By Neal Prokop, Sport Performance Specialist

The COVID-19 pandemic has us all limited to our basements and home gym fitness equipment, but that doesn’t mean your performance and athlete development program needs to stop.   There are several modifications that athletes can make to exercises to add resistance, improve imbalances, and challenge their body outside of the gym to ensure they get the most out of their training routine.

Here are some of our top tips and recommendations for athletes to ensure they get the best out of their home workouts.

Tip #1: Tamper with Tempo

Slowing down the speed of a movement keeps your stabilizers engaged, and your prime muscles under tension for a longer duration.  Try adjusting your tempo to include a 3, 4, or 5 second count during various phases of the exercise.  A second option could be to add a 2-second pause at the top or bottom of each rep.

The benefit of a higher count or slower tempo, especially during the eccentric phase of an exercise (example: the lowering of a push-up or squat), is that muscle lengthening under tension elicits micro-trauma to our muscles.  The body responds to micro-trauma by overcompensating, replacing damaged muscle tissue by adding more, and adapting to become more resistance to stress.  This is the concept behind hypertrophy training.  Here’s a video of some push up modifications adjusted to a slower tempo.

Tip #2: Challenge the Core

It doesn’t take a lot of external loading for you to hit your core and improve your stability.  But rather than doing sit-ups or crunches, try incorporating anti-flexion, anti-extension, or anti-rotational exercises.  These movements are intended to prevent your spine from flexing, extending, or rotating by primarily engaging your abdominal and back muscle groups.  There are countless exercises to try including such as a variety of plank variations, body saws, carries, pall-of-presses and hollow holds.  Check out the video of a few examples below.

Hint: You can put a cone on your back to ensure your hips don’t rotate!

Tip #3: Lift a Limb

When exercises are too easy, one of the quickest and simplest ways to add load to your body is to eliminate a limb.  In essence, athletes can double the resistance or load that their body must overcome.  Single leg squats, single arm inverted rows, or single arm pushes are a few of the options that are available to athletes.

Tip #4: Mobilize Your Muscles

Some athletes overlook the importance of mobility and neglect stretching during their workout routines, especially when they get into the gym and the bar is ready to be lifted.  Social distancing allows a great opportunity to allocate some time each day to work on posture, flexibility, and patterns.  Check out the video below to see a few of our favorites!

Tip #5: Split Your Stance

Adjusting your base of support or stance can drastically affect your body’s stability during a movement.  A narrower base of support, or split stance, will typically require a higher degree of strength, balance and coordination.   A few examples of exercises where you can adjust your stance include squats, planks, or stability-ball leg curls.

 

Try incorporating these adjustments into your exercises and program this week!  For questions and programming support, always reach out to performance@sportmanitoba.ca.

 

Stay Healthy, and Happy Training!

Your Performance Team