This time last year, who would have thought ‘national lockdowns’ would exist?
If in 2019, you were to ask me what a lockdown was…
I would probably have had to look it up on Google.
Now, we all know what the word ‘lockdown’ means and how it can impact our lives:
- Working from home
- Life limitations
- Unable to see close friends and relatives
- The impact on the economy
And of course the impact on our health, fitness, and mental well-being.
When the gyms closed during the first of the lockdowns, people resorted to buying dumbells and home fitness equipment. In many cities, fitness items either went out of stock, went up in price, or delayed delivery (in some cases for months).
And then for the rest, health declined, eating more junk food than usual and moving less – leading to extra tummy roles and an upward weight trajectory. Many days spent indoors, hunched over the computer, answering emails and working on Zoom/Microsoft Teams.
Thankfully, while life in many areas is getting back to a ‘new normal’ – there is always the potential for further lockdowns.
So we all need to be prepared just in case.
The good news is that there are many ways to get in head-turning shape even if future lockdowns happen, and that’s the aim of this post, to provide 8 solutions.
#1 Invest In Some Dumbbells
The most effective way to change your body shape and get ripped is to do resistance training i.e., lifting weights. Choosing the right exercises and applying the correct technique is a guaranteed way to transform your body shape and build a ripped physique.
If you can invest in some dumbbells, you will have the ability to work all of your major muscles such as the chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, thighs, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles.
Combine the dumbbells with a bench, and you’ve got everything you need to build muscle and burn body fat. The best dumbbell/bench exercises for building lean muscle include:
- Chest – presses and flys (incline, flat, and decline)
- Back – incline rows, DB rows, shrugs
- Shoulders – side raises, front raises, shoulder presses, the Cuban press
- Biceps – DB curls, spider curls, concentration curls
- Triceps – overhead DB extensions, kickbacks, French press
- Core – weighted planks, Russian twists
- Legs – Squats, lunges, split squats, Romanian deadlifts, calf raises
Alongside the above, you may also be interested in picking up some more gym equipment such as:
- Resistance bands
- Squat rack
- Pull up station
- Jump rope
- Medicine ball
- TRX trainer
- Fitness mat
- Cardio equipment (rower, bike, treadmill, etc.)
The more equipment you can pick up, the more options you will have available to you.
#2 Muscle Building BodyWeight Exercises
If you don’t want to invest in home gym equipment or struggle to get hold of what you want (due to high demand), the best way to get ripped is to do bodyweight exercises.
Nick Screeton, head personal trainer at LEP Fitness says, “there are hundreds of bodyweight exercises you can do. If you apply the right style of resistance training, you can build a beach body in your living room”. The best bodyweight exercises include:
- Squats (wide, narrow, jumps)
- Lunges (forward, backward, side lunges)
- Split Squats
- Planks (side, front variations)
#3 Slow Down Your Reps
The most effective way to build muscle is called ‘hypertrophy training’ – this is what bodybuilders do. In Layman’s terms, hypertrophy training is about creating tension on the working muscle and going slow on the rep’s lowering portion (2-3 seconds). For example, let’s say you do a push-up, you would lower yourself to the floor taking 3s, before pushing back up. You then repeat the same tempo for the rest of your set.
Slowing down your reps is essential, especially if you do bodyweight exercises. The more resistance and tension you can place on your muscle, the quicker they will respond.
Ernst Peibst from Inside Bodybuilding says slow reps were one of the methodologies he used to overcome his genetics and build 17 inch arms naturally.
BONUS TIP – the ideal muscle-building rep range is between 8-15 reps per set.
#4 Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day
Despite what many people believe, slow intensity exercise is more beneficial for burning fat than HIIT training (High-Intensity Interval Training). So activities such as walking are fantastic for burning fat.
If you want to get ripped during a lockdown (and presuming you are allowed to leave the house), one of the best ways to get leaner is to walk 10,000 steps per day. For most, this equates to around 70 minutes of walking per day.
Alongside burning fat, walking will give you a break from your home environment, help you destress, and gather your thoughts. It will also expose your eyes/body to some natural light and improve your sleep quality.
#5 Aim For 8 Hours Of High-Quality Sleep
In the USA, over 70% of adults are sleep deprived. When you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to:
- Gain weight
- Make poorer decisions
- Have slower reactions
- Crave sugary foods
Being sleep deprived is not going to get you ripped. It will have the opposite effect. So sleep is critical when it comes to building a lean and athletic body.
Here are some ways to improve your sleep:
- Switch off your phone 2 hours before bed
- Avoid bright lights and watching TV 2 hours before bed
- Take a hot bath in the evening
- Avoid doing work after 7/8 pm
- Sleep in a dark room (the darker, the better)
- Wear some blue light blocking glasses in the evening
- Expose yourself to natural sunlight during the day
#6 Increase Your Protein Intake
Alongside resistance training, consuming enough protein is essential to building a lean body.
As well as repairing your muscles, it will also help you to burn calories (look up the Thermogenic effect of food).
BONUS TIP – Protein will also keep you fuller for longer, prevent snacking, and improve your training performance.
Foods high in protein include:
- Fish – cod, salmon, tuna, mackerel, hake
- Meat – chicken, steak, turkey, beef
- Vegan – pulses, tofu, quinoa, chia seeds, oats
- Supplements – protein shakes and bars
- Other – eggs, nuts
If you want to get ripped, aim to consume 1.5g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. If you weigh 90kg, that would mean you would seek to consume 135g of protein per day.
#7 Track Your Progress
“Failure to plan is planning to fail” – you need a plan and to be able to monitor the effectiveness. Once the plan is in place, then you can track your progress and make sure you are:
- Losing body fat
- Building lean muscle
- Improving performance – more reps, weight, distance, etc
You can track the above by:
- Taking body fat measurements using calipers
- Taking your body weight
- Taking pictures (before and after photos)
- Doing a fitness test
It’s essential to record all of your data and make changes when necessary to keep getting leaner.
Other ways you can track include:
Use the app ‘MyFitnessPal’ to record your food, calories, and protein intake. You can use ‘MapMyRun’ to log runs. For weights, I would recommend investing in a ‘gym diary’ – where you can record your sets, reps, and weight lifted.
You want to be aiming for steady progress each week. If you do this on repeat, you will get results.
#8 Hire A Coach
When it comes to getting lean, there is no ‘one size fits all approach’ – while the above tips are guaranteed to help, for rapid results, you would be best to invest in a high-quality fitness coach. A fitness professional will design you a bespoke program tailored towards your goals, fitness level, strengths/weaknesses, and that works for you and your lifestyle.
If gyms close during a lockdown, you can hire an online coach – somebody to design your workout and meal plans. You could also do some virtual personal training sessions using the equipment you have at home.
If you want to get lean, hire somebody who knows how to achieve this goal. Many personal trainers claim to be a ‘fat loss’ expert or ‘prep coach’ but have no proof of their work. Before investing, look at reviews, ask your friends for recommendations, and make sure they practice what they preach and have a reputation to deliver results.