Monday, May 4, 2020

When The Gym Is Still Closed - By Jim Duggan

In a previous article, I discussed various ways to train without going to the gym. At the time, a little over a month ago, commercial gyms in the New York area had been closed for two weeks. Here it four weeks later, and the gyms are still closed. Just when - and how - they will reopen is anybody's guess. But there is absolutely NO reason for you to abandon your workouts. If you are truly determined to make it work, then you will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Last month, I mentioned several ways to train without the use of weights. Make no mistake, you can build a remarkable degree of fitness with bodyweight exercises. You can build strength, fitness, and develop a superb level of conditioning. But, let's face it, if you're like me, you want to LIFT. Progressive resistance. Hoisting the steel. Call it what you want, just so long as you add weight to the bar. Quite honestly, I'm getting a little tired of seeing internet "experts" encouraging me to do countless burpees, planks, and other toning exercises. Not that there isn't a time and place for such movements, but the name of this website is Natural STRENGTH.

I realize that many people simply do not have access to barbells and dumbbells, let alone various exercise machines when the gyms are closed. However, with a minimum amount of equipment, you can continue your workouts, build strength, and maintain a desirable level of health. Strength and Health. A familiar theme. Barbells and dumbbells are all that is required to design an effective weight-training program.

Please note that the information that I'm presenting here is directed at those trainees who have minimal equipment at their disposal. I'm well aware of the large number of "celebrities" who post pictures from their home gyms. I could never fathom how anyone would be motivated by a steroid-bloated "athlete," or "action hero" sharing pictures of themselves in a palatial gym. Can anybody really relate to that? Most people I know do not train in a 10,000 square foot "home gym." Ignore the phonies and concentrate on creating a positive training environment for yourself.

All you will need to get started are the same things that have been building stronger bodies for decades: Free weights. Quality barbells and dumbbells are all that is required. Throw in some determination and persistence and you will get through the gym closures with flying colors.

If you're limited to just a set of adjustable dumbbells, there are many exercises you can do to get stronger. Please note that I'm not talking about pumping and toning exercises. Curls, triceps kickbacks, and other such movements should be reserved for the toners. I'm talking about exercises that will make you stronger. And one of the all-time best dumbbell movements to build strength is the DB Clean and Press. This has been a staple of many a strongman over the years. Simply clean a pair of DBs to your shoulders and perform a strict press. Then lower the DBs to the ground. That's one rep. If done for higher reps this movement will serve as a great overall conditioner, in addition to building great strength. You can also use this as a general warm-up, as it will hit just about every muscle in the body.

There are two other dumbbell exercises that I've enjoyed over the years: Dumbbell Deadlifts and Dumbbell Power Cleans. Performing Deadlifts with a pair of dumbbells is a great way to train the lower back. It is particularly useful for a powerlifter who is between contests. It's an excellent "off-season" assistance exercise. One or two heavy sets of 10-12 reps is a great way to build usable strength that will translate into a bigger deadlift. If you want a particularly intense workout, then try doing one all-out set of 20-30 reps. Naturally, proper performance demands that you do not bounce the DBs off the floor between each rep. Do each rep strictly and under control.

An effective alternative to the dumbbell deadlift is doing power cleans with heavy dumbbells. Multiple sets of low to medium reps or one all-our set for maximum reps will give your back, traps, and shoulders an intense workout. I would like to add a note of caution. If you are using adjustable dumbbells, make sure that you use a set of heavy-duty collars, and that the collars are securely tightened before every set. This applies to all dumbbell exercises.

Another one of my favorite dumbbell exercises is the One-Arm DB Clean and Press. This exercise is especially useful if you have limited time and/or space ( although, in light of current circumstances, most people should have sufficient time on their hands.) In any event, you can select a number of reps that you wish to complete, and then try to achieve that number in a certain amount of time. A couple of years ago, while spending a few days on vacation, I brought along a 50 Lb. Center Mass Bell, which I purchased from Sorinex. One morning, I decided that I was going to shoot for one hundred reps in 30 minutes. It was an intense workout, but I was able to finish in less than thirty minutes. I had the rest of the day to enjoy, and was still able to get in a workout. For the rest of the day, I felt a sense of accomplishment for not having neglected my workout. I also felt pretty darn sore!

As for barbell exercises, there should really be little need to describe what can be done with a barbell. Deadlifts, Clean and Presses, Bent-over Rows are a few effective exercises. One high rep set of Deadlifts, followed by a set of overhead Presses is an intense way to stimulate your entire body. And no special equipment is necessary. If you happen to have a flat bench or squat racks, then you can add those movements to your routine, providing, of course that you ALWAYS use a spotter when doing those exercises. Remember, safety first.

Naturally, barbells and benches will will take up more room and require more space than a set of dumbbells. If you are lucky enough to have a garage or basement, then you can easily fashion a home gym. If your living area is tight,my oh may have no alternative than to lift in your living room or bedroom. I've done many deadlift workouts in my living room over the years. Again, whatever it takes. Performing strict movements will save your floor ( a good set of bumper plates wouldn't hurt either!)

There is yet another alternative to lifting at home that can be highly beneficial for those who want to strengthen their lower bodies. Billy Mannino, a member of Bruno's Health Club from way hack, recently shared a workout that he does with his daughter. They drive to an empty parking lot, and push their car. Car pushing has been around for a long time. All it takes is a large, open area to push your car. Billy alternates pushing forwards and backwards, and says that, by the end of the workout, his legs, particularly his quads are fried. Car pushing is an excellent substitute for Squats, or can be performed after your workout as a "finisher." I had almost forgotten about car pushing until Billy sent a video of himself and his daughter pushing their car through an empty parking lot. If you live near a large, open parking area, and want an intense lower-body workout, then give it a try.

When, and if, commercials gym open again is still undetermined. If you dedicate yourself to your workouts, and adopt the attitude that "nothing will stop me from lifting," you can continue with your workouts without interruption. Hopefully, those who train at a commercial gum will be able to go back soon. But if things remain the way they are, you can still lift, and get stronger while being quarantined.

Editors Note: Thank You Jim. Great article.
Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me:

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