Starting to Work Out at Home

Starting to Work Out at Home
by Erik Castiglione

Let’s cut to the chase: things are tough right now. For some, exercise helps us stay sane. For others, exercise is the last thing on your mind. All the Instagram “Fit Pros” and everyone else telling you that you need discipline and should emerge from this quarantine in the best shape of your life can go shove it. Many of us are busy with kids, jobs, spouses, and managing our own anxiety. Finding an hour to crank through a class can be extremely difficult, especially if you could instead spend that hour in sweet, blissful SILENCE.

Still, movement is an excellent way to manage stress, and it helps relieve aches and pains that we can accumulate through sitting. So, if you’re finding it difficult to dedicate specific time during the day to working out, I have a solution for you. Precision Nutrition calls them “Trigger Workouts”, also known as intermittent workouts, or micro/mini-workouts. I just called it “paying the toll” when I used this method in high school. So, what is it?

Well, it’s simple in premise: you set-up ONE piece of equipment, and every time you pass by it, you use it! As a Conard wrestler, we had strength training sessions between the end of class and the start of practice. We were expected to do 4 sets of 10 pull-ups. As a freshman, I could do 1 set of 12, and then I was dead. To get better at pull-ups, I set-up a pull-up bar in my bedroom doorway, and I set a toll of 10 pull-ups. In other words, every time I passed through the door, I had to accumulate 10 pull-ups before moving on. I had a few results: First, I got REALLY good at consolidating trips and carrying everything all at once. Second, I learned to hold my bladder much longer. And third, I got better at pull-ups.

You can use this same approach with any piece of equipment. Got a kettlebell? Great! Set it up in your office or living room. Every time you pass it, pick it up and do 10 KB swings, or 10 goblet squats, or SOMETHING. It’s an easy way to break up the monotony of your day. It’s also a good way to start the process of working out at home, especially if you’re feeling particularly unmotivated these days.

While we all remain optimistic about reopening in the near future, there is no guarantee that we won’t have to close our doors again if there is a second wave, or another, different pandemic in the future. While some of you have kick-ass home gym set-ups complete with flooring, squat racks, bars, DBS, and bumper plates, many of us do not. Most gear is difficult to find these days, because it’s all sold out. So, for those of you thinking about investing in a home gym, I would advise you to start with a jump rope, a box, pull-up bar, a KB or two, and a complete set of bands.

Starting to Work Out at Home

Really, Erik? Bands? 100% They are easily the most versatile piece of equipment out there. You can add band resistance to barbell, KB, DB, and bodyweight movements to make them more challenging. Or, in the case of dips and pull-ups, you can add bands to help scale the movement. Additionally, they can be used for stretching and mobility drills, and standalone exercises. The elastic resistance is a great way to prevent burning out your nervous system, and it helps to build tendon strength and elasticity in addition to muscular strength. You can a accrue a metric crapload of volume (actual unit of measure) with band work, and not risk overtraining. Finally, banded movements are great for physical therapy and correcting muscle imbalances. With a full set, you can vary the resistance from movement to movement. Not convinced? Here’s a list of exercises you can do with bands (and linked demo videos):

Band Pass-Thru
Band Pull-Apart
Supinated Grip Band Pull-Apart
Band External Rotation
Band Face Pull
Band High Pull
Band Lat Pull-Down
(Home variations of lat pull-down and face pull)
Straight Arm Lat Pull-Down
Band Pressdown
Band Curl
Band Hammer Curl
Band Good Morning
Band Resisted Squat
Banded X-Walk
Band Resisted Glute Bridge
Band TKE
Banded Leg Curl
Supine Banded Leg Curl
Band Overhead Squat
Band Press
Double Band Press
Band Starfish Squat
Band Lateral Raise
Band Shrug
Band Pull-through
Seated Band Row

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