In an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are choosing to avoid public spaces.
Public transport, shopping malls, concerts, and the gym.
But if you are training for an upcoming heart-pumping adventure—and you have made the smart choice to stay away from your local gym—this does not mean your training and fitness regimen must suffer!
It is time to get creative to substitute common gym exercises and workout routines for options that can be done at home and away from the public.
So today, I want to explore a few of these alternatives.
At Home Strength Training for Hikers
Strength training for hikers is amazing. And, for several reasons, many hikers prefer to get in their strength training at the gym. But this presents an issue: when hikers avoid the gym, they typically end up completing a series of highly repetitive movements…
Endless squats and lunges.
Though they can do some good, it is not the most efficient way to work those targeted muscles needed for an out-of-doors hiking excursion. So rather than taking this common approach, you want to ensure you maintain some type of structure to your strength training program while continuing to challenge your body with a heavy enough load.
With this in mind, try the following substitutes for common gym exercises:
- Trade in the barbells and dumbbells for loaded pack exercises (e.g. load your backpack with your gear and complete a series of squats, lunges, and step ups).
- Swap double-legged exercises like leg presses for single leg, bodyweight workouts (e.g. single leg deadlift, step downs, and pistol squats).
- Switch out machines for bodyweight exercises (e.g. swap chest press for push ups and leg extensions for a wall sit).
An example home workout routine:
a) Step downs x 8 (each leg)
b) Single leg deadlift x 10 (each leg)
c) Single leg calf raise x 12 (each leg)
d) Deadbugs x 45 seconds
Repeat this 4 times, with no rest between exercises.
2. Step-ups x 3 minutes
To make this more of a challenge, wear a pack filled with water bottles and cushioned with towels. If you don’t have an appropriate step, you can change this to reverse lunges.
At Home Cardio Training
Whether it is for weather, comfort or convenience, many adventure enthusiasts like to hit the gym for their adrenaline-fueled cardio.
When you want to avoid this environment however, here are a few easy swaps:
Substitute the StairMaster for real stairs
Whether it is obvious or not, if you love cardio machines including the StairMaster and COVID-19 has temporarily shut down your gym, seek out a long set of stairs to climb! Anyone can find a decent set if they are savvy enough. Consider scouring your local neighbourhood for stadiums (or a park with bleachers), office towers, and apartment blocks.
Choose from two stair-climbing approaches:
- The long and steady: Aim for a long duration at a slow pace, sticking to a speed where you can breathe through your nose. Try to total out 30+ minutes of climbing time.
- Short and quick: Complete short, quick intervals on the stairs. Try to push the speed you climb until you are huffing and puffing. Aim for climbing intervals of 2-5 minutes and repeat as many times as you can.
*If you have bad knees, repeatedly going downstairs may aggravate them slightly. If this is the case, find an apartment block or office tower, climb the stairs, ride the elevator down, and repeat.
Buy, rent, or dust off your bicycle
Riding a bike is a great way to train for the trail. If you regularly use your gym’s stationary bike, elliptical, or rower, getting a bike to ride outdoors makes for an ideal substitute. And if you do not own your own set of wheels, no need to fork out hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars on a fancy road bike. Save your money and do your research. Look online or at a local second-hand store to purchase something inexpensive and take to the streets (or hills if you have them).
Choose from two cycling approaches:
- Long, slow cycle: With your helmet, hop on your bike and start pedalling at a relatively easy pace, for a long duration of time.
- Intervals: Find a flat track or a hill with a slight incline and complete quick bursts of high speeds for 1-3 minutes, alternating with a recovery period at a slower pace for the same duration. Repeat.
*If the weather happens to be less than ideal, you might consider picking up a second hand, stationary bike instead.
Get sweaty in the comfort of your home
While this third option is less effective and not as specific to hiking as the two alternative solutions above, it certainly can do in a pinch, particularly if the weather is unfavourable or you are not able to get your hands on a bike.
Performing a home cardio circuit is a decent way to work the heart and lungs and requires next to no equipment. Here you want to string together a range of bodyweight strength, cardio, and core exercises, ensuring you have a nice balance of working different muscle groups as well as choosing exercises you can maintain at a consistent pace.
An example home circuit might look like:
- Mountain climbers
- Glute bridges
- Star jumps
- Reverse lunges
- Star jumps
- Mini band walks
- Dead bugs
Perform each exercise for 50 seconds, resting for 10 seconds in between each exercise. Repeat as many times as desired.
Getting Personalised Support
Hopefully, you have enough ideas to continue to meet your fitness goals for that pending adventure.
However, if you are still feeling a bit lost, or you would like additional personalised and comprehensive advice, it might be time to reach out to a professional.
A professional can tailor a specific exercise program toward your personal needs, your goals, your training history, and your exercise preferences, ensuring you are getting the most out of your training with the time you have.
If you need help, send me a message on my website and I am more than happy to discuss putting together a personalised home training program for you, to keep your training moving forward until it is safe to return to the gym and those public venues.
Don’t be shy, I train hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers for a living, and I love what I do!