Reading time: 5 minutes

I’ll cut through the ever-reminding intro we’ve all read a thousand times during this quarantine…let’s get to motivation, or lack thereof.

“Motivation” has proven to be one missing component causing roadblocks for the majority of folks right, and that’s entirely understandable. Strange times 2k20.

Let’s first break down what’s required of this fleeting motivation in terms of exercise, and then we’ll delve into my 5 pro-tips for motivation.

Progressing Through the Pandemic: What You Need to Do

You can’t visit your gym, you can’t train with your group of friends, you can’t just casually pick up were you left off with an assortment of dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and isolation machines…what to do?

First, check your workout logs. Don’t have any? Start now. If you do, review your training split, try to mimic it with what you have, and count your reps and sets for Christ’s sake.

Our general goal during this time is to just maintain what we’ve achieved. That’s it. Now isn’t the most optimal time to embark on a lofty mission to gain 10 pounds of muscle, or get 5% BF shredded (but hey, you do you).

*BTW: if you’re tracking macros, think about increasing your protein intake a bit to ensure you can hold onto your lean muscle. Think 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you’re not tracking, still make the conscious effort to consume adequate protein.

Gaining muscle, can be quite difficult. Maintaining muscle on the other hand, is actually incredibly simple. Dr. Mike Israetel at Renaissance Periodization has effectively explained training volume landmarks, and for the majority of trained folks, muscle can be maintained with as little as 6 sets per muscle group.

For example:

  • 3 sets of pushups, 3 sets of band chest flyes = your 6 sets for chest
  • 3 sets inverted rows, 3 sets band straight arm pulldowns = your 6 sets for back
  • 3 sets pike pushups, 3 sets lateral raises = your 6 sets for shoulders
  • 3 sets reverse lunges, 3 sets hindu squats = your 6 sets for quads
  • 3 sets single leg RDl’s, 3 sets elevated straight leg bridges = your 6 sets for hamstrings
  • 3 sets single leg hip thrusts, 3 sets lateral band walks = your 6 sets for glutes
  • 3 sets of band curls for direct bicep work (you train biceps indirectly with your rows, so 6 sets isn’t needed)
  • 3 sets of band tricep extensions for direct tricep work (you train triceps indirectly with your chest and shoulder work, so 6 sets isn’t needed)
  • *Additional core work can be thrown in as desired, the above exercises will provide enough stimulation for maintenance
  • *Mobility exercises can be thrown in as desired, the above exercises performed to full range of motion will keep mobility maintained

*Reach out to me if you need any help determining which exercises to choose based on your equipment, experience, and preference.

a. Pushups 3×10a. Pike Pushups 3×5a. Lateral Raises 3×10
b. Reverse Lunges 3×10/sideb. Single Leg Hip Thrusts 3×5/sideb. Lateral Band Walks 3×10/side
a. Inverted Rows 3×10a. Band Straight Arm Pulldowns 3×10c. Core Exercise
b. Single Leg RDL’s 3×10/sideb. Elevated Straight Leg Bridges 3×10d. Mobility Drill
a. Core Exercisea. Band Chest Flyes 3×10a. Band Curls 3×10
b. Mobility Drillb. Hindu Squats 3×10b. Band Tricep Extensions 3×10
Super Simple Maintenance Plan

(You can divvy it up as you please, but you get the idea)

What Should You Be Focusing On Right Now?

Training muscles, not just cardio.

Don’t chase the sweat. Don’t make everything into a jump. Don’t do 1000 reps of the easiest exercise variations.

If you can train at maintenance volume, choose variations with appropriate intensity, and split your training up through the week you can maintain your muscle, you can give your body a “break” and re-sensitize it to growth – so you’ll be primed for gains once things are back to normal.

This should appease your anxiety. You do not need to go bonkers with ridiculous follow-along live workouts, and you can use this time to properly recover, and use it as a priming phase for when your training is back to normal.

For those who don’t want to just “maintain:”

Choose difficult bodyweight or available equipment exercise variations that will stimulate your muscles. If you usually do squat variations, move to lunge variations. If you lunge, aim for pistol progressions. If you can do pushups, move to feet elevated, or deficit pushups.

Point being, if you don’t have access to a myriad of equipment, you need to match your training intensity. Generally, you want to stay 1-3 reps shy of failure on your working sets. Now’s the time to choose difficult variations, and complete sets 1-3 reps shy of failure. If you can’t reach that 1-3 reps shy of failure until you hit say 25 reps with your bands for instance, then worry less about repetitions. For example, instead of 3 sets of 25, think 3 sets of 2 reps shy of failure. That may look like 26, 22, 19, and that stimulation will keep you progressing.

Feed Me Motivation!

On to the real dilemma at hand…

Why can’t anyone get motivated?

Training out of the comfort of your own home isn’t ideal for most. Therein also lies the problem; the comfort of our own home is a foreign environment for exercise.

Because of that, it feels like we need extra motivation to conjure up the necessary energy to even set up our training space. You have other people in the house, uncommon-for-exercise distractions, and a lack of equipment making exercise more mentally draining it seems than physically.

Here Are My 5 Tips for At-Home Workout Motivation:

  1. Knock it out before the day saps your energy & will.

For some, this may be getting it done at 6am prior to the rest of the house waking up, and for others this may be using the kids’ lunch hour nap-time (me). Point being, don’t put it off until the end of your day. If you’re a pm trainee, and you’re used to a meditative end-of-day training session at the gym, making that switch to at-home workouts can prove troublesome. It’s not about flexing your willpower here, it’s about not having to zap all of your willpower just to get a measly workout in.

Your daily willpower is limited, and since you’re reading this, I assume you’re concerned about exercising during this time. If that’s the case, check that box before you start justifying why it’s not the best time.

2. Create “the space.”

Just like having a home office, it’s your space conducive to the work that needs to be done. If you’re forced to train at home, you need to designate a space for that activity. Have you ever heard that you shouldn’t watch TV in bed if you have insomnia? The reason behind it is that your brain misconstrues the purpose of your sleeping space; “do I sleep here, or should I be entertained?” Same concept with exercise. Designate an area (if possible of course) and try to minimize other activities performed in that space so that you begin to associate it with your effective home workouts.

3. Music, podcasts, books.

Don’t discount the importance of this one. I was actually quite surprised to see numerous videos of people training in their living room to the background noise of the television, a monotonous follow-along workout, faint elevator-like music, or just the sound of their breath. If you have a home-entertainment system, use it. Have bluetooth speakers? Connect them, all of them. Less commuting so you’re not keeping up with your podcasts? Here’s your time. Need a mini-mental-vacay? Audiobooks. When you’re in the gym, you’re in a setting that has the purpose of one thing: exercise. Music, setting, atmosphere, peers – everything is conducive to exercise and all those components mold your headspace into its robot setting “train.” Create your home-training headspace.

4. Plan ahead.

I know, profound. In all seriousness, it’s just too taken for granted.

What happens:

  • you get a workout started, only to have it halted because you’re out of ideas
  • you’re unsure how to structure on the fly with your minimal equipment
  • you’re sick of repeating the same 6 exercises you know and you’re comfortable with

Take the time beforehand to write out your workouts. Plan your week ahead, base them upon your previous week of workouts. This is why metrics come in handy; you cannot effectively manage what you do not measure.

5. Force someone to keep you accountable.

This proves to be a bit more difficult in these trying times simply because you may not be checking in with your coaches, your gym-buddies, or yourself since we’ve been thrust into the unknown.

Tell your spouse to hold you to a 15 minute workout each day. Reach out to a trainer, coach, gym-friend, or someone who may be struggling like you and create your own support group (reach out to me!), or if you have kids you can aggressively keep yourself accountable by telling your kids you’re going to workout at home so they’ll nag you to the brink of madness until you include them as a training modality.

Thanks for reading! Reach out if there’s anything I can do to help 🙂

-Coach Cody