggest positive so far and is something I am going to consistently do for as long as I can.

Another exercise is pushups. Pushups are another thing that is fairly intense since I do about 300 and with a backpack on my back. One of the reasons that I’m in the shape I’m in is because of my focus on my chest in the gym. I do a lot for my chest with heavy weights. I like the way it feels and looks having a healthy chest. I am used to going very heavy on the bench press. Unfortunately I don’t have that luxury here so I am substituting that with lots and lots of pushups. Now, I don’t expect to make any gains from this really. I don’t expect to become bigger or stronger. My goal is more to maintain until this crisis is over. In reality, this is training my chest and arms to do something I usually don’t ask them to do. Doing all these pushups is training my chest and arms in a different way. It’s training them to perform more like a cardio muscle. In other words, my max weight will go down on the bench press but I will be able to do much more pushups than I did with my old routine. This is pretty straightforward because our muscles adapt for what we train them for. It will be interesting to see if there is any muscle loss in the mirror after this crisis. My guess is there will be. On the positive side, I will be in some of the best running shape that I’ve ever been in and it would have been nice giving my upper body a different type of workout for a while. I am very habitual in the gym and having been doing the same exercise routine for about 6 years now. If it works and I’m satisfied then why change it? I’ve worked hard at developing a routine that doesn’t require a lot of minutes while still yielding more results than most other gym goers.

              The other positive that can come out of this is that when we all go back to the gym, I’ll have a project to do. When I’ve been consistently working out every week for weeks and weeks, I start to see fewer and fewer gains as does everyone when their body starts to see its natural limits. And starting from behind like I will be doing, this gives me much more potential gains. Meaning, the fun part about lifting is seeing and feeling the results. When I start behind like this then I have more results to see and feel. And it is a great feeling to get back to your maxs and normal lifting weights. As a result, I am looking forward to that part. Lifting can get a little boring when you have the body you want and there isn’t much more you’d like to improve. Another positive that will come out from this is that I’ll rack up more miles than I ever done before, outside of basketball season. This is allowing me to get my legs and cardio up to speed, and is also great to do during a time of sickness like today. Any boosts to my immune system should not be overlooked at this point and there is nothing better than running.

              I have also been doing lots of pull ups, but would like to incorporate more lower back and traps, two areas pull ups does not target directly. I am looking at potentially adding weight to my pull ups by using a backpack. I also had an idea this morning to fill up water jugs and put those in my back pack and use the back pack to do various pull workouts. I have two empty gallon jugs of water that I drank and are sitting next to my trash. I can easily fill those suckers back up and stuff them into my backpack. Viola. I have weighted pull ups. Thank goodness my roommate has a pull up bar. The callisthenic gym at the park is closed. On my last walk, I noticed there was police caution tape around the whole outdoor gym area to prevent people from using them. That’s a bit of a bummer. Nevertheless, I can use my roomie’s pull up bar and am thinking of a creative way to incorporate my upper back and traps in a pull exercise using my weighted backpack. The idea is for it to be like a row. Pull ups are great, though. I always wanted to become really good at pull ups but my workout routine doesn’t necessarily help with that. I mean I do pull ups every back day. However, I don’t do many and would need to if I wanted to really increase my pull up ability.

              One last positive from this stay at home crisis is the ability to stretch. I stretch every day and my body is thanking me for it. I have incorporated using my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu belt to enhance my stretches and it is working very well. Flexibility is another area that I always could improve on and this is a good opportunity to bring this area up to speed. I mostly focus on my leg flexibility and mobility. My hamstrings will never be flexible enough so I do a lot of hamstring stretches which also helps my lower back. Furthermore, an area that I never really gave attention is my hips. I noticed my lack of flexibility with my hips during Jiu Jitsu. Hip flexibility is crucial in Jiu Jitsu. It hasn’t been a burden, but with better hip mobility I will be better at certain critical moves, transitions, and submissions.

              During this crisis time, I am stuck home like everyone else. I don’t even have weights to use. I have to get creative with my body weight and the weighted everyday things around me. I have my pushups and my runs, but more would be nice. I would like to isolate shoulders more and think of a heavier back exercise to do. I have to get more creative with my surroundings if I want to figure out a solution to this problem. Nevertheless, I think the change in routine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it will set me back some gains, but I look forward to have a project to work on. And it is working different indirect muscles in different way. The body wants variety just like everything else in your life requires. Get creative and start transforming your body. I’m choosing to look at this crisis as a chance for my body to focus on areas that I always put on the back burner such as pull ups, flexibility, and most importantly running.

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