Well, here we are, quarantined because of this VIRAL BOOGALOO blitzing around the world like it’s 1941, ravaging the defenseless lungs of tens of thousands of men, women, and children.
Gyms are shuttered, Charmin Ultra Soft is now worth its weight in gold ammo, and protein bars have become a prized delicacy.
The worst part for us fitness folk?
Because for most of us, that means instead of our divine daily communion with the iron, we have to putz around with boring bodyweight exercises and bands.
Guess what, though? Home workouts don’t have to be an unproductive slog.
Although you can’t fully replicate the effectiveness of compound weightlifting, you can still gain (or at least maintain) muscle and strength with a well-designed home workout routine consisting of bodyweight exercises. And if you have some bands or dumbbells, that’s even better.
So, if you want to learn how to work out at home when you can’t go to the gym, keep listening. You’ll learn the best bodyweight, band, and dumbbell exercises, and I’ll share workout routines you can start right away to stay swole through these trying times.
Let’s get started!
4:26 – Should I go back to the gym after the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted?
15:58 – Are home workouts worth it?
26:17 – What are the best body weight exercises?
30:00 – What is the best way to use resistance bands in home workouts?
13:11 – What is the best way to use dumbbells and kettlebells in home workouts?
35:56 – What is the best home workout routine?
44:17 – What equipment should I have for home workouts?
45:37 – What are some advanced strategies for making my home workouts more effective?
48:31 – How do you use tourniquets and knee wraps properly?
50:31 – Should I incorporate sprinting to my home workout routine?
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello and welcome to another episode of Muscle For Life. I am Mike Matthews, of course, and this episode is gonna be about working out from home. Now, this is something that I spoke about several episodes ago, I think. Yeah, it, it was the last Q and a that I did, I think, where I talked about working out at home and gave some advice.
But as this is one of the most common questions I’m getting, or common theme of questions that I’m getting, Via email and Instagram dms, I figured it would make sense to go into detail and talk about how to get the most out of your home workouts, and so that’s what I’m gonna do. In this episode, I’m gonna talk about some of the theory of home workouts and why they absolutely can be effective for gaining muscle and strength, or at least retaining muscle and strength.
If you are, let’s say, an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, and then a little bit about the different types of exercises that you want to be doing and some programming tips and some equipment recommendations. I know it’s hard to get your hands on stuff right now, but I’ll do my best to recommend things that you can find maybe on Amazon, maybe on Ali.
Baba Express maybe elsewhere. Things are going in and out of stock like every day right now. And I will also share some workouts and I’m gonna be referring back to an article [email protected]. If you go to the blog pinned right at the top, you’ll find a long article I wrote on home workouts.
It’s like nine or 10,000 words, and I put everything I could think of in there. Body weight stuff, band stuff, dumbbell stuff. Programming tips, beginner training, intermediate training, advanced training. And so I’m not gonna go through everything in this episode that’s in that article because that would be overkill and it would not even be very useful if I’m talking about a training program, for example, that has several workouts and then several types of.
Progressions. So what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna generally kind of cover everything and then I’ll be telling you to go check out that article to actually get the specifics for the workout or learn how to do the exercises. And honestly, if you want to skip right to the point and not listen to me talk about working out at home, if you’d like to just get to the workouts and see what exercises you need to do and see what kind of equipment you need, just head over to legion athletics.com right now.
Go to the blog. Again, pinned At the top of the blog is an article called The Best Home Workout Routines for When You Can’t Go to the Gym. Probably gonna name the podcast, same thing, and it’s gonna have really the meat and potatoes of what we’re gonna discuss here in the podcast. Now, before we get to the show, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you wanna help me help, More people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider picking up one of my best selling health and fitness books.
I have bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women. I have a flexible dieting cookbook called The Shredded Chef, as well as a. 100% practical hands-on blueprint for personal transformation called The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. These books have sold well over a million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them on all major online retailers like Amazon, audible, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble.
Stores. So again, that’s bigger, lean or stronger for men, thinner, lean, or Stronger for Women, the Shredded Chef and the Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. Oh, and I should also mention that you can get any of my audio books for free when you sign up for an Audible account. Which is the perfect way to make those little pockets of downtime like commuting, meal prepping, dog walking, and cleaning, a bit more interesting, entertaining, and productive.
And if you want to take audible up on that offer and get one of my audio books for free, just go to legion athletics.com/audible and it’ll forward you over, and then you can sign up for your account. All right, so quickly, let’s start with talking about going back to the gym because depending on where you are living soon in the next, I guess this is April 24th, in the next several weeks, gyms are going to start opening back up.
And I already know people are gonna be asking me, uh, should I go to the gym or do you think I should wait for a little bit? And I don’t think there’s gonna be any one size fits all answer for that. I think it’s going to depend on where you’re at. And what your personal circumstances are. So if you’re living somewhere that has not had many cases, and if the numbers are very low, and let’s say you’re young and healthy and you are not regularly coming into contact with people who would be considered at risk.
Regarding covid 19. So that would be elderly people, that’d be people with compromised immune systems. That would be even obese people that has been identified as a large risk factor. Then I could understand if you wanted to get back in the gym and weren’t too concerned because statistically speaking, you should not be worried about landing in the hospital or dying from Covid.
19. If I have just. Described you. Now, I’m not saying that sure, just go to the gym and don’t worry about it. You’re gonna have to make your own decision. But on the other hand, if you yourself are very overweight or older, or if you have some sort of immune system issue, or if you are regularly coming into contact with people who are in and at risk group, then it’s probably smarter if you live in an area that has had a lot of cases.
To maybe wait it out a little bit longer and see how the reopening pans out. Now, hopefully we don’t see a major rebound and there is data that would suggest we will not see a major rebound. For a example, a number of studies have come out over the last several weeks that suggests that far. More of the population here in the United States and abroad have been infected than we realized.
And specifically I’m referring to studies that have come out that have looked at infection rates in New York, in California, in Massachusetts, in Kansas, I believe, and then abroad in Germany and. France, I believe were two other papers that I saw that, again, show that up to maybe even 15 to 20% of populations of highly populated areas of the country, which of course are going to see the most cases have already been infected by the virus.
And that’s an interesting. Piece of information because if that’s the case, and we’ll see as the sample size grows right for each of these areas, as they do more testing and the data becomes more accurate, that would mean then if that is the case, that the death rate is. Far lower than we have. I wouldn’t say we’ve been led to believe if maybe a little bit by the media, and I’ve been very critical of how the media has been handling this since the beginning.
But you don’t expect anything else from the media. They are not in the business of telling the truth. They’re not in the business of just reporting the facts. They are in the business of getting clicks and getting eyeballs and sensationalism wins. If it bleeds, it leads right Anyway. So we’ll see as, as more data comes out where we’re at.
And so that’s basically my answer to the questions I’m sure I’m going to be getting regarding going back to the gym. Should I go back now? Should I wait? You’re really gonna have to make your own judgment call on that based on where you live. What the situation has been like, where you live and where you are at in your own personal health and which demographic you fall into.
And then who do you interact with? Because remember, you could be young and healthy, and let’s say you haven’t had the virus yet, you go get it and you have no symptoms. You notice nothing, your life goes on, but you’re now passing it around to other people and again, Depending on who you come in contact with regularly, you might pass it on to somebody who gets wrecked by it.
And as for people who would say to that, that we can’t stay quarantined forever because we need to develop herd immunity, we need to have enough people get the virus and recover from it, even if they get. No symptoms, but we need to have enough immune people out there to collect up the viral material and neutralize it.
And so the longer we remain in quarantine, the longer we delay that process and that the whole point of the quarantine was not to. Prevent the virus from spreading per se, because we’re never gonna be able to fully prevent that. It was to prevent it from spreading before our healthcare system could deal with the impact that it’s going to have.
And as we see in the data right now, a lot of hospitals are underutilized. They’re not overflowing with patients. They have an excess of capacity. Maybe we are at that point where we could start allowing the virus to go around without collapsing our healthcare system. And so I suppose we’ll have to. To see how it goes.
That’s my response to the counter response, right, is I do understand, and I do agree, of course, we can’t remain quarantined forever, and how are we going to develop herd immunity if we don’t go collectively, expose ourselves to the virus and start individually becoming immune to it, start individually developing the antibodies so our immune system can recognize it and immediately eliminate it and.
So that would suggest that we would actually want a lot of the young, healthy people out in the world interacting with this virus, and you’d want the at-risk people to stay away while we develop herd immunity. So some people are saying, oh, well, vaccines, we don’t need to do that. We just need to wait for a vaccine.
And then a bunch of us can get vaccinated. Yeah, don’t hold your breath. I mean, scientists are saying 12 months. 18 months. Some scientists are saying they’re not so sure we will ever have a vaccine because of the nature of this virus, similar to why you can’t get vaccinated for the common cold, there are just too many different strains and it’s too unstable of a virus that mutates too much.
You just can’t do it. And so we’ll see. But something else to keep in mind regarding vaccine development is the average time to go from ideation to deployment of a vaccine is 20 years, 20. Years and the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed was four years, and that was the polio vaccine of the sixties or seventies.
And ironically, that vaccine had safety issues. You remember hearing about the, I believe it was about 500,000 cases of paralysis in children in India with the polio vaccine. You should go read about it online. There were problems. Scientists later came out and pointed out that maybe that. Vaccine was rushed.
Maybe there should have been more safety testing before it was rolled out because one of the primary principles when you’re developing a vaccine is you want to be extra careful about safety because it’s one thing if you have a terminal illness and you have a new experimental drug and the doctor says, Hey, we’re not sure.
As to the safety of this. We haven’t been able to do a lot of research, but you are either gonna be dead in six months or we can try this drug and it might help. We do have some evidence here that it could help you. If you’re that person, of course you’re gonna try it, right? And that makes sense. But in the case of vaccination, you’re taking someone who’s healthy and you’re putting something now into their body.
So you really wanna make sure that you’re not. Making them unhealthy, and that’s why the standard for safety of vaccination is very, very high. And that’s one of the reasons why it takes a very long time to develop vaccines. So bringing this back to the coronavirus, if by some miracle. A vaccine comes out in 12 to 18 months.
I would be very curious as to how they know this is safe, and I’d be completely open to the experts and their answer, but that would be my initial question is, okay, before I consider getting the vaccine, I want to know it’s. Safe. And before I consider giving it to my kids or recommending it to my wife or to anybody, I want to know what was done to ensure that we’re not gonna be harmed by this and don’t think that vaccines can’t be harmful.
They absolutely can be harmful. And by the way, that’s not me taking just an anti-vaccine position period. Not at all. That’s just me taking a realistic look at the timeline, looking at the history of. Vaccination and vaccines and things that have gone wrong, as well as things that have gone right and forming an opinion on the announcement that we’re gonna have a vaccine in maybe 12 to 18 months.
For this coronavirus, I believe Oxford University scientists, I actually just remember this now, they’re saying they might even have one ready in six months, which even boggles the mind. More in light of what I’ve learned about vaccines from mainstream sources. By the way, prominent professors, virologists, not random YouTubers, real experts, people who have developed vaccines.
One guy I was listening to an interview with. He was one of the guys who helped develop the H P V vaccine, and he was saying this, he was saying that 12 to 18 months for a coronavirus vaccine made no sense to him. He was saying that he would have serious concerns about the safety of it, for example. So anyway, let’s try to get back on track here.
And the point is that as of right now, it would appear to me, and I’m totally fine if I’m wrong, and maybe vaccines are gonna come out quickly and they’re gonna be super effective and super safe. But as of right now, based on what I’ve seen and what I understand, the only realistic way we are going to get to herd immunity is getting out into the world, collecting up the viral material.
And eliminating it. One healthy immune person at a time. One person who gets exposed to the virus, right? So you have viral material, it goes into their body and their body just neutralizes it. And those of us who are ready to get back in the gym, Maybe we can contribute to that and definitely if we’ve already had it and we have recovered from it, I know there are some reports coming out of Korea that people who were once infected were getting, then reinfected and scientists are trying to figure out what’s going on there.
But that doesn’t mean that that’s what’s gonna happen to all of us. It appears to be a fringe phenomenon that scientists are looking into. And again, as I mentioned, Earlier with the actual infection rates much higher than we’ve realized. Who knows? We might’ve already had it. I might’ve already had it.
You might’ve already had it and not even realized it. We may be immune already. We may be ready to go and do our part to help, uh, clean up the mess out there. So anyway, let’s see how it pans out. And with any luck, enough of us have already been infected to get back out there and develop that herd immunity by.
The fall or winter, so we don’t see a major rebound. That would be nice. All right. Let’s talk about some home workouts, shall we? So let’s first talk about some theory of home workouts, why they are worthwhile, why you can, Do well with home workouts. Now, putting together an effective home workout routine is just like putting together any other kind of workout routine.
It just has more constraint, right? Because you probably don’t have a barbell or a squat rack or a full selection of dumbbells or maybe any dumbbells or any machines, or you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast, and that’s the kind of stuff that your normal workouts call for, right? So instead, what do we have?
Most of us, we have our body. And we have some bands maybe, and we have maybe some dumbbells or kettlebells, and that’s about it. And yes, this does have its downsides. For example, body weight exercises are not as effective as many weightlifting exercises are for gaining muscle and strength because they’re not as effective at forcing your muscles to produce high.
Levels of tension and progressively higher levels of tension, right? So progressive tension overload, the primary mechanical driver of muscle growth and the best way to achieve that, the best way to achieve progressive tension overload or just progressive overload, is it’s referred to, is just increase the amount of weight that you can lift, add weight to the bar, add weight to the dumbbells, get stronger, and this is why whole body strength and even individual muscle strength.
Is closely related to muscle size, general muscularity and the size of individual muscles. Show me a dude, for example, who can squat double his body weight for reps, and I’ll show you a big set of wheels. Now, there are outliers and exceptions, of course. We are looking at a normal distribution here, a bell curve.
What that means is, The majority of people are gonna be right in the middle of that curve. That’s what, 66, 60 7% or whatever it is. And as far as strength and size goes, the average person is going to be strong and big. There aren’t that many guys out there who are big. And not strong. And strong and not big.
There is good news here though, because while building up to a hundred pushups or 30 pull-ups in one go is impressive, it’s not as conducive to muscle growth as, let’s say, working up to a bench. Bench press at one and a half times your body weight or maybe a deadlift for twice your reps. Not the same thing at all.
But if you’re brand new to resistance training, you can do quite well. With body weight exercises alone, and if you add bands can do even better. You can gain muscle and strength right now, if you are new to resistance training. If you don’t have, let’s say if you’re a guy and you’ve yet to gain your first 10 or 15 pounds of muscle.
If you’re a gal, you’ve yet to gain your first five-ish pounds, maybe five to eight pounds of muscle. You can do well with body weight training, and again, especially if you have bands and if you have dumbbells, then your prospects only get better. In fact, based on my own experience working out and working with thousands of other people and talking with researchers and athletes on my podcast, as well as my own understanding of the scientific literature, I would say that if you are an intermediate or even advanced weightlifter, You are not gonna gain muscle or strength right now if all you can do is body weight training and band training.
And probably the same goes for dumbbells unless you have a big heavy set of dumbbells, but you probably don’t. And so you’re not gonna make much gains right now, but you can probably maintain most or all of your muscle and a lot of your strength for at least a month or two with just body weight training.
And I would say, A couple of months, maybe three, four months with the right band and dumbbell workout routines like we’re gonna talk about in this podcast. And, you know, looking at research on how much volume it takes to maintain muscle versus gain muscle. And, and there are a couple studies on this, and one suggests that you can maintain your muscle on about a th.
Third of the volume that it takes to gain muscle. So let’s say you’re an intermediate or advanced weightlifter and it takes 15 hard sets per major muscle per week for you to progress. That’s what you need to do. You could cut that down to five. Per week. Five hard sets per major, muscular per week to maintain muscle.
It really does not take that much work to maintain your physique. So hell, I mean, I haven’t done this experiment personally, but I would not be surprised actually, if you could maintain. A lot of your muscle, if you could go from being an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, like pretty jacked, you could maintain a lot of that, if not most of it with body weight and bands, if body weight only, you’re gonna do quite well.
You might lose some muscle over the course of, let’s say six months, but you’re still gonna stay fit. You’re not gonna. Atrophy and wither away. Certainly not. And if you have some dumbbells and if they’re at least moderately heavy, again, if you’re an intermediate or advanced weightlifter, if you’re a guy, if you have dumbbells, maybe up to 60 or 70.
And if you’re a gal, maybe, I don’t know, 40 or so, you probably can maintain most of your muscle more or less indefinitely with home workouts, just with a setup like that, some bands and some dumbbells. And the reason for. Why that is, is you have the volume point and then you also have the point that research shows that so long as you take your sets close to failure, both high rep sets, so let’s say sets in the range of 15 to 20 reps as well as low rep sets, so let’s say four to six reps and everything in between causes about the same amount of muscle growth that a 20 rep set that is ended close to failure and.
You’re probably gonna end close to technical failure where your form starts breaking down, not absolute failure where you can’t even get another rep unless maybe you’re doing a body weight exercise and you’re not risking any injury by letting your pushup form fall apart, for example, that if you do that, that you are sending just as strong of a muscle building signal, or you’re creating just as.
Strong of a muscle building stimulus as the heavier stuff that you normally do in the gym. Now I should mention that that seems to be true up to maybe 20 or 30 reps. As you go beyond that, you really start getting into the realm of just increasing muscle endurance. I mean, there’s still a muscle building stimulus, but it’s not the same if you can’t add enough resistance to an exercise or make it difficult enough to limit yourself to 20 to 30 reps.
It’s usefulness for muscle building. And possibly to some degree muscle retention goes down. So like doing a hundred reps of something to failure. Let’s say you could do a hundred pushups. That’s what it took you to fail in one go. That’s not gonna be as effective as 20 reps of banded pushups or something more difficult in where you fail around 20 reps.
So what that means then is if 20 pushups brings you close to failure or brings you to failure, it’s probably gonna produce about as much stimulus for muscle growth as six reps of maybe the bench press taken close to failure. Now I understand that six reps of the bench press. Has other advantages over 20 reps of pushups.
That’s certainly true, but I’m just making a point here that body weight exercises aren’t inherently way worse than barbell exercises, or aren’t inherently a waste of time, but they can only get you so far because it is hard to apply progressive overload to body weight exercises in the way that you can with barbell and dumbbell exercises.
So for example, you just add weight to the bench press when you’re ready to make it harder. But how are you supposed to progress on an exercise like, A pushup if you already can do 20, 30, 40 reps of the most difficult variation. And we’ll talk a bit about variations in this podcast. So what can you do?
Well, you can wear a weighted backpack or vest. You can just get a backpack and put stuff in it. Some people are doing that. You can put a plate on your back. You can use bands. You can even have someone stand on your shoulder blades or sit on your back. But eventually you do run out of options. And another downside to.
Modifying some body weight exercises like that is the force can be applied inconsistently. So for example, on the pushup, if you are using a band and it’s not wrapped around your shoulders in the same spot every time, then the resistance that’s produced can vary from. Set to set, or even rep to rep. Or if a weighted backpack slides down your back halfway through a set, then the exercise becomes easier and so on.
And so then progression on body weight exercises often boils down to just adding more reps to each of your sets. And that’s fine. That’s better than nothing. However, once you go beyond that 20 rep mark, it is just not going to move the needle as much in terms of muscle and strength gain and possibly muscle retention.
You can do more sets. Two, you can add more volume, but you also do hit a point of diminishing returns with that as well. And so what I recommend is once you can do 20 or 30 reps of a body weight exercise, you do one of three things. You either keep doing your current workouts and you just hope to maintain your gains instead of making progress, and you just go for more reps basically.
So, Do as many reps as you can then in the sets that you’re doing and hey, this is a perfectly viable option over the next few weeks or maybe even month. And hopefully we don’t have that much more of this ahead of us, but who knows, right? Totally fine though Don’t sweat it. Her, her, her, if that’s all you can do, cuz you don’t have bands and you are doing the most challenging body weight exercises you can do and they’re still not that challenging.
I understand. But if that’s not you, then doing more challenging variations. Is another great option. So you can do a feet elevated pushup instead of a regular pushup. You can do pull-ups instead of chin-ups. You can do a pistol squat instead of a body weight squat. And if you wanna avoid the awkwardness of the pistol squat, have it be a supported pistol squat, an assisted pistol squat where you’re holding onto something and that takes the, the technique and the balance out of it and allows you to just focus on the difficulty of squatting your body weight with.
One leg, and then you can also use bands and dumbbells to make your workouts even more difficult if you have access to them. Okay, let’s move on and talk about exercises. Let’s talk about body weight exercises. And the good news here is you only need to focus on a relatively short list, uh, a hand. Full plus of body weight exercises to get the most that body weight training has to offer.
And you don’t need much in the way of equipment, although a pull-up bar is nice to have. If you can get your hands on one or if you already have one, you might be able to find online a wall-mounted option. There was a company Titan HD that had some wall mounted ones as of just recently. You might be able to find one that you can mount in a doorway.
Like the pro source fit, multi grip, I’ve used that before. And if you can’t get your hands on a pull-up bar, you can also look for something that will double as a pull-up bar. So for example, in the mechanical room, in the basement of my house there are exposed I-beams, and that’s where I do my pull-ups.
Cause I don’t have a pull-up in my little home gym, which is some Bowflex dumbbells that go up to 90 pounds. An upright bike and a Pilates machine that my wife uses and some bands. That’s the setup I have. So I do my pull-ups on the I-beam. I just grip the ridge at the bottom, and I guess it’s good grip training as well, and it works.
It’s not ideal. Not having that strong grip does cut down on the amount of pull-ups that I can do, but not by much. I’m probably losing, I don’t know, three to five reps because of the grip, and it works fairly well. Another good option. Her body weight training is a dip stand or a dip station, so I was able to get a pro source fit, dip stand, and right now I just looked in Amazon.
It’s temporarily outta stock. That’s on Amazon though. You can look around and any dip station will work fine. And this is a nice little piece of equipment that allows you to train your shoulders and your chest and your triceps. And then you can also do inverted rows on them, which of course trains your.
Back and your biceps and you can do it body weight or if you have a small child like I do, I have a two year old and I have a seven year old. So I have the two-year-old sit on my chest, basically on my torso while I’m doing inverted rows to add whatever she weighs, I don’t know, 30 pounds or something, 20, 30 pounds.
I don’t know what she weighs, but those are a few simple pieces of equipment. That are gonna help your body weight training. Now, as far as exercises go, there are a fair number of good exercises, pushing exercises, pulling leg core, even calf, well, there’s one for calf, but you can even train your calves with just your body weight as well as some cardio, of course.
And I could run through a long list here, like a triceps bench dip and a chest dip and a knee pushup into the pushup, into the feet, elevated pushup or the decline pushup into the. Pike pushup into the dive bomber pushup, diamond pushup, right? I could go through a list, but I don’t think it’s gonna be very helpful to you.
So instead, if you want to check out all the exercises that I recommend you learn and you incorporate into your body weight training, again, just head over to leisure athletics.com. Go to the blog. Right at the top is a long article that I wrote. It’s pinned. You can’t miss it, and it is going to give you all the exercises you need.
Body weight band dumbbell, kettlebell to do great workouts. And again, it has all of the workouts in the article that I’m going to quickly cover here. Again, I’m not gonna get into all the nitty-gritty details cause I don’t think it’s gonna be very helpful to you. That’d be much better for you to see, for example, the exercises.
Go see some videos on how to do these exercises. Then on the workouts, go see how the workouts are supposed to work. That’s it on the body weight exercises. We can probably just leave it at that. Now if you add bands, then of course this just allows you to make certain body weight exercises more difficult and you can actually add a fair amount of resistance.
So when you’re looking for bands, what you want to get is the power lifting style bands, the ones that range from uh, about 25 to 125 pounds. And that allows you then to use the skinnier bands for your smaller and weaker muscle groups and the thicker bands for your. Larger ones, you know, like your legs for the, maybe the 125 pound band you might use for some squats or some lunges.
And then for your arms or your shoulders, you might use the 25 or maybe the 30 or even the 50 pound bands. And then what you can do is you can modify. Certain body weight exercises with bands to make ’em harder. You also can do some band only exercises that you can’t do without them. Like a band horizontal row or a band upright row, even a band deadlift.
You can do that. And again, head over to legion athletics.com. Go to the blog, check out the home workout article, and you will find all of my band recommendations as well as videos on how to do them properly. So now let’s talk about dumbbells and kettlebells. So, When you don’t have access to barbells, this is the next best thing.
Dumbbells and kettlebells. With dumbbells now, you have a lot of exercise options. You have a lot more than you do with body weight and band training, and you also, of course now have a new and more effective way to add weight to the exercises and to progressively overload your muscles. Now, if you don’t currently have a set of dumbbells, you probably are not gonna be able to find one out there right now.
Unfortunately, I have. Bowflex Select Tech dumbbells. They go up to 90 pounds and I am hashtag thankful that I have them. I didn’t use them really at all before Covid 19. I can remember doing a couple workouts in the past on the weekend, just doing some shoulders or some arms with them. That’s about it.
They pretty much have just sat in my little home gym area, neglected, but now, They are precious now. They’re worth their weight in gold every other day. I have people DMing me on Instagram asking how much for the dumbbells? No amount of money you can’t have them. But anyway, if you can get your hands on a set of select tech dumbbells from Bowflex, and if you can get it at a price that you’re willing to pay, then I do recommend them.
I’ll say that they’re a little bit awkward and the handles dig into your hands quite a bit, especially when the weights are heavier. But who cares, right? That said, another great option is power block. That’s another company and they make, I believe it’s elite dumbbells, what they call them. And those go up to a hundred pounds or so, and those are also quite popular.
And many people report liking them more than the Bowflex because they’re more comfortable, less awkward to handle, and then the narrowing in the Bowflex handles is the problem. That’s what really digs into your hand. My brother-in-law complains about it, or he was complaining at first. Now he stopped complaining.
I really don’t care. I think my hands are are tougher than his. He wears workout gloves, so I think that’s all we need to know, right? Anyway, if you can get your hands on some power blocks, I’m sure that you will like them just as much as the Bowflex dumbbells that I’m using, but they’re gonna be hard to find, and if you do find some, they’re probably gonna be expensive.
Now, as far as exercises go, if you do have dumbbells, Or Kettlebells. Kettlebells are a reasonable replacement for some dumbbell exercises. I mean, I even like kettlebells more for some exercises. So for example, doing walking lunges with kettlebells is more comfortable and more stable than with dumbbells, at least for me and many other people.
And then there are exercises where I prefer. Dumbbells, like I prefer dumbbells on a dumbbell bench press, for example. But if you have kettlebells, you still can do a lot of dumbbell exercises. You’re just gonna be doing ’em with your kettlebells. And in some cases it might feel a bit awkward, but hey, you can still get the job done.
And so for the list of exercises that I recommend and it’s, uh, broken down into pushing, pulling leg, arm, shoulder, core, a lot of exercises, a lot of options, head over to legion athletics.com, hit the blog and then check out. The article on home workouts, and you’ll find around the middle or so all of the dumbbell and kettlebell workouts.
Hey, before we continue, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you wanna help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please do consider picking up one of my best selling health and fitness books. My most popular ones are Bigger, leaner, stronger for Men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women.
My Flexible Dieting Cookbook, the Shredded Chef. And my 100% practical hands-on blueprint for personal transformation, the little Black Book of Workout motivation. Now, these books have sold well over 1 million copies and have helped thousands of people build their best body ever, and you can find them anywhere online where you can buy books like Amazon, audible, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play, as well as in select.
Barnes and Noble Stores. So again, that is bigger, leaner, stronger for men, thinner, leaner, stronger for Women, the Shredded Chef and the Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. Oh, and one other thing is you can get any one of those audio books 100% free when you sign up for an Audible account, and that’s a great way to make those pockets of downtime like commuting, meal prepping, and cleaning.
More interesting, entertaining, and productive. Now, if you want to take Audible up on that offer and get one of my audio books for free, just go to legion athletics.com/audible and sign up for your account. All right. Now let’s talk about routines. And I’m just gonna speak broadly and just generally here, and then I’m gonna refer you to the website again for specifics on daily workouts and weekly routines and so forth.
So as far as body weight routines go, I like to keep things simple. I prefer an upper lower split where you’re training your upper body muscles and one workout and your lower body muscles, another workout. And I prefer four to six workouts per week. When I’m doing body weight stuff, and so a simple template that I use for upper body workouts is a push exercise, three sets of it, a push exercise, three sets of it, so two push exercises, then two pull exercises, three sets of each.
So we got six sets of push and then six sets of pulling and then some core work. And then as far as lower body, Training goes body weight, doing eight sets of leg exercises split into two leg exercises. So I’m doing exercise number one, four sets, leg exercise number two, four sets, and then some core training and some calf training.
Yes, I still do train my calves just on principle at this point because if I stop training, My small calves, then they win. And in the article [email protected], over at the blog, I give three different body weights, exercise routines that you can choose from a beginner routine, intermediate routine, and an advanced routine.
And so to give you a quick. Preview of what these routines look like. So for example, here is some beginner body weight workouts. So you have an upper body workout here, which is a knee pushup, three sets and reps of 10 to 20, resting a couple minutes in between each set. You have a triceps bench dip, three sets, same.
10 to 20 reps is what you’d be shooting for. Resting about a minute, you have a negative. Chin up, which is a great way to get strong enough to do chin-ups. And then to get strong enough to do pull-ups again, you’re shooting for 10 to 20 reps, resting two minutes in between sets, inverted row three sets, 10 to 20 reps, one minute in between each set, and then body weight plank.
Three sets, which you just do to failure. Resting two minutes in between each set, and so then there is a corresponding lower body workout again for beginners, and you can do some cardio too. I talk about that as we move on to the intermediate body weight workouts, just so you can see how things progress.
Here’s the intermediate upper body, so we start with a feet elevated pushup three sets, 10 to 20 reps, two minutes of rest, so that’s a bit harder now. And then you do some pushups after. So you’re starting with your most difficult exercise, and then you’re moving to the pushups, which are less difficult.
10 to 20 reps is what you’re shooting for, and a couple minutes rest in between each set. Then you have some chin-ups, three sets, 10 to 20 reps, two minutes of rest, and then you have an inverted row. Three sets, 10, 20 reps, one minute of rest, and some body weight. Sit-ups three sets, 10 to 20 reps, one minute of rest.
In between each, and again, there is a lower body. Workout as well. An intermediate workout, and then some cardio that’s even more difficult. And then here’s an advanced body weight workout. You have a diamond pushup now three sets, 10 to 20 reps, resting two minutes in between sets. Then you do a feet elevated pushup, three sets, 10 to 20 reps, two minutes, then you’re doing pull-up again, three sets, 10 to 20 reps, two minutes.
Chin up, same deal on sets, reps and rest, and then hanging leg raises, same deal on sets, reps, and rest. So you can see how the workouts progress and they get more difficult. Now, you are probably wondering how these workouts work, like how many days a week are you supposed to be training and I’d mentioned.
Four to six is what I recommend. And as far as muscle and strength gain or muscle maintenance and strength maintenance goes, four is your worst option. Now, you can do fine with it, but five is gonna be better than four, and six is gonna be better than five. Right? So for example, You might, if you’re doing four days, go Monday and Tuesday, that’s upper lower.
And then on Wednesday, maybe rest, do some cardio. And then on Thursday you go upper Friday lower and then you’re resting or doing cardio on the weekend. And if you were training five days per week and you wanted to emphasize your lower body, you might go Monday, upper Tuesday, lower Wednesday, upper Thursday, lower Friday lower, right?
So you have three lower body workouts, two upper body workouts, and then you could do some cardio on the weekend or you could rest. And if you wanted to emphasize upper body, then you would. Do three upper body workouts. So you change that Friday workout to an upper body instead of a lower body. And then if you’re doing six days, you can set things up however you want.
You can have ’em be balanced, or you could emphasize lower body or upper body. Now as far as how. Close to failure, you should be going in your sets and as far as the rest goes, and then the 10 to 20 reps point, and what you should do if you can get 20 reps for all sets of an exercise, like how do you progress and what should you be doing with your cardio ex.
Exactly. And why? For all those details, again, I think it’s best if you just go to legion athletics.com, hit the blog and read the article. I could walk you through it all here, but it might just get a little bit confusing and. So now we move on to band workouts, which are very similar with band workouts. I like to do the, a lot of the same exercises, but I’m just adding resistance using the bands, and I’m still following an upper lower split with band workouts.
Four to six workouts per week. Not much changes. We’re just using bands to make things harder. And working in some band exercises specifically in the place of. Body weight exercises, and for all the specifics, head over to legion athletics.com blog. Check out the article. Now, as far as dumbbells go, this is where things change a bit because you now have a lot more options and you can get in some pretty difficult workouts.
Actually, if you have. Heavy dumbbells. So I have heavy ish dumbbells. They go up to 90 pounds, and because of how awkward they are, they actually feel heavier than what they say on the weights. And I’ve gotten in some decent workouts. My legs have been pretty sore, for example. And yeah, I’m working in a higher rep range.
In some cases I’m getting up to maybe 15 reps, 12 to 15 reps per set. But again, remember, that’s effective training. That is not ineffective, that is not a small or negligible. Stimulus training stimulus, that’s pretty good. So if you do have some dumbbells and if they’re moderately heavy, you can get in a good workout.
And if they’re heavy, you can get in a very good workout. And as far as routines or splits go, you have options, right? I have been playing around with different things, so I’ve played around with just a body split. Where I’m doing a press day basically, and then a pull day, and then a shoulders day, and then a legs day, and then an arms day.
And I’ve done some upper lower split, which is similar to what we talked about with the body weight workouts, just using dumbbells instead. So you know, I’m one upper body workout. I’ll do some pushing and some pulling. And another, I’ll do some arms and some shoulders. And then for my lower body training, I’m just doing a, a decent amount of volume in one lower body workout per week.
Normally I’d be doing two lower body workouts. If I were in the gym, I would be doing some heavy leg centric work on one day, some heavy squats and lunges and so forth, and then I would be doing some heavy deadlifting on another day. I like to separate those out. I’m not doing any dead lifting right now because you can.
Dumbbell deadlift, but it’s just not very effective. In my case, because my deadlift is fairly strong, I’d have to pull up my training spreadsheet to see where my one RM was at before the Coronavirus World tour kicked off. But I think my one RM was low, four hundreds or so. And so you, okay. That’s where I’m at.
And I was doing sets of 3 85 for probably four to six, and now I have 90 pound dumbbells and I’m just not even bothering. Basically, I’d rather just do a bit extra dumbbell front squatting basically. So my lower body workout again is um, doing one per week and I’m doing 12 sets in that workout currently.
Which is a little bit above probably optimal if we’re looking at muscle and strength gain, but I’m not really concerned with that. I’m just looking to maintain and I’ve done a good job maintaining I, I can’t see any muscle loss if I’ve lost any muscle. It is not apparent in the mirror and it’s not apparent in my weights.
I’m still moving the same weights for more or less the same reps now as I was in my first home workout that I did the day after my gym closed, so, I am living proof that you too can do it if you have some dumbbells. It is really not hard. And again, if you want workouts and if you want programming, then head over to legion athletics.com.
Hit the blog, check out the article, and just go down to the dumbbell workouts. You’ll find beginner, intermediate, advanced. And now as far as equipment goes, I’ve mentioned some equipment. Dumbbells, kettlebells, a dip belt can be useful. A dip stand or dip station. A pull up bar. Uh slash chin up bar. A weighted vest is also a good option for cardio.
My go-to is an exercise bike, just an upright exercise bike. I like that it’s no impact. You can adjust the resistance to get a pretty good burn in your quads, which may actually contribute to muscle gain in your legs. By the way, that’s been shown in research and it’s simple. I just take my phone and I read.
While I do my cardio in the morning. Now instead of driving, I’m doing cardio, so I can’t complain. And you have options for bikes. You can go with budget, you can go with mid-tier, you can go with high quality top tier, if you don’t mind spending the money. I have a cheap, it was like, ah, maybe $200 or something to two 50.
Cheap bike from a company called Sunny Health, S u n n n Y. Health, and if you want to see some specific recommendations for all of this equipment that I’m talking about, again, check out the article at Legion. I have links to everything. Some stuff is in stock, some is not. And beyond that, you have, jump rope can be good for cardio if you like doing it.
A treadmill of course can be good and some other things that again, you’ll find in the article. Now let’s talk about some advanced strategies for making your. Home workouts more effective. And specifically, I have two little known ways to increase muscle and strength gain, or at least to amplify the training stimulus and to burn more calories when you’re working out at home.
So one is blood flow restriction training, and the other is cycling sprints. So let’s talk about these blood flow restriction training is a great way to maximize muscle growth. Or at least the muscle building response. Maybe you’re not gonna be able to gain any muscle right now because you’re like me, and you’re at the end of your genetic rope anyway, for how big and strong you can get.
But you’re still trying to get the most training stimulus out of your workouts, right? And so blood flow restriction is a great way to do that with lighter weights, which is pretty cool. And as the name suggests, it involves constricting the blood flow to a muscle group when you’re training. And then what happens is the blood remains in your muscles for longer than normal.
And that then positively influences muscle growth and strength in several ways. And if you want to get into the details of how that works, head over to legion athletics.com and search for blood flow restriction. And you’ll find an article I wrote on it. I may have recorded a podcast specifically on that as well.
Probably did. So you might also find a podcast if you search. My feed, or if you just check out the article, if there is a podcast, it will be embedded in the article, so you can just listen to it if you’d rather do it that way. Now, the main benefit of blood flow restriction training is that it allows you to get a good training stimulus while using weights that are like, 20 to 40% of your one rep max, which is pretty cool because those are the kind of weights you might be stuck with when you’re doing home workouts, right?
So what that means then, if is, if you can squat three 15, let’s say that’s your training weight, and now you’re stuck doing goblet squats with like 45 or 50 pound dumbbells. You can actually get a decent workout in if you use bfr with the dumbbells, with the goblet squats, and you can use BFR for your arms and your legs.
But unfortunately, You can’t do it for your chest, back, core, or glutes. It’s really just for your limbs and all you need to do it is something to wrap your arms and legs with. And I recommend medical tourniquets, and there’s a product that is in this article [email protected]. Zap Techs buckle Tourniquet is the one that I recommend, but if it’s not in stock and you can’t get it, or if the delivery time is all messed up, just find something like it.
These. Are for the most part, probably just interchangeable. They all just come from China. China, and so long as they’re not broken, they’ll work. And you’re also gonna want some knee wraps for your legs, so the medical tourniquets work for your arms. Then you want knee wrap. For your legs, like the writ fit knee wraps, for example, if you can get them on Amazon.
If not, you can find something else that will work. Now, as far as how to use the tourniquets and the knee wraps properly, if you’re wrapping your arm, you want to have the band tucked into your armpit. And if you’re wrapping your legs, they should be nudged up against your crotch. Now, in terms of tightness, you should be going, uh, for like a nine out of 10.
For the arms and maybe a seven out of 10 for the legs. The key here is making sure you have enough pressure to trap blood in the muscles, but not so much that blood can’t even enter the muscles because that would cause problems. And again, if you’re gonna do bfr, I do recommend you check out the article that I wrote and the podcast.
I do think there’s a podcast and you could skip straight to the technique section if you don’t need to hear anything else about why. You want to do it and how it works, but if you just wanna know exactly how to do it, just head over to legion athletics.com, search for blood flow restriction, because I talk about some common mistakes that people make, and one of them is tightening the tourniquets until they hurt, which then completely cuts off blood flow and you don’t want to do that.
You just want enough pressure to restrict the flow of the blood from your muscles back to your heart, but not so much that the blood can’t even make its way into your muscles in the first place. And I also talk about the mistake of going too heavy on the weights, for example, and only using bfr instead of heavier weight training.
If you can do heavier weight training, And so that’s about it for bfr. I guess one other things it’s worth mentioning is if you are gonna use bfr, then what you can do is you can follow the workout programs that I’ve discussed briefly here and that you’ll find in detail [email protected] over on the blog.
In the home workout article, what you wanna do then, if you’re gonna incorporate bfr, is instead of moving up to the next hardest workout routine, when you get 20 reps, when you hit your rep targets, you move up when you get 40 reps. Because B FFR training makes high reps more effective. So again, it allows you to get more mileage out of your home workouts if you incorporate bfr.
Alright, now let’s talk about sprinting. Cycle sprinting in particular, running sprints outside is, it’s good cardio, it’s good high intensity cardio, but it’s gonna beat your legs up. You can forget about doing any serious lower body training if you’re gonna be sprinting outside. I’ve tried it in the past and I couldn’t make it work.
Even two or three sprint sessions per week was enough to just kill my squat and deadlift progress. And so we’re talking about cycle sprinting here, and of course you need an exercise bike, but if you do have one, you can actually kill two birds with one stone. Here you can do. Cardio and you can do leg training.
So believe it or not, research shows that cycling sprints can produce similar gains in muscle size and strength as resistance training. Now, of course, this is in the legs and multiple studies have shown that. Adding cycling to a resistance training program can enhance leg muscle growth. Now, it’s worth mentioning that high intensity cycling sprints tend to be the most effective in this regard.
You can’t expect much if you’re hopping on the bike and barely breaking a sweat. You know, you have to work hard on the bike if you want it to really impact your. Muscle gain in your legs. However, another nice side effect, another nice benefit of high intensity cycling sprints is they also burn a lot of calories.
They burn more calories in less time than steady state cardio, for example, which is a nice bonus while we’re in quarantine, many of us eating more food than we normally do. And so if you want to incorporate cycling sprints into your home workout routine, Here’s what I recommend. So first you hop on the bike and you do 10 minutes of easy spinning.
This is a warmup. You should be able to easily talk in full sentences, and then once you’re warmed up, you sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds with enough resistance, so you can barely. Finish before needing to take a break. Yes, this should be tough. Now you wanna be able to, to pedal quickly. The idea is not to grind against too much resistance.
You should be pedaling quickly, but it should be enough that you’re not spinning out and you are pressing against notable resistance. And again, by, by the end of 30 seconds. You are about gassed. So then you do four minutes of easy spinning. That’s your reduce the resistance. Four minutes. You’re not pushing yourself.
That’s your recovery. And then you repeat the second and third steps three more times. So you do a total of four rounds of 32nd all out sprints with four minutes of rest in between each and your. Beginning with the 10 minute warmup, and as your fitness improves, you can increase the number of times that you repeat the sequence of sprinting and cooling down.
Now, I don’t recommend doing more than 10 rounds though in one workout if you can do it. I’m very impressed, but I don’t recommend going beyond that as your performance is really going to start to decline sharply after that. And as far as when to do your cardio, you can cycle immediately after a resistance training workouts.
You could do it later in the day, or you could do your cardio on days that you don’t do any resistance training. I would not recommend, however, that you do your sprinting or really any cardio before your resistance training, though, whether it’s body weight band or dumbbell slash kettlebell because it is going to sap quite a bit of your energy.
And if you’re doing sprints, it’s gonna sap a lot of your energy. All right. Well, we’ve covered a lot and that’s more or less everything I wanted to share with you on home workouts. So remember that while body weight band and dumbbell kettlebell workouts can never fully replicate what we’re used to in the gym, can never fully replicate the effectiveness of heavy barbell lifting with.
The right exercises though with the right routine and the right attitude, right? Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good and all that we can definitely maintain, and some of us may even be able to gain strength and muscle right now with the approach that I’ve shared with you in this podcast. The main limitation of course, So these types of workouts is progression.
There is a point where we need more resistance, we need the exercise to be more difficult and we just can’t get there. But that’s okay. We can try different types of exercise variations. We can work into higher rep ranges, you know, even 20 to 30 reps per set. We can do more volume up to a certain point, maybe more than we would normally do in our regular weightlifting workouts.
And if you want to give everything I’ve talked about here a whirl. Again, head over legion athletics.com. Hit the blog, check out the article, pinned at the top on home workouts, and you’ll find everything that I’ve discussed with you here, plus all the workouts laid out in easy tabular form for you To start with, you can just bookmark the article and go back to it for each workout.
And we are just wrapping up workout logs too. They’re gonna be available as Google sheets and. Excel spreadsheets and they have all the workouts in them and they allow you to track your workouts. So you can just open up the Google sheet or the Excel spreadsheet, they’ll tell you what to do, and you’ll be able to put in what did you do, and then come back to it for your next workout and next workout and so forth.
And those will be available [email protected]. Blog home workout article pinned at the top. Somewhere up toward the top of the article will put a, a clear call to action for downloading the workout logs, as well as probably some other things that we’ll put in the package. So if you want to skip everything, if you wanna skip the lines and just get straight to the ride, then that’ll be the easiest way to do it.
All right. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from? Because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility.
And help more people find their way to me and to the podcast and learn how to build their best body ever as well. And of course, if you wanna be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and whatever app you’re using. To listen and you will not miss out on any of the new stuff that I have coming.
And last, if you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com and share your thoughts. Let me know how you think I could do this better. I read every email myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. All right, thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.
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