Fitness expert and health advisor Majed Al Hamad on the best ways to build muscle at home during coronavirus lockdown.
Even as some countries begin to move out of total lockdown, it’s clear that various places will be closed indefinitely – including the gym. With normal training schedules on hold, people have been turning to home workouts.
However, most of the easily available workouts available to do at home revolve around HIIT, yoga, aerobics or another form of exercise that needs little to no equipment. And while all of these are great ways to keep fit, lose weight and get the heart pumping, they are not aimed at building muscle. So, what is the best way to continue building muscle at home?
Why diet and exercise are both important to build muscle at home during coronavirus
A good, clean diet and resistance training are the two key elements of muscle building. Your diet should include enough protein, a balanced helping of healthy carbohydrates and the correct amount of good fats. For beginners at muscle building, online workouts that use bodyweight are a great starting point. But results don’t last long, because as you get fitter and your body adapts to your bodyweight, it’s no longer enough to increase your muscle mass.
I’ve put together some tips and advice specifically aimed at people who want to adapt their home exercise sessions to build muscle.
- Diet, diet, diet
It’s not possible to over-emphasise how important your daily diet is when you want to build muscle mass. And I don’t mean dieting to lose weight, I mean eating in the right way so that your muscles can grow.
This means eating plenty of protein and maintaining a long-term healthy diet. This is easily as important to you muscle mass as lifting weights. Whether you want to get your protein only from food sources, or from protein powder, protein bars or other supplements, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you are ingesting enough for your muscle gain plans, then you’re on track.
If you work out a lot, then you should ingest between 1.6 to 2g or protein per kg of your bodyweight every day. For example, if you weigh 70kg, you should eat or ingest between 112 and 140g every day. Look at broadening your diet to see whether you can get enough protein from food sources. If not, then take your pick from the many supplements and powders available.
If you do use a protein powder, I’d always recommend doing plenty of research and finding the best quality you can. You can also find plenty of vegan friendly sources of protein too.
- Buy the right equipment
I recommend investing in equipment to help you build muscle. It’s more difficult to do so without either dumbbells or kettlebells. If you don’t already own them, have a look online for a decent deal. There are always plenty of second-hand options available, so try your local selling site if you’re short on funds.
The best options are adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells, with as many different sets of weights as possible. Adjustable weights are particularly useful if you’re tight on space for your home gym. If you have a dedicated workout area, I’d always go with a weight bench.
Set your weights up and use an online exercise guide to start with. Here’s a good example of an exercise plan using dumbbells. However, if you really can’t afford equipment right now, or you don’t have the space, there are full bodyweight exercise plans online that can also help to build muscle.
- Try Time Under Tension (TUT) training
This is all about how long your muscle is under strain during a set of exercises. Anyone can try this technique, and it’s a great way to enhance muscle growth. The recommended length of time to put a muscle under tension during an exercise depends on how many sets you’re doing. In general, it’s best to do fewer reps over a longer time period.
For example, it’s more beneficial for muscle growth to do four reps within 60 seconds, rather than going for 20 or so. Fewer reps mean a longer period of time for the muscle to be under the tension, which leads to muscle growth. Aim to keep the muscle under tension for between 15 and 25 seconds at a time.
A similar methodology is called maximum mTor activation. This focuses on negative movement and means you focus on activating the muscle to return to the starting position. For example, if you are doing an overhead press, the idea is to push the bar up explosively and fast but release it back to starting position in a slow, controlled way.
- Try wearing a weight vest to boost your workout
Bodyweight workouts can be enough for beginners to build muscle, but for hardcore gym goers, something more will be needed. There are more difficult workouts to access online for those on the fitter end of the scale. For example, you could try the Navy Seals Workout for a super tough at home session.
If you’re somewhere in between and just need some added resistance for your bodyweight workout, a weights vest could be the solution. Easily available online, they’re ideal to build muscle at home. Try the Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO, or something similar. This particular vest isn’t cheap, but it is comfortable, water repellent, odour resistant and comes with the option of booster packs at 5lb increments.