If I could sum 2020 up into a single sentence it would be: “Your entire world can drastically change at any moment”. Pre lockdown I had just come off one of my best months with clients, income, and training. Then, BOOM, the whole world shut down. I definitely wasn’t ready for it by any means, I don’t think anyone was. However, now that the initial lockdown is 8 months behind me I have had some time to reflect. Now, with another possible lock down on the horizon, we need to be prepared. Obviously working out at home isn’t ideal. But, just like most things, the world will eventually circle back and a certain sense of normalcy will return. When things go back to normal those that made the right decisions will be set up for an easy return to normal activity. Whereas those that didn’t will have a much harder time getting back into their fitness routines.
Now, before I dive in to exactly what I think everyone should have at home I want to explain why keeping up with activity is important. The single most important reason is simply keeping your mental health in tact. If you are someone that exercises multiple times a week your brain literally feeds off the hormones it creates when you are active. Take this away and the depression that has already set in from lockdown will get even worse. Simply keeping up with this habit will help keep your mind active and healthy. Also, it is much easier to keep up with a habit than it is to create a new one. If you keep up with your healthy habits while in lockdown getting back to the gym will be much easier down the road.
Having the equipment listed in this post can be applicable to many other situations in life as well. Say you have a busy day at work and can’t make it to the gym. You could easily bust out a short 30 minute circuit and have a great workout at home. You can also bring most if not all of these things on vacation or to work seminars out of state to keep up with activity. So, without further ado let’s talk about what we all need. I will list them in order of importance.
1) Resistance Bands With Handles
Handled resistance bands are probably the most versatile piece of equipment on this list. They can be used for upper and lower body movements. And, most if not all kits come with a door mount for pulling and pushing movements. If you don’t buy anything else on this list at least invest in a $30-$50 set of decent quality resistance bands. If you’re a regular gym goer you could realistically do your entire routine with a set of these.
2) Infinity resistance bands and a thick piece of PVC
When the initial lockdown ensued I stumbled across an awesome Instagram account @highschoolstrengthcoach. The admin of this account was creating barbell movements using a piece of PVC wrapped with infinity bands. We are talking heavy compound moves like deadlifts, squats, rows, etc. All with a simple PVC pipe and some high quality infinity bands. These bands will cost a bit more, but are a great asset to anyone that needs heavier weight to keep seeing progress.
3) Pull Up/Dip Door mount
A pull up/dip door mount is a great asset for anyone. For those who can do pull ups and chin ups it allows you a space to do this without damaging your home. It also opens up exercises like hanging ab raises, elevated push ups, inverted rows (with the use of a chair to stabilize the feet), etc. For those without the strength to do pull ups attaching a resistance band to the pull up bar allows for assisted chin ups or pull ups. You can also perform static pull up holds or slow eccentrics to build you pull up strength.
4) A Decent Quality Bench (Plus If Adjustable)
Having a decent quality bench is a great way to train your pressing movements. Even if you don’t have access to dumbbells you can loop resistance bands around the feet of the bench and have a base of support for pressing movements. Certain benches have holes to attach resistance bands. If the bench is adjustable it allows for incline and decline movements. A bench will allow you to elevate your feet for things like push ups, and elevate your back for things like glute bridges and single leg bridges.
5) Kettlebells (Preferably A Few Different Weights)
The reason why I say kettlebells here instead of dumbbells is because kettlebells introduce a balance aspect that makes lighter weight more challenging. Kettlebell presses are much harder than a dumbbell press especially if you hold the kettlebell by the handle. Same with rows and other movements. Most people lack balance in some area so having a kettlebell allows these issues to be addressed. Kettlebells can also be used to do arm work, total body moves like TGU’s, and cardio work. Kettlebells are a bit more versatile than dumbbells and for that reason they won on this list. Buying a couple kettlebells is far cheaper than buying a set of adjustable dumbbells.
Now, if you are on a tight budget buying all this equipment may not be an option. Personally, for those on a tight budget I recommend buying a set of handled resistance bands, a dip and pull up station, and 1-2 kettlebells. Odds are you could pick up all three of those for around $100. I know $100 is not cheap, but I’m sure most of us have spent that on eating out in one meal if not one week.
Again, you never know what is lurking around the corner. With the talk of possible shut downs impending I would pick up this equipment sooner than later. Even if we don’t get shut down again having these things at home is great if you are in a bind. Stay strong everyone.
Changing your body physically is more of a mental process than you would expect. I can’t tell you the amount of people that have walked through my door that believe they are the failures. I have seen one too many breakdowns in my career at this point. These people believe they are an anomaly because they struggle to lose weight and keep it from coming back. Fat loss, body recomposition, and lifestyle modification all fall into the category of “tremendously challenging to achieve”. Yet, these days I see at least 10 ads a day telling me this new supplement line will make my fat disappear. Immediately people gravitate towards these flashy ads because after all it’s their favorite magazine that has helped them in so many areas. Why would fat loss advice be any different. These articles quote so called “scientists” paid off by some big whig with an agenda touting a myriad of benefits that only exist using their products. You would think that such swindling would have been died out along with bomber jackets in the 90’s. But, here we are in 2020 being fed lies day after day that we have come to accept as the truth.
The ACTUAL truth is if you have tried and failed at losing weight you are far from the minority. In fact, according to statistical data 95% of people that attempt to lose weight fail to do so in the long run. This process of ongoing yo-yo dieting is not only harmful to the body, but it is also detrimental to the mind. I’m not a decorated scientist and I don’t carry any fancy titles in front of my name. But, I do have tons of experience. Over the last 5 years my life has been completely focused around helping others achieve their goals in a gym setting. I’ve had many failures. I’ve given a lot of misinformation that at the time I thought was good advice. And honestly I am sick and tired of being lied to. And I’m sick of the world being lied to just so that companies can line their pockets. Initial weight loss is not a hard process. In fact, most fad diets and supplement lines can give you amazing results in a very short period of time. But, how long do these results actually last? Generally speaking most people that lose weight will gain some, all, or more of it back within a 5 year period. Imagine if you bought a product and the manufacturer said “In 5 years everything that this product has done for you will be worthless, in fact it will probably make your life worse.” Odds are you would put that item back on the shelf in a heartbeat.
The fact is any method of dieting can get you the results you seek in the short term. But, this is the danger that comes with an approach that cuts corners. Most of these types of diets are unsustainable long term. In many cases even a well thought out meal plan won’t get people the results they hope for. This is something I had to learn the hard way. In my early years as a trainer I had a client that worked with me for about a year and lost 20lbs of scale weight. After her first year she upped her sessions and I told her I would help her with a meal plan. We worked together and I provided what I thought was an iron clad method for her to lose weight. Did it work? You bet your ass it worked. She lost 50lbs over the next 6 months. She felt great. Fast forward, said client ends up getting pregnant. Cravings set in, etc, etc. Months pass. Post pregnancy we found that she had gained an extra 30lbs of body fat over her pregnancy. This was a wake up call for me. Here’s why, I realized that the meal plan didn’t teach her anything. It gave her a simple template that worked under ideal conditions. When conditions got rough it turned into a no holds barred food fest. This is not an uncommon experience. Countless clients have come to me and recounted similar experiences in their past. Even my best friend came to me recently for a session and recounted his experience of following a meal plan in the past. He said “It just got to the point where I didn’t want to eat certain things on the plan so I stopped following it”. And these were specifically designed meal plans that were poised to work. But, we are human and when things aren’t perfect we fall out of our routines. Especially it isn’t a routine we built ourselves.
I can recount another story from someone else close to me. My sister struggled with weight gain over most of her adult life. It had come to a point where she was hovering close tom 300lbs. She hopped on a nutritional plan that was filled with supplements that included “carbohydrate blockers” along with many other things. This diet was also extremely low in calories (500 per day). The calories were so low that people were advised to not work out while on the diet. Fast forward. My sister ends up losing close to 100lbs over the course of about 6-12 months. Sounds great right? WRONG. Over the next year or so she ended up gaining about 60-70 of it back. We have had several conversations since she started working with me about this experience. She always says “but if I had followed the plan afterwards it would have worked better.” The problem was not her, it was the plan. The statistical research will back me up on that one. And these are just a few of the many stories I have in my line of work.
The point that I am trying to get at here is: this process of up and down, diet after diet, is exhausting. In fact, it’s down right unhealthy physically and mentally. And, the thing is it isn’t your fault. It’s part of the lie you have been told. What I want you to think about is how these people felt. Or how you have felt on your own journey. Losing weight in the moment is so exhilarating. You are doing something that is challenging but makes you feel good. However, once the dust clears and the weight has been lost, the actual uphill battle begins. Unless the method of weight loss chosen was sustainable long term most people will fall off. Life gets busy. We have obligations. And health tends to fall low on the list of priorities when stress is at a maximum. And when the weight starts to creep back in all the sense of self worth that was gained with the changing body withers away. Something else sneaks in to take its place. A sense of failure. That the plan taught you everything and you f***ed up. That all your hard work was for nothing. And it only creates an unhealthier cycle of self hatred.
So, this is my advice for those wishing to change their bodies. This process is forever. Unhealthy eating habits will always be waiting around the corner. If the method of weight loss that you chose doesn’t educate you to be the boss of your own nutrition then you are wasting your time. No one can tell you exactly how to eat. It has to be something you work on little by little and decide for yourself. The more you chip away at it the easier it will become. It goes from something that is a chore to something that becomes a habit. Allow your plan to be flexible. Remember that life is a stressful place and hard times will arise. Always remember that progress will never be linear. And if you think you’re going too slow, remember the turtle won the race.
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.