Training | POSTED July 29, 2021

Steps You Need To Take To Get You Through Lockdown

If you’re in Sydney right now, you’re probably feeling the effects of our current lockdown. We’re five weeks in and it feels like there’s no end in sight. While it’s important that we stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s also critical that we stay active for both our physical and mental health [1]. There are a number steps that you can take (literally) to help get you through lockdown, whilst adhering to the restrictions in place.

Why should I stay active?

You might only feel like lounging around and watching Netflix at the moment, but now more than ever, it’s especially important to continue moving. Not only is regular training and exercise good for our physical and mental health [2], but it also:

  • Reduces the risk of health conditions such as stroke and heart disease [3].
  • Increases your energy output [4], which can help avoid stacking on those COVID kilos.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety [5] (because Gladdy’s 11:00am press conferences creates enough of that for us).
  • Improves sleep [6], and by sleep we are not referring to the number of naps that you can squeeze in on your workday afternoon.

How can I stay active?

With time on your side, there are plenty of ways for you to partake it some form of physical activity. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how you can stay active during lockdown, it’s important that you first create a routine that you know that you can:

a) stick to, and

b) enjoy.

If you’re working from home, schedule any meetings or project deadlines that you have throughout the week in your calendar (I really like Google Calendar). With an accurate depiction of what your week looks like, you can now plan your activity around your availability. If you’re not working during lockdown, you still need a schedule to keep your sanity. Replace the meetings and deadlines with goals that will keep your mind occupied. Think outside the box — you might signup for a free online course, read good book or two, start a puzzle, or put your apron on experiment in the kitchen.

Now that we’ve covered the routine part, let’s break down the exercise regime into two segments — cardio-based exercise and strength-based exercise.

Cardio-based exercise

There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate cardio into your daily routine while you’re at home. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Get outside for your dose of Vitamin D and walk, every single day. I am certain that there is at least a thousand walking tracks or routes (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration) that you haven’t been on within 10km of your home. Get on Google Maps and find someone to take on an adventure.
  2. Create a daily step goal. If you don’t have a smart watch, your smart phone should be able to track your daily steps. I am not going to suggest the generic 10,000 steps each day without knowing your current activity levels, but I will suggest gradually increasing your target based on what you’re doing at the moment. For example, if you’re averaging 5000 steps per day, gradually increase by 500-1000 steps rather than doubling your current step count straight away. 
  3. Play some sport. Every local government area will have access to tennis courts, basketball courts and sporting fields. There may be a hire fee at some facilities, but grab a tennis racket, basketball or soccer ball and bring out your inner child with a game of some sort. 
  4. Do you have a bike or scooter that’s collecting dust in your garage? If you don’t, I’m sure you son or daughter does, so steal theirs and ride it like you stole it!
  5. Do some yoga, pilates or body weight HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) circuits. If the weather isn’t great or you just don’t feel like leaving and the house, jump onto YouTube and find some free classes to do from the comfort of your living room.

Strength-based exercise

Now, I love strength training more than sliced bread, so it should be no surprise that I recommend that you continue participating in some form of strength or resistance based exercise at home or outdoors. Two days per week is a good place to start and is in line with the current Australian guidelines for physical activity and exercise [2]. You can always increase your training frequency and add an extra day or two when you’re ready.

“But Rachael, I don’t have any weights at home!” 

Yes, you do.

These are just a few examples of household items that you can use for weight training:

  • Milk bottles (or any other bottles for that matter) filled with water.
  • A backpack filled with your beloved books.
  • Bags of pet food.
  • Bags of potatoes.
  • A low table or chair.
  • A bathroom towel. 
  • Quite literally anything that weighs something

If you’ve been watching the Olympics in Toyko, you might have caught the incredible Hidilyn Diaz making history by becoming the first athlete from the Phillipines to win gold at the Olympics. Her sport is weightlifting, and she lifted a combined weight of 224kg to take the top spot in the women’s 55kg class [7]. Check out how Hidilyn adapted her training while she was in lockdown while preparing for the Olympics:

Video from @hidilyndiaz‘s Instagram account

“But Rachael, what do I do with these household items?”

To get the most of your lockdown training, you should include: 

  • Squat variation — depending on the equipment you have available, this could include a goblet squat, a back squat, a split squat, or even a pistol squat for example. 
  • Deadlift variation — you might opt for a standard deadlift from the floor, floating deadlift, romanian deadlift or a single leg or b-stance romanian deadlift.
  • Upper body push — any type of push-up variation can be included (standard, close-grip, incline or decline) or you might choose to do some floor press and overhead press.
  • Upper body pull — you might include chin-ups, pull-ups, or any row variation (inverted, single-arm or upright for example). The bathroom towel can be used here for a pull-apart or inverted row.
  • Core — plank variations and leg raises are my favourites, but there are plenty of exercises to choose from that will target your abdominals.

“But Rachael, I don’t have enough weight to make these movements hard enough!”

Looking for something more challenging, hey? Try adding these:

  • Unilateral movements — anything single leg or single arm adds an extra level of difficulty. This could be a split squat or single arm press for example. 
  • Myo-reps — I was first introduced to myo-reps by Barbell Medicine and have been using it in my own training for a number of years. Basically, it involves performing an activation set where a relatively light load is lifted to near-failure (typically 12-30 repetitions) before completing a series of lower-rep “back-off” sets with the same weight (between 3-5 repetitions) with 20 second rest intervals until failure [8].
  • Tempo — add a tempo to the eccentric (when the muscle fibres lengthen) and/or concentric (when the muscle fibres shorten) part of the movement.
  • Pauses — add a pause in any part of the movement for between 1-5 seconds. 
  • Short rest periods — a shorter rest period will allow the fatigue to accumulate and kick in sooner. Start with halving your normal rest period and assess from there. 
  • 1 + 1/4 reps — utilise 1 + 1/4 reps to add time under tension.

In addition to all of this mumble jumble, remember to have fun! Enjoying your training and exercise regime will help you stick to it. It will also give you something to look forward to, especially during lockdown. If you’re feeling lost or need some extra accountability, contact us. We would love to hear from you!

References

1. https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/ongoing-support-during-coronavirus-covid-19/exercising-and-staying-active-during-coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions

2. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians

3. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/heart-health-education/physical-activity-and-exercise

4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-001-0568-y?LI=true 

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4090891/

6. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-activity/exercise-and-sleep 

7. https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/weightlifting/athlete-profile-n1465120-diaz-hidilyn.htm

8. https://www.barbellmedicine.com/blog/myo-reps/