The world is turned upside down at the moment due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. Schools are closed, most of us cannot go to work and must remain at home. People are stressed out, and rightly so without a way to make money in the same cases. On top of that, there are many of you who have been very serious about your health and physique goals. As a coach of 100 online athletes, I have had to help them strategize not only a plan of attack, but a mental approach to everything that is going on around us. Most people are now stuck training at home due to gym closures, stores are closed for certain foods we all eat for diet, and supplement stores are not open like usual. I have taken into consideration what the athlete is going through and I hope this article finds you healthy and gives you some direction on what to do for your physique goals during a time like this.
Training and Exercise
I don’t want to focus on a specific home workout, those are everywhere right now. I recommend fellow Iron Man columnists’ articles on some great workouts released just a few days ago. What I want to focus on is how you can still make progress when your gym is closed down and you have very little to get you by.
The first thing you should do is grab some resistance bands, preferably the ones with handles. Grab all varieties of colors, red/blue/yellow/green, for different resistance. While at the store grab a couple of dumbbell sets too. You can do A LOT with just resistance bands, dumbbells and random stuff around your living space.
The second thing, and the most important thing, is how you mentally approach your training. Are you going to put on muscle or size doing home workouts right now? No, not if you are someone who is used to training in a fully equipped gym. It’s just not going to happen, and that’s okay. But, you should make it your goal and challenge yourself to train like you are gaining muscle. This means performing a lot of high reps until you hit muscle failure from the build-up of lactic acid. Take your time, concentrate and slow the movements down to really squeeze and feel the muscle. For most of us who are bodybuilders, this is an essential key to training anyway. Right now you have the time to take advantage and make sure this happens.
If you are dieting, home workouts will be enough to help you hold onto that precious muscle you have built leading up to the diet phase. What I advise my clients to do is to perform their workouts in intervals, or as a circuit. This will get your heart rate up and act similarly to HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) cardio as well as boost your metabolism and burn calories.
As for cardio, take in all the benefits of the outdoors. Grab your headphones and listen to your favorite podcast (the one I host is Elite Physique University) or some music that gets you going. Whether it’s HIIT or steady-state cardio the weather is starting to get nice so take advantage of that and make sure to get it in.
Nutrition and Diet
I know a lot of you are wondering if you should drop your calories now that your workouts aren’t the same as they are in the gym. That’s a fair question. I don’t recommend dropping them unless you are getting on stage soon and doing a bodybuilding competition and your workouts are just not anywhere near what they have been. Then yes, you may want to drop your calories 10-15% and keep moving. But for the rest of us, we should train so hard that diet can remain unchanged.
The most important thing to think about here is just because the world around us seems to be crumbling day by day, that doesn’t mean you should order a dozen donuts and blow the diet and blame it on stress. You should make this a challenge! See how strict you can be with your diet for these few weeks, try and lose as much fat as possible. We have to eat, why not just be strict during this timeframe?
Bodybuilding Shows and Events Postponed/Cancelled
There are going to be plenty of you reading that were planning on doing a show that got either postponed or canceled. There can be a silver lining here, more on that in a minute. The good news is, there’s no shortage of shows in the bodybuilding industry, especially natural bodybuilding. I am watching the promoters and organizations post updates almost daily and they are on top of taking care of you the best they can. I have my clients continuing to push on and just do later shows whether that’s 2-3 weeks later or even 1-2 months later, at least it’s an option.
Now, to the silver lining. One of the reasons my clients place well is that I always approach getting them ready for a show with the mindset that we are going to be ready 2-3 weeks early. Once someone is stage lean and doesn’t need to lose fat, they should drop all their cardio out. Cardio is there to burn fat, so when someone gets really lean they will risk tapping into muscle stores if cardio is left too high. This will also drop cortisol levels dramatically so their legs recover and they look better than ever.
The other tactic I like to use is feeding my clients into their shows. I like to add 10-15 carbs to their daily diet to slowly fill them out but to also give them more energy. No one is going to gain fat on 10-15 extra carbs a day, but after 2-3 weeks of adding 30-45 carbs to someone’s intake they feel better and they usually look leaner. This is also due to cortisol dropping but also their glycogen stores filling up slightly more, exactly what we want for a physique competition. I see my clients look so much better doing this headed into peak week versus trying to get the last bit of fat off their physiques with cortisol through the roof.
Turn Lemons into Lemonade
I want to end this with a reminder that champions are the type of people who are successful because they take a bad situation and react to it so they can find a way to keep making progress. People who sit around and feel sorry for themselves never accomplish anything. Take this terrible situation right now and put everything you have into improving not only your physique but for your mindset. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and I will see you in the next article in much better circumstances.
(BA, MA, CPT), is the owner of Team Gorman, a company that works with a wide variety of people ranging from professional bodybuilders, crossfit athletes, powerlifters, high school wrestlers, the mom of 3 kids looking to get into shape, athletes trying out for the NFL, and more. John is the host of the Elite Physique University podcast, owner of The Phat Muscle Project apparel line, owner of 2 Anytime Fitness locations, owner of the Physique Summit Conference, a 3x best-selling author, and proud family man and father to his two boys. @team_gorman