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How to train effectively without the gym part 2
Welcome to part 2 of the effective home training article.
Earlier in the week we spoke about how we can effectively train without any formal gym equipment. Now we will look at what you can do to make your workout much more effective with a few low cost items.
Training with a pull-up bar and resistance bands:
For a relatively low price, a pull-up bar (that can fit on the door frame) and a set of resistance bands can be a game changer. (EDIT, instead of a pull-up bar for the door I would always favour a standalone pull-up frame, if you have the space. This has the added benefit of versatility, such as being usable for dips and can handle a lot more weight through it).
As I alluded to in part one the resistance bands can make back training far more accessible to everybody. I have always considered the pull-up a mainstay of back training but they are relatively advanced and therefore out of the reach of 90% of gym goers. By tying a resistance band around the bar you can stretch this under your feet to add assistance to your body-weight thus making it MUCH easier.
With the bar both back and bicep training become a lot easier through different variants of pull/chin ups. Furthermore the use of the resistance bands means most gym exercises are now open to you again.
You will find with resistance bands the strength curve is different to a machine or free weight. As the elastic stretches the resistance increases making all exercises harder at the extreme end of ROM at the maximal band tension.
Another thing you may find for those who are serious lifters is it is hard to match the loads you are used to in the gym. Whilst the cables are marketed with very impressive levels of resistance this anecdotally appears to be at the very end of the ROM. A slow training tempo to maximise TUT with a pause at the full contraction position will help increase intensity and give you ‘best bang for buck’ for each exercise.
When using the bands, you have to think of the biomechanics of the exercise you are performing. For example seated rows are done by looping the band under the soles of your feet. You then row the band as per the machine in the gym. Greater resistance could be created by increasing your ‘leg-length’ with blocks under your feet for example).
Bicep curls as another example would be performed whist you stand on the band. The less ‘slack’ you allow either side of both feet placement, the harder the exercise as you put the band under greater tension throughout the curl.
An example of some of the exercises that I find particularly effective with bands are row (back), assisted pull-ups (back), front squats (legs), curls (biceps), tricep extensions, lateral raises (medial delts), front raises (front delts), and pull apart (rear delts/rhomboids).
In summary bands do have their limitation but they are extremely flexible (no pun intended) training tool and open up unlimited options to hit all body parts.
Training with more equipment (adjustable dumbbells, kettlebells, gymnastic rings etc):
If I was to purchase additional kit I would either get a TRX (these are expensive), or equivalent. Alternatively, some cheaper gymnastic rings. The rings in particular are excellent for advanced movements as stabiliser muscles are taxed to a far greater degree than that of a fixed bar. Also a set of adjustable dumbbells and/or a kettlebell.
It is worth noting that with all this equipment EVERYBODY should be capable of working to, or close to, failure in a muscle building rep range of say 6-20 easily enough. Especially if you manipulate TUT.
With this degree of equipment beginners and intermediate lifters should progress easily. Advanced lifters used to 200kg compound movements may need to utilise various intensification methods but will still be able to find some way to progress minor muscle groups, whilst maintaining as much muscle mass as possible.
The only other consideration still to cover should be progression. Generally in the gym people tend to add weight to the bar ad-infinitum, and clearly this isn’t be an option. As with anything however, there is always more than one way to skin a cat. Increased session volume or indeed additional reps in each exercise would be a sensible way to progress. As would gradual slowing of the tempo (for the same reps) or an increase in rep range for things you may struggle with like dips, pull-ups, inverted rows, hand-stand push ups etc. Once your reps cover the full ROM you would look to add a few partials at the end until these too became full ROM. At this point wearing a backpack with some light resistance would be your next phase of progression.
Over this two part article I’ve tried to comprehensively cover your options for effective home based training. Beginners can do nicely with no equipment just by utilising some everyday household items into their training. The more advanced will definitely need a few items of equipment, most of which isn’t too costly. With this and utilisation of various intensification techniques alongside a bit of creativity you can create a perfectly adequate workout.
I hope you find this article helpful, if you do please hit the share button so others can also benefit from this. Don’t let this unique period of time in your life go to waste, Aim to come out the other side fitter than you went in. For help setting up your own workout and/or online coaching for accountability and further help drop me a message.
Stay safe, Sam