Keeping fit during the COVID-19 lockdown
I’ve been unknowingly doing a lockdown-style workout – at home, with only a limited availability of equipment – for the past three years.
And here’s the thing: I’m in the best shape of my life.
My home gym, as it were, consists of five sets of dumbbells – five pounds, eight pounds, 10 pounds, 15 pounds and 25 pounds – a eight-pound medicine ball, a weight bench and a pull-up bar.
I should add, also a pair of running shoes, because running is a key element to what I do, though it wasn’t always.
Six years ago, at the start of Janary, 2014, I weighed in just under 300 pounds, and set myself toward a goal to lose down to 225 pounds.
I ended up losing all the way down to my current weight of 185 by that summer, and I’ve been there since.
The key was watching what I eat in addition to exercising daily, and I think it’s important to stress that it has to be on both ends – what goes in, and what you burn.
My mantra: eat less, move more.
For the first couple of years of my current journey, I kept up working out at gyms.
At one point back in my heavier days, I was a decently accomplished power lifter. My career best in the bench press is 455 pounds, and my PR in the squat is 646 pounds.
My evolution to a more simplistic approach came when I read an article one morning that threw out a few simple challenges.
Can you run a mile? Do 25 push-ups? Five pull-ups?
As strong as I was in the weight room, I couldn’t do any of the above.
So, I set myself on the task of being able to get there.
I trudged my way to the track at the high school up the street, and huffed and puffed my way through four dispiriting laps, but within a year, I was running the Richmond Marathon in 3:39.
My daily routine is a 6.2-mile run, 500 push-ups, in sets from 50 to 75, occasionally ripping off 100.
From not being able to do a single pull-up, my comfort zone is 25, and my goal is to be able to get to 50, with a current PR of 41.
And I work in the free weights, light free weights, and ab crunches.
The advantage to this routine is that it’s portable. In times when you can travel, I don’t need really anything to be able to keep up with push-ups, crunches and running.
And in times when you can’t get to gym, like the times we’re in now, well, I’m in my element.
You can do this
What I’d say, then, to those of you out there reading this looking for tips, is, it can be done.
You might not have five sets of free weights, which is fine.
The push-ups can get you started on getting your upper body in shape.
Push-ups are great because they work so many muscle groups – shoulders, lats, triceps.
You can add some motion exercises – arm curls, military presses, the rest – without weights, just heavy repetitions.
I’d think about maybe ordering a set of dumbbells online, and advise that the weights don’t need to be all that heavy.
Between five and 10 pounds will do, honestly.
I also wouldn’t recommend beginning a running program right away.
Start with walking, building up stamina, up to a mile, then a mile and a half, then two miles, before switching to walking-running, at similar intervals.
Baby steps are important.
That’s how I got myself in shape, from 300 to 185, from barely making a mile around the track to the finish line of a marathon in a year.
You can do this, and the best part is, if you start doing it now, it’s something that will remain with you after the lockdown is over and done with.
If you have any questions about how to get started, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m glad to do my part to point you in the right direction.
Story by Chris Graham