TORCH PHOTOS/ Sydney Denham
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, I was at the gym everyday. It was a part of my daily routine, and I vividly remember my last trip to the gym – it is something I will always cherish. I do not know when I will comfortably be back in the gym.
Yes, gyms are now open, but that doesn’t mean everyone is ready to get back to them right now, especially as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.
There is something I have come to love about not going to the gym: my creativity has been on par. Whether you don’t want to workout with a mask on, don’t want to be around alot of people or you just don’t want to get out of your pajamas that day, there are so many things we can utilize at home to substitute gym workouts.
What exactly can you use? Almost everything – water jugs, cans, bottles, ottomans, chairs, socks (yes, socks!) — the list goes on!
Adjusting your leg day
If you are anything like me, leg day is the best day at the gym. There is nothing like getting an empty squat rack right when you walk into the gym. But without that rack or any other machines, here’s what we can do.
What you’ll need for the following workouts:
Ottoman or chair
Jug of water, cans, water bottles, glass bottles or any weight of your choice
Socks, paper plates or cloth (anything that will slide!)
With the chair (or ottoman), do some bulgarian split squats. A bulgarian split squat is a squat variation, but single-legged. I like to think of them as a lunge with the back foot elevated. As if you were doing a lunge, place your back leg up on the chair. Hold your weight of choice in the opposite hand than place your foot on the ground (if your left leg is forward, hold the weight in your right hand). When you bend that front leg, make sure you are far enough from (or close enough to) the chair so that your leg is at a 90 degree angle when bent. Do that on both sides for a couple of sets.
With that same chair, you will sit on the floor and put your back just below your shoulder blades against the chair. Grab your weight of choice again, and place it on your hips. Perform hip thrusts, keeping your shoulders on the chair and scooping your lower body from hovering the floor to a table-top position. While doing so, really squeeze your glutes and drive through your heels. Again, do this for a couple of sets.
With the socks, paper plates or cloths you grabbed, place them under your feet for two different variations of work outs.
For the first one, you will remain standing for a three-lunge variation. Stand with your feet together and slide them out to the side as you go into a lateral lunge. Drive your standing heel into the floor, squeeze your glutes and slide your foot back into standing position. Before doing that again, do the same motion for a back lunge and curtsy lunge. For a back lunge, you will slide your foot directly behind you and back. For a curtsy lunge, you will slide it behind you, but this time, you will cross the leg behind the standing one. Once you complete all three lunges on one leg, you will do all three on the other – that counts as one set.
With the same sliding-friendly appliance you used in the last exercise, you will now lay on your back with your knees up in the air. With the sliders under your feet, slide your feet as far out as you can and back to the starting position. Each slide out and slide back is one rep, and you can do as many reps as possible (AMRAP). This one’s a real hamstring burner – don’t say I didn’t warn you!
At-home upper body pump
I have come to love upper body days more while at home. Getting creative with the workouts makes them seem much less stagnant and repetitive, and there are so many new ways to challenge yourself.
What you’ll need for the following workouts:
Ottoman or chair
A weight of your choice
Resistance band or small towel
So here comes the traditional curl – the dooming curl, as I see it. But here’s the best part: you can fill and/or empty your bottle as much as you need to in order to push yourself without straining your muscles. In this exercise, I like to mix it up a little bit and do “super seven” curl variations. Start with your arms by your sides with the weight of your choice in both hands.
The first variation of this curl is seven movements from a straight arm to a half-curl position. In this half-curl position, your arm will make a 90 degree angle with your hands in front of you and your elbows tucked into your sides. The second variation will begin from that 90 degree angle position and move from half-curling to full-curling position. In this, you will go from having your hands in front to your hands at your shoulders, continuing to tuck your elbows. Do that variation seven times. Before your rest, you will then complete seven full, traditional curls moving from your hands by your sides to at your shoulders. Doing all three of the variations seven times counts as one set – do AMRAP.
Now onto triceps! Here are two different workouts to get those tris burning:
First, you will need one weight of your choice. I recommend a gallon of water (with as much water as you can handle in it); the handle of the gallon will help a lot. For this first exercise, you will be performing standing tricep extensions. In a standing position, lift your weight over your head in both hands with straight arms. You will then lower the weight behind your head slowly, keeping your elbows tucked in. Once your elbows bend to about a 90 degree angle, you will extend them up so that the weight is back where it started. Do this for about four sets of 10 reps.
Second, you will need your chair or ottoman. For this exercise, you will be doing tricep dips. Place your hands on the chair directly under your shoulders. Your feet should be directly forward from your hips with just your heels on the ground. Proceed to bend your elbows until they reach about a 90 degree angle, and push yourself back up. Try to push for about 10-12 of these for four sets or AMRAP.
Now onto shoulders and back:
Grab your weights of choice and let’s do some T- and front-flies. You will do each variation eight times, and that will count as one set. T-flies are also known as side flies. With both weights in your hands, lift your arms to the side, keeping your arms straight so that your arms and body make a ‘T.’ You will do the same for front flies, but this time your arms will end up directly in front of you. Do about four sets of eight for each variation.
Last but not least, we have the back. For the first exercise, keep your weights in both hands to do bend-over flies. You will stand with your feet hips-width apart, lean over with a straight back and place your hands in front of your face, palms facing in. From here, lift your arms to the same ‘T’ position as before, now just while facing the floor. Do about 10 of those for four sets.
I start everyday walking my dog for about a mile, sometimes more. For me, walking is a serious stress reliever and gets me out of bed, woken up and ready for the day ahead. Following my workouts, I always like to finish off with either a quick ab burner or a stagnant workout that works well with something I worked on that day (i.e. on back day I do some supermans). If I feel up to it, I also throw in some cardio whether that is going for a run, doing some high intensity intervals or jump roping.
While these home workout substitutions are great to have in mind, we need to remember that we are still in the middle of a pandemic – and for college students, approaching finals season. Sometimes this means the best form of fitness is walking to the snack cabinet, grabbing your favorite treat and watching Netflix all day. It’s OK to take a break from working out – whether that break is one day, one week or one month. All that you achieved back when gyms were open will not disappear in a matter of moments, and during this time, mental health comes first.
Whatever you feel your body is up to today, these workouts will always be one click away for reference.