An Archer’s push up can easily help increase strength and add muscle size while you are stuck at home(Shutterstock)
An Archer’s push up can easily help increase strength and add muscle size while you are stuck at home(Shutterstock)

Fit and fine: Keeping fit amidst the Corona virus scare

With most gyms and other fitness centres being closed, here’s how you can still keep yourself fit within the confines of your home
By Kamal Singh CSCS | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON MAR 21, 2020 09:45 PM IST

We are in the midst of a pandemic scare and the health authorities have advised staying away from crowds. Since gyms are on the top of the list of places to be ordered shut, your pursuit of fitness can take a hit. It is very easy to give in to being slothful and just plonk yourself in front of a television, binge watching mindless movies and inane serials. But you can still get fit and strong at home, it just needs a little bit of creativity and a willingness to think out of the box!

Fitness at home

The usual go to exercises are push ups, body weight squats, lunges etc. But we want to shake up things a little and not do the regular “ole” circuits of push ups, lunges, rinse and repeat. See what I did here! Most people think that you cannot get strong unless you use external load because the number one principle for getting strong is Progressive Overload. Most people think that the only way to get strong on bodyweight exercises is to do very high number of repetitions. But you can also increase strength and add muscle size by doing single limb aka unilateral body weight exercises.

Enter the one arm push up and single leg squat aka the pistol

Most fitness enthusiasts who can bench press and squat quite a bit of weight will have problems while trying to do a one arm push up and the Pistol Squat.

One arm push up has a direct impact on chest and shoulders (Shutterstock)
One arm push up has a direct impact on chest and shoulders (Shutterstock)

Being able to balance on one leg for the Pistol Squat and on three points for the one arm push up, makes these exercises unique in terms of muscle activation and overload. Not only do they have a direct impact on what are known as the prime movers – chest, shoulders, triceps for the push ups and thighs, glutes for the squats – also the stabilisers, smaller muscles which do not adequately overloaded in bilateral exercises. Strengthening the smaller muscles will help in improving overall strength and injury proofing a trainee. It’s a win win all the way.

Regressions and progressions

One arm push up

•Start with what is known as an archer push up – one arm under the shoulder and the other arm straight out to the side, perpendicular to the torso. Get to 15-20 reps with this version.

•From the archer push up go to the straight arm placed higher on a rolled up towel/small ball. Touch the towel/ball lightly. Get to 15-20 reps with this version.

Strengthening the smaller muscles will help in improving overall strength and injury proofing a trainee (Shutterstock)
Strengthening the smaller muscles will help in improving overall strength and injury proofing a trainee (Shutterstock)

•Now put the hand on the hip and do assisted one arm push ups. This is pretty close to a legit one arm push up. Stay with this version for a while. For some people, they do no need to go beyond this version.

•The final version – the free hand does not touch any part of the body. Congratulations you have achieved a real One Arm Push up.

Single leg squat or the pistol

You can also increase strength and add muscle size by doing single limb aka unilateral body weight exercises (Shutterstock)
You can also increase strength and add muscle size by doing single limb aka unilateral body weight exercises (Shutterstock)

•Reduce the range by squatting to a high chair or a bed. Work up to at least 20 reps per leg. Once you can hit 20 reps, squat slightly lower. Continue like this.

•Another way is to start by squatting down with both legs and coming up on a single leg or squat down on a single leg and come up on both legs. Work up to at least 20 reps per leg.

•Now you are ready to attempt a Pistol!

Not having access to a gym should not interrupt your fitness journey. In fact, use this time to work on getting stronger on body weight exercises, especially the ones I list above and reap innumerable benefits! Now go do it.

Author bio: Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years

From HT Brunch, March 22, 2020

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