The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended just about every aspect of our lives—and for everyone who usually makes working out a top priority in their daily schedule, like Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., the last few weeks have been especially frustrating.
Gyms and fitness clubs are closed, and even low-contact meetup groups like run clubs are cancelled due to the widespread adoption of social (or physical) distancing principles. But you can still keep up with your training at home—as long as you have some ingenuity, drive, and hopefully, a few pieces of equipment.
To help everyone out there trying to crush their home workouts, Samuel filmed his own home training session to serve as a guide, or at the very least an inspiration. He might have access to more equipment than you do, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t follow his advice and make as many adjustments as possible to make it work for you.
Get ready to smash your upper body with this chest, triceps, and shoulder push day. Watch the video above for the full routine, and check out these tips from Samuel below.
Tempo and Pauses
Eb says: When you’re short on pure load, you need to make the weights you have go far. One way to do that is by utilizing aggressive tempos and pauses. Pausing at the bottom of, say, a bench press rep means I zero out elastic energy and have to work that much harder to press the weights up.
It’s also building shoulder stability. Using slower negative tempos also creates challenge. It’s also all building mind-muscle connection that I can use to better effect when I return to the gym.
Sequence Your Chest Work Differently
Eb says: When I’m in the gym training chest, I almost always start with a flat bench press. Why? Because over the course of my workout, I can load it more aggressively than any other motion, and you want your strongest, heaviest motion to come first to create a greater hormonal response.
But when I’m home, even my heaviest bells aren’t going to match how I can aggressively load my flat bench press. So instead of starting with my most loaded move, I start with my most challenging move, the incline press. That way, by the time I’m at the flat press, I’m fatigued and can get more out of a lighter weight (which is still the most weight I currently have at home).
Eb says: Once you’re past the big, multijoint moves, when you move into the isolation portion of chest at home, giant sets can be a huge help. After the incline press and the flat press, I’ve gone heavy and I just want to flush blood into the muscle. I can’t really load my flies as much either, and I don’t have my normal gym setup.
The better idea: Set a large number for an overall rep-load, then work through it as fast as possible (while still maintaining good form), ignoring set numbers of sets and reps. It’ll flush the target muscle with blood even with a light weight or resistance band, and works with pushups too.
Join The Band
Eb says: Resistance bands are your friend when training at home. They serve multiple purposes, and can be added to basic exercises with dumbbells to increase load and challenge. They’re also great for those giant sets, and they very often challenge your muscles in those muscles’ strongest range of motion, at peak contraction, thanks to their variable resistance curve.
Grab a set for your home gym now. Bonus: They’re not selling out like toilet paper. Yet.
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