Can’t get to the gym? No problem. Just work out at home.
Last night, we got Round 1 of the 2011 Icemageddon storm that swept through central Indiana, depositing multiple layers of snow and freezing rain. As I write this, we are preparing for Round 2 later today. It will deliver the punch of Muhammad Ali and the bite of Mike Tyson, all in one.
Because my personal training appointments were cancelled today due to hazardous road conditions, I wasn’t planning on going into the gym just to get my workout in. Why risk it when I have everything I need right here at home – resistance tubing (band), a pull-up bar and my own body weight. That’s all you need need for a great, muscle-building, fat burning workout.
After spending two hours chopping through 2 inches of ice and snow to clear my driveway and sidewalk, I was pretty spent. My biceps, forearms, back and quads got a great workout and were a little sore. So, after resting for about 90 minutes, I decided to jump into my home workout. For this workout, I recommend that (if the roads are safe), you go to Walmart, Target or Dick’s Sporting Goods and buy a 20-, 25- or 30-lb resistance tube/band. I’m using a 30-lb tube. They should have handles and a door anchor like the one shown here.
I also have a door-frame mounted pull-up bar. But, you don’t really need this to get a good workout it. They cost about $30 and can be used for pull-ups, crunches, and dips. So, they are good for multiple exercises.
Perform 2 or 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise.
Pull-Ups (Lats, Rhomboids, and Biceps)
My first exercise was body-weight pull-ups. I can only do about 3 sets of 5 at my current body weight. So, I added three sets of 10 using my resistance tubing for assistance. I looped the straps on each end of the tube around the handles of the pull-up bar. I then pulled myself up, put my knees on the part of the resistance band that is hanging down, and let my body weight stretch it down. As I pull myself up, the band provides assistance to lift me up, but not too much that I don’t still have to exert a lot of effort. For me, this is about equivalent to putting the counterweight on the assisted pull-up machine to 90 lbs.
Bent Over Rows (Back, Shoulders)
For the B.O. Rows, I step on the tubing, grab the handles, bend over at the waist while keeping my back straight and head up. I use a rowing motion, keeping my elbows close to my body, and pull the tubes up. You can do double-arm rows and single-arm rows. You might have to adjust your feet to shorten the tube length if you want more resistance.
Seated Row (mid- and lower-back, biceps)
The seated row is simple. Just sit down on the floor and loop the resistance band over your feet. Grab both handles and pull. I also use the door anchor, and put anchor under the bottom of a door and close the door. I can them move further away from the door, which gives me added resistance. I pull the handles toward my belly button and then slowly return to the starting position, keeping tension on the muscles the entire time.
For a high row, I anchor the tubing about shoulder-height and then row. This works more of the upper back.
For a good biceps workout, I use the biceps curl. I place the tubing under both feet. I grip the handles, palms up with arms lowered to my thighs. I then perform a biceps curl, bringing the handles all the way to my shoulders and then slowly returning to the starting position. Don’t let your arms “snap” back, or you could injure yourself. Just keep tension on the biceps during the eccentric (or down) phase of the exercise. Place one foot on the band for lower resistance. For more resistance, place two feet on the band and then widen your stance. As the length of the band shortens, the resistance increases.
You can also anchor the resistance band under the bottom of a door and then perform the curls. Again, as you mover further away, the resistance increases.
Overhead Triceps Extension (triceps)
There are variations of this exercise. One is to stand on the band, then grab the handles as if your are going to do a biceps curl. The tricky part is to move the handles out to the side, rotating your palms up and then bending your elbows so that you are holding the handles behind your head with your palms up. You then push the bands up, extending your forearms straight up. Then, slowly lower your the handles back to the starting position. This is hard with heavier bands. Be careful not to strain your arms by letting the handles snap back.
I prefer the triceps push down. I anchor the band at the top of the door or around my pull-up bar. I use the clips to fasten the handles together. I either stand and push the handles down towards the floor and then slowly return to the starting position or I will get on my knees and do the same. It depends on the resistance I want to exert on the triceps.
Chest Press (Pecs, triceps)
While I don’t usually mix chest and back on the same workout, the intensity of a resistance band chest press is not as much as doing heavy dumbbell presses or barbell chest presses. So, I decided to add this exercise in today. For this exercise, you almost need either a door anchor strap. Using the door anchor, attach the resistance band to the top of the door. Standing with your back towards the door, grab both handles and push from back (A) to front, fully extending the arms (B) at about chest/shoulder height. Press as if you were performing on a vertical chest press machine.
To finish off this workout, I performed three 60-second elbow planks, three sets of 25 bicycle crunches, and three sets of 25 seated Russian medicine ball twists.
So, if you are stuck in the house for a couple of days (or in a hotel while travelling), you can get a decent 30-minute workout in without driving to a gym. In fact, get the whole family involved and cheer each other on as you complete your sets.
To your health!