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As the coronavirus continues to cause concern worldwide, gym-goers have begun to think twice about sharing equipment, locker rooms, and towels. Although the virus doesn’t survive well on highly-sanitized surfaces, fitness professionals and enthusiasts are wary.
“For now COVID-19 is just on peoples minds but not effecting business,” Noam Tamir, founder and CEO of TS Fitness, told Insider via email.
But if it does, avoiding gym germs doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your gains. There are plenty of exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment to get a full body workout and yes, even some cardio.
Here’s what Tamir and other personal trainers recommend for staying in great shape even if a quarantine happens.
Burpees are the king of at-home exercises, according to experts
While a home workout can’t replace an intense bodybuilding session of pumping iron, there are plenty of ways to work up a sweat in your living room, according to certified personal trainer Bryan Goldberg.
“You don’t need a gym to be fit unless you’re a hardcore weight-lifter,” Goldberg told Insider. “The average person can get fit and stay fit in the confines of their bunker.”
And burpees should be at the top of the list.
“For the most bang for your buck, the burpee is the best,” he said. “No matter where you are in the fitness spectrum, there aren’t many things are so simple but have such a profound effect as a burpee.”
You don’t have to do 100 of them first thing in the morning, either (although that’s what Navy SEAL Jocko Willink recommends). Goldberg recommends starting with a set of burpees that will be challenging but doable for you based on your fitness level — five to 10 is a good starting point. Then, follow it up with the same number of push-ups, squats, and mountain climbers. Repeat several times for an easy total body workout.
If you’re really looking for a challenge, consider CrossFit athlete Jeff Germond’s go-to, which is either 100 or 150 burpees for time.
“Try to get under 5 minutes for 100 burpees, which is pretty challenging,” Germond told Insider. “If your goal is 150 burpees, your goal is to not die. Just finish.”
But don’t forget other body-weight moves like push-ups and squats
If you hate burpees or just want some variety, other body weight movements can work other areas of the body, and offer varying degrees of difficulty.
Air squats, for example, can be done just about anywhere and by anyone, Goldberg said. Those, along with mountain climbers, lunges, push-ups (or variations to make them easier or harder) are the basic body weight exercise to combine into various workouts.
Just combining those basic movements, one after another, can be a quick effective home workout.
For more of a challenge, Goldberg recommends an isometric hold as part of the movements — at the bottom of a squat or lunge, hold that position to push your muscles to work harder. You can also add a “pulse” to squats or lunges, he said, by lowering down into your squat, moving halfway up to standing, back down, then all the way to standing. This can help make simple movement more challenging for more athletic or advanced
And if you’re worried about missing out on cardio, add a jump to the top of movements like squats or lunges to kick your heart rate into high gear. Those explosive, plyometric variation, especially when combined with a circuit of other exercises, can give you a good workout even without a lot of time or space, Goldberg said.
For example, instead of regular squats, do a set of 10 jump squats. Follow that with a set of 10 regular squats and finally, lower yourself into a squat and hold that position for 15 to 30 seconds as a feel-the-burn finisher. Repeat a few times for a full workout.
“It’s not necessary to put your body through intense four-mile runs [for cardio,]” Goldberg said. “Anything that uses oxygen as fuel for muscles is cardio. As long as you’re moving and doing something that gets your heart rate elevated even slightly for a significant period of time, you’ll get benefits.”
Get creative about using household items as fitness tools
You don’t need anything but your body weight to exercise, according to Germond, but if you do want to add variety, a few common things around the house can help keep you busy until you can get back to the gym.
A chair, for instance, can be used to support your squats — stand over it and lower down until just before your rear touches the seat (imagine you’re using a grimy gas station restroom).
You can also use that same chair to work your upper body with tricep dips, placing your hands behind you on the chair, walking your feet out in front, and slowly bending your elbows to slower down and back up.
If you do like lifting weights, consider using a broomstick in place of a barbell to practice movements like squats, Germond recommends. It may be less challenging that a full weighted barbell, but it can help you perfect your form and keep mobile until you can get back to the gym.
If you do want a little weight, a few gallon jugs of water can provide some resistance for squats, lunges, shoulder presses, and other movements, along with providing convenient post-workout hydration.
This is just a starting point. Goldberg recommends getting creative and doing a little research to find other options, since the internet can be a great resource for exercise innovations.
“Not to put myself out of business, but it’s easy to find great workouts for free or very little money,” he said. “It’s a matter of finding the right, reputable sources and getting creative. YouTube has a great collection of videos with workout suggestions.”
No matter where you work out, keep up good habits like hand-washing, getting plenty of sleep, and eating healthy
Even if you’re doing a home gym session, though, it’s important to practice good health and recover habits to avoid getting sick or worn out. Wash your hands regularly, and stay hydrated, Germond said, and always wipe up any pools of sweat you might leave after exercise.
“Be a little more diligent about personal hygiene,” he said.
Finally, don’t underestimate the important of sleep and good nutrition, as Tamir continues to advise his clients.
“We have re-emphasized the importance of keeping themselves healthy by taking vitamins, getting enough sleep and eating nutritionally dense foods, boosting the immune system,” Tamir said.
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