Outside of the brave souls with essential jobs who are still out there keeping society going, many of us are stuck at home right now. This means Taco Tuesday is curbside pickup and you only have two seasons to go before you’ve finished your current lap of every episode of the Office. If you’re sitting on a throne of toilet paper like a feudal lord of the new age, great, I admire you and am looking to swear fealty in exchange for a few rolls of Charmin Extra ply and a carton of eggs.

Unfortunately, all the toilet paper in the world won’t change the fact that the gyms are closed. Some people are lucky enough to have home gyms, and even if you have minimal to no equipment, there are legions of fun and inventive home workouts graciously provided via guides, videos, and live interactive sessions. These will keep you moving and ready for when things are back to normal. If you drift on the objective side of evaluating your fitness goals and progress, it can be a weird time to set parameters for doing the whole “a little better every day” thing. I’ve organized four ways that you can set parameters for progress in your health and fitness regardless of your situation. 

1. Progressively Load the Volume of Bodyweight Exercises

Prior to everything shutting down, I was having a great time following my barbell strength routine. I was adding weight to my lifts almost every single week and loving the consistency of being able to do more every time I went to train. Without access to a full gym, I’ve had to alter my priorities for the time being. Instead of focusing on increasing my squat, I’m now putting tons of work into improving my pull-up and push-up endurance.

Depending on your fitness level, bodyweight training can be done at a much higher frequency than full-intensity weight training sessions if done right. If you’re more well-trained, try setting an increasing volume goal that goes up once every couple of days. For example, maybe you hit 100 push-ups in 10 sets of 10 done sporadically throughout the day for the first three days. Then you up it to 120 push-ups in 10 sets of 12. Then 140, and so on, taking appropriate days off here and there as your body needs it. By the end of the month you could be pushing 200-300 or more per day. When people ask how your quarantine went, you can casually say you did literally thousands of push-ups. Casually, of course. 

And if you’re not there yet? Cool! Maybe 10 in a row is your starting goal. Better is better. Find your starting point and plan incremental adjustments to just. get. better.

2. Put more time into mobility 

For many, moving better is something we want to accomplish, but holds just a smidgen less attractiveness than saying we can bench press all of the weight. A structured, individualized warm-up is a treasured part of our process and we firmly believe that your pre-movement preparation in conjunction with appropriate exercise programming that promotes stable and free movement is key to your long term success. I like to move well, but even I have to admit that mobility work can be the boring cousin of strength training, the one that I occasionally rush through so I can get to the stuff that appeals to me more.

With all the time in the world, now is a GREAT time to implement extra work to help you move with quality.  Add in a routine to be done once every other day that helps you to accomplish this. This can be some extra stretching in areas that are rigid or some active movements like quadruped rotations to improve your twisting. 

3. Focus on skill acquisition 

Let’s be honest. For 90% of people reading this, your bodyweight squat isn’t as good as it could be. This matters because if you want to train optimally, you need ownership of your positions whether you’re loaded or not. If you look like a panini press when you perform a squat with your fingertips on your shoulders, you could use some work– despite how delicious paninis are. If you can master a gorgeous textbook bodyweight squat, you’ll see improvements in some of the squat type exercises you’re already doing in the gym. This also goes for hip hinging movements like the deadlift (bodyweight hinges with a broomstick are good practice) and pressing movements like the bench press (glorious, stable push-ups will help). Now is a great time to put your pride aside, pull out a stool, and squat to it until you can control every degree of both your lowering phase and your positive phase. 

4. Flex your culinary muscle 

All this freedom is a wonderful opportunity to add recipes to your roster. Food variety is fantastic, but anyone who’s been practicing eating habits for health and fitness will tell you that success is built upon having some go-to dishes to cycle through instead of making something different for every meal. If you’re busy, meal prepping is something that can definitely serve you well. Now is a great time to practice. Instead of falling into the junk food habit, use this time to find recipes that are healthy and you’re excited to eat! The middle road exists. Want to make dessert? Join the club! Want to make it healthier somehow? Go to the world of Pinterest to find healthy additions or swaps you can feel proud of while you indulge in your baking hobby. Click here for Coach Charlotte’s favorites.

Despite wacky conditions, a wealth of opportunities to improve still exist. They’re just a little different. And maybe taking time off from your normal gym routine… get ready to gasp in shock here… is NOT such a bad thing. The body benefits from a bit of variety in the exercise department and current circumstances may put you in a place to round yourself and your habits out in all sorts of ways. Or maybe your progress is to do some resting or healing in ways that aren’t strictly physical.

And when normalcy resumes? We’re all going to be hungry and ready to get after it. From Jake, Charlotte, and I, we hope you are well and if we can help with anything mentioned in this body of writing, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a message.

By: Zach Hughes, CPT, CPPS, Pn1