Strength: Arguably, The Only 5 Moves You Ever Need

So it’s been a while since you worked out, fear not you are not alone. The pandemic has brought about a change and as such we have had to adapt. Working out in the gym hasn’t been an option for many so consequently there is now a new norm “The Living Room Gym”. In my case it’s the extension which doesn’t sound anywhere near as glamorous, but you get my point. So how do we get back into our rhythm? If you have taken an extended break (more than 3 months) away from your normal workout routine, it will likely take some time and dedication to get back to where you were. But rest assured, it can be done!

The key is to ease in, like you do a cold bath. Easing into it can be especially hard when you haven’t worked out in a while, it can be all too easy to say “I need to work out every single day”, but that can lead to injury or worse still burn out. Here at Wave we recommend starting with 2-3 training sessions a week, be that cardio or strength and making sure that you are listening to your body before adding in more. 

Before scaling up, you need to be able to tell if you’re doing too much? If you’re generally healthy and you feel anything like a sharp pain then it’s safe to say you are pushing too hard. Think of pain on a scale of 1-10, anything above a 6 should indicate a serious problem. Always remember exercise is supposed to be fun! Exhausting, but fun, NOT painful. 

Getting back into your rhythm is really important and as anyone from the fitness industry will tell you “consistency” is the key. That said, getting back into a routine can take more than just throwing your gym kit into the car. Good nutrition, regular exercise and proper sleep all have their part to play, the trouble being for most of us you can’t start with all three. People just aren’t wired in that way, tackle the challenge incrementally, start by committing to a set workout time and keep it consistent.

Let’s be clear, it could take anywhere between three to six months to get back in shape. Be patient and consistent, if you are looking primarily at strength then these foundational moves can help ease you back into the swing of things.

Press / Push-Ups

Begin in a high plank position (on your hands, not the elbows) with a straight line from your shoulders, hips, and knees. You have two choices with your arm positions, tucked in “I” Shape or at a 45 degree angle from the body “A” Shape, never 90 degrees “T” Shape. So to clarify, arms tucked in forming an “I” shape or arms at 45 degrees forming an “A” shape. Again, never arms at a 90 degree angle forming a “T” shape (elbows flared out). If you are still with me, create full-body tension (exactly as you would with a plank) and slowly lower your chest to the floor, at the lowest point power back up to the starting position, ensuring you maintain form. As soon as your form deteriorates, take a break. If you need to make the move easier then drop to your knees, but above all else, maintain your form. We recommend the following when getting back into the swing: 6 reps for 3 sets. Progress with an extra set every 4-6 weeks depending on how you are feeling or alternatively increase volume from 6 reps to 8 reps every 3 weeks.

To overload get yourself a weighted vest, or simply elevate your legs off the ground using a bench or chair, the higher the incline the more difficult the move.Always maintain your form.   

Bodyweight Squats / Goblet Squats

With your feet roughly hip-width apart, slowly lower into a squat and at the bottom without bouncing push back to your starting position. Make sure your chest stays up and knees press out for the entire squat, always avoid your knees pushing beyond your toes, it is the tell-tale sign of poor form. Worse still it can lead to injury. Feel free to turn your toes out, but make sure you get comfortable and progressively try and squat more slowly and deeper. For the goblet squat Start with a kettlebell or dumbbell held at chest height (the goblet position), feet roughly hip-width apart. Slowly drop into a squat and return to the start position. Make sure your chest stays up and knees press out for the entire squat. You can turn your toes out and adjust your stance to what is most comfortable for you.

Try and avoid locking out your legs at the top and bottom of the move whilst being deliberately slow during transition, the gains will come flooding back. 

Overload, add in some additional weight, a weighted vest or medicine ball and then pulse at the bottom for 3 before returning to the starting position.

Split Squats

Start in a half-kneeling position, your right knee touching the floor, your left foot out in front of you. Ensure your right knee is directly under your right hip and your left heel directly below your left knee. Stand up, driving your left heel into the ground, and slowly lower back to the starting position. 

Overload: Grab yourself a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells, if you don’t have access to either then try filling a backpack with some heavy books and either pop it on your back or front (Wear it in reverse and hold it)

Hand-Supported Dumbbell Rows

Begin with your feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent and hips back as if you are reaching to pick something up off the floor. With the dumbbell in one hand, place the opposite hand on a level surface (chair or exercise bench), maintaining a flat back. Row the dumbbell towards your hip, pulling your elbow towards your glute. Return slowly to a starting position. 

Overload: Try super slow movement with a slightly heavier weight towards the end of the set, continue to failure.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 

Begin standing with your feet hip width apart and soft knees. Bring the weights to your thighs. Maintaining a flat back (shoulders pushed down and back), sit your hips back and down until the weights reach just below your knee, alternatively until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings (Never go too far, understand your limit). Ensure your core is engaged as you return to the starting position.

Overload: As with the dumbbell row try a super slow movement with a slightly heavier weight. 

Home (No weights) Workout Variation: Load up a backpack or duffel bag with some heavy books.

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