Broomsticks, bags of rice, backpacks – we’ve seen a lot of creative inventions on UN1T TV over the past few weeks from members finding ways to keep their strength gains during lockdown. We know that training at home can feel restrictive, but with a couple of tweaks and some imagination, you can find there are lots of options to maintain your strength through lockdown.
This week, Georgia Robson, coach at UN1T, is sharing her tips on how to execute five main compound movements you see in our strength classes, and what equipment you can use by just looking around your house and injecting a bit of creativity.
The deadlift is all about taking focus into the back of the body – the posterior chain – by pulling weight held at the front of the body from the ground to the hips and back again. This makes it a pretty easy exercise to replicate in the home as all you need is a heavy item that you can pick up from the ground. You could use a rucksack filled with heavy items, two heavy tote bags to hold in each hand or with their straps tied around the ends of a broom. You could even flip a low-lying coffee table on its side, with the legs pointing towards you and grab the edges of this.
Start with your heavy object of choice on the ground in front of you, as close to your body as possible, grip it tight, soften the knees and pull the shoulders back engaging the lats. Stand tall and pushing through the feet lift your heavy object from the ground to hip height, before hinging at the hips and bending the knees to put it back where you started. Of course, if you have therabands or resistance bands at home you can also use these by wrapping them under your feet holding each end and performing the deadlift movement in exactly the same way.
Another super easy exercise to replicate for the home. Like the deadlift, we want to load the body with weight to get the most out of this ‘push’ movement. The easiest and most effective variation to attempt is the goblet squat, which requires a single heavy object held under the chin in both hands to add weight to a simple bodyweight squat. Try using a big bag of rice or a large bottle of water. Another simple option to replicate a back squat (weight loaded on the back of the body, usually a barbell) is to fill your rucksack up again as heavy as possible and simply wear it to perform your squat. Or if you’re feeling confident, try the overhead squat. Grab a relatively light kitchen or garden chair, hold on to its legs above your head and, whilst trying to keep your shoulders back and your chest proud, bend through the knees to perform the squat.
The shoulder press is typically done with dumbbells or a barbell in the gym. Replicate this by grabbing two heavy bottles of water – one for each hand – or get that coffee table or rucksack back and load it at chest height. From the shoulders you’re going to press your water bottles or rucksack above your head, keeping your knees soft and your core switched on, until your arms are fully extended Then bring the objects back to your shoulders/chest. Low ceilings a problem? Perform the same movement from your knees. This will actually increase your core engagement and give you a stronger full body feeling.
A slightly trickier option at home as not many of us will have a bench lying around, I’m sure! However, a variation of the bench press often used in gyms too is the floor press. This takes the focus into the top section of the movement, elbows moving from in line with the chest to full extension through the arms above the chest. You won’t feel that full range of motion from a chest press performed off a bench, but you will still develop strength and maintain muscle mass by performing the press from the floor. Any heavy object can be pressed above you, you could roll up a rug and have your housemate or partner help you load that up, or as before a small table, rucksack or kitchen chair.
Bent over row
The most effective way to replicate our bent over row at home would be to get two of your heaviest shopping bags and use them just like you would a set of dumbbells or a pair of kettlebells. Having the weight as two separate items gives you options to perform the row single sided, using the other hand to grip the back of a chair for example, and add support while performing the exercise. Once your shopping bags are loaded, start with them in each hand either side of your feet. Hinge forwards, pushing the hips back and softening the knees. When your chest is almost parallel to the floor grip the shopping bags and pull them into your hips, bending the elbows and squeezing between your shoulder blades. Return to the floor and repeat!
Have you been getting inventive with your equipment during your strength workouts? Use Georgia’s tips as inspiration and share your at-home equipment with us on Instagram (@un1t_london).
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