Power Quarantine

Disclaimer: I am not a medical specialist, trainer or professional athlete. In this article I am only sharing my personal experience. It is up to you to decide whether to use it or not. This article was written and first published on March 27, 2020.

No one knows how long the quarantine will last. It will take even longer for us to get rid of our acquired sociophobia, subconsciously avoiding crowded places. This means that we will return to the gyms reluctantly and not soon. But being confined at home inevitably means a sedentary lifestyle of overeating and probably abusing alcohol. With cardiovascular disease already the №1 killer in the world, it’s a good idea to make our house arrest as healthy as possible. But how to do that?

Heinrich Altshuller, the founder of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), wrote: “…Let the harmful factor begin to do good…”. Looking at the problem in the TRIZ vein, our ideal end result sounds like this: forced isolation makes us healthier and stronger, while it costs us almost nothing.

But is it possible, you ask? Yes, but first it is necessary to dispel several popular myths:

Myth #1: Exercise is time-consuming.
It doesn’t have to be at all. Below I will tell you how to work all the muscles of your body in 20 minutes a day, and not nominally, but to achieve gains in muscle and strength through the effect of super-compensation.

Myth #2: You need to wait too long for results.
Proposed approach will make your wife (or husband) admiringly groan after a month or two, looking at your figure. But more importantly, the body itself will begin to thankfully hint to you that you’re taking good care of it.

Myth #3: High-quality exercise equipment costs insane amounts of money.
This is a fiction of marketers, on the one hand, and our craving for fashionable novelties, on the other. In reality, the equipment described below will cost you up to $100 and will last for decades.

Myth #4: You can’t learn new movements without a trainer.
If we’re talking about complex coordinated exercises, yes, it’s better to take a few lessons from an instructor. But I suggest doing only basic exercises, the trajectory of which is natural to your body, and the nuances are corrected in the process by themselves.

Myth #5: Exercising at home is boring.
My approach allows you to diversify your exercise routine throughout the week as well as with each piece of equipment. There are so many fascinating exercises and complexes on Youtube that it is impossible to get bored. In addition, it is possible to change the load on a familiar complex due to the high-interval training (HIIT).

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED?
Kettlebell — 1 piece, yoga mat — 1 piece and a set of resistance bands — 1 piece. You can buy them in on-line store with home delivery. I advise you to order from reputable manufacturers because quality is in the details.

WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF THE APPROACH?
One day we train with kettlebell, the second day we stretch the body with yoga, the third day we stretch the body with resistance bands. The next three days the same cycle is repeated. Sunday is the day off. Additionally, every day for 30–60 minutes we walk in the nearest park, listening to your favorite audio book or podcast. The beauty is that this athletic triumvirate doesn’t give laziness a chance to move out of the workout: Not in the mood, tired or catching a cold? Do yoga off the plan! Tired of the kettlebell complex? Find a new one online!

I. How does training with kettlebells go?
First there is a 10-minute warm-up, and then 20–30 minutes we do a set of 4–5 basic exercises. For example, such as these:
- Deadlift -> lower back, glutes;
- Goblet squat -> hips;
- Press -> shoulders;
- Regular Row -> back;
- Calf raise -> calves;
- Bicep Curl → arms;
- Kettlebell Halo -> shoulder girdle.

Later, when you become confident, you can gradually master more complex exercises: Kettlebell swing, Turkish get up or Kettlebell Snatch. You can further expand your arsenal of exercises by taking an ordinary towel and putting it through the handle of the kettlebell.

In one workout it is enough to perform only 1–3 sets of 10–20 reps in each of 4–5 exercises. It seems small, but you will be surprised by the effect. I added so much strength and muscle mass in a couple of months that my Brazilian jiu-jitsu partners started asking, “Are you taking steroids?”. When you get tired of doing the number of reps, you can download any mobile app and do HIIT high-intensity training, such as a cycle of 5 exercises, each performed for 45 seconds of load + 15 seconds of rest. For those who are a little more advanced, you can try this set:

To understand the nuances of performing the exercises, it is a good idea to take some lessons from a kettlebell coach. However, this is not always possible, especially during quarantine. So let the stream of Internet videos through the filter of your common sense. You can’t go wrong if you look for videos from the top manufacturers of weights like Kettlebell King or Onnit. You can easily find explanatory videos by Pavel Tsatsulin himself.

I’ve been watching Mark Wildman’s channel with interest lately. He somehow makes complicated things very simple and easy to understand:

Do you need wrist protection?
When you train with kettlebells on a regular basis, you may experience discomfort in your wrists from putting kettlebells on your hand frequently in swinging techniques. Kettlebells can kind of bump your wrist while you are learning how to do the exercises correctly. To avoid unnecessary discomfort, you can order hand protectors on Amazon. They are made of a soft material with plastic protective plates inserted inside. The plates can be pulled out for washing. I, for example, have one from KettlebellGuard.

What about chalk?
At first I decided that I would definitely need chalk to keep the weights from popping out of my hands or the skin of my palms from rubbing off. So I ordered a big stack of chalk from Amazon. I’ve only used it a couple of times and now it’s collecting dust somewhere. Probably, if you train with kettlebells for a long time and every day, you can’t do without chalk. But as you have already guessed I try to get maximum effect with minimum effort. When you train with kettlebells 2–3 times a week for 20–30 minutes, a towel is enough to keep your palms dry.

II. How does yoga practice go?
While I tried going to yoga studios, I didn’t like yoga. One day, after deciding I needed to increase my joint mobility to fight, I accidentally stumbled upon a free video from YogaForBJJ, tried their 20-minute set at home and…fell in love with yoga. First of all, there were no wails about the chakras and other metaphysical nonsense, and secondly, I finally realized that the main thing in yoga is to experience the same pleasure that your cat or dog gets when it enjoys stretching after a nap. Alone, without a group or a coach, it was much easier to immerse myself in the sensations of my body.

Now I do their Hip Opening complex twice a week. I believe that training joint mobility of the pelvis is critical not only for athletes, but also for all intellectual workers, because this part of the body protects against injury and plays a central role in so many ways.

III. How does resistance band training go?
Resistance bands come in the form of a closed ring or not. The latter involve attaching them to special handles (I have the ones on the right).

Resistance Loop Bands (left) and Bodylastics Warrior Edition (right)

Basically, the basic exercises are intuitively obvious as soon as you pick up the band. However, the Internet is bursting with a variety of exercises for all possible muscles. Moreover, there are exercises that are tailored to a particular sport, for example, there are complexes for wrestlers:

Expand the arsenal of movements can be found by finding a special door mount, which is slipped into the gap of the door, and then in its hinge is slipped a band.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
Safety Techniques.
Theoretically, it is possible to drop the kettlebell on your foot or on the floor. Therefore, you should practice on a thick yoga mat. It is also possible to wear flat-soled sneakers. Although I, for example, practice barefoot.

Injuries with kettlebells occur if:
- ignoring the warm-up;
- Forcing yourself to do things against your will;
- train in the presence of children, cats or dogs,
- to learn new exercises with inadequately large weights;
- train without reducing the load if you are sick;
- Lose focus while exercising by thinking about something else;
- rushing to do the number of times or time to the detriment of technique.

Yoga can be traumatic if done through pain or against desire. I guess the resistance band can “shoot” at you if, while standing on it, you let it out of your hands. Haven’t experienced it, just guessing.

How to choose a kettlebell?
Kettlebells must be one-piece, not collapsible. It’s better to choose a set of 2 or 3 kettlebells of different weights in a couple of years than to risk that 16 kg (35 lb) will fall apart over your head, or to waste time on assembling and disassembling. Choose the simplest cast iron kettlebell without plastic and rubber. You can take used ones, because kettlebells, like a good wine, if stored properly, do not deteriorate over the years. It is easy to restore the tradeable appearance of the old kettlebell. The main thing is that the handles of the kettlebell should be burr-free. It is better not to cover the handle itself with paint so that the grip is firm.

My home kit

The shape of kettlebells comes in three types — competitive, crossfit and exotic. Competitive kettlebells have the same shape for all weights, which is convenient later on, because the hand does not have to get used to the growing weight of new kettlebells. I have almost all of my kettlebells are competition kettlebells. Crossfit kettlebells have a larger handle, which can be handy for some exercises that require a two-handed grip, for example. Exotic shapes are those with the faces of gorillas, devils, etc. Of course, they look nice, but I wouldn’t recommend them because there are necessarily sharp corners, which means a little higher discomfort and risk of injury. However, the choice of shape is not crucial, as long as you finally have at least one kettlebell at home.

Kettlebells: Competition (left), Crossfit (center) and Exotic (right)

What is the optimal weight of kettlebells?
Roughly, for a beginner of relatively healthy man of average height and weight I would recommend to start with 16 kg (35 lb), for a woman — 8 kg (18 lb). But, for example, now I have 8, 16 and 24 kg kettlebells (53 lb) and I use them all for different exercises. I learn to do new difficult exercises with lighter weights at the beginning. Even one kettlebell is enough to work all muscle groups. With time you might need to have a pair of kettlebells of the same weight for movements with both hands at the same time, and you’ll have a desire to buy the next weight — 8, 16, 24, 32 kg, and so on.

BONUS TRACK
To add some drive to your kettlebell workout, I recommend this music:

For yoga, I like the following sets:

For a resistance band workout, I often play this music:

It’s not easy to answer all the questions that people discovering the wonderful world of weights might have in one article. So if you have a question, you can post it in the comments under this article or to me on Facebook. If I know the answer, I’ll try to do an update of the article. Be strong, be healthy!

You can help Ukraine defend itself and the World from Russia here.

As a business therapist, I help tech founders quickly solve dilemmas at the intersection of business and personality, and boost company value as a result.

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Alexander Lyadov

Alexander Lyadov

As a business therapist, I help entrepreneurs to navigate faster in non-standard situations.